An open letter to Mike Pence, umm great blog post, about the ridiculous societal discourse in certain circles re: women’s clothing, appearance, and simple act of being female in the presence of men.

This kind of socialization, as the blogger describes it, has so many consequences for women: body-shame, low self esteem, wage and promotion inequities, victim blaming in cases of rape and sexual assault. The list goes on and on. The consequences are real.

Let’s not raise our boys to think this is normal. Especially important now since our President perpetuates one extreme where men get a free pass for any kind of behavior, even criminal acts, if they happened to be ‘turned on’ by a woman and our Vice-President perpetuates the other extreme wherein merely being alone with a woman might cause him to have feelings of arousal so he won’t do it.

http://weareezer.com/2017/06/26/i-dont-accommodate-uncontrolled-men/

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Memories (In a pile of old receipts)

In college, soon after I got my first bank account and a credit card with a $300 credit limit, I started keeping every receipt for every purchase I ever made. At the end of every calendar year, I would box up an annual pile of receipts. This continued until a few years ago when my husband decided he could no longer tolerate me forcing us as a family to save every receipt filed away into individual envelopes for necessities, frivolities, groceries, gifts, etc. He was right, outside of certain big ticket items and shoes from Nordstrom, there really was not any reason to “hoard” receipts (his words, not mine).

It’s been a tough habit to break. Now, when I empty out my wallet after a few days I scan the receipt for what I purchased and then cringe as a toss it. Every. Single. Time. Not sure if it’s just me still trying to break the habit or some weird paranoia that I will truly someday miss having proof of purchase for that t-shirt from target or that gallon of milk.

In any case, during some spring cleaning yesterday I came across all of my receipts from those college years. It was a fascinating lens into my past habits and routines. He’s what I remembered/learned about myself all these years later.

  1. I bought a lot of feminine hygiene products. A lot.
  2. I spent a lot of money on photocopies and laser printing.
  3. I ate out. Often. And, surprisingly I can remember who I ate with for each of those meals away from our usual two or three go-to restaurants. Making the effort to go somewhere more expensive or (gasp) leave the general vicinity of campus = a special occasion and I found myself imagining everyone who I thought was special to me all those years ago.
  4. I didn’t, however, indulge in snacks at convenience stores or similar. This is notable only because I am married to someone who definitely did.
  5. I always love to shop, it seems.
  6. I never paid more than $19.99 for any of my shoes or clothes back then. Typically, my stuff came in well under ten bucks.
  7. I owe a special thank you to the Wexner family of Columbus, OH. Were it not for their Limited/Express stores back in the day I might have had to go through college naked.
  8. I even once purchased something at an Abercrombie & Fitch store. This must have been before I developed migraines in response to strong perfumes or colognes. I won’t allow my daughter to shop there (at least when I am with her) because it’s some sort of moral stand I decided to take for reasons related to the forced inhalation of strong smells as I walk by their stores in the modern American mall.   I have always denied ever shopping there; evidently, I am a big liar.
  9. I never bought anything that would be considered athletic. Nope. Not a thing in which one could workout. This is regrettable, not only for the fact that it is evidence of my complete lack of physical self-care back then but also because it likely led to the backlash known as my current Athleta problem.
  10. I got just a bit nostalgic that Caldor, Lechmere, and Filene’s no longer exist.
  11. I evidently was also the kiss of death for any bank I decided to do my saving with. None of the three banks I used during those years exist today.
  12. I used to listen to a lot more music than I do now. Today I could stream constantly if I wanted to but honesty I don’t ever listen to music outside of my car or on workouts. Back then between mail order and the local Tower Records, I bought a lot of CDs.
  13. I enjoyed live music far more often than the concert every couple of years I enjoy today. But, there was no genre in particular that called my name as was evident from my ticket stubs for House of Pain, Duran Duran, James Taylor, and They Might Be Giants. And, as with those special dinners, I remember exactly who I saw each of those shows with.
  14. If there wasn’t live music to be enjoyed, I went to the movies. I saw some great films and some mediocre ones. I often sought out art house cinemas for limit release films. I didn’t just seek out the big screen for films whose effects would warrant the time, effort, and cost of going to the movies [read: the only movies I have seen in the theatre in the last 3 years are the 2 Star Wars movies.] I simply enjoyed going to the movies back then unfettered by the logistics of sitters and evening little league games or by the gravitational pull of my pajamas at 7:30pm.
  15. Occasionally, I went to a play but I was not so much a theater person. Rather I was an ardent supporter of my friends who ran the set, played in the pit, or were making their acting debut on their way to become ophthalmologists, lawyers, and Drosophila experts.
  16. I clearly went out a lot. But when I was in, I spent a lot of time on the phone at substantial cost. If I had invested the money I spent on hours of late night calls with my best friend from home, she and I would be enjoying some really tricked out girls’ weekends now. Calling friends came at a premium back then. Now, we have unlimited minutes to talk yet we rarely do; and, if we do it’s for minutes, not hours.
  17. I was proud of the fact that I worked to finance all of these “frivolities” that lightened my college years. I made $65/week at my work study and always deposited $40, spending about $25 on the typical weekend (Thursday night through Sunday brunch back in those days — never paying for a brunch until years later because, well, dining waffled were just that good) and putting away the rest for my phone bill and summer adventures.
  18. I didn’t really have any real adventures, though. I visited my sister and my best friend in New York a lot. I had a great trip to visit my roommate on the west coast our first summer after college. And, yes I saved every boarding pass and bus ticket. Greyhound and Peter Pan still exist but wow my TWA ticket for the *non-smoking* section was a real blast from the past. As was that boarding pass for my first every Southwest flight in 1993 — an experience that kept me from using this airline for the ensuing nearly a quarter of a century until driven by desperation about 2 years ago.
  19. I wonder what has happened to the carbon paper industry. I miss the satisfying mechanical sound of the credit card impression maker thingy. The screeching feedback that it’s time to remove my chip is not the same.
  20. I also miss my original signature with first, middle, and last name fully legible. receipts

 

A Belated Thank You

Cross-posting from the heenastat blog.

heenaSTAT

It was late. I had just finished a straight-forward appendectomy. I explained the findings and expectations for recovery to the family gathered in the waiting area. There were a lot more people there than in the emergency room just a few hours earlier.

“Yes, he will most likely be going home tomorrow morning,” I answered in response to a final question from a family member. I shook the mother’s hand and turned to walk away. Everyone’s expression was one of relief. It’s an every day diagnosis and procedure for us; for them, it’s quite possibly the scariest thing to have happen to a love one.

Except it wasn’t.

“I think I know you,” I heard when my back was already turned. “Do you take care of people in car crashes?” It was a timid inquiry.

“Yes, I am an acute care surgeon. I do trauma and emergency general surgery.”

“You…

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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.]