Resident life blog

October 2013 – The power of the diamond

By Emily Godbout, D.O.
Pediatric resident

I recently got engaged to a boy I met in medical school. He’s an emergency medicine resident at VCU. I worked the day after we got engaged, and I wanted to play it cool at work: just stroll into the pediatric emergency room – no big deal. As soon as I stepped foot into the brightly colored and beautiful ER (it’s not only aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also state of the art and now recognized as Virginia’s only Level 1 pediatric trauma center), there was clapping, congratulations and even a carefully constructed 3D-design of a sparkling diamond ring on the schedule board next to my name. In that moment, I felt what one of the ER nurses described to me minutes later as, “the power of the diamond.”

The power of the diamond came in handy that day. Back of earring stuck in ear? Got it. Abscess needs to be drained? Of course. Ear infection? I’m on it! While it was fun to keep telling my co-workers and co-residents that I could do anything with the power of the diamond, the exhilaration and magic wasn’t from the diamond. It was the acknowledgment and celebration from my co-workers and co-residents. Their cheers, clapping and cartoons paid tribute to one of my life’s momentous occasions. And I’ve learned that a good friend always marks a momentous occasion.

I fondly remember my undergraduate commencement speech at the University of New Hampshire. It was given by New Hampshire native and actor Mike O’Malley, who said, “Do not let life pass you by without learning how to give a good toast, or acknowledge a great shared moment. Mark occasions. Try as often as you can to give tribute to your friends, to stay in contact, to be at their momentous occasions. Drive across the country and go into debt to go to their weddings, fly across the country and be with them when their parents pass away. ”

The training at Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU is top-notch, we all know that but having a support system in the other residents is crucial. It’s the icing on the cake – sometimes literally! For example, I can’t remember if my co-resident Amanda asked me to make desserts for her baby’s first birthday, or if I kindly demanded. Either way, the theme of the first birthday party was a childhood favorite and pediatrician’s dream: “Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar.” I obsessively texted Amanda Pinterest photos of polka-dots, watermelons turned into caterpillars and various food items with holes in them, representing all the eating that hungry, hungry caterpillar was doing.

I wanted her daughter Abby’s first birthday cake to be baked to perfection and the frosting whipped into a sweetness she had never tasted before. I got slightly carried away with the desserts. They included: caterpillar cupcakes and cake-pops, mini cheesecakes and brownies with polka dot tops, fruit-shaped cookies (complete with holes, of course) and a personalized, mini two-tiered birthday cake topped with a chocolate butterfly.

Transporting the desserts proved difficult and resulted in a butterfly wing casualty. After a quick mend, it was time to sing “Happy Birthday” and eat cake. At first, the birthday girl gingerly and suspiciously touched the cake. Soon enough though, in true first birthday style, the mini-two tiered cake lay in pieces with frosting in places only a good bath could reach! Our beautiful, Disney princess Jasmine look-alike resident, Nabihah snapped away photos with her fancy camera capturing the laughs and bits and pieces of frosting flying through the air.

It was a good day, but ultimately it was not about the cake, the presents or even the fruit-shaped cookies: it’s about a shared moment. A marked occasion with the people you care about. We work a lot but never forget to acknowledge and celebrate each other’s momentous occasions, such as birthdays, getting a new KitchenAid mixer from Mom, first champagne tap, new homes, engagements (yippee!), weddings, babies and post-residency plans.

And if all else fails, sometimes you just need a little “power of the diamond” to get you through the day!