Monday, January 18, 2021

2020 in Hindsight

I put off writing this for a while, because despite my wholehearted intention to let this upcoming year be one of opportunity and 'yes', adventure and hope, that's not at all how I feel about last year and I wasn't quite ready to relive it. There are still parts I'd rather bury, but looking back on the good primes your brain to look for more of the good. If I can't see it in the past, I risk walking right past it in the present. And I'd hate for the wins of the year not to be logged for posterity. So here are the biggest wins of the year, in the random order they're coming to my brain:

In March, I saw four years of tireless work come to fruition as my article on cosyntropin use in pediatric postdural puncture headache was finely published. I could've written a whole post on that ordeal and the lessons learned. Pretty much everything about the research project was done backwards or wrong, but eventually I got the right people involved, the right data collected, the right words to paper, the right edits and concessions, etc. I actually reread the article last week as I was sending it to a former classmate, and I am very proud of the finished product. The most ironic part is that I don't even have full text access to my article. The journal didn't send me the final proof so I had to have a colleague, whose job allows her extended primary literature access, send me the pdf. If you're only interested in the abstract, you can find it here.

The celebration of said article brought another milestone achievement in the form of my 100th Colorado brewery visited. Several years ago, an article highlighted the growing craft beer scene in Colorado and listed a relatively comprehensive list of breweries. I made it a game to start my own list (around 40 at the time) and watch it grow. Once I got to 95 or so, I had the grand idea to pair the 100th brewery with the publication of my article. It turned out to be somewhat short-sighted as I had to crawl my way to the finish line, enduring outright rejection of the first submission, copious edits from a second submission, and a delayed online release. The party happened to fall as the city was shutting down in the first wave of COVID closures, but it was still the social highlight of my year, celebrating with friends and using the publication and the 100th brewery as an excuse to see my favorite people.

"In non-technical terms, this trail sucks. It is 1,600 vertical feet of misery. Climb three steps forward and slip two steps back. It feels like walking on greased marbles, except that these marbles have sharp edges and wedge inside your sock and prick your sole. More swear words have been uttered by hikers climbing Mount Columbia than any other Colorado 14er. This mountain twists ankles, skins knees, and shreds bottoms of pants." That's a dated description of the hike up Mt. Columbia. Another win from this year is the work that CFI (Colorado Fourteeners Initiative) continues to do on the trail, turning an outright slog into a relatively enjoyable hike. Ten years after our first failed attempt took us off route north to scree fields from hell, dad and I enjoyed the renovated trail and summitted. The trail work is not complete, and the final few hundred vertical feet were a glimpse of why the mountain was so hated, but it was a wonderful hike, exactly what a 14er should be, including not being able to walk for two days after.
False summit, amidst the "greased marbles"

The bulk of my professional year was dedicated not only to COVID, which despite the relatively low impact on pediatric patients nevertheless threw our hospital into upheaval on a pretty regular basis, but also to the completion of my Lean Six Sigma Green Belt certification. Starting with 80 hours of class at the beginning of the year, and progressing through a 9-month process improvement project, the experience was the very definition of growth. The excitement of learning new skills and tools was tempered by the missteps of leading an interdisciplinary project team comprised entirely of not-my-direct-reports. My mentor was incredible, and even though I gained valuable experience for my own professional development, the biggest win was her guidance and friendship. The other biggest win was putting on my new green belt. ;)

Shouldn't have thrown away my old karate belts!

The rest of the year is really a bit of a blur. I rode in my first "Courage Classic" which only sorta counts because it was virtual and only twenty-something miles. I successfully navigated my first solo (8th overall) Creighton lecture, and even got invited back to speak to a student group about a career in pediatrics. I said goodbye to my faithful Stella, the CR-V that transported me for the last 12 years, and replaced her with...another CR-V. Name still TBD, it's hard to top Stella. I played mentor and mentee- mentor for the School of Pharmacy's Exemplary Professional Development program which was actually right in my wheelhouse and very fulfilling, and mentee in the hospital's Mentoring Matters program which provided a needed balance to the other stories and advice in my professional life. I did a couple things for myself- a mountain retreat and a virtual conference, which both inspired and taught me and also made me wonder if I need a new career. I did a lot of baking--and watched a lot of The Great British Baking Show--including highlights of Aunt Carol's sticky buns (the second attempt at least), iced brown butter maple pecan oatmeal cookies, my first choux pastry, millionaire shortbread, and at least two batches of Mary Berry's florentines. I also failed pretty epically at a couple attempts with a sourdough starter and decided to stick to store-bought yeast. 

Millionaire Shortbread with Little Bit

I got a new phone which means my normal process of scrolling back through my calendar to find other notable events is off the table. 

I think some of the unsettledness I felt through 2020 came from not necessarily loving the right things (or from mourning the loss of things that weren't the right things). A recent podcast summarized some of Augustine's teaching on desire, and that the life of a Christian is about learning to love the right things, ordering our desires toward the greater good God has for us, rather than settling our desires on lesser things. He says: "The entire life of a good Christian is in fact an exercise of holy desire. You do not yet see what you long for, but the very act of desiring prepares you, so that when He comes you may see and be utterly satisfied. This...will be effective only to the extent that we free ourselves from desires leading to infatuation with the world." May 2021 be a year of aligning my desires with the desires that God has for my life. 

I reserve the right to make this blog as worthless to read as I feel like, and also to write as infrequently as I deem necessary. Just thought I'd let you know since I finally decided to share my blog.