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Medical bloggers from different backgrounds unite to bring you "The Positive Medical Blog"--A place where we discuss ideas about medicine, life, and personal growth from a "glass half-full" perspective.

Think Positive?

Let’s face it, it isn’t always easy to think positive, feel positive or live with a positive attitude in life. It just isn’t. I’ve been absent for some time on this shared site, for a number of reasons. One being, I haven’t felt very positive. I’ve felt that I couldn’t put a single word down and still be authentic in my writing. I just didn’t have it in me.
Thankfully, everyone understood. I’m glad that they have continued to write, because I enjoy reading what they have to say. I enjoy that my friends are so very different from each other, and I like that each one brings something different to the table. We all wanted to create a site that was uplifting, hopeful and positive.
The truth is... I just haven’t been able to write a positive post. I have a dear friend that is battling stage IV lung cancer, and another that was just diagnosed with Mantle Cell Lymphoma. I don’t have to tell those of you in medicine how my stomach felt at the news. You all know how things look under these circumstances, and you know how you might feel if it were your two closest friends. On top of that, I lost another friend unexpectedly on New Year’s Eve. It came as such a shock.
As you can see, being positive under those circumstances would be a challenge. How do you find a positive in all that? I just couldn’t write any longer. That’s the truth. Anyone that is familiar with me from my old site knows I have lost way too many friends. This road has been well traveled; the terrain all too familiar.
That being said, there are positives in these dark days of adversity. These relationships become like tempered metal. They are strong and pure. Only the cream of the crop is left standing, and you know you chose your friends wisely.
Boundaries loosen, and walls fall. We find we tell one another that we love each other without fear of mocking or rejection.
We talk openly about life and suffering, and we realize what a cherished thing our friendships and loves have been in this life. We are rich if we have great friendships. We are blessed if there is a friend to turn to in our time of need.
To use a word from one of Dr. Jeff’s posts, we become “mindful” of our time together. We aren’t spending the time dwelling on the cancer, although we do have to deal with it. We spend the time sharing, supporting and being thankful for each day we can still laugh, joke, and pick on one another. We make quality time in every interaction.
The positives are that love is as rich or richer in the adversity. We learn again and again that the petty squabbles, and the work place back biting, aren’t something to waste your time on. These things won’t matter!
Surround yourself with quality people. Enjoy those positive experiences and deep connections that are formed. Friendships and loves are to be cherished. We all get too busy and keep putting off those we care for. Try to remind yourself that time is ticking, and make sure you get that quality time in with your own relationships. Some losses we will see coming...some we won't.

Not in the Mood ... but I COULD Be Enticed! 🙂

Back in December ...I thought I was going to have my urethral stent changed out ...but much to my relief ...we scheduled it for January. Yesterday. Yesterday the small stent was changed out for a large stent. Today I would tell you it is the mother of all stents. I am feeling the stent. But, that is another post.

Anyway it's a good thing I didn't have to do in it in December...because I really wasn't in the mood.

"Sorry doc, I can't go to the OR this month ...I'm not in the mood. I've got a headache. " 😉

It occurred to me that one does not have to be "in the mood", to go into the OR.

I mean ...I'm sure it helps. Positive attitude ..being up beat and excited to go into the OR.

But, is anyone ever excited to go into the OR? I am excited to go to the beach. Excited to have fun. Even excited to have solitude time. Never excited to go into the OR.

Squirrelly. Definitely squirrelly just prior to going in. Except for blogging about it ...I do manage to keep my squirrelly locked up inside. Well ..then again ...maybe others would disagree. I'll have to write a post about my squirrelly coming out the night before.

I can't say I ever felt happy about going in ..but I was never moody about it. That was a new feeling. It just struck me funny ..that in my brain, I thought to myself in a whiny way "Yeah ..this is good ...cause I'm not in the mood for the OR."
"Oh I don't know ..maybe tomorrow ..maybe next week ..maybe never. I'll let you know when I'm in the mood doc." "Yeah, yeah ..I know ...it's important ...it's for my own good ..but I'm just not feeling it ...I'm just not in the mood."

I just didn't feel it. I wasn't psyched. I didn't say any of this. "Oh good doc ...cause I'm just not psyched about it." I expressed great relief ...because I wasn't in the mood and also because it gave me more time. This stent is giving more time ...but that is another post too.

A long labor with our first born son and the big kidney stone ...mother of all stones caused me to be the most eager I ever was to go to the OR. #10 pain will do that to you. #10 pain can be rather motivational to get you to do a lot of things you normally wouldn't want to do.

And I know that there are life saving situations ...or restorative surgeries that will markedly improve a patient's life ...even give them their life back. Surgeries that will give them a better life. Who wouldn't be in the mood for that?

Maybe it was because Christmas season was coming up and that is just is not conducive toward being in the mood for the OR.

Well ...maybe if I was enticed with Santa Clause giving me a present while waiting in SDS, one that would keep me busy and relieve the squirrelly while waiting to go in, a present once I skootched down on the OR table (he'd have to be standing behind me ..I'm just saying), and because joyful anticipation is motivational ...certainly for pulling through a surgery or procedure ...a present when I woke up in recovery and then the best present of all while recovering in stage II ..after I am dressed to go home. It wouldn't hurt to know there would be an additional present (wrapped up real pretty), waiting for us on our doorstep ...I'm just saying.

If I knew I could count on that for a December procedure ...I'd be more in the mood. I'd wave my HIPAA rights for that.

Also ...It would help if Santa (I know he's real ;), my surgeon, the gas doc and nursing staff (wearing reindeer antlers on their scrub caps ...oh and maybe fun blinking Christmas pins on the front of their scrubs) all sang a Christmas song while the happy cocktail took over. You gotta admit if you could go under with holiday joy being sung ...maybe a little dance added to the routine ..with festive Christmas lights, decorations and a Christmas tree in the background ... oh and multiple (look the other way JACHO), candles ...lit for holiday aroma therapy and a more cozy ambiance in the OR ...well ...now THAT that would be a greatly anticipated surgical experience. I prefer cinnamon, cloves and baking scents please. Also Balsam. Very nice. 🙂

This particular OR has a large window looking outside. Falling snow would be a nice touch too.

It would make NPO worth it. Really ..it so totally would be worth it then.

I could be enticed out of my "not in the mood" mood for all that.

Advertise that offer and SDS facilities everywhere will have wanna be December surgical patients lining up for miles. Miles I tell you ...miles. And just imagine the Press Gaineys!

I will be filling out their on line satisfaction questionnaire. Perhaps I should put this in the suggestion section? 😉

P.S. This enticing PR could be extended throughout the year by incorporating different themes ...depending upon the needs of the medical facilities.

P.P.S. I noticed that the Laryngospasms hire out and so perhaps ORs could hire them to aid in the sedation - relaxation process of the patients. Just a thought. 🙂

A Cat Tearing Down the Christmas Tree

Have you watched any of the Simon's Cat videos? The author, Simon Tofield, really 'gets' cats! Most of the videos involve lots of destruction (with the cat clueless about the mayhem it has caused) and then end with the cat pointing to its mouth, wanting to be fed.

Here's a great one for the holidays.

If you enjoyed this one, go to the Official Simon's Cat Website to see more! Happy Holidays.

Remembering Our Troops

As we celebrate with our friends and loved ones this holiday season, I thought it would be a good time to reach out, and thank those that are serving our country. Regardless of your feelings over their deployment, they have dedicated years of their lives for their country. Please think of them, and remember their sacrifice this season.

They will receive your messages and thanks. You get to choose the card for your soldier, and you get to choose the message. Please be a blessing to those so far from home. Please give someone the gift of a few minutes of your time, and let them know you care.

Change Your Expectations of Loved Ones for a Happier Holiday Season

The holidays can be a wonderful time of the year. They can also be a time filled with stress and interpersonal conflict. For many people, reuniting with family is a mostly positive experience, but even among families who tend to get along well, there are often disappointments.

Why? Of the many possible reasons, I believe that much of the time it can be boiled down to one simple principle: unrealistic expectations.

I believe that by trying our best not to have any expectations of family members, we can have a happier holiday season.

Now I clearly realize that some people may be shocked to hear me make such a suggestion. After all, what am I really saying? Is this some kind of cynical “expect the worst and hope for the best” mindset?

No, it’s not. Instead it’s just a non-judgmental acceptance of everyone for who they truly are.

But all too often we (either consciously or unconsciously) approach get-togethers with others with many, often unrealistic expectations. It’s a setup for disappointment. Because it’s highly unlikely that everyone else will change their character or even their behavior to suit us.

We’re all imperfect. I think about myself and how far I still have to go to be a better person. Hopefully I’m doing better now than I was years ago, but I know with absolute certainty that I couldn’t stand being married to myself. It's humbling for me to imagine how I must affect those around me.

If I can’t meet my own expectations for myself, then how can I possibly live up to everyone else’s standards? Of course it’s no secret that none of us can please everybody. But if that’s true, then why do we expect that everyone else should please us?

I made this mental shift in my own marriage several years ago, and I believe it helped me to be more accepting and less judgmental of my wife. I’m glad she accepts my own imperfection in return. I've tried to extend this acceptance to the rest of my family as well. Since doing so, I can honestly say that I don't have any grudges against any of them for anything.

My suggestion this holiday season is simple. If you often feel stress around the holidays because of interpersonal conflict, then decide to have a different mindset this year.

Just accept the people you’ll be around as they are. Don’t have any expectations of them. You don’t have to like their behavior (and you shouldn’t tolerate being disrespected or mistreated in any way). If they are full of negativity and are depressing to be around, then spend as little time with them as you need to. If they’re stuck in some real or perceived conflict from the past, then let them be that way without allowing yourself to feel like you need to fix it for them.

Even if you feel justified in attempting to correct their “wrong” behavior or thought patterns, let it go. It’s the holidays. I think it's mostly our egos that are at stake. Do you want to focus on being right, or do you want to be at peace? So many people choose to hold grudges and ultimately destroy their relationships with family. Is that really what you want? There's never a shortage of opportunities to be offended. But is that really where you want to put your focus?

I’ll choose being at peace. Give it a try. What do you have to lose?

I sincerely wish you a happy holiday season!

The Tradition of the Pink Mouse

This is the real pink Christmas mouse I've saved since Christmas, 1992 and place on our tree every year as a reminder of all the acts of kindness toward us during that time.

*This was posted last year in my SeaSpray blog, but thought it would be nice to share the story with you in this blog too. And I will post it in ss blog later in the month ..now that it's become a blogging Christmas tradition. 🙂

I put the following post up in 2008 and 2009, although now I've revised it, adding a bit more.

It means even more to me now, because I need a reminder that things will work out ...that difficult situations do get better and to never give up. Not that a small act of kindness ..or even a large one ..can eradicate a serious concern ...but still they do have a positive effect as we experience the loving act of another. It's heartwarming, knowing someone valued and took time to reach out to you in some way. (It also feels good to know you have done that for someone else.) It inspires hope ...not to give up and faith that things have a way of working out. Yes ...I really did and still do feel those things when someone has taken the time to do something sweet. During that difficult time in our lives, as many kindnesses were extended ..coming to us in various forms ... every time ..I would tell my family .."See through this person or this surprise ..God is saying, "Hold on ...I'm working on this." And that gave us hope and inspired faith that it would work out.

Dr WhiteCoat's sweet post (a couple of years ago) was the inspiration for this post ... demonstrating the importance of caring and showing compassion to others. I was greatly moved by his thoughtfulness. Just imagine if we all did one extra act of kindness everyday.

I contacted WC about his post, "What Life is All About" because the link is inaccessible at this time, in his previous blog. He graciously e-mailed it for me to share and so I have included it further down in this post, which is then followed by my comment that I had written in response to his post.

The following is a true account of some of what happened to us at that time.
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Those of you that know us, know what was going on at the time and it was a l-o-o-o-o-n-g 20 months. This post is about something that actually happened toward the end of the ordeal but there were other acts of kindness done from the beginning..right on through to the end.

Every note, card, letter, word of encouragement, all food, gifts and anonymous gifts were greatly appreciated and are still remembered even today. For as many words as you see me put down in these blogs...sometimes there are people that have moved me so deeply with the things they have done... that I feel anything I do, say or write can never truly convey the heartfelt gratitude I have felt and feel even now. This is true of things in my past and it is true with things that have been going on in the present. My entire life has been filled with people that have been blessings in various ways.

During this particular time...a judge befriended me. He had nothing to do with anything, nor did he have any future influence on the case. He was a complete stranger that overheard a conversation in a public place that I was having with someone. After introducing himself he gave me his number that I could reach him anytime anywhere in the country and this was before cell phones were readily available. I called him and we'd have long conversations and I'd sob and sometimes he'd even get me laughing and he was so kind and he gave me hope. One night he said to me, "You know...I don't know what it is about you but you make someone want to help you." I don't know why either. I am just me ...no one special and oh so flawed.

Some people said that encounter was a coincidence, a chance encounter... but I believe it it was a "divine coincidence" because his support was one of the things that gave me the strength to follow through and keep going. It helped to know he was in the background. There were other key people too. And above all... I know it was God working through these people to help sustain us in various ways through the difficult times.

The reason "It's a Wonderful Life" is my favorite movie and is also why I named my blog the same is because I love and thoroughly believe the main message of the movie, which is that we all are important. Each and everyone of us can and do make a difference in this life, affecting the present AND the future. It is an awesome thought when you take the time to really ponder it. And ...it is a responsibility... because we never know when even the simplest things to us may mean the world to someone else... or crush them like the proverbial final straw that breaks the camel's back. We don't know what is really going on in someone's heart...what burdens they carry. Are they lonely, grieving a loss or maybe they are stressed, hurt and angry ... afraid ...but they live in their worlds of quiet desperation behind masques of smiles or stoicism? I am sure WhiteCoat shoveling that driveway warmed someone's heart and who knows who else that random act of kindness will ripple outward toward?

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Here is Dr WhiteCoat's post:

A couple of days ago I shoveled snow off of a neighbor’s walk for no good reason. I knew the neighbor wasn’t home so I wouldn’t get “caught.” I didn’t say a thing about it to anyone. Just did it to let the neighbors know that someone was thinking about them.

I usually don’t propagate chain e-mails, but a link was sent to me yesterday that just made me think about shoveling the snow and how dumb little acts of kindness can create a huge ripple outward like a drop in a pond.

Make a sad person smile
Make a lonely person feel less alone
Give without expecting something in return
Perform some random act of kindness

I may get cranky and fed up with people at times and complain to the world about it, but it’s still neat to think about what kindness can do.

This kid’s little acts of thoughtfulness changed the attitude of a whole community."

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This is the comment I left To his post (I added a little more):

Our family received an anonymous act of kindness and it made me crazy wondering who had done it. It was back in the early 90s when we were going through that legal case I already mentioned a while back and we were definitely strained financially.It was New Years eve and we had some friends and family over for dinner. My husband took a call from a man who said Santa Clause left a package in our driveway. UPS wouldn’t have been delivering at that time of night. Anyway, my husband brought in this huge box that was wrapped and addressed from Santa.

There were two other children there aside from our two boys. Well the kids tore into that box and it was the box that kept on giving. (HUGE box) It was FILLED UP with stuffed animals, games and also a cool toy gun that older son loved. The glee on the children's faces was priceless. 🙂

It took a couple of years for me to figure out and then our neighbor down the road was discussing something else and I put two and two together and so I asked him directly if they were the ones who did that. He tried to maneuver his way out of it, but he evidently couldn’t get past my gazing right into his eyes ...searching his spirit to see if his eyes were in agreement with his words. It was futile for him to deny the generosity of him and his family and he owned up to it. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that, but I just wanted to know. How sweet tho that they preferred to be anonymous.

One of the stuffed animals in the box was a small pink mouse. I immediately took the little mouse for a decoration on our Christmas tree ... a reminder of that wonderful act of kindness, which was symbolic on many levels. To this day, I still put it on our Christmas tree to remember how God brought us through a difficult time and to remind us that he sometimes works through people and that we should remember to do the same for others in need. That night after the kids opened the box I said “This is God saying…"Hold on…I'm working on this.”, and he did…he fixed it. Everything worked out in the end ...even better than we thought. :)

That was New Years Eve 1992. I shall always remember that act of kindness and others and have reminded our sons that just as we were helped in our time of need, to remember how good that felt and to do the same to help others when they see a need. Younger son was a baby, 2 years old when it started and he was 4 on this New Year's night... but I've told him this story often to teach him about giving. And every year, I still point out the little pink mouse, reminding our family why it is on our Christmas tree. :)

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I LOVE that video WC linked to ...talk about INSPIRATION!

Take the Complaint Free Challenge With Me


Like most other people, I complain more than I'd like to admit.
Sure, everyone does it to some extent, but for most people it's a strategy that doesn't work. The world doesn't hear the whining and change itself to suit the complainers--although I'm sure we all wish that it worked that way. If the more we complained, the better the world got, I'd be recommending complaining!

But isn't complaining a good way to 'vent' and release stress? No, it isn't.

Frequent complaining is sure to drive away many people and paradoxically attract miserable people who also 'enjoy' wallowing in negativity. When we complain, we put our attention on what we don't want instead of what we do want. And, believe it or not, what we put our attention on is what expands in our lives. We can manifest more of what we don't want if our approach is frequent complaining about what is wrong.

However, 'complaining' about what is wrong in the context of trying to do something about it is usually constructive and not really complaining. Likewise, 'complaining' to stand up for yourself to resolve a dispute is usually healthy.

Back in 2006, A Complaint Free World, a non-profit, non-religious, organization was born. It was the brainchild of a pastor from Kansas City, Will Bowen. He came up with the idea of helping people to stop complaining by having them wear purple bracelets. When they complained, they voluntarily switched their bracelet to the opposite wrist. They continued to do this throughout each day until they could be free of complaining (no bracelet switching) for 21 days. They noted that most people complain 15-30 times a day and that it takes most people many months to reach the 21 days of complaint-free living.

Well, that may have been 4 years ago, but this concept is timeless. I have my bracelet, and I'm ready to begin on my own complaint-free journey. In order to hold myself accountable and also to hopefully to inspire others to reduce their own complaining, I'm going to post my number of complaint-free days on this blog.

If you wish to join me, you may obtain your own bracelet from the organization (10 bracelets for $10). You could keep a couple for yourself and give the rest to friends and family. Or, you could simply use a similar bracelet that you already have that was for some other cause. If you really don't want to spend anything, then use a rubber band. Anyway, the bracelet's not the point here. It's the spirit of truly wanting to stop complaining.

What do you think? Are you in? Either way, you can watch me stumble through this process.