Friday, November 20, 2015

A Rock Climbing Story: My Way Is Better

Usually when he falls or slips, he bangs the rock wall and gets angry red face. The wonderful thing is that by the time he's on the ground he's same friendly guy he was earlier when his belayer told him to climb on.

He's been working a grey 5.12 (very challenging) route.  His beta for the crux (the hardest part of the route) is not the intended beta (his moves are not the moves the route-setter had in mind). After a week of angry face and taking it out on the wall he gets it clean (doesn't fall).   But for him one clean climb isn't enough.  This damn grey 5.12 is on the climbing circuit every night for two weeks until he feels he's mastered his project.  His satisfaction is confirmed over a beer.  Project complete.

But the next week there he is again tied in at the grey 5.12.  I'm still trying to break up my knot from the climb I just finished.  I walk over to him and ask "Seriously?  I thought we were done with this?"

"Now I'm going to do it using Scott's beta."  Scott is the guy who set the route.

I roll my eyes and tie in.

I watch the familiar sequence of moves up to the crux. And we're at the crux (well really only he is actually physically at the crux, but I am on the other end of this rope so I'm a part of this).

He goes for the new move.  He doesn't make it.  I look down because sometimes angry face makes me laugh which is a completely inappropriate response to someone else being frustrated.  I hear nothing.  I look up.  No red face.  Just a grin.

"My way is better."


There's a fine line between being engaging with a challenge versus just being stupid. I mean, it feels good to care about things but at a certain point you can care too much, or care for reasons that start to become unreasonable, like wanting to give an outdoor climbing route one more try when it's really time to get going because the park is closing and the sun is going down and the rest of your party is bored or freezing.

I don't always know where that line is.  I definitely swear a lot (sorry kids) when I fall but there's rarely a physical manifestation of my frustration.  No red angry face.  Part of me wants to care about it as much as angry face but climbing is an important mental, physical and social endeavor and there is a bit of balance involved in that.

It's helpful to see climbers who I admire let go (physically and mentally). So, thank you angry face.

Our way is always better.

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's so easy to stop running. You just walk.

Lots of people say the hardest part is just getting out the door to go to the gym, go for a run or whatever.   You know, the hardest part is showing up.

For me?  I'm not so sure.

I'm training for a 10K using a training plan.  It's a struggle. 

I have no problem getting into my running clothes and out the door.

But the actual running part?   It's hard.  I'm the worst version of myself when I run.   

Because when I run, I just want to stop.  
And it's so easy to stop running.  
You just walk.  
If you just stop swimming you'll drown.  
Or biking you'll fall over if you were to just stop.

I'm motivated not to drown.  I'm motivated not to fall off a bike.    

I considered training with a treadmill.   Stop running on one of those things?  That shit's gonna hurt.
But, you can also just push a STOP button.   It's right there.  Big and red and ready for you.  If I stop running when I'm out on a trail at least I have to keep walking to get back to my apartment or car.

I  need to renovate my approach.   
I've already made a few helpful adjustments.
I'm bringing you along for the ride, er, I mean, the run.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

It only took six and a half years

On January 19th, 2008, I wrote the following resolution (among many others).

My resolution for this year is not so much about weight loss as it is about strength gain. I am very close to being able to do a pull-up so I’m going to make doing that pull up my fitness resolution. I hope to have that nailed in the first two months of the year.

On January 1st, 2009 I audited myself.  

2008 Health Resolution Audit
No-pull up

This past Wednesday, kind of out of nowhere, I do a pull-up.  

I love you rock-climbing

Friday, May 09, 2014


Can I fly when I'm in Germany?  No, I cannot.  
This country is very orderly.  
And lots of people drive Audi's.  Really fast.  

Friday, April 04, 2014

A kick

And I'm back from Africa.
For me, this trip puts the brain thing squarely behind me (I do hope to continue writing about it for both the humor and history).
Before I left I worried that going on this trip was somehow kicking my health in the face.  
But really, this adventure gave me a good kick in the pants.
Before I left I had been feeling cautious.  A reasonable response to injury and recovery but the cautiousness was pervasive.

I return from Africa feeling a little less scared, somehow.

It also confirmed that I'm happiest when I'm doing research in the field with a view towards some type of intervention, action, change to the environment - doing something!  I view my work as an extension of theoretical and lab work - not simply an the application of Behavioral Economics.  

Someone from the lab will likely come after me to write a post for the official work blog.  So, more on what I was actually doing in Africa instead of all this personal and professional reflection nonsense.

In the meantime, here's a picture of me training Research Assistants.  The team was extremely sophisticated and experienced and they certainly kept me on my toes.  As usual, the learning ran deep both ways. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Next up on Jamie-Scapes

In about three weeks I'll be working in an open air market in Kampala, Uganda.

I'm there to learn about bio-fortified orange sweet potatoes and think about how to use behavioral economics to get more babies to eat them.  This potato is loaded with Vitamin A which is important for vision.


Dad:  Haven't you had enough adventure for the year?"
Jamie:  That was 2013.  It's 2014.  Time for a new adventure.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Milk Panic Guide

Running out of milk?  Now we're talking drama.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Preamble to the story of Jamie's Duke Brain Adventure

Dear Readers (Hi Mom),

I had brain surgery over the holidays. 
I am totally fine.

Writing about it will help me archive the experience and share the humor of it.   You have to laugh about things like this.

The really short story
I felt dizzy for a long enough time to lead me to get an MRI.  The MRI revealed that my brain bleed from four years ago had quadrupled in size.  When your brain bleeds twice and the bleed is big it’s time to remove the thingy that’s the causing the bleed.  So, the fine folks at Duke Hospital did brain surgery and removed the thingy (also known as a cavernoma). 

The surgery went just fine.  No complications.  I am otherwise is great health so my recovery has been great.  That said, it was brain surgery so for the month of January I am perfecting the art of taking it easy. 

The really long story will follow.  
I'll post installments as I write them. 
The first post is on November 28th - Thanksgiving!  So you'll have to scroll down or click back a few pages.  That's just the way blogger organizes things.

Again, I'm totally fine. 
I wouldn't be casually blogging about it if I wasn't.

Wednesday, January 01, 2014


My New Year's resolution this year is to walk up and down the stairs in my apartment.  Going up the stairs is easy.  When I'm at the top of the stairs I'm acutely aware of the fact that I'm at the top of a set of stairs.  This picture kind of captures that feeling.

I decide that I'm just going to postpone the vim and vigor of good intentions and resolutions for later.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Too soon for heels.

New Year's Eve party tonight.  I am going.  

I sleep most of the day.  I start to get ready and realize that the getting ready part of the evening could end up being my evening.  Beauty is exhausting.

I'm supposed to be using baby shampoo only but I totally break the rules and shampoo *and* condition my hair with my grown-up designer over-priced products.  I really want to blow dry my hair but the titanium screws in my head can't yet tolerate the heat and I decide that's a rule worth following.

It's a dress up party but the host sends me a message and said that I should feel totally OK showing up in PJ's or sweats or whatever. 

Heck no.   I throw on a party dress.  I add heels.  Then I try to walk in the heels.  Okay, too soon for heels. 

My friend Mary is my chaperone.  She picks me up and is cool with taking me back home whenever I need, even if it's before midnight. 

It's 11:10 PM.  
I'm like "Yeah.  Going strong.  I'm gonna make it to midnight."

And then the crash.

It's 11:35 PM. 
I'm like "I'm about to fall over and the Christmas tree might come with me.  Home.  Now."

Mary takes me home and she heads back to the party in time for midnight.  I pour myself some Ginger Ale (it's bubbly) and fall asleep. 


Pre-party selfie while I'm waiting for my hair to dry and trying to come to terms with this outfit without heels.  

Monday, December 30, 2013

Service for Eight

I'm a minimalist.  And I don't cook much.  So, the fact that I only had four spoons was never really a problem for me.  I mean, you can only use one spoon at a time.  Two spoons tops.  This worked for me.  Until my dad started using my kitchen.

I had been meaning to buy flatware but every time I tried I would just stare at my options, get stressed out and leave the store.

And now I have service for eight people. 

I also bought a whisk and really small frying pan.  And then got stressed out an left the store.  

But, a few days later I went to Target and I bought ever more kitchen shit.  I was delighted that I could get so many things in orange and purple.  

One motivation for minimalism is thinking about having to move.  But, I realize I have two really large couches and having a set of mixing bowls or not isn't really going to matter.

Don't Drop The Soap

I feel steady enough for the standup shower.   If I drop the soap, I won't pick it up.  Like prison.  But not really. 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cake cake cake

I try to read a book but I just can't really concentrate.  Then I realize it's a really boring non-fiction work book and I take a look at one of the books a friend loaned to me.  

Much much better.  I read all 600 pages of it in a few hours.  I feel like I've accomplished something.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Keep up the good landscaping.

There's a nursery (like for plants, not kids) pretty much across the street from where I live.  So my dad and I head over there for plants.

We talk to the plant lady and somehow it comes up that my dad is here from Florida.  And she asks what brings him to North Carolina.  Things are probably pretty slow in the plant store in December.  And we're actually having winter-ish weather.

He says "My daughter just had brain surgery."

And the plant lady laughs because she thinks he's joking. 

And then she realizes he isn't.  

I think it's funny as ever but I don't want to make her feel uncomfortable so I say something that lightens the conversation. 

And then we buy some plants.

The garden is complete.  Well, almost complete.  My dad was planting the final pachysandra when I took this picture.  He's made all the plants modular in order to keep the weeds away.  

And, if I move the plants can come with me.  Last time my dad was in town I lived somewhere else and we spent a few hours weeding the driveway.  And then I moved.  


The neighbors are thrilled.  One of them remarks "Keep up the good landscaping."

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The task of no tasks.

My dad and I decide that this experience of no structure and plans is good for us.  We both love structure plans but my energy is too much of a wild card to make plans.  We decide it's a test.

I task my father with fixing up the small garden area outside my apartment.  He approaches this project with Dad-like gusto.


My dad and I understand each other.  That's kind of the foundation of our closeness.  It means a lot to me that he's here looking after me.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


It's Christmas.  I wake up early and empty the dishwasher.  My dad is actually still asleep and he's kind of grumpy that I was so noisy.  I tell him it's my birth right to wake up a parent on Christmas morning.

For the past few years I've celebrated Jewish Christmas with the Israeli's from the lab and few other random orphans.  We see a movie and then go to Happy China.  

I had planned on another Jewish Christmas but instead I make plans for us to join a more traditional Christmas celebration with a friend and her extended family.  There's a ham and we even hold hands and pray before we eat.  My dad is very religious, this is kind of a big holiday for Christians and today is also my dad's birthday.

We do, however, close out Christmas Day however with Israeli food.  The dish pictured below is called majadara.  It's delicious. 

Sunday, December 22, 2013

If you pushed me, I would definitely fall over.

I'm walking about as well as a toddler.
If you pushed me, I would definitely fall down.

They drained the cerebrospinal fluid from my brain.  
So, it's kind of like there was a drought and while cerebrospinal fluid is replenishing everything is resettling including my the part of my brain responsible for balance:  the cerebellum.

So I'm wobbly.  My kinesthetic intelligence was never very good to begin with but this brings my sense of clumsy to a whole new level.

Walking actually feels a lot like rock climbing. 
Every move is very deliberate.  Walls and furniture and people are like holds.  


My dad takes me to Target.  I hold onto the shopping cart and realize that while I'm wobbly I'm actually still quite strong (yeah climbing).  The shopping cart is keeping me steady and I realize the strength in my legs and power forward.  Until thirty seconds later I'm so tired I pre-empt falling and just sit down in the towel section of Target.

I'm quickly realizing how much this sets me back.  It's hard for me to feel too bummed because I'm grateful for how much went right and how much worse this could be.


Walking around the mall (on Christmas eve) feels like driving.  I'm leaving THE GAP and make a full stop at the door.  I look to my right, look to the left, look to the right, find a clearing in the crowd and take it.

I wonder how it is that people don't bump into each other all the time.  Somehow, we move around each other.  We get out of the way.  We weave through each other.  We make way.   Walking in a crowd feels like a face off.  As people come towards me I'm thinking "I'm not moving out of the way.  Are they?"  And they do. 

Saturday, December 21, 2013


On Dec 21, 2013, at 8:52 PM, Jamie wrote:

Hey All,

I was discharged from the hospital today.  
I feel really good.  After a bath, I felt even better.

Getting settled at home.  
My dad will be staying with me for a bit.  
My walking is wobbly and I'm, you know, recovering from brain surgery.

I would love visitors and food and company and stuff.  My friend Diane is going to set up a spreadsheet to organize things like food and "Jamie-Sitting."  More info on that to follow.

Thanks again for being there.  All of you.  It means a lot to feel supported and loved like this.  I have a wonderful "framily" down here.


Friday, December 20, 2013

As soon as I am done with this update I will have pudding.

On December 20, 2013, at 9:43 AM, Jamie Foehl 

Good Morning - this e-mail is actually from Jamie,

I peed all by myself, had breakfast and as soon as I am done with this update I will have pudding.

In other words, I feel great and it's hard to imagine that less than 24 hours ago someone was poking around my brain and they put it all back together.

My dad is arriving today.  I will likely get moved to the main hospital though if there isn't space I'll stay in ICU.  Tonight might be a good time for visitors but let me see where I land and how I feel in a few hours.

Once I'm home visitors will be great.  I expect my dad will be "the boss" but some company and help will be much appreciated.  Once we have a better sense of aftercare I'll reach out,


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Star Performer

Date: December 19, 2013 at 9:13:21 PM EST

Probably the last update for tonight... This time from Diane. Jamie's doing great. A star performer, as usual... Tired, still a little groggy, but talking well and cracking jokes. She's trying to get some sleep now. She's been enjoying hearing from everybody, so thanks for that!

Visiting in the ICU is tricky, but someone will send visitor info once she transfers to the regular floor, which I think is still planned for sometime tomorrow.

Goodnight, all!

Team Jamie

Emerging from Anesthesia

I thought I was attached to a piece of plywood.  And I was stuck underneath four rungs.  I got out from one of the rungs and then I thought to myself "I have to do this three more times?"

And then I realized that I was not attached to piece of plywood but actually in the hospital.  I hear the voices of friends but I have no visual memory of the time right after I woke up.  It's also entirely possible that my eyes were closed.

I wonder if I'm okay.  I'm awake but I was told I could emerge a little messed up in terms of walking, talking and thinking for a few days after surgery.  Before surgery I asked if they could guarantee anything in terms of how I would feel when I woke up.  After a bit of negotiation they guaranteed I would have a sore throat because of the intubation.

My throat is sore.  Sweet!

And, I am really fucking thirsty.  

"I want water"

"Take little sips"

Sip, sip.  Water has never been so awesome.  

I take a huge sip.  GULP.
And there goes the straw.

"Please!  Water.  What do I have to do for water?   Ask me a question.  I'm Jamie.  I'm in Duke Hospital.  On the eighth floor.  Obama is the President.  I want water.  I promise I won't take a big sip."

They let me sip water from a teeny tiny sponge on a stick.   

"Am I peeing?  I feel like I'm peeing, but I feel like I'm not peeing.  The boys in the room need to leave.  I'm too classy to pee in front of men."

"Can I get more water?"


Who's the president?

I so want to say Mitt Romney.  

But I know this question is meant to assess if I am "alert and oriented to person, place, time and situation" and that's already kind of questionable.


As it happened

On Dec 19, 2013, at 1:46 PM, Jamie Foehl wrote:

Hi, it's Jamie's friend Barb here.

Jamie was brought into surgery at 1:30 and was making jokes and in good spirits when she went in.  The doctor thinks it will take 3.5 to 4 hours to complete.  I will receive updates along the way, although I'm not sure how often.  I will share more information when I get it.

On Dec 19, 2013, at 2:56 PM, Jamie Foehl wrote:

Hi All,

Apparently there was a lot of prep work involved (I was assured this is normal) so the actual procedure just began a little while ago.  I was told to expect an update in around 2 hours. Will be in touch when I hear more.

Team Jamie

On Dec 19, 2013, at 4:05 PM, Jamie Foehl wrote:

Just got an update that they are still working (translation: progressing without issue.) 

On Dec 19, 2013, at 5:46 PM, Jamie Foehl wrote:

The doctor just let us know that the surgery went very well!  Jamie is awake but groggy.  She is heading back up to her room momentarily.  We will have a better sense of how long it will take her to recover once the grogginess wears off.

That's it for now.

Team Jamie

When people go under anesthesia in movies they usually count backwards from 100 and only make it to 96 or something

Not me.  Instead, I tell the surgeon

"Don't fuck me up"

I'm trying to keep the mood light.
Fortunately the surgical team laughs.

I also laugh at my own joke, smile, and then I'm out.

Happy Thanksgiving

They've given me some pre-anthesia something or other.

"Happy Thanksgiving" I tell Barb, as they roll me away.

To anyone but Barb it might seem like the drugs had taken effect.  

But I'm perfectly coherent.  I'm just joking about a time when I wasn't coherent.  

A few years ago in February I dropped Barb off at the airport.  And I wished her a Happy Thanksgiving.  I have no idea where that came from.  In retrospect I think there's something about dropping people off at the airport and the curb-side goodbye hug that makes you want to wish them something.  So, in the middle of February "Happy Thanksgiving" popped out.

I think this is remarkably clever.

Please meow at her like a police siren. She will understand.

Barb is going to stay with me throughout the surgery.  

I give Barb my cell phone and gmail password so she can send updates during surgery and manage communication.  As much as I appreciate the support and concern from friends, it can be overwhelming.

Also, there's no texting while having brain surgery.  I'm going to be completely under for this.  In a way I have it much easier than concerned friends and family.  I just shut my eyes and then wake up (or not, in which case my own anxiety won't be the problem).  Everyone else will be on edge for the next few hours.  The e-mail updates from Barb help with that.  

Except Barb has no idea how to use G-mail.  

Who doesn't know how to use G-mail? 

She figures it out.  

I'm not sure if it helped or hurt that in the time before surgery I ask Barb to send e-mails about really random and unimportant things like a thank you note I've been meaning to write and expense reports.

I don't even remember asking Barb to write this one.  But e-mail doesn't lie.

From: Jamie
Sent: ‎12/‎19/‎2013 1:25 PM
To: Colin
Subject: Jamie Says

Goat Noise.  She is on drugs, but is sure you'll know what this means :)  This is her friend Barb.

On Dec 19, 2013, at 1:25 PM, Colin wrote:

Thanks. Please meow at her like a police siren. She will understand.

Blow Hole

So there's a possibility they're going to put a blowhole in my head.  

The more technical term for this is a shunt - a device used to relieve pressure from the brain caused by brain fluids.

This would be near the top of my head - like a unicorn!  It would also mean they would shave my head.

Barb (without a beat):  I'll shave my head too!

Diane (without a beat):  Sorry, not that good a friend. 

Jamie (without a beat):  I could switch teams!


Shortly thereafter I learn that no blowhole is needed.

I've got friends in high places.

Some doctor:  Where do you work?

Jamie (with more Blue Devil pride than ever): Duke!

Doctor:  What do you do at Duke?

Jamie:  Blah, blah, blah, Dan A*r*i*e*l*y

Doctor:  I've heard of him. 

Then, almost as if on cue Dan arrives at the Neuro ICU with his trademark "Hello, hello" greeting.

Turns out Dan knows the newly minted chief of neurosurgery at Duke.  Dan makes a phone call and minutes later the chief shows up in my hospital room.  I already felt like I was in good hands but it can't hurt to have the head honcho stop by.

The chief is gracious with his time and explains the situation.  It makes sense.  

I sign the consent form.  
With my right hand.  

Ummmmm, Okay.

I need to call my family.  A call at 3am might worry them.  But I think about what I'm going to say once they pick up and decide that worry is kind of inevitable at this point.

Ring Ring 

Jamie:  Hi Dad!  It's Jamie.


Dad:  Jamie, it's three in the morning.

Jamie:  Oh, you are going to feel so bad you just said that.  This is really good.


My sister is 7 months pregnant with my niece.  If things don't go well for me I wonder if she'll call the baby Jamie.   If I asked, she would kind of have to, right?  I keep this thought to myself.  It entertains me but it would upset my sister.

I'm really trying not to think that way.  Yes, this is brain surgery.  There are risks.  But, I voluntarily do risky things all the time, like rock climbing.  Is this any different?  The stuff of life is risky.

And, there's really nothing I can do about all this anyway.  That's really what's keeping me extraordinarily (and somewhat surprisingly) calm.  This is all just kind of happening and I'm like "Ummmm, okay."

The changing of the guard.

I'm wheeled to another part of the ER to get my enhanced CAT scan.

Diane has arrived.  

Earlier that evening, before anyone thought it was serious, Diane wrote the following e-mail:

"Okay.  Page me.  I'll be around.  I have to work tomorrow, unfortunately, 8-6, and can't get out of it unless you're actually dying.  But otherwise I am there for ya."

So the first thing Diane says is "I'm not here because I think you're dying."

Then she puts a headband with reindeer antlers on my head.  I'm plugged in and tied down to all sorts of wires and stuff so I guess I'm wearing it.   I'm not sure I can look any weirder than I already do.

Diane is going to stay with me overnight and help me find out what the deal is with needing surgery.  This doesn't jive with what we heard four years ago.

Dr. A shows up with the consent form.  "Not yet" I tell her. 

Dana has my cell phone and I see that Barb has tried to call back.  I've been waiting around for a while so I decide call Barb.

Jamie:  Hi Barb.  Ummmmm.  My brain is bleeding again and I'm in the hospital.

And before I can say anything someone starts to wheels me away to get the special CAT scan. 

Jamie:  I have to go.  

I can't even imagine how confused Barb is.
And my antlers are missing.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Are you drawing on my face with a Sharpie?

The Duke ER has valet parking.  Fancy.

The Duke ER also has a metal detector.  Not so fancy.

"I'm here!" I announce to nobody in particular realizing I don't totally know why I'm here.  

 They give me a hospital bracelet with a bar code and QR code.  Fancy.


I get my own cubicle in the ER.  And yellow hospital socks.  Dana and I are entertained by the bits and pieces of conversation we overhear in the ER.

Random people stop by to take my vitals and my blood and my money (the ER visit isn't free).  Most insurance policies don't charge you for your ER visit if you're admitted so I wonder if this means they'll be sending me home soon.


Dr. H, the emergency care physician arrives and I explain what I can.  He asks if I have the MRI scans from four years ago.

I proudly present him with a giant folder I diligently put together after my hospital stay.  I have to admit I'm a little disappointed when he just takes the CD with my scan.

Dr. H also asks for a sample of my flora.  Or something like that.  I realize he just needs me to pee in a cup and wonder why he didn't just say so in the first place.

Flora?  Pfffft.  


Still waiting.  Dana notes that you don't want to be the priority in the ER.  

Good point. 


I'm thinking about possible outcomes.  Let's say my brain is bleeding.  My understanding based on what the doctors said in 2009 was that if my brain bled again I would just have to manage the symptoms.  They wouldn't consider anything like surgery unless I was drooling and pooping myself.  The symptoms are not so bad.  I kind of feel like I'm just a little bit drunk all the time.


Dr. H returns.  My brain is bleeding.  OK.  Now what?  

Dr. H isn't really sure what they're going to do about it.  He mentions surgery and I assure him that's not an option.


Dana is eating a sandwich. 

"Can I have that?" I ask her.  I know, quite brazen especially considering she can't really say no.

Dana hands me her sandwich.  I tell her that she's going to feel really good about giving it to me because it's possible it's the last thing I will be able to eat for a few days.


The ER has gone silent.  Dana and I briefly consider the possibility that the rest of the world has been taken out by a deadly disease and somehow our ER cubicle was spared.  We take our picture.


Dr. H returns with Dr. A  
(So much for the end of the world).

Dr A:  We've taken a look at your scans.  Your cavernoma has grown significantly in size.  We're very worried about pressure that's creating on your brain. 

Jamie:  My brain is too big for my head?  I knew it.

Dr A:  Somebody from neurosurgery is looking at your scans right now.

Dr H:  In order to alleviate the pressure they might have to put in a shunt for the cerebrospinal fluids.

Jamie:  Like a blow-hole? 


Jamie:  I need to use the restroom.

Jamie thinks:  Time to make a run for it.

When I come back to the ER cubicle the floor is wet.  During my voyage to the bathroom an IV bag inadvertently exploded.  

Dana:  Like champagne on New Years!


Dr H:  You're not going to like this.

Jamie:  There's a problem with my flora?

Dr H:  They need to do surgery.




Jamie:  Hang on.  I'll wake up in a just a second because this can't be happening and must be a bad dream.

Awkward Pause.

Jamie:  I don't understand.  Is having surgery a decision I need to make?

They don't need to say anything for me to know this probably isn't a decision.  

Jamie:  Well, what now?

Dr H:  We've ordered a contrast enhanced CAT scan and then we'll admit you to the hospital and get you up to ICU.

Jamie:  Okay.

And with that a swarm of people enter the cubicle and are on my like vultures.  

Dr. H is making a mess of my left arm with two IV's and an arterial line.  Not sure what they're doing to my right arm.  There's a lot of blood and Dana, thinking she might faint, steps out.

Dr A has a razor in hand.

Jamie:  You're kidding me.

Dr A:  I just need to shave off five small patches of hair to attach these nodes to your head that you need for the CAT.

She's already stuck one of these nodes on my head and then I think she's drawing on my face with a Sharpie.

Jamie:  Are you drawing on my face with a Sharpie?

Dr A:  Yes.  I'm outlining where I've placed the nodes in case they fall off.

And then I hear the scrape of the hand razor on the back of my head

Scrape, scrape. 

Dr A:  We need you to sign this consent form.  

She has a pen ready to place in my right hand.  My left hand is indisposed.

Jamie:  I'm left handed.

Dr. H:  Really?

Jamie: Diane.  I need Diane.  

And I guess I'm not going to trivia

I'm going to trivia tonight.
It's 6pm and I'm dressed and ready.

A postdoc from the lab has been staying with me for the past three weeks and he arrives home as I'm about to leave.

He asks "How did your thingy go today?"

I reply "I don't know.  They said they would call me."

And then I look down at my phone and see that my Dr's office is calling.  How about that?

Me:  This is Jamie.

My PA:  Hi Jamie.  I happen to be at the office late and your MRI came in and we took a look at it and your MRI is different.  You need someone to drive you to the ER.

Me:  Now?

PA:  Right now.

Me:  Um.  Okay.

My PA:  Is there someone there we can talk to?

Me: Why yes, he just walked in.  

I hand the phone to my pal.  He assures the doctor that I won't drive myself to the ER.

My PA:  What ER is nearby?

Me: Duke 

PA:  Big Duke?

Me: Yes, Big Duke.

And I guess I'm not going to trivia.


Before I go to the ER I take a shower and eat cookies.  I know what I'm doing.  Twenty minutes isn't going to make a difference.

I don't want my lab friend to get roped into what could be an ordeal.  There are tons of friends I could call who would be there in a heartbeat.  I take pause because now I have to sound an alarm that feels unnecessarily dire.
I start making calls.

Ring!  Ring!  Ring!

Dana:  Hello!

Jamie:  Do you want to have an adventure tonight?

Dana (enthusiastically): Yes!  What time?  Where?

Needless to say, I delivered on adventure.