November 22, 2012

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving is the best holiday, and here's why:

1. It's about gratitude, which is really important for well-being.  Recognizing what you're thankful for is a great way to feel better and to remember how many blessings you've been given in your life.

2. It's about family, who are the people that have to you love you regardless of what you do.  They're the people who know your darkest secrets and have seen you on your worst days.  They're also the people who  have uniquely shared a part of your life that your friends simply can't understand--only your family can understand the nuances of your childhood or help you remember the holiday traditions that make your family celebrations special.  They're also the repository of shared memories of loved ones, so that when your grandparents are no longer alive you can keep them alive with your recollections.

3. It's centered around people, not things.  The whole point of the holiday is to gather with your loved ones and share a meal.  There is nothing that is more universal to the human condition than breaking bread with other people.  

4. It involves delicious food.  There, I said it.  Thanksgiving is awesome because the meal is full of good-tasting, lovingly-prepared, rife-with-tradition food.  Each dish has a story, and every family has a specific way of preparing the turkey or the potatoes or the stuffing.

I have lots of reasons to be thankful this year.  Here's just an incomplete list of all the things I'm thankful for:
-my brother coming to visit
-my cousin living close by, in Chicago
-my family that's far away, but seems closer thanks to the internet and cell phones
-having Thursday & Friday & the weekend off, unexpectedly
-my friends, new and old
-absolutely loving surgery, and med school in general this year
-internet dating
-happy election results
-comfy dansko clogs for work
-warm slippers
-flannel sheets
-a warm, safe home

Life is just great right now.  I love this holiday for a chance to reflect on all the things that are going right in my life, and to just appreciate how lucky I am to be surrounded by friends and family who love and support me.  

November 3, 2012

An MRI in Delphi

Radiologists are the oracles of medicine.  In the shadowy depths of the reading room, the team crowds close to see them read the prophecy of scans and x-rays.

The neuroradiologist's voice is soft, accented, with the exotic cadence of his homeland layered underneath his soothsaying.  He hovers the computer mouse across the screen, delineating shapes in the puddles of gray and scrying injury and contusion among the shadows.

Two thousand years ago, he would have cut open the belly of a bird or a rabbit, watching the spill of entrails and predicting life or death.  Now, the organs he studies are human and still contained within the abdomen.  His hands are clean, not covered in blood, but his pronouncements are equally weighty. For some patients, he is exactly right.  For others, "clinical correlation is recommended" because his science is still an art.

There is little that happens in a hospital without their input.  Chest x-rays, abdominal films, confirmatory films for device placement--all of these major events, much like those of the distant past, start with a trip to the diviner for guidance.

Does medicine ever really change?  The radiology department lacks the mists and incense of the temple, but their words are given no less weight.