Magic Lessons

I think I’m the last person to discover Podcasts. Why didn’t I listen to these before? They’re awesome.

Someone recommended Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Magic Lessons” series to me, which I started yesterday, and proceeded to stretch to for an hour. A lot of the episodes focus on creativity. While there isn’t much creative license in doing a hysterectomy, a lot of the themes of courage, fear, and “doing what sets your soul on fire” still speak to me. You know, all those warm fuzzy things millenials really dig.

Yesterday, I got my own little magic lesson of sorts: the magic that comes with run and the subsequent endorphin drunk high that can last an entire day, maybe even a week.

If you’ve followed this blog at all in the last….four years (what I’ve been writing this for four year?!?)… you’ll remember that my running has gone from self doubt (2010-2011) to injury and more doubt (2012) to joy (fall 2012-2013) to fun (2013-present aka residency). Well, running was always fun. But, there was that period of time, like any new runner does, where they get obsessed with time, pace, PR’ing, BQ’ing, and all that jazz.

Continuing further, if you’ve taken any note of my half marathon record in residency you’ll note the following trend: sign up for race; say I will train; not train and do some other activity (and a lot of it) and hope its enough; run said half marathon and finish.

So, I haven’t really raced a race since….April 2013. Crazy!

I ran a workout (read: just one) back in August and was pretty surprised at how fast I was still able to run (relatively). If you’re curious, it was 4 x 1 mile and I did them at 7:15s. That’s actually a bit better than I used to do any mile repeats.

I thought it would be fun to test myself so I made a slightly more dedicated commitment to actually training for the half a ran yesterday.

Now, let me me give you a little insight as to how training works in residency. There are these really terrible things called “being on call.” This means work. For like 24 hours. And usually a 60-80 work week.

I know tons of other people do this and probably train to race Ironmans. But, me — I get tired.

So, training ended up being a sort of give or take — it usually ended up being that in any given week I either got in a long run (8-10 miles) or a “faster” run (something resembling a workout). I actually prioritized the long runs and did mostly those and the other running I did was 4-6 milers with the occasional little speed burst thrown in there. I also did a lot of boxing at Shadowbox, because that is my new “thing,” and pilates at Flex, because I love those classes, too.

A week before the race, I got a little gun-shy about the whole “racing” thing. I mean, who was I to think that I could race a half marathon without “proper” training. I went back and looked at old training logs, some of which are incredibly detailed (dear God, I was neurotic….am neurotic) and,man, did I put a lot of time into some of those races. Looking back at what I did then to prepare for a race, I had no business planning to race off of my current “training.”

But, I’m a different person now than I was then. Now, I am hardened resident. Being a OB/GYN resident is essentially some of the toughest mental and physical training you may ever get. You wanna know what’s hard? Doing a quartenary repeat C-section when you’ve been up for 20 hours on a morbidly obese patient. Its a different kind of “pushing yourself” because there is a certain adrenaline high you get when you know that you have to, well, take care of someone’s life, but there is an aspect of OB/GYN residency that is mentally and physically pushing yourself to another level or limit.

Or maybe I just think this way because sports is my way of relating to the rest of life.

Moving on, let’s cut to the chase.

If you know anything about me, before I make a decision, I will ask 1600 different people their opinion. Ultimately, I know that I am the decider of my future, but I’m a big fan of creating a “brain trust,” so to speak, to harness the greater wisdom of those who have gone before you and/or who may have a more objective view of your situation than…you.

What it came down to was this (well, thanks to my brain trust!): #1 – I am a more experienced runner now and don’t need all the fancy data and gadgets and pretty training logs and splits to know I can run a certain pace; #2 – If I didn’t achieve my “A” goal (1:45) would I really even care? The answer was no. I deliver babies. That will trump a half marathon time any day. Plus, I was going to get to sleep THE WHOLE day after this half, which is the best prize of all. Forget the medal. Give me naps!

So, I ran watch less and music less (well, I’ve always raced sans music) and it was THE BEST THING I HAVE EVER DONE.

Runners! Listen up! If you’ve never run a race watch less, you have to do it for your next race. Why? It is the most self fulfilling experience and a wonderful little self awareness experiment you will ever have.

I mean, really, this is what it comes down to: you have to ask yourself “am I trying my best at this point in time with what I have today.” If the answer is “yes,” then that’s pretty much all you can do. And, if you’re really trying to race, you should ask yourself, “am I uncomfortable? Hurt a little bit?” If so, good, you’re doing it right. Irrespective of what your Garmin or clock or whatever timing device you has says, this is really “how to race,” if you want my opinion.

I truly had no clue how fast or slow I was running. I knew it felt appropriately hard and uncomfortable, but that it was a pace in which I could complete the distance. And, the time on the clock was going to be a great big surprise.

What was most special about racing this way is that I really had to trust myself. I had to really think, “Meggie, are you giving it your all? Is this what you can do today?” You have to turn inwards and be really self aware. Becoming enlightened like the Dalai Lama doesnt hurt, either, but that’s quite a task for 13.1 miles.

It ended up being the most self fulfilling and gratifying race I’ve run to date.

In the end, I ran 1:45:08, which is about an 8 min pace. I think having a Garmin or watch may have been a hindrance to me yesterday. If I had known I was running that pace, I may have 2nd guessed myself knowing that I hadn’t run 13 miles at an 8 min pace in several years. To the Garmin fans out there, maybe having one would’ve helped me run just under 1:45. But, seeing as those 8 seconds don’t mean so much to me (like the used to), I’m glad I ran watch less.

Thinking back, racing is really a feeling to me. It’s not a time or pace, it’s capturing that feeling of pushing yourself beyond what you thought was previously possible. I think all I really wanted to capture was that. The time yesterday was a bonus.

For those curious, no, it was not a PR. It was slower than my PR by 3 min. But, it still sort of felt like one (a PR), to me.

Because endorphins make you happy, Jocelyn and I decided to walk home from Brooklyn yesterday. And that additional 7 miles (yeah, we thought it was 4…clearly we aren’t cartographers) and sunshine made me so endorphin happy and vitamin D’ed up that I think I’m really ready to take on winter….until the first snow when I start to question living here and not relocating to a more tropical climate.

Dear God, this is long. if you stuck through to this point, CONGRATS!

Moral of story: Listen to podcasts, run races without watches, listen to yourself, take long walks, friends are the cement that hold the world together.

Daily coffee tally yesterday: 5 (what, I did sort of a coffee crawl on the way back from Brooklyn because, why not?)

Daily coffee tally today: 3

Greetings From The Land of Nod:

Hello from the world of night float.

This is residency terminology for working at night.

We work from 6 pm to 8 am. That’s 14 hours. You then get 10 off. Because we are required to. It seems like a lot but 10 hours really isn’t all that much when you try to factor in doing something for yourself.

Anyways, living opposite of the world is really weird. I am about to sleep.

Good things about nights:

1 – As my co-resident, Meagan, said, “You can get through to customer service for anything in no time at 2 am.”

2- *USUALLY* (caveat, usually) you deal with less BS and more real stuff. This does not always include consults from the ED.

3 – There are no waits for elevators

4- No one will judge how much coffee you drink

5 – When you wake up, you have tons of emails and texts so you feel like people actually care about you, which is nice. It is good to start your night off with a warm and fuzzy feeling since you have little contact with the outside world when you’re on nights.

6 – Sometimes you can go to a doctor or dentist yourself. Did I fall asleep in a dentist chair while on Tisch OB nights last year? Yes.

Bad things about nights:

1- Its exhausting

2 – You’re always tired

3- You can sleep at any point of the day until you develop night float insomnia where you can’t sleep

4- Your eating schedule is totally whack (I eat a snack when I wake up, then dinner, then a 2 am snack then breakfast)

5- Your circadian rhythm is funky and I’m pretty sure this is affecting my hypothalamic-pituitary-ovarian axis and affecting my ovaries for reasons I will not go into but I HAVE MY THEORIES AND I’M A GYNECOLOGIST!

6 – Working out is hard bc you are always tired but you do it anyways. In this vein, I have proved to myself that I can run 4 miles in my sleep. I tell myself that in races when I get to 4 miles left. “You have actually done this in your sleep, this is nothing now that you are awake.”

That is all for now. I have to go to sleep.

Until next time…

Daily (nightly?) coffee tally: 4


Sometimes, its really hard to leave your “work brain.”

You know this is true, when your phone rings (for a food delivery AT YOU APARTMENT) and you answer, “labor!”

(FYI – when you’re on the labor floor, that’s how you answer the phone)


Can we also discuss something?

How many more shootings are we going to have until gun laws are changed?

Like how many dead people do they need to prove a point? This is terrible.

By the way, if I were to run for president, my platform would be four fold. It includes the following:

  1. Addressing untreated mental illness
  2. Exposing the sugar/food industry
  3. Improving access to birth control
  4. Mandatory exercise

It seems that a lot of shootings, violence, etc stem from undiagnosed mental illness. Schizophrenia. Depression. Anxiety. Bipolar disoder. Like I tell my patients, these entities are disease, just like diabetes, heart disease, or asthma. They’re derived from chemical imbalances in the brain and, likely, some other pathways we don’t fully understand, yet (although, its been a while since I did psych). The hardest parts of care for mental illness include improving access, removing stigmas from mental illness, and having patients both recognize and engage in his or her treatment.

Second, the sugar industry needs to be exposed like the tobacco industry was in the 1960s (or thereabouts). The amount of added sugar in our diets and the concomitant changes in physiology/biochemistry it astounding.

Third, birth control. Women need choices. You can use it if you want to or you don’t have to. But, you should have the right to have control over your body and when you want to reproduce. At least in my opinion. Women like control. Give it to them.

Mandatory exercise. I will say it 100 times — there is no problem in the world that you cannot solve in a 5 mile run. Listen, endorphins activate those opioid receptors, like heroin. Not that I’ve ever done heroin (nor want to), but I’ve exercised a lot. And, let me tell you, the activation of that little opioid receptor will bring you euphoria….once you get over the initial part of exercise being a little bit hard.

Do kids still do that Presidential physical fitness test? If I were president, I would bring that back. A real Presidential #tbt. Except I’d make everyone do it.

I mean, you liked that test, right? It was the HIGHLIGHT of gym class for me. I mean, not that I liked trying to show off my gymnastics at all. Never not me. (Jk, pull up day was my favorite – school record, people! Sit and reach – nailed. But the mile run? The mile runs was actually my Achilles heel.)

Or, Jump Rope For Life! I don’t know what we were jumping rope for, but let’s just bring that back, too. We’ll make everyone do all the stuff 90s kids did, minus the drinking Sunny-D after (what was in that stuff? Besides the power of the sun…that you had to unleash).

Come to think of it, I’ve got a pretty solid platform. I mean, foreign policy, the Middle East, and such can fit in there somewhere. Or maybe I’d just get my Cabinet to take care of that.

Alright, that’s all for now.

I’m going to bed.

Night night.

Until Next Time.

Daily Coffee Tally: 3

Packing For Mars

Apparently, there is water on Mars. So, we can really go there now. If you wanted to. I guess.

I know there are a lot of really smart people working on space exploration and discovering if there is life on Mars, but….what are we supposed to do with the information we gain from Mars?

I would be really stoked if we find Martians one day. But, like is it going to help us?

Also, how long does it take to get to Mars? How much would you have to take with you? How many years would you have to eat freeze dried food for?

Anyways, moving on.

BOB (Bellevue OB) has really been slamming us with deliveries. We had four today! 3 NSVD (normal spontaneous vaginal delivery) and 1 C/S (Cesarean section).

We filled the entire board. And then we delivered half of it. Thank God for multips (i.e. people who have had a baby before).

Seriously, all women out there. The first delivery is brutal, the second kid is way easier. Do yourself a favor and save the natural delivery plan for the 2nd kid. It will go way easier! Seriously. Those 2nd, 3rd, 4th kids…they can fly out.

The best part about OB is that when you are busy like that, the day files by. I usually start my day and the next thing I know, its 4 pm.

Finally, fun facts about me that are completely irrelevant:

  1. I have never listened to a podcast or a TED talk. I keep meaning to. And then I keep falling asleep.
  2. I hold my breath when I do most any exercise besides running. For this reason, I’m one of the world’s worst yogis.
  3. I didn’t have a banana or avocado until I was 17 and 18, respectively.
  4. My favorite dream about work (yes, they happen; I’ve been pregnant in my dreams) is that I delivered twins vaginally alone as an intern. I then layer the twins on paper towels, labeled them A and B. Then, when then attending got there (for some reason I like secretly did the delivery alone) I go, “Look! Look what I did! Twins!” Dr. Lajoie, if you read this, you were the attending in my dream. The mom was totally cool with it all in this dream, as well.

Night night.

Until next time..

Daily coffee tally: 2

How To Identify Someone Post (24 Hr) Call:

  1. The confused girl in Staples with a lot of multi-colored pens:
    1. Things you should absolutely NOT do post call are go into Staples. I spent like 5 minutes staring at this package of pencils wondering if this is for children or adults. They are fun and colorful, making me think they are for children. The also look “wide point” meaning maybe also for children. But, then they are with the rest of the adult pens and pencils. It was a lot to wrap my head around. IMG_7665
    2. I almost bought more Moleskin note books. Then, I realized I had some unfilled ones still. I’m a sucker for the graph paper ones and they had a pile of them. Type A’s get high on graph paper.
  2. Can’t answer the question, “Do you want all of your groceries in one bag?”
    1. Responses that went through my head: 1) “You’re the grocery bagger. Use your judgement?” 2) “Why ask me such an emotionally charged question right now? I’m weak and not sure which is harder – one heavy bag or two less heavier ones.” 3) “Cool story bro”
  3. Spontaneously cries at any somewhat heart-warming story.
    1. Salad delivery man in elevator with me said, “Can you press 9? I’m tired. I’m working so much.” To which I replied, “More work, more money!” (I mean, unless you’re a resident) To which he responded, “Yeah, I need the money, I’m trying to save up to go back to school.” TEARS. TEARS. TEARS. THE AMERICAN DREAM. MORE TEARS.
    2. Don’t ask me about the time I almost cried during a C-section when I found out our scrub tech worked two scrub jobs to provide for his four children. I was like, “Do we have Kleenex in this OR?! Babies and two job workers, its too much!”
    3. Remind me NEVER to watch the following post call: The Fox and the Hound, Up, The Help, Marley and Me, King Kong, The Green Mile. I’m not sure I’d be able to come back from that.
  4. Read a paper about steroids and one of the adverse effects was “increased energy, inability to sleep.”
    1. And subsequently think, “Can they give this to residents.”
  5. Not care about diet and exercise.
    1. Generally, I love my little exercise habit and healthy eating penchant. It makes me feel good. Post call, its like “screw it, I’m tired.” I ate fried chicken today and a red velvet cupcake (so worth it). And, once I just started eating one of my co-residents bacon without asking during an article review (which I was not participating in) after a particularly bad  night.
    2. Most of the time I do exercise post call, because its usually the best part of my day. Today, after 2 hours of sleep, I deferred.

Speaking of sleep, that is where I am headed now. I’m going to eat something that resembles dinner and pass out.

Daily coffee tally: What day is it? I mean, at least 2 maybe 3. When did this day start and end?

The Bend And Snap: Works Every Time

As an intern, I was terrified of everyone and everything.

I don’t know why. No one was terrible to me or anything. In fact, everyone was pretty nice. I think I just perseverated on wanting to prove that I was “good enough” to be in this residency program.

Anyways, they haven’t booted me, yet, so I guess I’m doing ok.

I remember being so afraid of my third years and chiefs. Which is odd. Because they are some of my favorite people now. And I miss a lot of them.

Being a “senior” now, I do not know how anyone could ever been in the slightest intimidated by me.

Case in point: I equated the “burn and cut” of the Ligasure to the “bend and snap” today from Legally Blonde. “Burn and Cut! Works every time!”

Even the Onc fellow said to my intern, “you will never hear this much enthusiasm in an OR.”

[I disagree, my former Onc fellow, FMB, was the most positive enthusiastic person I know. She was an essentially perfect OR coach. I didn’t give up on my future as a surgeon because of her. Seriously. Thank you, Fernanda!]

It must’ve been that Birch coffee I had this morning. Spiked my blood with caffeine and enthusiasm.

On another 24 tmw. Time to read something non-educational at all and go to bed. And ponder if I want oatmeal or eggs + hot sauce for my pre-call breakfast.

Until next time…

Night Night

Daily Coffee Tally: 2

The Magic of Tidying Up

I read that book last year.

I was compelled to get rid of everything. Well, not everything, but a lot of things. But, then I had to work. And work some more. And, now, its today.

My favorite thing she said in that book was, “Even if you haven’t used something, if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it! And, you can think  ‘ thank you for teaching me that I don’t need you.'”

Finally, someone who can make you feel ok about getting rid of the junk you thought your needed, but didn’t need.

Anyways, our work room at Bellevue is in serious need of an overall.

Another resident and I have staged a mutiny and are taking it upon ourselves to “tidy it up.”

Ok, not so much on the mutiny part, but we are “tidying up.”

There is stuff in that room from the 1980s. I’m sure of it.

In addition to throwing away lots of stuff, I redid “the board” today.

All of our “to dos” for the labor floor and such are written on a white board. Really takes me back to high school.

The white board gets gross. It is lined in electrical tape, which can peel and then that leaves marks.

I have a touch of obsessive compulsive personality disorder and, in my old age, have been increasingly disturbed by disorder and things that are tidy. Just ask my intern – I would come in early sometimes on Bellevue GYN to write the vitals on my route neatly in my own handwriting instead of scribbling during rounds. Ok, maybe this is actually excessive. But, I just like things to be neat and readable.

I would’ve made such a good school teacher. “WRITE LEGIBLY OR ELSE!!!”

Anyways, it was a pretty big project today, but I finished “the board” and moved some stuff around.

Co-residents and future NYU OB/GYN residents, you’re welcome.