I’ve taken a short hiatus from the blog, undoubtedly more soon, while mostly riding the internal emotional roller coaster of saying goodbye to so many friends and colleagues at work, my dream job, and caught in the maelstrom of preparing to move to Atlanta from Northern California. If there’s one thing that physicians are good at, it’s compartmentalizing emotions about difficult situations. I’ve been the master of stoicism, up until my last day. It crept up on me, as if someone was unscrewing a faucet ever so slowly without much notice. Then there was no gate to keep those feelings in check, no excuse of Oh, it’s a month before I leave. It’s so far off! No justification that I could not cry for fear it would scare my next patient away with the concern that I was emotionally unstable. There are no patients now, just my paper trail of patients I advised and tried to help. Doctors put on a game face every day, rarely allowing that heart, that very human heart, crumple on one’s sleeve.
But it happened, sloppy and sad, hugs and smiles all around today. My time at Kaiser was only two-and-a-half years, but I saw hundreds of patients and worked with some of the kindest and support staff I’ve ever met. When I first started, I was welcomed over and over by other attending physicians in departments other than my own. Some of my most memorable patients and families I met were the couple married 64 years, the husband still carrying the snapshot of their engagement photo in his wallet, which he proudly presented to me, his wife smiling at his side. Or the health care worker, pain exacerbated by the travesty of a family death, only to spiral into a chronic pain situation that was difficult to treat. Or the numerous older Asian patients, looking disappointed as I walked through the door of the exam room, only to realize that my hyphenated last name combo of English and Taiwanese roots does not mean that I am, in fact, Asian. Or the many people who told me thank you, and really, really meant it. That is not to say I didn’t have my share of unhappy patients, mostly those with unrealistic expectations or beaten down by unrelenting pain. In life, there is always a mix.
Part of the social mix in our department, we often had the delight of department potlucks or parties celebrating events in our lives. They held a baby shower for me, even though it was my third baby and we really didn’t need anything. I made my carrot-pineapple cupcakes with cream cheese frosting for another colleague’s baby shower, which were such a big hit, we’ve made them numerous times since. We have an abnormal obsession about kale chips. We had birthday cakes for the staff. We celebrated weddings. We supported each other when there were deaths, family illness, and life events that dazed us.
Kaiser has been good to me. I will miss you, especially the staff in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (Union City) and Department of Orthopedics (San Leandro). Thank you for such a good run. It has been a privilege. I’m off to a new adventure of moving our family across the country, a tenuous road trip of fun (whining? meltdowns?) and somewhat limited food options temporarily. My cranberry granita today may be the last post for awhile as we spend days in the car come the middle of the month, unpack, then have all of us but Eat fly to Maine to visit family. So many beginnings start with an ending. And when there is a new beginning, there will be new opportunities waiting.
Rinse cranberries and shake dry. Place in small saucepan with water, wine, and sugar.
Cook at medium-high heat and simmer until the berries begin to pop, about 8 minutes. Remove from the heat. Mash mixture slightly.
Pass the mixture through a fine mesh strainer directly into a glass 9x9-inch pan, pressing gently. Add the zest and stir to combine.
Place in the freezer until set, at least 5 hours. Once frozen, scrape the mixture with a fork to create a shaved ice, snowy texture. Serve immediately in pretty, sparkly glasses, garnished with a cute wheel slice of kumquat or serve in large, deep ceramic spoons between courses for a palette cleanser.
* I love 'Electra' from the Quady Vineyard, with a honeyed, orange-blossomed taste. It's perfect with the tartness of the cranberries. Look for the bottle with a colorful angel on the label. If you prefer to not use alcohol at all, a ¼ teaspoon of orange blossom water is a nice substitution.