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Guest Post: The necessary underbelly of medicine (or why I always think twice when I see a medical professional with a goofy smile)

July 26, 2011

Today’s guest poster is one of my all-time favorites. Maybe it’s the way that she & I seem to share a mind with eating (nothing can beat local & organic), maybe it’s how I’m absolutely jealous that she can state her “list” of thing to accomplish better than I can, maybe it’s the way that, when she has a camera, the world becomes her canvas, but I’ve been a fan of Jessica for a long, long time.

So, of course, she presents me with a guest post detailing a sexual undercurrent that has me loving her even more. Thank you, Jessica 🙂

I awoke to find my hostess, her dog and a male co-worker in a mangled twist of limbs in bed with me.

Being on the edge of the bed, it did not take much effort for me to fall out, stumble to the bathroom and while I was peeing for what seemed like years, I noticed the Smoking Hot Spanish Interpreter in the bathtub. Naked. Right where we left him.

The Salsa Party was a success, of sorts. We were all to bring a homemade salsa, a bag of chips and enjoy margaritas in the backyard on this unseasonably nice spring night.

In our defense, salsa was consumed that night, but margaritas were quickly ditched for convenient shots of tequila. Many, many shots of tequila.

During the six months prior to the Salsa Party, I had completed my undergrad, had a nervous breakdown that required hospitalization, witnessed the September 11th attacks in New York City, moved across the country to start work on another college degree and turned 21.

I was still very new at the hospital; a low level employee with a CV that did not match her age. Though our education and credentials were nearly equal, I was still too socially inexperienced and too young to be considered a colleague so I could not help but internalize this presumed innocuous gathering as some sort of personality test.

My body was sticky with residual lime and had enough salt to cure meat. I was also staring at my Chief of Staff sleeping on the floor. A very strange moment, indeed, but I was also relieved.

Relieved that they trusted me at their most vulnerable. Granted, most memories I had of the previous evening were botched at best, but the community held this group to a higher standard and the dark underbelly of medicine had to be kept secret. The drinking, the sex, the anger and the impossible perfection required by all created an intense pressure-filled environment that was always on the verge of imploding.

This was not a “You should have been there!” party, because if you were meant to be there, you would have been.

The following Monday marked the beginning of a lengthy period in which entire departments could not make eye contact. But I watched surgeons rebuild broken bones, pharmacists mix bags of poison to destroy cancer cells, physical therapists give confidence to new amputees and nurses console terrified parents as their child screamed in pain.

That Monday also marked the beginning of the greatest period of my academic, personal and professional life and I still get choked up thinking about my last day there, many years later.

Despite the questionable behaviors of that night, I trusted these people not just with my life, but the story of my life and when the Smoking Hot Spanish Interpreter found me at lunch, we sat, we stared and we let out a cathartic laugh.

“I’m glad you’re here.”


From → Guest Post

  1. Thanks for having me.

  2. Perfectionists SO need a release.

    • Everyone needs an anything-goes-all-will-be-forgiven-in-the-morning moment.

      Thanks for reading.

  3. OMG. I don’t think I’ve read a piece of yours that I like better than this.
    Yeah, absolutely love your story and how you told it.

    And um, next time you see the Smokin Hot Spanish Interpreter, you know where to send a pic, right?

  4. Redshoes51 permalink

    This is great, Jessica!!!


    • Thanks, Shoes. It always makes me think about the personal lives of everyone I see.

  5. whew. powerful stuff, my dear.

    • I know you see the same in your line of work. Everyone doing what they are “supposed” to be doing…

  6. I think all good stories should begin with “The salsa party had been a success…”

    Seven words.

    World of meaning.

    Nicely done.

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