Mel’s blog

adventures in detroit and around the world

the smell of placenta

I remember the first baby I delivered.

It was my third night on Labor and Delivery.  I knew my time was coming.  I had been waiting for this for over a year, when my world was turned upside down after seeing my first birth.  I didn’t expect it to happen so fast.  The woman was pushing.  I asked the doctor if I could do this one.  Keep pushing.  Time to gown up.  Get the gown on!  I started shaking so bad.  “It’s ok, there’s nothing clean about a vagina,” a nurse said to me while I was stumbling to put gloves on with sterile technique.  And I’m back.  Pushing.  There’s a pause, the doctor cuts an epis, and all of the sudden, a baby is in my hands.  I grab him – no way I’m dropping this one, as I think back to comedic comments from friends that “those things are slippery!”  I lay him on my forearm in the “football hold,” and the room suddenly goes completely silent.  Time stands still, and I just gaze at him.  He’s so beautiful.

“Put him on mom!”  “Clamp the cord!!”  Brought back to the present, I scramble to set him on mom and grab my cord clamps.  Cut, dad!  The nurse takes him away, and I’m left with sweat on my brow and epinephrine coursing through my arteries.  Placenta delivers, and now there is a bloody cut to deal with.  My mind starts to wander over to baby as the doctor places a suture in my hands.  Time to repair the epis.  I’m still shaking at a frequency comparable to a Parkinsons patient.  Here goes nothing.

An unknown amount of painfully slow minutes later, the woman is repaired and baby boy is as cute as ever.  I sit down to take a breath, but the doctor is already telling me to finish the discharge orders and delivery note.  What. Just. Happened.

And so began my love affair with obstetrics – despite the distinct placenta smell that you couldn’t forget if you tried.


February 23, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

3rd year in a nutshell

Me: How long has this been going on?

Patient’s mother:  It’s been goin on for a minute forreal.

Me: Oh, only a minute?

Patient’s mother:  Naw, about 3 or 4 weeks.


Surgeon (aka God’s chosen): Cut that.

Me: How do you want me to cut it?

Surgeon: It doesn’t matter what I tell you you’re going to do it wrong.


Mother:  Why isn’t the baby crying??!

Nurse: They don’t always cry right away…

Mother:  They do on YouTube!

February 22, 2011 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments

can’t start this fight

In just a few short days I begin studying for Step 1. I have just under 5 weeks to prepare for my test on June 18th.

I started following Carlos Whittaker’s blog a few months ago.  He’s a worship leader out of Atlanta who just dropped his first album a few weeks ago.  I’ve been so blessed by one of his songs – “Can’t start this fight” as I’ve dealt with so many doubts and fears heading into this study month.

“The bar is high and I am low
and I have found the only hope
When you are Lord then I am free
of all the things that cripple me

Cause you are strong when I am weak
and you have fought this fight for me
so Spirit reign inside of me
I’m crying out I’m begging please
I’m on my knees…”

I can’t do this on my own, but I’m so thankful I have the One who’s strong on my side.  He’s been giving me so much peace the last couple weeks, that I can’t even help but have a heart that’s overflowing with thanksgiving.

I’ll probably be deactivating facebook, but you can email me at if you’d like to get in touch.  I’d appreciate any encouragement or hello’s 🙂 And please, pray!

May 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

this is our city, 2

[can you see the ren cen?]

May 8, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

this is our city

Broken?  Redeemable?  Beautiful?


April 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A little late and RunDetroit

I’m just going to go ahead and ignore the fact that it’s been almost 4 months since I posted.  Trying to catch up from October just isn’t going to happen.  I will say that I am going to try and post weekly now, and Saturdays would be the day for that.

Looking back on some of my recent posts, I realized I never got to talk about RunDetroit after it got off of the ground.  To say the least, RunDetroit is going AWESOME.  Our first week we had more volunteers than kids (5 kids, 8 volunteers), but it only took a few weeks for the numbers to steadily grow and level off around 30-35 kids we see on a weekly basis.  We take 15-18 volunteers every Monday for a ratio of about 2 kids per med student.

I’m not ashamed to brag about this program, because I honestly think it’s one of the best that the medical school offers.  Not because running is more important than taking blood pressure, or raising awareness, or tutoring.  It’s because we go every week. Every week we see the same 30 kids.  And at this point most of our volunteers have gone at least 7-8 times (many come every other week, some even come every week).  So now we have the perfect set up for influence. Community.  Life-sharing.  When we walk into that school, kids run up to us and hug us, because it’s been a whole week since they’ve seen us.

This is an hour a week where these kids get undivided attention from young adults, who know their name and are interested in what’s going on in their lives.  All day they get disciplined and badgered from teachers and parents/gaurdians.  We are here to have fun.  Let loose.  Burn energy.  And build relationships.  Sure, sometimes discipline is necessary, but it’s not our focus.

It’s so cool to see the little community we have created at Rutherford elementary.  These kids know they belong to our club, they know we care about them, and that they can talk to us about anything.  So if you ever happen to stop by Rutherford elementary on a monday afternoon, don’t be shocked by blurs of blue running through the hallways (at least while winter keeps us inside).  Don’t be alarmed by shouting as kids cheer on their classmates doing a relay.  Don’t worry if you see multiple kids hanging off of a med student, or 3rd graders teaching us different hand shakes.

This is our Mondays.  This is RunDetroit.

February 6, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Perfectly free

School is really hard right now.

We started Pharm and pathbio about 3 weeks ago, and have our first set of exams next week.  Pharm is really hard.  And painful.  More painful than the last few miles of a half marathon.

This was a really hard week – knowing you have exams next week but still getting slammed with 7 hours of new material every day, so that studying the last 3 weeks of material is impossible.

It’s just hard.  And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.  Nobody can do the studying for me.  I just have to endure and press on.  Third year will come, just keep pressing on.  I’m not looking for sympathy.  I know what I have to do.

Just suck it up.

In case you were wondering how 2nd year of medical school is.  It’s kind of horrible (right now, at least).  I feel terrible saying that.  I hate feeling this way, because I want to love school.  But the truth is I love where school will take me.  I don’t love studying on Friday nights.  I don’t love always having to turn down invitations to get to know new people, or spend time with old friends.  I don’t love going full days without a real conversation with a real person.

Despite all of this, I still remain encouraged.  Even though I may feel like a prisoner to the 1000 pages of notes that I need to learn, God reminds me that I am indeed free.  Perfectly free.  Free from having to worry about anything.  For even as he clothes the lilies and feeds the birds, surely he will take care of me.  He will provide for me.  He will give me the grace and strength to do that which he’s called me to do.

Because He is strong, and He loves me.

October 24, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Biggby pulls through

I’m just gonna come out and say it:  I’ve got some pretty cool kats that I’m able to serve with in CMA this year.  Thanks to Will’s passion, we’ve started a homeless ministry where we barb up some dogs every other thursday for our friends that hang out by the old Brewster Douglass buildings.  We’ve been going since August, so they all know us now and are much more comfortable around us.  What used to be an hour full of “eat ‘n runs”, is now filled with people sticking around and delving into meaningful conversations.

This past Thursday was a special treat for our friends.  Long story short – Biggby in Rochester was having a free pumpkin spice latte promo, so, naturally, I swerved off the road to stop and get one on my way to school (I will NEVER say no to coffee.  This can be bad)  Then I thought how cool it’d be to get a bunch for our homeless lunch, so me and some students stopped in the B in DMC and asked.  They were not having the same promo (argh) but when we explained what we were doing the manager generously donated a 10 cup to go box of coffee – complete with a pint of half n half and sugar!

It was 45 degrees out (aka my whole body gone numb…I am cold intolerant.  I am shivering as I type because our apartment radiators aren’t in full force yet) so serving up hot coffee was incredibly appropriate and hugely appreciated.

So yeah, Thanks Biggby!  It’s so great to see people coming together to serve the broken and poor in Detroit.

And if you’re reading this, please just say a prayer for those who don’t have a place to stay tonight.  It’s mighty cold out, and unfortunately will only get worse.  I am reminded of Shane Claibourne’s book when he comments on how ironic it is that there are people sleeping on the streets while almost every suburban house has empty bedrooms.

Peace (in the middle east)

October 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As of late

I guess I’ll just be a little bit more up front/literal with this post.  Here’s what’s been going on in my life:

School!  6 days a week I labor and toil incessantly cramming bugs, drugs, symptoms, and more into my brain hoping it will stick.  Literally.  My schedule shows no mercy with exams every 2 weeks, so the heat is always being felt.  On the bright side, we are learning some sweet awesome relevant stuff this year.  Not that last year wasn’t awesome, but we are actually learning about disease this year, so, for example, I’m currently studying different types/causes of diarrhea, hepatitis, and STDs (and drugs to treat).  So, even though the heat is always felt, I guess you could say it’s a good kind of heat.  Like heat from the oven that is baking cookies (maybe not that good…but you get the idea).

Running! On top of school I’ve been training for the Chicago half marathon…which is in 7 days!  It’s been taking up a decent amount of time, but will be worth it next Sunday.  I’m super excited to be doing this, as it’s been on my “list” for the past couple years.  The real kicker is I have a micro exam the next day.  I like to call this act of defiance “choosing life outside of med school.”  Or stupiditiy.  Take your pick.

Speaking of running, RunDetroit launches next monday, the 14th.  It’s a bit surreal to see this idea that was conceived over a year ago while running being materialized before my very eyes.  God is good.

So that kind of paints of picture of now.  Simple, yes.  Busy, yes.  Challenging, yes.  Loving it, yes.

September 5, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I wonder


I often wonder at the complexity of the immune system.  At the ferocity of cytotoxic T cells (also known as “serial killers”).  At all the checks and balances and cytokines working together to keep immune responses in line.

And at neutrophils.  I wonder if God thought of his Son when he created these little cells that die at the expense of saving the greater body.

I wonder what kind of place Detroit would be if there were more jobs than people.   I wonder what Chene street used to look like before all the shops were closed and abandoned.  I wonder if the city will ever be restored to what it once was.  Or better.

I wonder if passion is contagious.  And if RunDetroit might just be able to make a difference.

I wonder about the people we met in India.  About the HIV -afflicted family that we sponsored – I wonder if the money is helping the kids get an education.  And about the kids at the orphanages.  I wonder if they think of us, or if they forgot.

I wonder where I’ll be in a year.  What hospital I’ll be rotating at, and just what it will be like to be, for the first time in my life, on a work-based schedule instead of a lecture-based schedule.

I wonder if I should get back to studying since I have an immuno exam tomorrow.  Or not.  Ok maybe just a couple more lectures.

August 15, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments