Memorial Day

Of course, I remember my father and his service to this country. He was an immigrant who served as soon as he became a citizen; proud to do so as he loved his new country. Though he did not give his life in service to this country, he spoke of how he honored those who trained with him who were lost in the great wars. He always reminded me that service without question is great. My Pop served in the Army Air Corps- predated the US Air Force. My uncle served in the Navy.

Yesterday, I attended services at my local west coast parish. It’s very different from the cathedral, in the Midwest. My West Coast church is ultra modern with ultra modern traditions. I miss everyone and miss the serenity of the Gothic stone and stained glass that welcomes me most Sundays. Everyone was nice, the new rector who is just called, was not in attendance. I have yet to meet him but word from the parish is that he’s moving the church to a higher service.

The interim rector invited me to speak about my experiences in medicine and end of life care. We had a wonderful discussion during coffee hour where he asked me to consider spending some of my morning prayers on those who have brought negativity and hurt into my life. As I consider this request this morning, he is right. I can’t change things that my heart would have me change but I can pray for those who have negativity in their lives. In the same manner that I serve and treat, I must extend my heart to those who reject my love and reject me. I just came along too late for everything; too late for life.

This morning, I sit on the hillside to watch the huge container ships heading out to sea; crossing the Pacific Ocean. I long to be on their decks, heading for the challenge of being at sea and navigation. The long ships disappear behind an island only to move rapidly under the bridge and out to sea. What adventures lay ahead for them! Oh, take me with you! I don’t want to go back.

A couple of days ago, I toured one of the state’s premier medical centers. As soon at I hit the ward, memories of rounds in a high performance center flooded back into my mind. I was happy to participate in rounds, grateful for the invitation, arranged by the principle investigator on my West Coast project. I feel back into my role as attending surgeon/professor asking questions of the fourth-year medical students who will head off for their internships (PGY-1) in a couple of weeks. Some were accompanying us because they needed to make-up extra time and grades before leaving the campus.

They pressed me for information on how to be a good resident; I happily obliged- read, read and do more reading. The physicians loved my teaching; gentle with questions and explanations for shock. “I had never thought of presenting the way you present”, one said to me as I sketched my favorite critical care diagram on a paper towel; the students fought to keep it. Cardiogenic = pump problem; Distributive = peripheral resistance problem; Obstructive = branch of distributive–> relieve the obstruction; Neurogenic= watch out as it can fool you; look at the heart rate.  The easiest to treat is Hypovolemic = prime the pump and then “whip it” if you have to. Move fast and anticipate based on what you see as you look at the patient!

I have planned to spend some time with friends to honor of those sailors, airmen and infantrymen who gave their lives in service to this country. The fog will burn off; the weather warming in the late morning to brilliant sunshine and blue skies. I stand on this hillside looking at two cities and two bridges as the fog recedes. My heart forgives and I move on, forget; change myself and stay in this beautiful serene place with the Midwest being so far way; in memoriam on this 100th Anniversary of John F. Kennedy’s birth; forever the age when he was killed.


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