Monday, April 17, 2006


Less Than I Dreamed I'd Be, But More Than I'd Ever Imagined...

Tonight I had a wonderful surprise. In order to tell you about it fully, howver, I have to go back and fill in a little history. I’ve said before that I grew up in Alabama. To be more specific, I spent my formative years in Birmingham. We moved there from Anniston, AL after I finished 5th grade. I was thrown into 6th grade at Homewood Middle School. Although 3 different elementary schools from the area combined that year, many kids had known each other from elementary school, church, youth sports, and such. That made me one of the outcasts. I quickly made some wonderful friends, and we all stumbled through the teen years awkwardly together. We graduated to Homewood High School (not without some social scars) and carried on. I promise to fill in those blanks later including admitting to the fact that I used to dance at high school football games in knee-high white boots and a red sequined bodysuit. (Pull your minds out of the gutter and stick with me for the rest of this post).

About one year ago, my cell phone rang in San Diego. I was still living in Little Italy in my oh-so-modern loft with my I-don’t-need-anyone lifestyle. “Hello.” “Stampy Durst? Dr. Stampy Durst?” “Yes?” “This is LH. I’m not sure if you remember me from high school…” “SHUT UP! (said in that “bring it on” sarcastic tone) Of course I remember you! What the hell?” It seems my high school classmates had realized at our 10th reunion that they’d lost track of a lot of people and made it their mission to track us all down. Not only that, but the coolest computer geek ever (yes, you Burke) had set up a website for all of us to catch up. For a brief time,, I e-mailed people I had thought of often but hadn’t spoken to for a decade or more. Then residency life caught up, and I lost touch again.

Since moving, I’ve been updating my magazines and bank accounts. I thought, “Oh, hell! I’ve lost touch with everyone again.” So I posted an update with my new address and number on the site. Today, I had two gifts. An e-mail from my old friend “The Ham” and an actual phone call from Jenny.

Jenny and I were friends since 6th grade. We had good times and great times, bad times and horrible times – the kind of times you can only have when you’ve known someone at their best and worst from a young age. She called me tonight, and it was phenomenal to talk to her – not awkward at all – as if we’d briefly lost touch and were just catching up.

The conversation was great, but she told me she’d e-mailed me prior to calling me. As much as the phone call meant, the e-mail made me cry. She had read this blog, and was concerned about my stories of depression. She said, if the meds weren’t working, maybe she could help.

Holy Shit! Jenny has had some hard times. She was a single mom for awhile. She put herself through school and is now a teacher (no more honorable profession). Now she’s happily married with two beautiful girls, a loving husband, and several rescued pets. But what struck me was when she said, “I always thought I’d do something more.”

MORE? I can barely take care of myself let alone my dog. The smallest setback sends me into an emotional tailspin. My work doesn’t suffer. Why? Because I have no other responsibilities except to work. I could not leave the hospital for days (hey, they have toothpaste and waterless shampoo and slippers) and, as long as Hooch was getting walked, I don’t know that anyone would even notice. Here was a woman who had gone through so much, achieved so much, and yet still doubted her path.

The ironic thing is that less than a week ago, I called my mom to talk about the lack of my accomplishments. I had been checking out several alumini newsletters, and was awed by what my friends had accomplished. Her reply? “Honey, you’re a surgeon. You cut people open and you make them better. You’ve busted your ass for years. Why would you question yourself?” Because this wasn’t exactly what I’d dreamed I’d be doing in high school. Well, life happens and circumstances change. Unfortunately, dreams don’t always go along for the ride. More on this later…

Sometimes it is nice to be reminded of all the work that does into the diploma on the wall...
No shit baby. I'm with your Mama- you are amazing. I can barely tie my own shoes much less operate on like- live humans.

Do you head south anymore? If so you must let me know. We're only a few hours from Birmingham.
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