100 days of Happiness

I challenge all of you to 100 days of happiness. 

This challenge is simple. Every single day snap a picture of something that makes you happy, whether on your phone or in your mind. Because in this crazy, hectic, stressful world that we live in is also a beautiful, fun, wonderful, awe-inspiring world. It can be something simple – a great cup of morning coffee, lunch with friends, a patient who says “thank you”, no traffic, your favorite song, a free cookie, a word of encouragement, a smile in the halls of the hospital, a great run, a tough training session, a call to a friend/family member, or even just a resident who after borrowing your favorite pen remembers to return it. 

I know that there is something in every day that makes you happy. Because no matter who you are, everyone deserves to be happy.


Also…. I promise within the week to share a post on a day on the other side of medicine. Life has thrown me a few curveballs lately, and writing had to be pushed aside for a bit. Stay tuned.




Happy Valentine’s Day to all those medstudents spending it in the hospitals/clinics! Because abscesses, boils, URIs, HTN, DM, lap choles, appis, well care checks, strokes, hysterectomies, and femur fractures mean just another day for us! Which, let’s be honest…. we secretly love.

So for those of us who’s true love is MEDICINE, happy Valentine’s day from medicine 🙂

What Keeps You From Getting Better at Jiu Jitsu: Fear

A Skirt on the Mat

Ok, it’s one of the things that keeps you from getting better at jiu jitsu, but it’s a pretty big thing that we all face, and should talk about.

I’m going to indulge the 13 year old in me for a moment and relate today’s post to the lyric of a song that I enjoy, “Dear Death Part 1” (the band is Emery, in case you’re wondering)

“It’s the wrong side of fear that kept me out”

We could nitpick this phrase all day until it doesn’t make sense anymore, however I feel it can be applied to parts of our jiu jitsu journey…career…adventure? Adventure, I like it- we’re sticking with that phrase for now.

As I mentioned, we all have to face it as some point: the fear of failure, the fear of making a mistake, creating a vulnerability and being swept, submitted, etc. We put so much time…

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Fall in Love

To all third years deciding what they want to spend the rest of their life doing:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, whom you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in Love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.

                        -Fr. Pedro Stripe, S.J

Fall in love with a field and you’ll never work a day in your life.

Love in the PICU

A beautiful view of downtown from the hospital.

It has been a polar vortex here in NW Ohio. We’re currently at about 40 inches of snow this month alone, topping the blizzard record high set in 1978. We’ve also had temperatures down to -40F. We had 2 days of peds orientation week cancelled due to level 3 snow emergencies. Schools have barely been open. And among all this, I’ve been working in the PICU.

Life in the PICU.

Life in the PICU.

Having worked in the SICU I found the idea of intensive care extremely interesting and simultaneously challenging, I requested a PICU rotation for my pediatric inpatient experience. I had some really tough cases while there including an episode of bullying that turned lethal, a kid with tetralogy of fallot (a serious heart condition) who almost died every night, kids with bad burns, and a lot of kids who came in from foster care with no real support.

We had one particular patient who was who was an adorable infant girl with several birth defects including holoprosencephaly and cleft lip/palate abandoned at birth because she “wasn’t normal”. The nurses were fantastic about holding her and loving her. One day the nurses were all extremely busy with the 12 other kids we had on service and she was inconsolable. As a medical student I was done with my daily tasks of updating the list, putting in orders, and making sure everything got done that was supposed to be done. So I went to her room and I held her and played with her for over two hours. It was a simple act, a baby crying needed some love and attention. She finally fell asleep in my arms for a while when a pediatric palliative care doctor walked in.

She said I was going to make a wonderful doctor. Obviously that is my end goal, but I asked how she knew in the two seconds she had known me. She said it was because “those who are willing to put people above everything else will always do what’s best”. This doctor told me that it’s not always about the medicines or the surgeries that make people better. Sometimes, it’s the simple act of love that makes all the difference.

The PICU taught me a lot about how to work with really sick and frightened kids. I’ve learned some tricks along the way like using a scary otoscope as a candle or always having a toy in your pocket. As I enter into the outpatient part of pediatrics and the rest of my life I will always keep in mind what I’ve learned here. Because no matter what any adult will have you think, when you’re in the hospital you are just as scared as these little kids and a little love can go a long way.

Everyone tells me that one day I’ll eventually become just as jaded as most doctors are. Luckily, I’ll always have memories like these that remind me of the good I really can do for someone else aside from all the politics and all the paperwork. Because that’s why we all get into medicine in the first place – to help others. So never forget, love is sometimes the best medicine of all.

A beautiful Toledo sunset.

Happy 2014!

I hope everyone has enjoyed their holidays! I definitely enjoyed catching up with family and friends, sleeping in, and getting to my To-Do List that had been untouched for months.

2013 was a big year for me between USMLE Step 1, starting my clinical rotations, getting my BJJ blue belt and 1 stripe, and everything in between. 2014 will be even bigger. This year I finish my required clinical experiences, apply for my away rotations, take USMLE Step 2CK and CS, apply for residency positions, and go to *hopefully* several interviews on top of whatever BJJ brings my way. So that means in the next few months I have to decide WHAT it is I want to spend the rest of my life doing, which is terrifying.  (Although I am leaning toward surgery at this point as I am very much a hands-on person).

I used to believe in making a list of resolutions for the new year, but most of them I’d forget about by mid-February (ok, let’s be honest by January 10 usually).  So instead I started having a “theme” for the year. Last year’s theme was improvement. This year, my theme is to live. One word, simple enough to remember day after day until December 31.

Like I said, this is going to be a very busy year. And 3rd year, which I’m told is the greatest year you’ll ever have in medical school and even residency, is halfway over. I only have, potentially, 1.5 years left in Toledo with my family, my friends, and my Ribeiro family. So what I need to focus on this year is truly being present in every moment and soaking up and enjoying everything I can. I have a tendency to wish time away, and this year I’m going to make sure I truly appreciate the time I have.

So be here, now. Live for the day you have and not the days coming. Tackle each problem a day at a time and never let the minutes slip away. Do not merely exist. LIVE.

Happy New Year! Wishing all of you a year of happiness.

Also, you should all check out this post by a female Ribeiro brown belt about the difference between a winner and a champion and how to live life by the Ribeiro virtues. 

Cancer and Hope

There will always be days in medicine that are hard to swallow. Today happened to be one of those days.

Back when I was on labor & delivery I saw a pregnant woman who was a little worried about several issues. I did a thorough history, physical, and review of symptoms. One of the things she brought up was that she’d had a breast mass for a significant amount of time. Other doctors had told her that it was no big deal, just a duct enlargement and it would resolve after pregnancy. I, never knowing what’s pertinent or not, presented this to the senior resident (along with twenty other findings) who told her she needed an ultrasound and biopsy. She left that night. Today the senior resident told me the pathology came back as triple negative invasive ductal carcionoma. It is one of the most difficult types to treat and has a high rate of spread and recurrence. While I’m glad we were able to finally listen to her and start treatment, it makes me sad so many other people failed to listen to her. She’s a young woman with kids, and a life, and now cancer.

I also have a patient with metastatic endometrial cancer. We had to tell her and her husband that the chemo is not working and that, in fact, the cancer has spread. We’ve discussed the idea of hospice care at this point. That is never an easy conversation to have with patients and their families. She had kids, grandkids, a husband, a life, and now cancer.

I think there are so many skills we learn as medical students. But one of the most important things I’ve learned has been this year and that’s how to talk to people and how to treat people. On the gynecology service there are some really amazing attendings and residents. And yes, they’ve taught me how to do a good pelvic and breast exam, elicit information about patient’s personal lives. But what they’ve really taught me, especially on the oncology service, is how to be a GOOD doctor. And the key there is listening to your patients, and treating them as you would want your own family members treated. It means taking the extra ten or twenty minutes with your patient (or even an hour if you need to) to explain things to them, to make sure they understand what’s happening. It means empowering patients to be their own advocates and to be active participants in their care. It means holding someone’s hand before surgery and giving them a hug when they’re cancer free. It’s not always about the medicine – it’s about being a decent human being.

Unfortunately today cancer is something that you’ll have to deal with no matter what specialty you enter into in medicine. And the best advice I’ve ever been given was by an attending who said “never treat cancer patients in any way that causes them to lose hope, because hope is often the greatest medicine we have”.

So, never ever give up hope.