An Open Letter to Young Women Considering a Career in Surgery

Featured

Dear Young Woman Considering a Career in Surgery,

It was lovely to meet you the other day. Many times a month, a young woman just like you comes to me with similar interests and concerns. “I really love surgery,” she says, ” But I am afraid of the lifestyle and I really want to have a family.”

Oh, and thank you for also inviting me to speak at your seminar the other day on Women in Traditionally Male Dominated Fields. I have been speaking at similar panel sessions since 2005 when I was a bit of a novelty at my training program as a clinical PGY-4 with an infant daughter. Your collective curiosity on what my life must be like is of great interest to me because to me it’s just my life. It’s the only reality that I know because, like you, I was young (just a few days into my 25th year, just 5 days into my first ever surgical rotation) when it occurred to me that I really loved surgery. It was unexpected; but every day since then (from the remainder of that MS3 rotation, to my sub-internships, to my years in residency, to research and clinical fellowships, and to these past 6 years on staff) I have crafted a reality, as tenuous as it is, that works for me and my family in any given moment in time.

And I am here to tell you that you can do the same too if you, in your heart of hearts, can think of nothing more exciting than surgery as your professional passion.

People outside of surgery will tell you that it’s a career that is too hard to integrate with family life. They are correct that it is generally harder than other fields in medicine; but, ask yourself if you truly want a career in general pediatrics, or dermatology, or invasive cardiology or anything in between. If the answer for whatever alternate field(s) you are considering is no, then no matter how many fewer hours your profession requires, no matter how much more flexible those hours may be, your family will be left with a present, well-rested, yet bitter wife and mother.

[NB: I use the word integrate very purposefully here. Anyone from a demanding profession, surgery or otherwise, who tells you that work-life balance is possible is conning you. Your life will never be in balance. Something will always have to give: your work, your family, or yourself. It’s in how you integrate these things in a shifting, fluid professional and personal lifetime that you will craft your own reality.]

 

The same can be said of those who encourage you to enter surgery training but then offer that you may consider a career in breast surgery or start an exclusive vein clinic or choose some other presumably less time sensitive and/or less time consuming surgical practice to balance your professional work with your desire to have a family. Again, ask yourself  if you can truly be happy in such a practice. (I personally would be bored with only a few kinds of procedures in my armamentarium and the absence of physiologic chaos; but everyone is different.) You may not know the answer until you are well into your training; but, choosing a medical specialty in the first place, or a surgical subspecialty in the second, simply because you presume it will be easier for family life is fraught with potential for professional dissatisfaction. I promise you that professional dissatisfaction will always stand in the way of overall family life satisfaction. Always. Forever.

Finally, as hard as it might be to envision yourself as a surgeon who wants hobbies, and a spouse, and a smoking hot body, and children of your own someday,  remind yourself that divorced parents, widowed parents, disabled parents, parents with deployed military spouses, and parents with far fewer socio-economic resources than practicing surgeons, and trainees for that matter, somehow get it done. Every life has it’s particular challenges when it comes to parenting but surely being a surgeon is not the most insurmountable of them all.

So think long and hard about alternatives to surgery; but choose one only if it speaks to your professional soul. No matter what career you choose, you will likely spend more time at work than on any other aspect of your life be it parenting, self-care, love-making, you name it. Therefore, it is critically important that your choice of career light the fire in your belly to show up every day leaving behind, at least temporarily, everything else including your children. Because one thing is for sure: when you are practicing surgery, your head needs to be in the game. You cannot be distracted by guilt about not being with  your family or about delegating some of the more mundane aspects of childrearing or homemaking to others. You must love the work enough to drop the guilt and create practical solutions to raise your children and provide them with a safe and loving space in which to grow while reimagining whatever stereotypes you hold about being the perfect parent.

Because you know what: There is no such thing as a perfect parent, surgeon or otherwise. So there will never be any point in beating yourself up about it. Know that you will love your children more than you could have ever imagined loving anything, including surgery, but that you will still be a great surgeon. The two are not incompatible, but it takes some effort and creativity.

So, now that I have convinced you to choose the career of your dreams here are some thoughts on the effort and creativity it will require.

Do not underestimate the importance of choosing a life partner who gets the soul inspiring nature of your career choice. He/She may be another surgeon, or physician in another specialty, or a non-medical professional, or a skilled laborer; it doesn’t matter as long as your life partner understands that, when you are tired from the long days and nights, or sorrowful for the lost lives, or otherwise distracted, it is not because you love work more than you love them. Bottom line: as awesome as any career may be there is something messed up about your priorities if you really would choose work over loved ones. So your life partner needs to get that you aren’t messed up; you just have a demanding career.

With the demands of that career comes the need for a real partnership in planning life. That doesn’t mean a 50:50 split or a 80:20 split or anything conscribed; it means a constant openness to splitting however it needs to be split or not splitting at all to ensure that life outside of work happens. It means making the most of precious few waking moments together through physical contact and communication. It means having a very user friendly calendar/shared to-do system. It means providing feedback without judgment for the practical things in life and making space for shared emotional and spiritual needs. If you find yourself paired up with someone who can’t work with you on life this way, then consider dumping him/her. Seriously, it’s not worth trying to make them happy if they just don’t get this hugely important part of what makes you whole.

[NB: If a life partner is not your thing or things just don’t work out, that’s okay. The same principles of reimagining, outsourcing, and dropping the guilt apply. It’s just that your village, or metropolis as may be the case for some surgeons, has a different population structure.]

 

Choose your job based on both professional and personal needs. Training is finite and there is always an end from which to take on a new direction. However, even though many surgeons change jobs, think of your job as your forever job so you don’t accept a situation which will turn out to be toxic for you. Choose partners who will have your back, and you, in turn need to be willing to have theirs. Choose geography that at least satisfies some of your desires for commute time, distance from extended family, lifestyle, weather, etc. and makes life easier. You can’t blame surgery if your long commute destroys your soul, or if having your parents thousands of miles away makes you sad, or if humidity, piles of snow, or whatever your most dreaded weather phenomenon is drives you crazy, or if it takes a flight to get to your favorite past time of hiking, biking, skiing, etc. That’s on you and the choices you have made as a surgeon and not on the profession itself. Finally, choose a practice type and setting that will make you excited to show up every day (for me it was research, teaching, and a level 1 trauma center in a university based system).

If you do have a life partner and working is important to him/her, don’t pick a location that will railroad his/her career. As much as being a surgeon defines you, your soul mate is similarly defined. Please don’t create a situation where he/she will be susceptible to resentment about having his/her professional goals squashed. (I’ve been there. It puts a real strain on a marriage. It sucks.) It’s already hard enough to be paired up with you, a surgeon. Both your jobs may be equally demanding, or one may be more demanding; it doesn’t matter as long as together you negotiate a mutually satisfying life-long give and take about who prioritizes what and when depending on the stages of your respective careers and the ever evolving needs of your family.

When is comes to family, do not waste too much mental effort over-thinking when you should start it. Fertility, along with finding the right person with whom to test your fertility, is a complex and unpredictable thing. No pregnancy is guaranteed to proceed smoothly. Given these inherent limitations and unknowns, along with the demands of a surgical career, there is no perfect time to start a family. This is about as certain as death and taxes. I will spare you the perceived pros and cons to having children during training compared to while in practice. Just know that every time period poses challenges and every passing year makes infertility more likely; so if you are ready in your personal life to try to get pregnant go for it; because, if you choose to wait for a perfect time, you will be waiting for a very, very long time.

And, if having children in a traditional sense is not possible for whatever reason, there is also no perfect time for assisted reproduction, adoption, or surrogacy either even though the salary increase a staff surgeon or faculty job may be necessary for these options. In the end, whatever approach to becoming a parent will be required,  you will figure out a way to get through the challenges because you will have mentally and emotionally committed yourself to the idea of being a mother who also happens to be a surgeon.

[NB: If you choose to not have children-by this I really mean choose as there are myriad other mishaps of life and physiology that prevent women who want to be mothers from becoming mothers-, please do not make that choice simply because you want to succeed as a surgeon. You will never forgive yourself. Not ever.]

 

When it comes to family there are various options to manage childrearing and homemaking. A nanny, two nannies, an au pair, daycare, a nearby grandparent, a neighbor who is a stay-at-home parent, or various combinations of these may be required to keep your children loved and safe. It’s different for every family and I promise you that you will find what works for  you. It will be a source of stress but it is doable. And, no matter how much time others spend rearing your children on your behalf, those kids somehow know that your are their mother, that you love them in a way beyond any other love, that you would give your own life if it would save them, and that you also happen to be a busy surgeon. Trust me. They will. And, they will be really proud of the uniqueness of their surgeon mom. They really will.

When it comes to your home, be it your 600 sqft rental in residency or your 2500 sqft grown up home in a cul de sac, outsource any jobs you and/or your partner simply do not enjoy. I cannot emphasize this enough. You will, in fact, have precious little time with your family. Ask yourself how you want to spend that time. Do you want to being cleaning and doing laundry? Or do you want to plan a family outing? If hopping on your John Deere and showing your lawn whose boss on your Saturday off is a fun activity for you, then by all means go for it, otherwise someone else will be happy to mow your lawn for a fee. If you love cooking, knock yourself out planning, shopping for, and preparing gourmet meals along with the associated clean up, but if you don’t then find a meal service. You get the point. If you don’t love it and it can be done by someone else outsource it. Even on a trainee’s budget you should strive to rid yourself of any household obligations you abhor. (For me the $55 spent every other week during residency for cleaning was well worth never having to spend a day off cleaning a toilet and now the extra hours we pay our nanny to do all of our laundry has spared me a monthly power weekend of washing and folding 10 loads of laundry because we just could not get to it all with the many kids’ activities, call nights, etc. that prevent daily washing.)

Remember: as little time as you will have at home to spend with family, you must also prioritize time for yourself. Don’t expect it to just happen. Just as you schedule elective OR cases, you must schedule elective you time. It may not happen very often but if you don’t take the time for self care in the midst of the stresses of the job and the stresses of parenting you will be cranky and miserable to be around. How you spend time away from family when you have so little time with them will change over time and you may even develop hobbies incorporating your family (we have taken to family bike rides and kayaking trips as the kids have gotten older to combine wellness with family time) but remember to schedule things that feel completely selfish to you. A girls’ night, date night, a pedicure, reading a trashy novel, going to a Zumba class during bath/bedtime, or whatever you enjoy is totally not selfish but you will feel that way; so a good barometer for whether or not you are making time for self care is how selfish it feels. My advice is feel selfish at least once a month.

[NB: If your selfish thing is not a fitness thing then you have to also figure out how to fit that in because your patients and your family need you to be healthy.]

 

Being a surgeon is not incompatible with being a good wife, mother, athlete, whatever else; it’s just trickier. But, if young women keep being scared away from surgical careers then these same fears will linger generation after generation; we will never achieve a critical mass of women surgeons in the profession who can set good examples for one another and for future surgeons. With the same focus we apply in the OR and the same organization we bring to rounds and the same compassion we bring to patient encounters, we can create a life strategy that overcomes these perceived barriers for both a happy family life and a successful surgical career. The barriers will change depending on the stage of the career you love so much and the needs, wants, and development of what and who you love outside of work; but, take it from this surgeon mom: they are barriers to be overcome, not shied away from.

I am pretty sure that’s why you showed up at my door and asked me to that seminar, to make what seems impossible to you at the moment seem possible. Let me tell you: if I can do it, you can too. Go forth, be a surgeon, be a wife, be a mom, be good to yourself and craft a reality that works for you. Then, pay it forward so that someday these meetings and seminars might be rendered obsolete.

Sincerely,

@surgeoninheels

Not just a token surgeon-mom-wife-runner

PS. Here is some inspiration. Your potential in surgery is limitless. https://www.womensurgeons.org/in-practice/leaders-in-surgery/

PPS. The Association of Women Surgeons is an invaluable professional organization whose goal is to: ENGAGE current and future women surgeons to realize their professional and personal goals. EMPOWER women to succeed. EXCEL in those aspirations through mentorship, education and a networking community that promotes their contributions and achievements as students, surgeons and leaders. https://www.womensurgeons.org/

PPPS. I have been fortunate for the last 10+ years to be a part of the American College of Surgeons Women in Surgery Committee working towards improved gender parity, opportunities for professional development, and better work life integration in our careers. https://www.facs.org/about-acs/governance/acs-committees/women-in-surgery-committee

Advertisements

Allowing myself to just be deserves accolades, not guilt

I am always telling myself to not be one of those bloggers who gives a play by play of his or her day. I prefer to blog about fun things or things from which I derive meaning and I hardly think that anyone gives a rat’s ass about what I did and when so fair warning:

THIS IS A POST ABOUT WHAT I DID YESTERDAY.

I woke up even earlier that I do when I feigning to be morning exercise person to get my daughter to a 6:30am arrival for a field hockey tournament 70 miles away. 4am is brutal for mom, for the tween player who now routinely sleeps until 10 or 11am on weekends, and for the sad sap of an 8 year old brother who needs to tag along since dad is away on a much needed and well deserved guys’ weekend. Of course I am chronically fatigued and it’s nice now that the kids are older that I can use the weekends to catch up on sleep. So to have this privilege stolen from me for a sporting event deeply hurt me but parenting wins so there I was driving 1 hour and 20 minutes each way. The kids both slept in the car both ways. I jacked myself up with caffeine hoping not to become a statistic we trauma surgeons like to study on driving and fatigue.

When we got finally got home at midday I was exhausted. Despite the caffeine coursing through my veins I could not keep my eyes open so I stumbled into a sleep on our ever so cozy sectional. But it was a broken sleep. I refused to simply go up to the bedroom and just give in completely to the tiredness. Nope, I kept hoping that I would soon rise and have a productive day. You see, after several years of working on work-life integration, I am still having a hard time with simply relaxing. I am so trained to think of it as lazy and unproductive that when I do nothing in particular (or choose to sleep rather than doing) I feel an enormous sense of guilt and failure.

In between my fits and spurts of sleep I was thinking:

The house is a mess. (I should be tidying up!)

There are multiple loads of laundry to be done. (I should be washing and folding!)

The kids are somewhere in this house fighting boredom. (I should be playing with them!)

The work to-do list is out of control. (I should be tackling whatever I can remotely!)

There are thank you cards to write. (I should be putting pen to Crane’s paper!)

The Kindle is filled with newly downloaded e-books. (I should be reading!)

My ass is getting fatter as I lay here and the sun is shining. (I should go out for a run!)

I woke up at dusk. I felt like kicking myself for these myriad failed opportunities to get stuff done, to be a better wife (who helps around the house every so often), to be a more engaged mother, to utilize any one of the 7 habits of highly effective people, to take care of myself.

Argh! The self-loathing was quick and sharp.

Later on, once the kids had made sure I ate and stayed hydrated (their dad has trained them well) and had headed to bed (after showering and reading to themselves)* I took the dog for a nice long walk feeling the need to pad the mere 1k steps I had accumulated up to that point since my daily target is 10k. It was a serene and beautiful night. There were no cars zipping by. No sound of Lifeflight that is frequently overhead. No other dog walkers even. Most lights in the neighborhood were off on the eve of returning to school after winter break.

As I was retelling myself all the failures of my day and tryinng to forgive myself, the peace and calm of the night got to me. It occurred to me that I surely deserved some peace and calm with all that I do day in and day out, at home and at work (okay, fine mostly at work!). It turns out that a perfectly calm and peaceful night was a fitting ending to a day of rest that I unintentionally engineered for myself despite all of my intentions (including with this blog) to take better care of myself. I deserved accolades and not self-flagellation. And so I tacked on 4k steps dropping a little more guilt with each stride, congratulating myself on a job well done, not for being lazy but for successfully allowing myself to just be. 

Today, I can see that it helped recharge me for the household chores, unending work obligations, needy family, and self-care that are still there today waiting for type A, get-the-job-done, me.

[*NB: It gets better as they age, I promise. I miss the cooing and burps and smiles of my babies but I sure do appreciate their self-sufficiency on these lazy, ummmmm restful, days.]

 

Bag to School #2: My new work bag

I have had the Lo & Sons OMG for several months now. I bought it to replace my beloved Kate Spade that was just a bit too small for my sherpa like work ways. I struggled to fit in an extra pair of shoes (I might be @surgeoninheels but it’s always a safe bet to have a pair of flats on hand) and always had a separately lunch bag to carry (one will fail at weight control if they buy lunches at work so I take a salad, some fruit, and nuts to work every day). So I was in the market for a bag that would fit my 11in MacBook Air and accessories along with usual bag essentials (sunglass case, umbrella, emergency pouch [more on this in another blog post!]) and my lunch and a back-up pair of flats. omg_blackgold_style_783x485_2

I had honestly never heard of Lo & Sons until a friend commented that my travel must haves was missing this bag. That reminded me that I had read about this bag on the Huffington Post OMG Review at some point in the past. I thought to myself, if this trusted friend likes the bag and the HuffPo likes it, then I must own it. So here I am owning it.


I really like this bag (but I don’t love it and I will get into that below).

This bag fits a lot. It is a stylized version of a gym bag and (as touted by the HuffPo) could be an overnight bag but it would never work for these roles for me as I need a much bigger bag for such purposes. For me it is simply an everyday work bag, my women’s brief case so to speak. They do offer a slightly larger version called the OG but I think this would be far too large for an everyday bag.

My favorite part of the bag is the shoe pouch that is accessible from the side via a hidden zipper. I also love that it has an organized outside zipper pocket with a couple of pen slots, an internal zipper pocket within this outside zipper pocket, and a pocket for a phone. It has a few credit card slots too but since I have a wallet this is not particularly useful to me; however, it does not present itself as a nuisance either. There is also a key fob holder in the outside zipper pocket. The bag is also very organized on the inside with a laptop pocket, a file folder pocket and two additional slip pockets along with yet another zipper pocket. The outside is a water resistant nylon with leather straps and the inside is a nice jacquard print fabric. There is a detachable shoulder strap that allows you to wear it comfortably as a crossbody and I do love this feature. I chose black with lavender interior and gold hardware. I have to reiterate that I love bags that come with gold hardware but the company actually allows you to choose your combinations of exterior, interior and hardware when you order.

omg_blackgold_shoepocket_783x485_2omg_blackgold_laptoppocket_783x485_1

Of course, having returned to the website to write this review I am super annoyed that they now have many more colors to choose from (colors is something they seem to offer every now and then based on a quick internet search). I would have loved to not get basic black in favor of a pop of color. But, when I was shopping for a bag they had black, brown, navy, and military green–none popped and if something isn’t going to pop then black is my go to neutral. But I digress. The point is, you can now buy the bag in an array of awesome colors and a new heather gray canvas.
omg_navy_essentials_783x485_1_1omg_navy_interiorpockets_783x485_3

omg_heathergrey_back_1200x900I have traveled with this bag on multiple occasions and the adjustable zipper openings on the opposite side of the bag are perfect to slip over any rolling suitcase (the new heather gray is pictured to the right). Once on board this bag fits nicely under the seat with plenty of room for my tootsies wiggle and flex.

Anyway, here’s what I am not super crazy about with this bag. First, even when fully unzipped it does not open wide enough for me to just slip in my 11in Air without turning it vertically on its side and this bag is supposed to fit most 13in laptops. Speaking of laptops, the laptop slot is secured by a leather strap that fits over a gold button and this is not a quick and easy closure by any means (and I have the dexterous hands of a surgeon!) so I never use it. Since I never use it the leather just sort of flaps in the breeze and is an unnecessary nuisance much like the appendix in the right lower quadrant.

Also related to the zipper issue is the fact that since I can’t open the mouth of the bag as much as I want despite all the interior pockets my usual flustered self is not in a state of mind most days to peer into the bag and make sure that everything is in its place. So, things make their way haphazardly in the big empty space in the middle while the pockets sit empty.  The file holder slot next to the laptop slot is fabric only and I find that the work related items I put in there will sag into the big empty space making it hard for me to reach into the space and often bending/marring the edges of the paperwork I am trying to store in that slot. Finally, the internal zipper pocket of the outside zipper pocket and the internal zipper pocket of the main compartment of this bag are sewn in back to back so the full depth and breadth of either one cannot be utilized without rendering the other unusable so one of mine is typically always empty.

Now none of these are deal breakers for me. There are a lot of 5 star reviews of this bag in the blogosphere but honestly the current version of the OMG that I own only gets 4 stars from me.  However, I have been told that Lo’s sons who are the men behind this venture are very responsive to feedback and this is my version of feedback. I hope that they make a next version with a few fixes liker a wider mouth (think something that opens up a bit more like a doctor’s bag!), a more utilitarian securing mechanism for the laptop (think snap or magnet), internal zipper pockets on opposite sides of the bag, and a stiffer file folder section that I can pick up in a snazzy color. For now, the OMG is lightweight, comfortable to carry, and big enough to hold all my crap so I remain beholden to this bag.

all images from https://www.loandsons.com

Dear Friend, It is Zumba

Featured

Dear Friend,

I can relate. You have made it to middle age (Gasp! Yes it is true, we are more than half way to 80) and you have spent a quarter of that lifetime (Yes, the past twenty years! My god, have we really known each other that long?!) neglecting yourself.

I get it. You were busy training for a lifetime of work in one of the most demanding careers around. You trained and you studIMG_3940ied and then you trained and you studied more (Do you really have three degrees after college?!? Was being valedictorian of your elite college not over-achievement enough for you?!) Alas, none of that training was of the “personal trainer” or “training for an Ironman” kind. No. You didn’t have time for that (Okay, neither did I; yes, I confess that’s my office wall).

I know why. There were the 120 hour work weeks, then there were the babies, and now there is life with a busy career and growing kids (They really have to have sooooooo many needs! Darn food and shelter! But, why so many school events? And for the love of god, why so many extracurriculars that eat up every weekend that we are lucky enough to be off?) I know there is a spouse involved (I mean how else would those kids get clothed and fed everyday while you work from dusk to dawn, or frequently from dawn to dawn or dawn to the dusk 40 hours later?). In the midst of all this working and raising babies you are busy doing your best to be a good wife too.

So I can totally see why putting you on the bottom of the list was easy. You would feel too guilty to do to otherwise (You know that guilt trip is totally in your head, right?  Everyone around you, who you feel you don’t give enough time to, would really rather you put some time into yourself.) You deserve it. You need it. It will make you a better wife, a better mother, and a better doctor. But it needs to be something that gives you pure joy so you don’t beat yourself up about not writing that grant instead, or missing bedtime, or skipping that after dinner glass of wine with your husband. I too used to struggle choosing it on the precious few nights I home from work and not in a post-call coma. But I am so glad I found it.

Solid_gold_dancers_mediumAnd, I am writing to tell you that it is Zumba. You see, I remember the days when if it was a Friday night you were spritzing on the Aquanet and heading to Sh-booms to dance the night away (In retrospect both the hairspray and the venue was questionable but you were young). I have a vivid picture in my mind of you rockin’ out to It’s Raining Men at your wedding (Why you would be delirious about it raining men having just married the man of your dreams is also somewhat questionable but it is a great song). And, I know your childhood dream was to become a Solid Gold Dancer (Okay, in retrospect the hairspray and the venue totally make sense even though it was no longer the 80s by then!)

I love Zumba and so will you (Zumba’s motto is “ditch the workout, join the party.” Doesn’t everyone want to party more as they age and trick the body into feeling younger, hipper, and cooler?). Zumba burns calories and builds core strength through super fun dance moves. Many are Latin inspired but there is a range so you can salsa, or charleston, or plain old old-school aerobics style grapevine your way to an effective workout (Come on. Surely you have seen the infomercial? Yes, it’s true you really do have that much fun doing Zumba. Not everyone there is as hot as on the infomercial but that’s fake TV and not real life). There are some variations like Zumba toning that focus more on muscle definition (In Zumba toning you use a double sided maraca thingy and who doesn’t love that–like shaking a martini without the alcohol and calories but the dancing leaves you buzzed in a calorie deficit.) Also, as if channeling your childhood aspirations there are cool Retro 80s Zumba parties (Seriously, if this isn’t s sign what is?!?).  You can see how the Core Connection‘s clients danced “Like a Maniac” here.

So instead of trying to coordinate our schedules to meet up over a cosmo let shake at Zumba together.  You love to dance; getting a groove on is in your biologic makeup (I know because I am a doctor) so I guarantee that Zumba will bring the pure joy that it seems you need to justify being able to find some way to squeeze physical fitness into your life in a way that reading journal articles on a recumbent bike decidedly cannot.

It may be the answer to your mid-life fitness woes my dear, dear friend and former aspiring Solid Gold Dancer.

Love,

Your ungraceful, uncoordinated, booty does not dissociate from her spine but still gets her ass to Zumba friend,

@surgeoninheels

zumbalogo

Why the Ice Bucket Challenge Makes Me Sad for Humanity

Today, my thoughts on the ice bucket challenge appeared on cognoscenti, the ideas and opinion page of Boston’s NPR news station, WBUR. my side of the point/counterpoint is below and you can see both sides here.

 

ALS is an awful disease.

As a surgeon who has performed tracheostomies on ALS patients who have been robbed of the ability to breathe, I have experienced the disquiet of wondering whether I am helping them or prolonging their suffering as they are progressively trapped, mental faculties fully intact, in a non-functioning body.

Like many awful diseases, ALS deserves to be the subject of research, inquiry and the quest for treatments and a cure. For this reason, I feel good about the uptick in donations for ALS research sparked by the Ice Bucket Challenge. Unfortunately, too few of those who have accepted the challenge include anything meaningful about the disease or about how participating might help ALS patients in their online posts about their ice bucket experience. This reduces their participation to, at best, the appearance of altruism wrapped up in the aura of being tough enough to endure a very cold dousing. At worst, the Ice Bucket Challenge is nothing more than “me too-ism,” blindly hopping on to the latest viral craze without understanding why it is a good deed.

In the era of social media, we have more opportunities than ever to support worthy causes, from rare diseases and prevalent cancers to vulnerable children and abandoned pets. Sometimes, we donate because someone we know is running, cycling or building for a cause. Sometimes, the cause holds special meaning to us. Perhaps we lost someone to the rare disease, or our own good fortune inspires us to help others who don’t share it.

Although donations to ALS charities are up, I am not convinced that awareness of the disease, which is the other object of the challenge, is. I wonder how many know what ALS stands for, or that it is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. How many know that the disease causes progressive loss of motor control of bodily functions? How many know why a cure remains elusive?

However you ascribe meaning to the act of giving, it should be more than just jumping on a bandwagon. That is why this silly challenge makes me sad for humanity. Are we challenging each other to act charitably because it’s the right thing to do, or because everyone is doing it?

Twitter: @surgeoninheels

The Inspiring Blogger Award

inspiring2

 

 

 

 

 

Thank you April for nominating me and my blogger in crime @surgeoninkicks for the Inspiring blogger award! For those of you who haven’t read her work, check her out over at http://diapersandtutus.wordpress.com/! Her efforts to bridge the seemingly deep divide between work and motherhood and play (because let’s face it motherhood is some work and some play so I put it in between) really speaks to us.

Here are the rules;

  1. Thank and link to the amazing person who nominated you.
  2. List the rules and display the award.
  3. Share seven facts about yourself.
  4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
  5. Proudly display the award logo on your blog and follow the blogger who nominated you.

Now, for seven facts about us…

1. There are, in fact, two of us. With our busy schedules (which I know we blog about often) there is no way one of us could keep up with the volume of writing that keeps a blog vibrant and interesting. Even with two of us, we often go weeks at a time without a post but we are doing our best. I tend to be the more sentimental, sappy of the two of us and she tends to be the smart and sassy one. In that regard we balance each other out but I swear in real life we are like two halves of the same person….

2. Except one of us is a true soft-edged southern gal and the other is a sharp-cornered easterner….I will let you guess who is who.

3. We are both short. She is 5’2” and I was 5’2” until I found pilates and grew and inch.

4. We met in Chicago and, though neither one of us lives there anymore, we harbor a deep, deep love and affection for the place and not just because that’s where we met.

5. And, though we both ended up growing up to be traumamamas, we trained in different programs.

6. We both fell in love young and married men of different racial/ethnic origins.

7. And, oh yeah, she’s the B!%#? who introduced me to Pure Barre and I am so grateful.

–so now that you know more about us, check out some of our nominees, @surgeoninheels

And our nominees are…..(and we will confess, these are blogs we like and relate to, and read a lot but we did not have to time to see if they were already nominated; we don’t know if they are already popular and don’t need novices like us spreading the word; we just like them and think you might too)

http://urbandoctormom.com/

http://crankygiraffe.wordpress.com/

http://frommtvtomommy.com/

http://bringingupbuddhas.com/

http://adequatedad.wordpress.com/

http://theuglyvolvo.com/

http://knifebeforewifebeforelife.wordpress.com/

http://peachcordial.wordpress.com/

http://werunforcupcakes.wordpress.com/

http://fitfor365.wordpress.com/

http://surgeryattiffanys.wordpress.com/

http://theprojectneon.com/

http://runninginhighheels.me/

http://lifeislikeaboxofmakeup.wordpress.com/

http://cakedinmakeup.wordpress.com/