Backwards and Upside down

Took me a full half an hour to come up with that title…I was going for provocative…but not like that!. I realize that half the time my posts have been about a wide range of vjazzling to trashy romance novels reviews and this title may give the reader some false hopes for my subject material. I was referring to ZIP LINING! … and that still doesn’t seem to side step the innuendo so..suffice it to say- there was no naked yoga involved in this past weekend. And by naked yoga I mean just that! I have a friend who’s all about it! no innuendo again I swear! Well since I’m done digging this hole I’ve gotten myself into- let’s just get to the point:

I recently returned from a bonding trip with my fellow family medicine residents. We started off the weekend as only Doctors do: by taking the in-training exam. We then headed to a seminar about our strengths, weaknesses, and stuff we plan to do to fix it all, and finally finished with eating, drinking and being merry- all topped off with an early morning zipline course through the Mountains north of LA. This retreat called to memory so many other forced bonding events I have had in the past. There was “Fallout” – in high school every year: which was always accompanied by ropes courses, trust exercises and a general cliched clique-y-ness that no amount of camping, rafting, or kayaking seemed to cure. Curious how high school students do not seem to get along all the better after you expose their fears and weaknesses to their peers. Then there was the ‘before college retreat’ for my scholarship group- which actually served given that there is no other way I would find myself so enamored of anyone ever sporting the ghastly colors of Carolina Blue. And now this…13 years later, three degrees and 30lbs later I find myself once again flying through the air, backwards and upside down…

I have no complaints about being backwards or upside down ( no innuendo again!)…given the general trajectory of my journey through life as it were (humor har). But the bigger goals of the retreat- before that squealing down the mountainside, before that trusting this rope and these people you don’t know, before making fun of your classmates for peeing their pants as we go along, seemed to be lost. We spoke, in the beginning, of ourselves. We started talking about how you become “one of us”, the truths we hold to be self evident, our “rites of passage”, the ways we fight, who our elders were, all the ways we are a village. The truths spilled out on multicolored neon sticky notes throughout the room “taking call”- for rites of passage, “gossip”- for how we fight, “Senior residents”- a defined hierarchy- for our elders. And being the grown up adult independent doctors that we are, you would think we would have sat around and rebuked this hierarchy- we would have balked. We would all come together and kumbayad our way to non-gossip land. But we didn’t. There seems to be a certain level of comfort I still hold, at this point anyway- in being told what to do. And no amount of drinking and merrymaking seemed to change all of that. What it did change however, was my perspective on the above…flying backwards and upside down has a way of doing that.

We are more than a village, we are a family. My first co-intern and I call each-other Nemesis. We all have our nicknames and will soon have shirts accordingly. We still gossip…and continued to gossip all week long. I made the paltry attempt, while gossipping around the kitchen table- to at least say that this gossip remains between the 6 of us. We are exclusive. The interns drove together, slept together, and rallied at all the seniors trying to get us to break up and mingle. We were the kids wearing double strap back packs long before it was cool because we had actual shyt to do at school. A full 1/4th of all Doctors probably played the violin. We have obsessive compulsive personality disorder…and we like it (say it Sand Lot style–that loser kid who was the captain of the rich team who lost). No one wants a doctor who is laisse le bon temps rouler about their health. We are the ones who bragged in college about who had more homework and the longer paper and the more tests in a row. We are stubborn, and strong willed, and used to being the smartest/ and the ‘least knowledgeable” one in the room.  Having said all of that, the one thing we all agree upon- despite our sneaky, sometimes humorous, some times ill-advised attempts to one up one another’s cool new pen/stethescope/knowledge base- is that there are defined outsiders of the family- and we attack accordingly. That was the last sticky note we all had to describe; since there are defined insiders, who is outside? And the answer was simple- anyone who does not, without question, have our backs first. If you are lazy- you create more work for us and you are outside. If you call others over our heads- you are outside. If you are stupid…and dont work to rectify that stupidity- you are outside. And like all families, while we may gossip, we may laugh at, we may even hurt our own, we will come together and attack all those outside of the family.

I love this family. I love our divas, our wayward cousins, our silent but deadly little sisters. I love that already we have cried together, laughed together. We plan one another’s pregnancies, and weddings, and abortions…in whatever order they may come. And perhaps this journey, residency, forces that bonding: we are pushing through hell praying we come out better, and stronger, and smarter for it…without having killed anyone (including ourselves) on the way. And this requires holding on to one another.

This family, the grown-up doctors tell us, will change. Some people will become outsiders, some new ones will come in…the gossip part doesn’t seem to go away. But I write this to say that 1) for all those kiddos rocking double strapped backpacks- you will get here, and we will be waiting- there may still be sniggering behind your back, you will undoubtedly not have it all figured out yet, but the luxury of family is that we will meet you where you are- keep pushing. And secondly, going through a journey upside down and backwards is ok; a bit scary, and you have no idea where you are going or how long you have to go to get there but it’s actually kind of exciting, as long as you are surrounded by family.

To my Fam med crew, my babies still pushing it out ( Juls, Staley, Jams, the Rev.Dr, AnnieO, Mari, JiJi), my to gangsta bunny and stalker boba…Top Flight security of the world Craig signing out.

…I got my nickname ( the Top flight…) because I absolutely HATE when the frikin suburban parks in the compact spot. I’m like…out to take down all poorly parking members of society…with a whistle and a flashlight.


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