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

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Love Songs: A 15th Anniversary Play List

I happen to share my birthday week with my anniversary week. It honestly makes for streamlining celebrations. Today I celebrate 15 of the most wonderful, amazing years of my life with my husband.

We perfectly balance each other’s personality traits; my rambunctious, outgoing type-A is settled by his quiet, contemplative type-B (or is it C–boy is he a shy, introverted type). We bicker like it’s a competitive sport and always (ok, well almost always) make up before the day is over. Yet, we have similar senses of humor, common interests in sports and pop-culture, and shared political leanings.

Beyond the ‘we’ though, there is the ‘he’. As cliche as it sounds, he has been my rock (I could not have gotten through medical school, surgical training, and bringing two children into this world without his support and multiple sacrifices) and is my true soul mate (I felt at ease with him the moment that we met, as if we had known each other in a past life). He has truly brought out the best in me. I am honestly getting emotional writing this (as I do every time I write him an anniversary, birthday, or father’s day card) because I shudder to think about the kind of person I would be today if he had never entered my life.

Many songs also remind me how lucky I have been that he gave me chance and thus changed my life.  Today I wanted to share a few them and thank him. One song for each year of our marriage so far.

(NB: yes, I apply my own personal interpretation to some of these songs, so what–for whatever reason they remind me how enriched my life is with my partner)

 

1) The Rose (Bette Midler) “Far beneath the bitter snows. Lies the seed that with the sun’s love. In the spring becomes the rose.” Thank-you for helping me bloom. 

2) I Will Not Take These Things for Granted (TTWS) “You offer reassurance….you offer warm asylum….you offers visions dancing” and “I will not take these things for granted.” Thank-you for everything that you do; I may not always say it but I promise you I don’t take it for granted how lucky I am.

3) You Picked Me (A Fine Frenzy) “I was difficult to reach. But you picked me.” Thank-you for persisting 19 years ago when all signals told you to get lost. So glad you picked me to pursue.

4) Concrete Sky (Beth Orton) “Save my soul… I feel like I’m falling” Thank-you for picking me up when I have been down, for giving me the strength to tackle obstacles that felt too formidable to go it alone.

5) I Choose You (Sara Bareilles) “I could live by the light in your eyes.” “We are not perfect. We’ll learn from our mistakes.” Thank-you for forgiving me my mistakes and admitting yours. (And also, for those blue eyes!)

6) Lovesong (Adele) “Whenever I’m alone with you. You make me feel like I am home again.” Thank-you for always making me feel safe and unconditionally loved. I am home with you no matter where we are.

7) It’s Friday, I’m in Love (The Cure) “To see you in the middle of the night. You can never get enough. Enough of this stuff. It’s Friday. I’m in love” Thank-you for not complaining about how many Fridays I left you all alone so I could do my job (and Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Weekends, and Holidays as well.)

8) Unison (Bjork) “Domestically. I can obey all of your rules. And still be, be” Thank-you for living up to my often unrealistic expectations about how neat, tidy, and well-organized our home should be.

9) I Won’t Give Up (Jason Mraz) “For us to work we didn’t break, we didn’t burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in.” Thank-you for your willingness to change your ways and grow with me as I also learn to change mine.

10) All of Me (John Legend) “[I] Love your curves and all your edges. All your perfect imperfections.” Thank-you for reminding me to love myself and unload so much lingering self-esteem baggage. You’d think that by age 40 I could embrace all of me as much as you can but I still need your reminders.

11) The Nearness of You (Norah Jones) “It’s just the nearness of you” Thank-you for just being there whenever I ask, even if it means subjecting yourself to another shopping trip or boring work event with complete strangers who give never-ending speeches.

12) Goodnight and Go (Imogen Heap) “It’s impossible to ignore you. Must you make me laugh so much.” Thank-you for making me laugh so very much. I look forward to saying goodnight to you for every night the rest of my life in person or from afar.

13) In Your Eyes (Peter Gabriel) “In your eyes. I am complete.” Thank-you for thinking the best of me despite my weaknesses and flaws. Your rose colored view is often needed.

14) Something in the Way She Moves (James Taylor) “And if I’m feeling down and blue or troubled by some foolish game. She always seems to make me change my mind.” Thank-you for allowing me to cheer you up on the days you would rather be sulking.

15) Who You Love (John Mayer) “Oh, you can’t make yourself stop dreaming
Who you’re dreaming of. If it’s who you love.” Thank-you for sticking with me even when it seemed that no one else who loved me would ever accept you. 

Thanks for a great 15 years babe. We don’t listen to enough music. And, of course that is because these songs just make me sob hysterical tears of love-filled joy.