Friday, February 06, 2009


Well, I do feel a bit better after venting in the last post. I don't take back anything of what I said--that's really how I feel--but it sounds awfully ungrateful. It's easy to come on here and use a blog as a venting tool. Really, I think that's how it started in the first place. But while I have lots of daily struggles, my life is nowhere near as tough as many other people's.

For instance, yesterday one of the secondary faculty members in my department died suddenly. He was in his fifties, was very fit, biked to work every day, and had never had cardiac issues. But apparently he biked in yesterday morning (the temp was -5 when I came in, not counting the wind chill), made it to his office, and collapsed. His student found him and tried to revive him, but we don't know how long he had been down.

He has three kids, two in college and one in high school. I've known him in passing for about 10 years--I worked with him first when I was doing undergrad research in the department. He's always been friendly and helpful. And in one day, he's gone.

I have a real problem with death. Losing people close to me is one of my biggest fears. And this is one of those stories that really makes me scared. To lose someone who is health conscious (he's a doctor and a cardiac researcher!) and apparently healthy only makes me worry about people who are neither. My dad had a heart scare about a year ago. He's still here, thank goodness, but he has way more risk factors for a cardiac event than this professor did. My whole family is a walking mess of risk factors--both sides of my family have family histories of heart disease, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol, plus obesity. Both of my parents are smokers. And while I can't point fingers about a sedentary lifestyle, their diet and exercise could be better.

I don't want to lose my parents in their fifties. And I know statistically that's not common. But as the years go on, it becomes more and more of a possibility.

And I'm rapidly approaching thirty. My diet is pretty good, but exercise has been non-existent for me. And I've had borderline cholesterol since I was tested at age 6. I know that I've been trying to work on exercise and my weight for personal reasons, but I need to do it for health reasons too. I don't want Sophie worrying about me in 25 years the way that I worry about my parents.

It's just one of those tricky gray areas. We are all so stubborn--and if you tell us to do something, we'll do the opposite. It's all about control. It's a theme in my family--whoever has the control has the power. I won't get into details about people's personal issues, but let's just say that most of the damaging patterns that exist in my family have to do with people trying to maintain power in relationships. That's another discussion.

But as someone training for a career in medicine, what is my job? As a daughter, I want to tell them what to do. As a future doctor, I feel like it's my responsibility. But I also know that they KNOW what they need to do. I don't want to resort to the usual guilt trip. It's the reason so much dysfunction exists in both my immediate and extended family. I'm trying to break out of the guilt rut, so saying things like, "If you loved me, you'd . . ." or "Don't you want to be around to see Sophie grow up . . ." aren't the ways to approach it.

It's the same with me. I know I need to somehow create the time and energy to take better care of myself. I've worked hard to stop the destructive patterns I had been a part of. Now I need to reverse the damage. And I'm trying.

But if you just passed me on the street, you may not realize I'm trying. I think it's the same with my family. I see them, I see their actions and habits, but I don't read minds. Maybe they are trying. And again, who am I to throw stones?

It would be different if I thought my parents didn't know the danger they were in. But I know they know the risk factors. I know they know what they need to do. And I just have to pray that they won't be leaving this earth anytime soon.

So, this comes back full circle for me. I am stressed. But so is everyone else in the world--these are stressful days. And I can't mentally check out every time as a coping mechanism. Things happen in life, and I don't want to take my blessings for granted. A big part of those blessings is my family. God forbid we should ever lose someone as suddenly as this professor who just passed away, but no one can predict when it is their time. So my job is to make the most of it with my family and give as much of myself to Sophie and Tim in case something were to ever happen to me.

You just never know.

So, thanks for letting me rant. I'm still overworked, underpaid, and quadruple-booked, but that seems to be what it will be for a while. I've just got to do the best with what I've got.

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