It was a tough week for many of us. Scary events in the news. As phrased so eloquently by a fellow writer here, community injustice is intimately related to patient care. On my psychiatry rotation, I regularly hear about unbelievable violence that stems from and leads people into substance abuse, mental illness and crises resulting in hospitalization. I ended the week feeling sorry for our country and socially isolated from my peers.
Attending a local rally for Eric Garner gave me cause for optimism, made me feel a part of the broader community. We marched down Central Avenue in Albany with a mixed race crowd chanting for a more just and peaceful policing system. We started in Arbor Hill, which has been called the broke and black part of Albany, where so many of our patients live. I’ve read criticisms of white folks leading rallies for what some believe to be a black cause; I’ve also heard black folks who don’t believe that this is a ‘black cause’ but prefer the slogan “All Lives Matter.” This march in Albany seemed to be led by black folks with truly interracial participation.
For a start, I felt safe in a neighborhood where I have been told never to feel safe. People came out of their apartments to cheer, men joined in as we passed, cars stopped and honked in support. Just as I feel empowered by my white coat to join in where I might have been shy in the past, the rally seemed to empower this neighborhood; or perhaps the neighborhood, empowered, created the rally. I passed one patient’s street and then another. I was so moved by the crowd chanting, marching with both hands raised, that for several blocks I was silent. But I am not a tourist: my grandmother drove black families to the polls to vote for JFK in 1960. I want to be able to look my patients in the eye and let them know that medical students know and care about what’s going on outside of the hospital, to demonstrate that people in a position of authority want change too.
Ultimately, I’m ending the week feeling connected and safer. The country’s response to Ferguson and Staten Island has been overwhelming, and perhaps something will come of it. Last night I had a pizza dinner with friends: we cooked together, then stayed long around the dinner table talking and telling stories. Social isolation is temporary, a necessity of training; it can be overcome. Good food helps.
For the crust, I recommend this thin-crust recipe from Smitten Kitchen, as it truly stays thin-crust. We made ours one-third whole wheat. For toppings, start with tomato puree straight from the box or can, then add whatever you like: fresh or shredded mozzarella; thinly-sliced eggplant, painted with olive oil and roasted for 10 minutes on each side beforehand; sauteed onions; fresh basil, garlic, mushrooms, spinach; pepperoni or ground sausage. You can whip this up in a few minutes on your own or gather around the oven for fun.
The Med School Cookbook offers a weekly account of the challenges and wonders of med school as seen through the eyes of a student. Each post includes a healthy and easy recipe designed for busy people on a budget. Read the daily blog here.