Friday, June 17, 2011

Front Row Seat to lots of Learning

I'm forcing myself to write, because I have been thinking about blogging daily for weeks. The house is quiet and Mike is moonlighting tonight. I am physically putting down Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother before I turn into her, and consciously neglecting: Cinderella Ate my Daughter, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, The Power of a Whisper, Einstein Never Used Flashcards, Little Women, 90 days of God's Goodness, Healthy Sleep Habits - Happy Child, all the organizing and home management blogs, and a plethora of household items that I could probably do about now.

I'm thinking of my little sister who is having a piano recital tonight for her students at my parents' house. When I was 18 and held bi-annual recitals for my students until I was 25, when we moved to Pennsylvania. I loved it. The recital was a small goal throughout students' training, that the kids and parents could see and aspire to. What they could not see was what kind of learning and little goals that were accomplished throughout the training process. I believe we will not come close to knowing the intricacies of the brain and how they communicate and develop when all of your concentration and four of your senses are engulfed in a specific task of self control and passion - such as performing music. So much is learned when you are put up to a performance, when you have to prepare piece of music, on a specific date, and when you have eyes and ears all over you ready to hear your months or years of work in about 2 minutes. Some holding their breath in hopes you don't make a mistake, some glaring down and wishing you practiced more, some comparing you to some other kid, and a few beaming with pride. All the while, no one knowing what kind of learning is really taking place. I do vividly remember, after any performance, wether great or sub-optimal, my Dad would say, "It was good a learning experience." Right on.

Last night, Mike and I celebrated his completion of a Cardiology Fellowship in General Cardiology. This celebratory dinner was in honor of the graduates from both the General Cardiology program and the more specific 'Interventional Cardiology.' There were a total of six graduates, four "General Fellows" and two "Interventional Fellows."

Upon roasting and boasting about the group of four General Cardiology Fellows, the director went on to give some facts we may not have known about the year Mike and his fellow graduates applied to the program. Apparently 800 applicants applied for their positions, and they only interviewed 50 applicants. They did not go beyond their top 5 choices of candidates for the Cardiology Fellowship in the year they applied and were accepted. After a brief congratulatory address, the director commended them and endearingly gave them each a gift that could possibly bring them together. After listing all of the possible injuries of the head with many chuckles throughout the room and then a few belly laughs. (It was a very long list, and in true jargon. I barely understood every 5th word.) The common thread of these cardiologists was culminated in the gift of a helmet, reminiscent of his/her individual experiences of either surfing, falling off of a chair lift, cracking head open, skiing, or playing ice hockey on a lake behind one of the attending's homes at the fellows retreats in the Poconos. They all proceeded to put the helmets on and pictures were taken. It was very heartwarming, funny, and made us incredibly grateful for where Mike is studying right now. We are not only grateful for Mike to have the opportunity to work with stellar doctors in a field that he loves, but also to have the camaraderie with his teachers, colleagues and their spouses that was evident throughout the evening. His Electrophysiology attending said it is a joy to work with him because he always wants be hands on and learn, and is grateful to be there. The attending said to me, "Working with Mike makes working fun." (Clearly not speaking in jargon.)

I am enamored with the mind and how much we are learning as individuals and a family. When I left giving bi-annual recitals, we were just trying to wrap our minds around commuting into the city and dealing with 30 hour shifts every four days. We would not have imagined the opportunities that now we are embracing. Parenthood, household, patient care, serving each other, serving the kids, cardiology, electrophysiology, etc. We had no idea what field Mike would want to go into or how much he would learn in each area of medicine throughout residency. Many a friend and family member has called with an illness or question, and he usually knows what they are taking about enough to give pertinent information. Many a patient calls in the middle of the night, and our bedroom turns into a quick-talk cardiology clinic, where Mike is giving clear, concise instructions right out of a dead sleep. At the beginning of July last year, he was observing the Attendings implant devices, and yesterday, before the dinner, he implanted five. I guess we can never imagine all of the learning that is going on as we are actually going through the learning. And yet the more we learn the more we realize we have to learn even more.

The directer of the heart center where Mike is training opened the program with an excerpt from a book, which I will hopefully find and read soon. It spoke about how, as doctors, they have a front row seat to real life. Usually we think of a "front row seat" to a show or performance of people trying to re-create something that is already created. As doctors, they have a front row seat in to the most intimate parts of peoples lives that are already going on. Real drama and change happens before their eyes, and hopefully training and experience helps them solve the mysteries and answer the questions. He emphasized that it is a prized and prestigious position, and something that very few can do.

Go Mike! I'm so proud of you, my love!

Tomorrow I have a neurologist appointment, and hopefully the drama will be with my disease improvements and not in our children, who I am bringing to the appointment. They were both mildly ill today, so I cancelled the sitter for tomorrow. Maybe we can meet up with Mike at the hospital and see him for a few minutes.

I'll be turning in for the night now, the 'Tiger Mother' will just have to wait.