If you like the new folklore album, here's what you should listen to next.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Me and Taylor Swift have kind of an interesting history. I didn’t really learn about her until 2008-2009, when I moved up to a college town and made friends with some girls who introduced me to the mainstream country scene. One of them burned me copies of her music (thanks, Cait!) and while I liked some of the songs, 19 year old me felt a little too old for the big hits like ‘Love Story’ and ‘You Belong With Me.’ I was also deep into the rich indie music scene on campus, seeing bands like Bright Eyes, First Aid Kit, The Hold Steady, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Drive By Truckers and Iron and Wine at the college venue for free (RIP CDU.) Honestly there were just so many great lesser-known artists that I could see live that I dove head-first into that world and didn’t look back. Even then I could see that Swift was a talented songwriter (Tim McGraw, the Best Day and Fearless are some of my favorite songs from that era) but it was definitely more of a side interest/guilty pleasure.

Fast forward to medical school, when I hit a pretty rough patch between struggling with coursework and a floundering long-distance relationship. As if on cue, Swift dropped Red and between the title track and ‘All Too Well’ I had found the soundtrack to the very rocky 2012 I had been having. I spent a lot of time driving winding backroads and singing along off-key to some of the best break up music I had heard since discovering Rumours after getting dumped in high school. It easily remains one of my favorite albums of all time and sealed me as a TS fan for the foreseeable future. Songs like Holy Ground, Treacherous, and State of Grace to this day are among my absolute favorites. I've since loved everything she's put out, with an admitted emotional bias/attachment (and dragged my husband along into the fandom; he excels at singing along the wrong lyrics, relishing in the very wrong 'boys only want love if it's Georgia' since he knows it makes me cringe and laugh at the same time. He's going to be a great Dad, haha.)

 So when she rocked up with folklore last week, between my love for pretty much anything she does at this point and long-time passion for artists like Bon Iver and the National, I felt like this was the Taylor Swift album that was made for me. After a few listens I can say folklore has stolen the crown from Red for me as her best work yet. I tear up every time I hear the lines to epiphany, and my tears ricochet and peace really hit me on a personal level. I’m so stoked she did something different for this album and after a few listens, really found myself going back to some of those independent artists I loved back in college. After reading this round table talk at Atwood Magazine, I realized a big part of why I loved the sound is that it brought me back to a sound I really loved back then, but had drifted away from in recent years.

 One of the writers made a folklore-inspired folk playlist on Spotify, and while I love and agree with 99% of his choices, I wanted to add some of the artists and bands I loved in my college days. So in full disclosure, this is a total copycat idea 😊 I’ve highlighted a couple of the artists below. Most are more true folk than Swift’s album is (I feel like calling her album folk is a bit of a misnomer), but some (like the Sundays, Bob Dylan, Arcade Fire, and Maggie Rogers) I included because I can hear elements of their sound in folklore. I linked the playlist below... Feel free to have a look if you’re a music nerd like me, or just enjoy the spotify playlist. :)


Bob Dylan- I think in an interview somewhere Jack Antonoff or another collaborator mentioned that Betty had been inspired by Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan/Bruce Springsteen style, but I can’t find the quote now. As a huge Dylan fan, my best guesses were Don’tthink twice, it’s alright or Tangled Up in Blue. Any other ideas?

Jason Isbell- another of my absolute favorite songwriters, Isbell really knows how to make you feel some kind of way with his narrative style. I’d highly recommend his albums Southeastern, Here We Rest and The Nashville Sound (latter two are with his band the 400 unit as well.)

The Postal Service- Give Up was one of the first pop albums I ever purchased (ok confession time: typed this out and then realized Celine Dion came first- I got her greatest hits in 5th grade because that’s what my friends were listening to. Still love her. No regrets.) It’s definitely more upbeat that folklore, but melancholy songs like The District Sleeps Alone Tonight and This Place is a Prison make for equally good quarantine listening.

Phoebe Bridgers- I have to admit I just this week got around to downloading Punisher. But Stranger in the Alps is a great album, and Motion Sickness made me cry the first 20 times I listened. Honestly, I would love to see her and Taylor collaborate on something. I think it could be really great, if either of them are reading this…(note: they are most definitely not reading this.)

 Bright Eyes- Conor Oberst was the original emo musician prodigy, starting to play professionally when he was only 13 or 14 years old. I’m Wide Awake, It’s Morning was the sound of my high school years, and Cassadaga deserves so much more attention than it got (Four Winds is one of my favorite songs of all time.) When it comes to songwriting he’s right up there with Swift for me.  Also I have to thank him for introducing me to First Aid Kit, who I was lucky enough to meet when they opened for one of his shows in Tallahassee :)

Neil Young- forever a favorite of mine, and someone I have always admired for speaking his mind and writing politically-minded protest songs (see Southern Man and Ohio.) I love his heavier stuff too, but songs like Old Man, This Old Guitar, Heart of Gold, and Unknown Legend will always be among his best work in my opinion.

Maggie Rogers- this girl’s EP is unlike anything I have ever heard before, in the best way possible. The mix ofelectronics and nature yields such a unique and beautiful sound, it almost feels transcendental, and it’s a sound that is definitely all her own, which is such a rarity in the pop world these days.

Band of Horses- most of their music is decidedly more rock than anything Swift has done, but Infinite Arms was one of those albums that changed my life and that I’ll always anchor to a certain memory, one of with my family through rural Ireland playing these songs on repeat. Easily one of my favorite albums of all time.

Fleetwood Mac- considering they are one of my favorite bands of all time, it was surprisingly easy to pick ‘Storms’ for this playlist. I have a lot of love for both Stevie Nicks and Christine McVie; their words (and Lindsay’s) brought me through my first break up back in high school (as stated above, Rumours changed my life,) at the age when you feel those kinds of emotions at 10 times the magnitude compared to when you’re older.

Iron & Wine and Calexico- the In the Reins EP is one of my favorite albums of all time and I’ll forever be grateful that these two artists have continued their working relationship over 10 years later with a new full-length album. Be careful though- 16, Maybe Less will tear you apart.


Global Health will never be the same (and maybe it's not a bad thing.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020



During my time overseas I got tapped to assist with a training session of sorts for the resident physicians at the hospital. A handful of people had flown in from the U.S. to facilitate the sessions, and they ended up staying at the same complex as me and inviting me out to dinner a couple times.

On one night out in particular, one of the visitors casually mentioned over club beers that he was exasperated with his group of trainees. They just weren’t interested in the research topic he wanted them to get involved in. He complained that he wasn’t sure how his study was going to get off the ground in time if they didn’t get on board (and by ‘on time’ he meant before he returned home a few days later.)

I quietly sipped my beer and said nothing. These comments surprised me. I had been around a couple of months and gotten to know several of the resident physicians. Most of those involved in the training session were senior trainees who had their own ideas about what problems concerned them in their patient populations, and what they wanted to study. I also knew a little about this person’s study topic of interest, and from my brief time on the ground knew there were probably a dozen different research projects that, if pursued and funded, could have a much bigger impact on our ability to help our patients.

Fast forward several months and both me and this person are back in the United States, for the foreseeable future or until our government can get itself together and stop being the punch line of pandemic response jokes. I haven’t written about it much (between school and work and life changes I haven’t had much time to sit and write my feelings about the pandemic and global health out) but I have definitely thought about this a lot. How being forced out of so many poorer nations where we are used to being hands on and taking the lead has forced us all to take a step back, to slow down, and really reflect inwardly on what our motives are and how to best move forward if we truly want to be of service.

I am not a perfect global health worker. I have had my share of mistakes and white savior moments. I’d like to think I’ve learned from them, and from my time working with the pediatric team in Liberia, although there will always be room to improve. And I can’t help but think that being forced to stay home, having limited access to all but 14 other nationals in the world, is a good thing for Western global health workers.

For a long time, we’ve been flying in for short visits, trying to use that fleeting time to establish connections, and accomplish whatever teaching or research is on our agenda. But what about our colleagues on the ground? The doctors, nurses, and public health workers that work in these clinics and hospitals every single day, and know the health system like the back of their hand? They see when infants come in time and time again with birth asphyxia, or when their adult patients show up sick and dying from an AIDS-defining illness because of the cultural stigma that keeps them from seeking care for their HIV. They see these problems every day, up close and personal. Are these not the best people to decide where resources go for research, for interventions and system changes? Who are we (myself included) to arrive somewhere for a few short weeks of the year and decide that we know best what the problems are in this hospital, or system, or community? And who are we to decide we know best how to fix it?

I’m not trying to say I’m glad that Americans can’t go anywhere (though it’s definitely the right decision for the rest of the world to shut us out right now.) My time working with the doctors and staff in Liberia was invaluable; I learned so much from my colleagues, and hopefully was able to be of use to the residents and residency program as well. So much can be gained by both parties from long-term, on-the-ground collaborations involving face-to-face clinical time overseas.

But if the pandemic does anything, I hope it forces Western global health workers to take a back seat- let their partners and collaborators in their respective home countries take the wheel and direct the work towards the problems they see as most important. Let’s continue to share resources, but without the many caveats and contingencies we’ve become so hellbent on tacking onto delivery of global health care. Instead of barging in with that brilliant idea already written out into a proposal, work with a partner overseas – help them to draft a proposal of their own idea, to navigate the colonialist world of academia to get their own research ideas off the ground. Maybe this is the kind of work we should have been doing all along.

This is getting long so I’ll cap it here. For some more interesting perspectives on how global health may change in the post-pandemic era from people who are much smarter than I am, check out this link…hope everyone stays safe and well this week!


Music Monday- More songs of Protest

Monday, July 27, 2020

Hi hi!

Isn’t life funny? Like how one minute you’re like ‘it’s all good, I totally got this!’ and the next you’re like ‘whoa! Jk!’ I feel like the last month has been like that for me…one of my last posts I mentioned trying to share more of the history behind protest songs once a week in July…which would have been in addition to going back to work…and starting a birth class…and starting an intensive MPH summer course. Wow. 3 week follow up? Well I’m still working and I am still in my masters’ courses…as for all the other stuff…all I will say is haha what was I thinking?

But since I last wrote about protest music, the Detroit Free Press did this great piececovering Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and I wanted to share. Side note: this write up has a great collection of vintage photos of Marvin Gaye and of Detroit in the 1960s-1970s.

And since I’m too tired to tackle the complex stats and epidemiology write ups that are due tomorrow, I wanted to cover another artist I love…Bob Marley!

Source

The sounds of Bob Marley’s music are among my first childhood memories, so he is definitely an artist I have a strong emotional attachment to. From a young age I remember listening to this song (video below,) wondering what a buffalo soldier was, who was stolen from Africa? Why were they fighting?

As it turns out, this song was released after Marley's death and was written by both Marley and fellow Jamaican Noel ‘King Sporty’ Williams. The original term ‘buffalo soldier’ is thought to have developed after Black soldiers were sent to the Western parts of the United States in the 19th century after the Civil War. There they were tasked with settling railroad disputes, building forts, and protecting colonizing settlers from Native Americans, whose land was yet again being encroached upon by white Europeans (the layers of disenfranchisement here run deep.) Native Americans who encountered these Black soldiers began calling them ‘buffalo soldiers’ for their hairs’ perceived resemblance to thick, curly buffalo fur. Marley and his co-writer re-envisioned the term in his song, protesting the role of the Black cavalrymen in building the country that continues to reject Black folks to this day.

The words of the song are pretty clear on Marley’s stance on how Black people are treated in this country, so in lieu of writing more, I’ll leave them below. The only commentary I’ll add is how troubling it is to think of how relevant the song remains in the 21st century, well over a hundred years after these buffalo soldiers were forced to build a nation that continues to reject their people as equals.

There are so many great Bob Marley songs to choose from when it comes to songs of protest. Billboard has listed (in their opinion) the 10 greatest protest songs in his repertoirehere, if you’re interested in a deeper dive. 😊 

Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock Rasta
There was a Buffalo Soldier
In the heart of America
Stolen from Africa, brought to America
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
I mean it, when I analyze these things
To me, it makes a lot of sense
How the dreadlock Rasta was the Buffalo Soldier
And he was taken from Africa, brought to America
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
Said he was a Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock Rasta
Buffalo Soldier, in the heart of America
If you know your history
Then you would know where you coming from
Then you wouldn't have to ask me
Who the heck do I think I am
I'm just a Buffalo Soldier
In the heart of America
Stolen from Africa, brought to America
Said he was fighting on arrival
Fighting for survival
Said he was a Buffalo Soldier
Win the war for America
Said he was a, woe yoy yoy, woe woe yoy yoy
Woe yoy yoy yo, yo yo woy yo, woe yoy yoy
Woe yoe yoe, woe woe yoe yoe
Woe yoe yoe yo, yo yo woe yo woe yo yoe
Buffalo Soldier, troddin' through the land woo ooh
Said he wanna ran, then you wanna hand
Troddin' through the land, yea, yea
Said he was a Buffalo Soldier
Win the war for America
Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock Rasta
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
Driven from the mainland
To the heart of the Caribbean
Singing, woe yoy yoy, woe woe yoy yoy
Woe yoy yoy yo, yo yo woy yo woy yo yoy
Woy yoy yoy, woy woy yoy yoy
Woy yoy yoy yo, yo yo woe yo woe yo yoy
Troddin' through San Juan
In the arms of America
Troddin' through Jamaica, a Buffalo Soldier
Fighting on arrival, fighting for survival
Buffalo Soldier, dreadlock Rasta

Food and Baby Stuff (Part 2)

Tuesday, July 7, 2020



Hi! Hope everyone's having a good week :) Wanted to check in and share how I changed my eating habits since finding out I was pregnant.

I’ve been meaning to write this out for a long time. I really thought the biggest changes when it comes to your diet and pregnancy was the cheeses, cold cuts and alcohol, but there’s a lot more to it than that. You’re growing a whole entire human (or, as I like to affectionately call ours, a humanoid parasite), so there’s a lot of nutrients you need way more of to help keep you and the baby healthy. Most of this information either comes from my obstetrician’s office or the Ovia Pregnancy app, which has a lot of great info for free (keep in mind that, like all apps, they are totally mining your data if you choose to enter your information into the app.)

I also really liked What to Expect When You’re Expecting’s chapter on diet, although it was admittedly a little overwhelming at first. I try to remember that eating a balanced diet with a few adjustments goes a long way, which really helps. Also important to note that this is not medical advice. I can’t offer advice on the internet and I specialize in treating kids, not pregnant women. I’m just sharing my experience and passing along some information I’ve found super helpful in case it helps someone else (turns out I have a lot of pregnant friends right now :). Anyways, here’s how my diet has changed since finding out I was pregnant this spring:

Cut the caffeine. I was never a big caffeine drinker, but since I work mostly nights and evening shifts I do need some artificial energy on a regular basis. In residency that meant 2 cups of coffee (one before work and one mid-24 hour shift, around 10 pm.) These days my schedule is much lighter and I only have a second cup of coffee half the time, when I am going in for a night shift. It’s probably even less than that since with Covid-19 most of my spring time shifts got canceled and I almost lived a normal 9-5 life for a while there, maybe half a cup a day. While caffeine isn’t great for the baby I really do need it to function for my job. I talked to my OB and she said that for me, half a cup of coffee is a-ok, so definitely talk to your doctor about this since everyone is a little bit different. 

Boost the brain food. Early in my pregnancy I found a study in China linking increased fish consumption during pregnancy to higher IQs later in the child’s life (I haven’t been able to find it again for this study, but the study design was similar to this one, which I am trying to get full access to. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31578044/) I can’t say too much about the strength of the evidence without reading the full studies (since there could be other factors that make one group of kids have a higher IQ than the others completely unrelated to maternal fish consumption) but since salmon, light-canned tuna and other low-mercury fish are safe to eat in pregnancy, I’ve been trying to get 1 serving of each in per week (pass the tuna melt!) These fish have high levels of omega-3 fatty acids which are known to be beneficial for brain development.

Other great sources we’ve been using are walnuts (taste great toasted and thrown onto salads, over Greek yogurt, or into our next batch of cookies or banana bread) and flax seeds (we toss them in smoothies and eat the Ezekiel golden flax breakfast cereal.) Our doctor gave us a full list of pregnancy-safe fish and we usually go off of that to choose what we’ll buy for the week. Other nuts and seeds (my nutritionist mentioned sesame) are also great options. Sadly, while my beloved taramosalata is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, it’s a no go per my OB nutritionist. I was pretty bummed about that.

(side note on nuts: I’ve also made the point of eating peanut butter pretty regularly, as there’s some weak observational data that nut consumption in pregnancy correlates with a lower risk of nut allergy in kiddos. https://scopeblog.stanford.edu/2013/12/23/eating-nuts-during-pregnancy-may-protect-baby-from-nut-allergies/.)

Whole wheat. It wasn’t news to us that whole grains and brown rice are better for you, but they also lower your risk of gestational diabetes. So Peter’s been making his bread with a 2:1 wheat to white bread ratio, and we try to stick to brown rice and pastas as much as we can (side note: does everyone’s brown rice come with the occasional inedible grain husk? How on earth do you get rid of them?)

Iron, anyone? Especially in your second half of pregnancy, iron stores get depleted and you tend to need more than the average person. We aren’t big meat eaters, so I was happy to find that you can easily find iron in a lot of non-meat products. Some great sources of iron we’ve been trying to consume regularly: lentils (add a side of whole wheat bread for improved absorption- soy and white beans are also great), shrimp, dark chocolate, dried fruit (apricots are best but I also love prunes because pregnancy comes with all kinds of fun new symptoms including constipation, and prunes are great for keeping you regular),  leafy greens (spinach and kale FTW!), thyme and sundried tomatoes.

Also I recently learned from my pregnancy app that coffee inhibits iron absorption (so does milk, just FYI) so if you are taking a supplement, make sure not to take it with these beverages. Orange juice, on the other hand, will help with absorption of iron.

Those are probably the biggest changes we’ve made in our diet. Below are links to some of the resources I’ve found helpful when it comes to my prenatal diet.

https://www.whattoexpect.com/

https://www.oviahealth.com/apps - the pregnancy app has been particularly useful

Not food related, but a former med school classmate made these videos regarding Covid-19 and its effects on perinatal care. I found them to be well researched, informative and super reassuring 😊 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NG57zLUkBtw

I am also a big advocate of talking to your OB office about this (and anything that you’re curious about regarding your pregnancy.) I always keep a note open on my phone and write down questions as they cross my mind throughout the month, then have them ready to ask my OB at the next visit. 

 

 


Food Subscription Boxes and Baby Stuff

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

How’s everyone doing? We’re alright over here. Being back at work has obviously left less time to sit and write out my thoughts , but on the flip side, pregnancy brings a lot of life and personal changes, and with that come a lot of emotions to think about! So while I don’t think this blog will ever be about one particular aspect of my life (medicine, motherhood, global health, etc.) I do think my thoughts on pregnancy and motherhood will probably start showing up a little more often in the coming months and years. Hope that’s still ok with y’all 😊

That being said, I wanted to write about how my diet changed since finding out I was pregnant and returning from Liberia for two reasons. One because we’ve received many Misfits Market produce boxes by this point and wanted to share our experience if anyone else is interested, and two because so much changes when you become, including what goes into your body. So hopefully this is interesting/helpful to someone. I split it into two parts because who wants to read thousands of words on foods. Also this post is NOT sponsored (this blog does not have the audience for that, haha.)

First off, a little on the Misfits Market box. The company picks out organic produce that doesn’t sell well/gets rejected from supermarkets and then distributes it to individual households on a weekly basis for a fee. Here’s an example of what we get for a typical week (we get the larger box), and here's a list of other produce delivery boxes you can subscribe to around the country.


Overall we are pretty happy with the selection. I don’t mind getting the ‘ugly’ produce at all (though it is sometimes a little harder to peel/prep.) I like that most of the packaging is either recycle-able or biodegradable. The fruit and veg also tends to be locally grown and seasonal which is another plus for eco-friendliness. I’d say the two major downsides are: 

1. We get too much of some kinds of foods (starches and root veg) and not enough green veg (we love our salads and leafy greens), so you have to be flexible. My husband doesn’t mind so much but as it turns out I’m a picky eater and don’t love squash or sweet potato as much as he does, haha. 

2. Occasionally we have gotten some bad produce. I’d say out of 20 boxes, 2-3 have had a couple pieces of smashed or rotten fruit which is inedible. Worth noting neither of us have bothered to write or complain to Misfits so I can’t say anything good or bad about their response to complaints or feedback.

The box has also diversified our palates and gotten us into making new and different kinds of food, which has been fun (with the exception of one jicama-peeling related urgent care visit for a knife injury- sorry husband!) The box also forces us to meal plan to keep us from wasting any of the fruit or vegetables, which is usually fun (but did take a bit of effort/adapting!) For now we plan to continue with the larger box.

Below are just a handful of examples of the meals we’ve made with our Misfits box.

Add caption
Top: Akis Petretzikis' Revithada or chickpea soup, Left, whole wheat bread, bottom/ right: Peter's take on Waitrose's Peperonata recipe with whole wheat pasta

We use this real simple recipe to make a super easy curry. Usually we add more curry powder and cook the tomatoes longer, occasionally add coconut milk :)

Cretan Dakos with fresh tomatoes! Super simple to make. Just pour a mix of water/olive oil on Cretan rusks (you can find them at most Greek specialty stores or make your own) and top with roughly chopped tomato, feta cheese, a sprinkling or oregano and more olive oil. Yum. 

Super easy egg and red potato scramble, I think we added some jicama but it tastes better in stir fry dishes, IMO.

Smoothie bowl SUPER loosely based on this recipe:1 spotty banana, frozen mango (1 mango or 2 cups) +/- frozen berries, 1 kiwi, spoonful of flax seeds, and a splash of oat milk and orange juice. Top with fruity granola and coconut flakes. We were loving these on the really hot days in early June.

Thoughts? Would you try Misfits Market? Or do you use another kind of CSA/subscription service?


How working as a pediatrician has changed since Covid-19/Life lately

Sunday, June 28, 2020


Hi friends. Hope you are all doing ok!

I’ve been back at work full swing for a few weeks now (before I was mostly doing remote work with a few shifts on occasion.) I didn’t fully grasp how much things had changed until my second or third time back. The adjustment has been interesting to say the least…while I wasn’t around for the full swing of the pandemic (while adult medicine was exploding, pediatrics ER visit and admissions went wayyyyy down as families avoided hospitals), adjusting to the changes has been harder than I thought. Here’s a couple of ways work life is different from the pre-Covid era.

Cloth mask (with surgical mask worn underneath) to make things a little more kid-friendly :)


Dressing for work.
Back at my residency, I had a colleague who never wore scrubs outside of work. He swore by either dressing professionally or changing on arrival and again before returning home. We all kind of side-eyed him and gently teased him for this. While I wouldn’t wear my scrubs out to a bar/on a regular basis, I’d wear them on my couch at home or for a quick grocery run after a shift and not think twice about it. His argument? Scrubs were historically meant to be worn inside hospitals ONLY, and doctors and nurses would change before going home to keep all hospital germs in the hospital.

These days, once I’ve handed off my pager after my shift is over, I change into gym clothes or a second pair of (clean) scrubs, switch shoes, drive home, take everything off and shower before touching anything/anyone else at home. Plus, as much of my work gear as possible stays in the car (I wipe down my phone and wallet and bring those in, and avoid bringing my laptop to work as much as I can.) I do still go into work wearing scrubs, but they are ALWAYS clean/laundered.

Food and drink bans at work stations is no longer just an inspection week rule. There are strict rules on infection control that get semi- ignored most of the year unless the hospital is getting inspected by an official body. OK so this sounds bad to an outsider, but when the choice is between not eating or drinking for 10-12 hours straight and occasionally sneaking a few almonds or sips of water from your flask, you just keep the damn food and snacks in your backpack or somewhere close by. A lot of people who work in ERs won’t have time the entire shift to go to the break room every time you need to eat or take a drink.

Pre-Covid - mask-free drinking sparkling grape juice for New Year's in the ICU

Post-Covid, we take these rules a lot more seriously, mostly because no one wants to take their mask off in the middle of a busy ER. I make sure to hydrate well and eat right before my shift starts, and head to the break room to eat at least once during my shift (although I do occasionally sip water in the work area to avoid getting dehydrated.) Personally, I just want to minimize removing my mask in the work area as much as possible.

Infection control is a big deal. Honestly, infection control has always been a big deal, but it’s certainly more visually obvious now. Bleach wipes and hand sanitizer sit on every surface. I wear a gown, mask and gloves when seeing every patient, not just patients who may have an infection. For procedures I add a face shield that looks like it came out of star trek (wish I had a picture!) Before entering each room, I re-screen any family members for Covid-19 exposure or symptoms. I take the extra step of washing my hands after each patient (normally I would just use hand sanitizer.) The plus side of all these changes: not a single case of work-transmitted Covid-19 has been documented at our hospital (woohoo!)

Sick days are back (woohoo!) Residency programs are notorious for their sick day policies, or at least mine was. The official rules may say you shouldn’t come into work while sick, but the culture? If you can stand and string together a sentence, you show up to work. I remember one of my chief residents proudly recalling the night she fainted in the ER after suffering from a bad GI bug, got bolused with IV fluids from the nurses and then went back to work. At one point, I came in every day of work my last year of residency with a high fever and cough (don’t worry, I wore a mask, and every time I only showed up because I thought the fever had broken. I’d go home as soon as it came back), only to find out on my last shift of the week I was flu positive!!  No one wants another person to be called in to ‘cover’ for them, especially when the job is so tough.

To be honest, these trends are pretty toxic and unhealthy. Not only do they make for exhausted and unnecessarily disenfranchised health workers, they’re also terrible for infection prevention and control. So it’s been nice to see that in the post-Covid world, not only are you not expected to work when sick, you’re actually not allowed to. My job (and many others) require an attestation be completed before every shift- you literally have to confirm you haven’t had a single Covid-19 symptom before coming in to work, every day, no exceptions.

Those are probably the biggest changes. Obviously patients have changed too- whereas emergency pediatric care included a lot of visits that weren’t true emergencies, these days very few cases like that are coming in as people avoid hospitals as much as possible (some times too much.) We’re still doing a fair amount of injury treatment (sutures and splinting FTW!) but overall things are wayyyy slower than they’ve previously been.

Besides that, life has changed pretty drastically too! We moved! This time into a beautiful big house with a yard.

We added a couple of roommates too- my sister and her dog moved up from down South to start residency up here in Boston.

And in a few months’ time, my husband and I are also sharing a new addition…


Yep! We’re pregnant!

And we’re over the moon excited. While I’m not sure how much I plan to get into pregnancy and motherhood on this blog, I sure have been thinking about it a lot, so my guess is I’ll feel like writing about it from time to time. And knowing how little I personally have heard about mothers working in global health, I’d love to share with you all how we as a family plan to make this career work (although I’d love to hear your experiences too!)

This is getting super long, so let me end it now and wish you all a great week!


Music Monday.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Another Monday, another protest song…and I have to say, there’s so many great ones to choose from. Music has such an incredible history of subversion and rebellion. I think that’s one of the things that draws me to certain genres and styles. The seemingly harmless act of singing a song has been an act of rebellion over and over again, in perhaps a hundred different histories of fighting against oppressive forces.

LaTonya Yvette is a Brooklyn-based blogger I’ve been following for a long time now. She recently posted a playlist that reminded me of this song, but originally my husband introduced me to Marvin Gaye back when we were dating. Sadly that’s probably the last time in my life that my taste in music was significantly influenced, changed or shifted; when I started med school I ran out of time to go on music deep dive, discover new artists or explore new genres, something I still really miss and hope to get back into one of these days. Then again maybe that’s just the settling of character you get once you hit a certain point in your life? Anyone else have any thoughts on this? Anyways I digress. Sorry.

According to good old Wikipedia, Marvin Gaye did not actually write the song. It was written by Renaldo ‘Obie’ Benson of the Four Tops, after Benson witnessed an act of police brutality against anti-war protesters in Berkeley.  The Four Tops didn’t want to perform it, so Benson offered the song to Gaye, who at the time was going through a deep depression due to personal and professional issues. Gaye tweaked the lyrics and melody to suit his style. At the time he was receiving letters from his brother about his experiences as a Vietnam veteran and was deeply affected by the social ills around him. He specifically referenced the Watts riots (the most violent riots in LA until 1992’s events surrounding the beating of Rodney King) as a pivotal event inspiring his newfound concern over social justice. The song became the title track for his next album, What's Going On.

The result is a beautifully mournful record that has won dozens of accolades and became Gaye’s first album to reach the Billboard top ten. The song reached number two on the charts and is his second-most successful song to date. Ironically, the song was such a departure from Motown music more typical of the era that producer Berry Gordy initially refused to release it, as he felt it was “the worst thing I ever heard in my life.” Cementing it as a true song of rebellion, Gaye actually had to go on strike from recording other music until Berry came around. The end result is beautiful and sobering, and fits all too well into the mood of the last two weeks.



What do you think? I feel like this song was made for times like these. I also loved this music video released in 2019. Sadly could have been released yesterday, but I hope together we are able to enact real change soon.


Stay safe folks,


PS- got another protest song or artist you think I should write about? Let me know in the comments. I'd like to keep this up, at least until my classes start in July.