Thursday, January 21, 2016

Carpe Diem

If ever there was a time to panic, it would probably be now.

With less than two months to go before embarking on the trip of a lifetime, I have yet to determine accommodations for a third of my stay in India.  I also have not figured out how I will make my way from city to city, in a foreign land where I do not speak the language.  To make matters worse, in India, meeting even basic needs will be at best unfamiliar and at worst, downright hostile.  As a result I've become completely fixated on avoiding "Delhi Belly" (the cutesy nickname for the not so cute gastrointestinal disorders afflicting anyone unlucky enough to drink the water in New Dehli) and use an Indian bathroom (or what I refer to as the original "squatty potty") without managing to get myself into a - literally- crappy situation.

There are vaccines to receive, visas to obtain and a particularly rousing game of "life" whack-a-mole to play as I attempt to stabilize the rest of my world long enough to discover my place in it once again.

To put it lightly, I'm in over my head.

But thankfully, I also happen to know the value of allowing a story to unfold- in both the literal and figurative sense.

In the medical world we don't often discuss how little control we have over the outcomes of the people we devote our careers to helping.  We create endless lists of codes to categorize and make sense of each diagnosis as though naming an ailment will somehow give us power against it.  Yet for all the knowledge we compile, we fall down the rabbit hole of misdiagnosis with patients more often than not.  And anyone who has spent much time behind hospital doors will tell you - this is far from a perfect science.  In fact, though we rarely admit to this, the very best the medical world can possibly provide for a patient is simply the provision of optimal conditions so that the body may heal itself.  

And just when you think you have it all figured out, a patient will prove you wrong and survive insurmountable odds or succumb with the odds in their favor.  The challenge, for those who devote their lives to the medical field, is not in being able to control every outcome - but rather to acknowledge that we cannot.

In medicine - and in life - sometimes the very best way to care for someone is to allow them to heal themselves.  It is there, in the space you hold for them that their story is able to unfold - whether or not it is in the direction you believed it would go.

*****

It's been said every journey has three legs - the trip you plan, the trip you take and the trip you remember.  The trick is making sure these never overlap.  So as I continue to work out the details of the first leg of my journey to India, I will leave you with memories of another.

Two years ago in November, my lovely parents surprised our family with a trip to San Diego where we rented a house on the beach and soaked up the sun with the ones we love best.  It was a blissful reprieve from the demands of the of the world and we loved every minute of it (except the traffic - that we could do without).  The respite would prove to be even more poignant when soon after this my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and we were faced with dark fears once again.

But this - this is what I remember of those precious stolen days between the sand and sea.  And because it's looking pretty January out my window right now, I thought you might enjoy reminiscing  along with me.  Enjoy.

Big Blue.

Good Morning Encinitas!

You will find me where the sand meets the sea.
The Locals.
Catching up on Vitamin D.

Sweet yoga moves with J & B.

The winter sunsets were unlike anything I've ever seen.
These photos are completely untouched.  No filter needed.

The cure for anything is salt water - sweat, tears or the ocean.
~Isak Dinesen