Link

Any one who follows this blog on the nuanced lives and careers of two surgeon moms should watch this. In its entirety. 

http://academicsurgicalcongress.org/aas-2017-president-address-caprice-greenberg-md-mph/

It is the Presidential address delivered recently by Dr Caprice Greenberg to end her term as President of the Association of Academic Surgery. She speaks with clarity and conviction on a topic of importance to both men and women across generations of surgeons. She provides data, vivid examples, and eye opening analyses about how and why women are professionally held back, not just in surgery but across specialties and other professional roles. 

What I Really Care About During A Trump Presidency

Featured

The internet is ablaze with images and commentary about our new president. They focus on a baby blue dress with an interesting collar or lack of chivalry or delusional views of a crowd or pithy signs about that which cannot be combed over, but let me tell you what I do and don’t care about when it comes to our new president.

I don’t care what his wife wears; but, I do care about how his trade policies will impact the price of everyone else’s clothes since most Americans cannot afford 4-figure price tag garments made in America.

I don’t care how he treats his wife or the two wives that preceded her; but, I do care about what he is doing to dismantle women’s healthcare and reproductive choice.

I don’t care what size of his crowds were compared to my crowds; but, I do care that  he has no qualms about every person in either of those crowds or in any other public space carrying a loaded weapon.

I don’t care how bad his spray tan is or how awkward his combover looks when the wind gusts; but, I do care that he is going to decimate our environment and exacerbate global warming.

I don’t care about his son’s personality or medical history; but, I do care that he is going to dismantle a public school system and higher education financing mechanism that educates the rest of our children.

I don’t care that he hasn’t released his tax returns; but, I do care that he intends to give the top 1% tax cuts while everyone else pays more and loses necessary services.

I don’t care that he is not as amazingly healthy as his hyperbolic doctor purported him to be; but, I do care that he is going to significantly reduce access to health care for millions of our most vulnerable citizens.

I don’t care that he was obsessed with promulgating the “alternative fact” that our 44th President was not born in the US; but, I do care about him oppressing those among us who were not born here especially if we do not bear a white European ethnicity or do not practice Christianity.

When our new president cares only about stroking his own ego and pandering to those who simply cannot tolerate a progressively diverse society and increasingly global economy, we must have a laser like focus on the values and policies we really care about.

Equity

    I will be joining a woman’s march tomorrow. Whipped up this embroidery project post-call. Fabric was a bit thin and hooping is still very hard, especially with two designs to merge into one line. But it makes the point. Today our nation moved from unconscious bias and micro aggressions to the normalization of racism/xenophobia/homophobia/etc. and oppression. So tomorrow I march for: Gender equity. Pay equity. Marriage equity. Health equity. Education equity. 


    Too tired for a sign but if I made one it would say:

    HUMILITY

    CIVILITY 

    EQUITY 

    Unimaginable Grief: Reflections on the Newtown Film

    I grew up in a home with the subtle lingering sorrow of parents who have lost a child. An older brother I never got to meet. 

    I have dear friends who have lost their children. Mothers and fathers who will never be the same. 

    I am gripped with grief every time I enter a windowless family waiting room to tell a parent that their child is dead. I often wonder how they are doing now, months or years later. How do they move on the way my parents and my friends who have lost children have moved on?

    This is the hardest thing I ever do in my job. I operate on beating hearts. I crossclamp aortas. I whip out spleens 20 minutes skin to skin. But this, this is the hardest thing I have to do as a trauma surgeon, telling parents their child is dead. 

    Last night at a trauma surgery professional meeting we were privileged to watch the Newtown Film documentary with the filmmaker and an ER physician who provided care that day and is a Newtown resident. It was a gut wrenching story about the evolution of grief.  It followed the parents who lost their children in this particularly gruesome and entirely preventable way. The grace and dignity with which they tackled life after 12/14 was remarkable, inspiring, and heartbreaking. It followed the teachers, the students, and the first responders who saw and heard what was simply unimaginable in even our worst nightmares…until then. Until 12/14/12. 

    Carnage: 20 dead first graders. 6 dead educators. 

    We are having myriad civil discussions at this meeting on what we as a profession can do to reduce firearms injuries. To be sure it’s a careful line to walk in our current societal climate. Avid readers of this blog already know where I personally stand on this issue based on my experiences as a trauma surgeon and the fact that I am human. 

    But today, today I just can’t get my mind of those dead children. They were loved and cherished lives filled with infinite potential. A lone gunman whose mother thought it appropriate to have a semi-automatic weapon and multi-round bullets in her home took them all away. 

    They didn’t stand a chance. Not with that weapon. Not with that kind of ammo. All gunned down in <5mi. 

    How many of us wave good bye to our little tykes, back packs all snug on their shoulders, expecting them to return home at the end of the school day? My own child was a sitting in a first grade classroom not too far north of Newtown, CT on that day. Any of us could be these parents experiencing unimaginable grief. 

    I am once again listening to the words of Lin Manuel Miranda from Hamilton to try to buoy me through these emotions as a mother, as a surgeon, as a human with a soul. 

    In ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’ Eliza who has lost her son to gun violence sings:

    There are moments that the words don’t reach.

    There is suffering too terrible to name.

    You hold your child as tight as you can

    and push away the unimaginable.

    The moments when you’re in so deep,

    it feels easier to just swim down.

    There are moments that the words don’t reach.

    There is a grace too powerful to name.

    We push away what we can never understand,

    we push away the unimaginable.”

    Her husband Alexander sings:

    “If I could spare his life,

    If I could trade his life for mine,

    he’d be standing here right now

    and you would smile, and that would be

    enough.

    I don’t pretend to know

    the challenges we’re facing.

    I know there’s no replacing what we’ve lost

    and you need time”

    The chorus repeatedly adds:

    “They are trying to do the unimaginable.”

    The Newtown Film chronicles a community trying to do the unimaginable. While I cried through most of the film watching the grief unfold, the most powerful moment for me was when David Wheeler who lost is son Ben was testifying to a CT legislative task force. He said “The liberty of any person to own a military-style assault weapon and a high-capacity magazine and keep them in their home is second to the right of my son to his life.” That line took my breath away like a sucker punch to my gut.

    The Newtown Film is powerful and difficult to watch but I hope that all of us Americans- parents, teachers, first responders, policy makers, legislators, and professional organizations – all of us  see it.  With this film, I hope that the national dialogue will become less contentious as we realize that no one, no parent, no school, no community, should ever have to suffer such imaginable grief. 

    New Year Baggage (Vol 2)

    Still en route to Disney for the marathon and in case anything happens to our luggage (and since I had two trips worth of packing to do) I brought on my new weekender duffel to carry my overnight and running gear along with my noodling around clothes for 3 days and rain gear if needed. 

    Before the reveal, I have to say that finding this bag was somewhat of an ordeal. I had struggled with my two existing “overnight” / “gym” bags for past 2-3 day trips. I always ended up with an extra bag for either running clothes or toiletries or something. What I really wanted was a generous bag that would hold a couple days of daywear, running stuff, and some nice going out stuff. 

    My inspiration was this amazing (now discontinued) Coach duffle I had given my husband last Christmas. It was just gorgeous to look at with soft as a baby’s bottom leather and sharp chrome hardware and it held a ton. For my past two trips without him I managed to coerce my better half into letting me use it. It was perfect for fitting everything and I was on a mission to find one of my own. 

    But I am me so I wanted one with a pop of color. Or some other feature that would make mine stand out as different from his when we did succeed on date weekends. I ran into quite a bit of trouble finding anything “for women” that was longer than 18-21in and anything targeting any gender that was not black or brown. I have also never been super into monogram bags that are egregiously overt in displaying brand identity. But I will admit that  I did thoroughly research the luxury brands of Gucci, LV, and Burberry exploring sizes, colors, and possibly subtle patterns. In the end I had zero desire to pay the price of the blue book value of my car for a bag I would use only a few times a year, and certainly not one that was canvas – I don’t care how well it was coated or what the history is. 

    But I did want another investment piece that was quintessential me and would make me happy to use it for years to come. 

    At some point during my search my sister visited and commented on her Longchamp bag and how much mileage she had gotten out of it as a durable day bag. Of course she was talking about the well known Le Pliage line of brightly hued nylon bags with iconic leather trim/shape. Now these bags do come in various size but I did not want nylon. But I found myself checking out the Longchamp website to see what else they might have. 


    And, voila. There it was. It came in a color the manufacturer calls vermillion. Red has always been one of my favorite colors. I have a lot of red in my wardrobe. It’s my signature work color with my clogs and giggles. Vermillion also evokes my cultural heritage as well. 

    So this bag spoke to me immediately. The size. The color. The look. (In general I prefer smooth over pebbled leather and gold over silver toned hardware but neither were deal breakers given how challenging finding size and color were in this case.)

    And today for this trip I debuted the bag. I packed before heading to work for the day in anticipation of a quick turnaround to the airport. My husband texted me this picture of our weekenders side by side with the message “Don’t they look lovely together” and it made me grin. They are, indeed a perfect pair. 


    This Le Foulonne leather extra-large travel bag is simple and spacious. Two internal slat pockets in the jacquard lining, rolled handles a removal shoulder strap, snap tabs to convert from a satchel to a duffle silhouette, and the iconic Longchamp leather button tab (subtle rather than over the top attention getter). It’s super light to and folds for storage without permanently taking on the folds in the leather.  

    Here it is filled with so much stuff and looking great at the same time. 

    While my original vision for this bag was short local trips of 2-3 nights I am delighted to christen it on our flight to Disney. 

    Here I am ready to board. 

    New Year Baggage (Vol 1) 

    Heading out for the Disney marathon trip today (more on that soon – if I survive!) and amidst my combination of fear and excitement is the joy of debuting two new travel bags. I travel a lot and have been wanting more reliable and still stylish options for both a medium hall trip (think 3-5 days of work clothes, workout gear, and evening casual or black tie options) and a long weekend getaway (inclusive of noodling around clothes, at least one running get up, and an out on the town outfit). I will confess the latter are for date weekends/race weekends which I don’t do enough of but hey…Anyway, the point is these bags are in general for separate purposes. 

    This particular trip, however, combines a race weekend, a family Disney mini trip, and a 4 day conference with multiple evening outfit changes. So, my pre-race energy was amped by the joy of putting BOTH new bags to use. 

    So here is my new 26 in Tumi Larkin (accompanied by the Lo & Sons OMG

    Here are some views from the manufacturer. 


    To be sure, it is a heavy suitcase compared to many others on the market of this size. Without my stuff it checks in at 17lbs. But the design is gorgeous and construction is durable. The interior is split into a suited side (I fit 3 work appropriate dresses, spanx, and 2 pairs of heels on that side) and a larger compartment with two side zip compartments and a 3 pouch (one basic, on velvet lines, and one waterproof) carrier with a hook that doubles as the compression strap. The wheels are really smooth and allow for unencumbered 4 way motion. It also expands via solid brackets in the middle of the bag so no tipping over when expanded (but there is no way I would be able to do that and stay under 50lbs). Of course, it’s all backed by Tumi’s warranty and much lauded customer service. 

    This is an investment piece. I especially love the gold tone hardware that is stylish but not gaudy. I am looking  forward to many trips for years to come with this medium haul suitcase. 

    [See Volume 2 for my weekender duffel.]

    To ring in the new year!

    We decided to throw a last minute holiday event recently mostly owing to the fact that I had a blazer and shoes that NEEDED to be worn. This a a ball drop outfit to be sure, especially the heels. Happy New Year! 
    Blazer: Rebecca Minkoff Silk with Sequined shawl collar (Nordstrom Rack)

    Top: Pleione tuxedo ruffle sleeveless blouse (Nordstrom) 

    Pants: St John Tuxedo pants Knit with leather (Nordstrom)

    Shoes: Michael Kors Leather platform sandels with vero cuoio sole and bedazzled heels (Nordstrom Rack)

    Trauma Surgeon’s Ballad by Lin Manuel Miranda

    Like much of America, my family is currently obsessed with everything Hamilton on Broadway. We jammed to the sound track all summer. The season culminated with a late August trip to the show which I described on social media as the best day of my life. Seeing the show, the actors, the set, and choreography, come to life with lyrics we had all memorized was such an amazing experience.


    I cried.

    Part of that was pinching myself that it was actually happening (NB: Tickets now that the original cast is gone are not that hard to find on resale sites but still cost quite a bit above face value.) And the other parts were one particular segment that just cut into my soul when I saw the character of Aaron Burr singing it.

    I sobbed.

    Let me provide you context. Burr is an orphan who is in love with a married woman. He has decided that with everything he has gone through, all of the losses he has suffered, he is willing “to wait” for the woman he loves. As someone who was taught to hate Burr by her high school history teacher who was a Hamilton scholar, this humanization of Aaron Burr was a bit off-putting at first. But the reason I simply could not stop the tears while experiencing the song with all of my senses as the show was not about the forbidden love story behind it, rather is was the commentary on death.

    “Death doesn’t discriminate

    between the sinners

    and the saints,

    it takes and it takes and it takes

    and we keep living anyway.

    We rise and we fall

    and we break

    and we make our mistakes.”

    These words resonate so strongly with my trauma surgeon’s soul. We provide care indiscriminately, irrespective of race, socio-economic status, mechanism of injury, insurance, etc. And we lose people. Sometimes they arrive lifeless; sometimes our efforts fail. When that happens we are broken. We wonder if we could have done anything differently; did we make a mistake? But we have to go on “living” because there are more patients waiting. Some of them are sinners while others are saints and it doesn’t matter we treat them all the same. Then we wait for the next patient to arrive.

    The title of the song is Wait for It.

    The Hamilton sound track is still more or less played in a continuous loop in my home, in our cars, on my runs. And every time I hear this song I cry. I can’t help it. It simultaneously breaks my heart for all my patients who have died and provides me reason to keep coming back to this very emotionally challenging and physically exhausting profession. I know it was not Lin Manuel Miranda intent to write this segment of music (the lyrics and the accompaniment which is haunting) for the trauma surgeon in me but that has been it’s effect and I am so grateful.

    And as for the burnout that is particularly rampant in my specialty, despite the tears from this particular song, the overall experience of seeing the show on Broadway was truly one of the happiest days of my life – a perfect way to spend a weekend off and return to work refreshed and ready to wait for it

    The Brand that Made Me Wear Flats to a Wedding

    Ordinarily, I relish dressy occasions to ditch the scrubs and clogs in favor of a cute dress and a pair of my coveted heels. While I have a number of very comfortable heels, at the end of the day they are still heels forcing me to maintain a high half toe for a long time, often with my toes pushed together. So I have opted to spend the rest of the fall as much as possible in flats as a torture my toes regularly to train for a marathon (more on that someday if I survive!). 

    I invested in a pair of black Tieks (size 7; they only offer half sizes and I am a consistent 71/2) last May and grew to love them as my back up flats when a long day on heels wore me down. But at the end of the day, if I wore those for too long my toes screamed bloody murder, just like after a very long run even in appropriately sized sneakers. So recently as I went head-on into my flats mission I got another pair of Tieks, this time in size 8. Fit like a glove crafted from a baby’s bottom the first time around and voila today I wore my new ruby red pair to a wedding feeling totally fashionable. Tieks for the win! 

    Here are some overly lit pics on this very sunny, perfect day for a wedding, day. 

      
        
     

    There is much internet lore from women obsessed with their Tieks and I confess I might be going over to the flats dark side here. These are the most comfortable shoes (at least for my feet when sized correctly). I simultaneously ordered taupe (pictured below) and wore them for 12 hour days four days straight and hit the stadium seats for the Adele concert with them. No aches. No pains. No blisters. No break in needed. My first pair of ruby red had distractingly different crinkle (for OCD me anyway) between the right and left shoes so I exchanged them. As long as not worn outdoors, Tieks has a great return or exchange policy and they will even send a second pair to compare without charging you. Shipping in both directions is free. The packaging is totally cute and always arrives with a hand written note (I am a sucker for good customer service!) along with a pouch to hold the flats in their very compact form and a bag for your heels should you choose to use your Tieks as a heel back up. As a fan of bright hues, I am obsessed with the plethora of colors the flats come in. But for now I have red, taupe, and just ordered black in size 8.

    As always, while I would relish a new pair of heels or flats for free, unless clearly stated my reviews of my own purchases as in the case of all the Tieks cited in this post. Tieks can only be ordered online at tieks.com and sadly as far as I can tell they never go on sale. But I do believe they are well worth the investment.