Constructive Conflict

Hey Girl Heeey! Do you know what I just learned? Conflict can be healthy! Say what?! YES! Conflict can actually be healthy. If we learn how to work it right, moments of conflict can become opportunities to deepen and strengthen our relationships and our character. So right about now you’re probably thinking “Oh Lawd, Dr. Joy’s been standing too close to the laughing gas in the OR again… who WANTS to deal with conflict??!”

Let me explain. For the past year, I’ve been participating in Medical Association of Ga’s Physician Leadership Academy—so I go to school a weekend every other month to learn to be a better healthcare leader. On one of these weekends, I met Dr. Susan Raines, a political scientist and professor at Kennesaw State University. She teaches leaders how to handle sticky situations, have tough conversations, and to manage conflict. It was during this day of the conflict management course that this concept of constructive conflict “clicked” for me, and it ROCKED MY WORLD! I decided to invest in personal coaching with Dr. Raines to learn all I can about this kind of healthy communication.

If you were raised like me, I.e., a “nice, Southern young lady” who must always sit up straight at the dinner table, chew with her mouth closed, choose the correct fork, and always say “please” and “thank you,” then you know what I’m talking about. If anyone every taught you to be always charming because “a lady is never disagreeable or ugly-acting,” then I know you feel me here!

Many women are programmed to PRETEND. We pretend we are not annoyed, pretend we are not hurt or angry, pretend we are not afraid. We even pretend we agree with or want to do things that we absolutely, positively do NOT agree with or want to do.

You see, conflict comes from a discrepancy in expectations–I expected something and you expected something different. When expectations don’t line up, we often find ourselves frustrated, confused, or even mad as hell. But… what exactly do we do about that? Pretend we don’t feel what we feel? Act like it didn’t happen? Suppose that it must somehow be our own fault?

No! None of the above! When conflicts arise, it’s a perfect opportunity to create SHARED expectations! As in saying something like “I can see that we have some conflict here. Can you tell me what you were expecting from me that didn’t happen, and then I can tell you what my expectations were and maybe we can see how we can meet in the middle going forward?”

This sort of dialog: 1. deescalates the situation, 2. almost forces dialog about where communication broke down, and 3. helps you learn more about the individuals needs/expectations, so you are aware going forward—particularly if this is a relationship that is important to you.

This concept is called “3-Step Problem Solving” and it is helping me learn to stay AWAY from the “4 Horsemen of the Apocalypse” in communication within my meaningful relationships. The 4 Horsemen spell DOOM!  Want to know what they are? Stay tuned for next month’s blog!

Connect with me on my socials at www.linktr.ee/deliveringjoymd and let me know if you use the 3-step problem solving. I’m dying to know how it works for you!

Until next month,

XOXO,


Dr. Joy

Christmas Ain’t Your Birthday!

Hey Girl Hey,

Bring it in close, I wanna whisper something in your ear. Closer now. Christmas ain’t your birthday! Well, unless, of course,  your birthday is actually December 25th on that license of yours—you know the one with the” glamour shot” you probably  decline to show most folks? Anywho, what I’m getting at is the true meaning of Christmas… or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa or the Festival of Lights or whatever you choose to celebrate if you celebrate during what is traditionally known as the “Holiday Season” in North America.

 

The purpose of  all of the above-named holidays in ALL the faith traditions they represent is renewed HOPE & purpose, re-connecting with loved ones and reminiscing on the memories of holidays past. It is a time for sharing love, promoting peace, and looking forward to the future with a sense of expectation. It is a season of joy, laughter, food, festivity, fun, and philanthropy. The holiday season represents so much to so many, but I tell you what it ain’t and what it was never meant to be: our personal “gimme fest.”

 

Unfortunately, many us were raised writing out a list of everything we wanted to make our lives complete to our BFF Santa in the North Pole. We baked cookies to entice him down our chimney (if we had one) and tried to sleep so when we woke, our requested items would magically appear around a decked-out tree. Meanwhile, the adults in our lives schemed, scrapped, saved, and even went into debt playing “Santa.”

 

Every generation giving more gifts that were bigger, better, and more expensive than the last. So one would believe that our children became increasing grateful, angelic, and filled with contentment and wonder—right? WRONG! Now more than ever, we see more children AND adults developing mental and behavioral disorders, social disconnection, entitlement, disillusionment, and frankly just being unhappy and behaving badly. Suicide, substance use, and self-harming behaviors are at an all-time high, and I am diagnosing  more depression and anxiety disorders than I have EVER seen in my 11 years as a physician.

 

So I submit to you, that we don’t need another Holiday Wish List. What we need is some HOPE, PEACE, JOY, and a lot more LOVE. We need genuine connection and safe spaces to be vulnerable within our communities. I personally believe we need Jesus, but if that’s not your holiday, it’s ok, you can still get some of this love I’m slinging too!

 

There is no need to stress yourself out trying to buy a bunch of things and run a bunch of places. There is no need to stake your happiness on what shows up under the tree for you this year, or on who is or isn’t standing under the mistletoe. Your kids will be alright with one small gift this year and one they can give to someone in need. The important things are intentional time with loved ones spent sharing joy, promoting peace, healing old wounds, soul train linin’ in your ugly Christmas sweater (even if your dance moves need work), eating good, and making memories! Happy Holidays, Girls!

Check out the Book “Christmas Is Not Your Birthday: Living and Giving like Jesus” by Mike Slaughter https://www.amazon.com/Christmas-Not-Your-Birthday-Experience/dp/1426727356/ref=asc_df_1426727356_nodl/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=383774175000&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=17776412560078751194&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015404&hvtargid=pla-820640465741&psc=1&tag=&ref=&adgrpid=77234753206&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvadid=383774175000&hvpos=&hvnetw=g&hvrand=17776412560078751194&hvqmt=&hvdev=m&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1015404&hvtargid=pla-820640465741

 

**Now, I know the holiday season can be very difficult for some folks, especially given the number of people we’ve lost over the past couple of years. If you or a loved one find yourself in need of urgent mental health help, please call the GA Crisis line 1-800-715-4225.

 

 

True Thanksgiving (Hey Girl, Hey! Nov 2021)

A lot of folks said 2020 was pretty bad. I think somebody even wrote a song called “Eff 2020” or something to that effect. Well, in my opinion, 2021 was a MUCH more hellish year, and as she roars to a close (only a “she” could be THIS furious), I can’t say that I’m sad to see her go!
So much happened this year that I just NEVER saw coming—an unexpected divorce; a second, more deadly wave of Covid-19, a surgery with serious complications, and a move to top it all off. As I sit reflecting on this year, I am struck by two thoughts:
I pray 2022 is kinder, 2. I am so THANKFUL to God for His faithfulness throughout 2021!!

When you face one hard challenge after another, it is so easy to begin to feel bitterness and resentment bubble up—that is a natural human response. It’s hard to understand WHY life seems to be dragging you through the mud like a limp rag doll, but… as I often remind myself, things COULD always be worse. I realized that even when things got hardest for me, there were still folks who had it even harder—there are folks who would love to trade their problems for mine, and would do it in a split second. Like those folks who moved from their home out onto the streets, or the surgery patient who had complications they DIDN’T wake up from, or the wife who lost a husband to this second wave of Covid-19 instead of divorce—the list goes on and on.

It’s so easy to focus on the hard things. The things that didn’t turn out the way we planned. Don’t we deserve to pout a little? Jeremiah wrote a WHOLE BOOK of Lamentations. I should get some “laments” too, right?! Wrong.  I am the most FORTUNATE of women! I can be nothing if not grateful. If you are reading this and your life is intertwined with mine, then you have witnessed the hardships of my life and then stood in awe at the miracles that bloomed in tear-soaked places.

Here’s one piece of wisdom I have come to know: bitterness chokes blessings & gratitude grows them. Everyone, no matter how desperate, miserable, pitiful, etc. can find SOMETHING to be thankful for. If you are alive, well that’s something right there!

So when life is hard, find reasons to be thankful. Actively think about how situations that seem awful just might be working for your good. For example, if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I would not have ever given up on trying to fix a marriage that was less than I deserved. Being a scared patient dependent on another surgeon was humbling and only made me double down on my commitment to compassionate care. Seeing so much death around me reminded me just how precious our lives and loved ones are.

This year, when I sit down to dinner at my Daddy’s house—a house full of vaccinated family members—it’s gonna be such a meaningful Thanksgiving. I will be super thankful for aaalll the good food (cause I like to eat!), but even more, my heart will be full of true Thanksgiving for all that God has kept me through this year! What are you thankful for this year? Comment on this blog post!

XOXO, Dr. Joy

No matter how you start, Finish Strong!

This quote by Usain Bolt reminds me of the conversations I had with my parents after college. Wasn’t accepted into medschool right out of college—my MCAT score was too low.

I was devastated because I’ve wanted to be a doctor since I was in pre-K. Sad for me, they said “pursue law school.” I told them “I may not be the smartest or the fastest, but I am the most determined.”

I enrolled in an accelerated clinical lab science degree program, took an expensive MCAT prep course, and tried again the next year. My score improved, but not much & I wasn’t accepted. Again.

I passed my MT boards & started working in the lab at Grady with a wonderful group of people. I was afraid to try again for med school, until the day I met Frank Jones M.D., F.A.C.S., MPH in the Grady cafeteria. He was a surgeon who took time to mentor me.

I did the summer program offered then at Morehouse School of Medicine, and LOVED IT! I KNEW #medicine was my path. I retook the MCAT with no prep, but with confindence that this was my moment.

My score improved enough to be accepted at MSM. I graduated with honors & I was able to help tutor my classmates because of the skills I learned in the lab. I have never regretted a single step on this journey. It took me a while to get started, but I am a STRONG finisher!

It matters little where or how you start—it matters how you finish!! You may have more hurdles than others. Perhaps you started further back from where everyone else did. Do not bemoan that. Instead focus on the finish line.

A great pastor I once heard said something to this effect (paraphrasing) sometimes God pulls you back because you are his arrow. When he decides to release you, you will FLY right to the target that he intended for you while everyone who seemed to be ahead of you is still running!!! 🙌🏾🙌🏾 that’s a whole word!!

Stay focused, keep working hard, keep your ears and eyes open for opportunity that God brings your way, and be prepared to move when he is ready. He will shoot you farther than you ever imagined you’d go! I am a living witness!

#dailydoseofjoy #dailyinspiration #deliveringjoymd

A Prayer for Healthcare Workers: National Day of Prayer

Jehovah Rapha, God our Healer, we are honored to have your permission to come boldly to your throne to receive your amazing, sustaining grace.

I thank you for each and every healthcare worker to whom you have entrusted the care of your people. I am so grateful for each clerk, housekeeper, security guard, floor or radiology tech, nurse’s assistant, physical or respiratory therapist, transporter, mental health provider, surgical tech, nursing home or office staff member, biller, nurse, doctor, administrator—every single one who has the honor and the burden of a life devoted to the health and care of others.

You are El Roi— the God who sees us and fully knows us all. You have seen the struggles, the fears, and the heartbreaks of the last year. You have seen us as we cried with the loved ones of those we lost, you have held us when we were so exhausted that we thought we couldn’t go another step, you received 1000s of us into your rest—those who gave their lives in the fight against Covid 19. Through it all, you have continued to strengthen us in the face of immeasurable odds. You have shown us mercy and given wisdom to the wise and knowledge to scholars to create a vaccine that offers us protection and hope.

We thank you for the grace you have poured out upon us in the midst of this unprecedented time of sickness and suffering. God, we recognize more than ever before the work that we must do to ensure that ALL your people receive equal access to and delivery of the care we provide. Forgive us, Lord, for the times we were so concerned with trivial things that we failed to care equitably for all people because we failed to accept and believe that we are ALL made in your very image.

I ask that you give us your eyes that we may see that each person we encounter is a precious one that you died to save. Give us your heart that we might love as you do—unconditionally. Give us your wisdom, that we might choose our words, actions, and each plan of care thoughtfully and compassionately.

Lord, we are eternally grateful to you for the lives and hearts and courage of every healthcare worker.

Now I ask a special blessing on each of us, and on our families. I pray that you meet every need. I ask that you heal your healers and purpose us all to be your hands and feet here in the earth.

In Jesus’ name I pray, So be it.

A Prayer for Healthcare Workers: National Day of Prayer

Jehovah Rapha, God our Healer, we are honored to have your permission to come boldly to your throne to receive your amazing, sustaining grace.

I thank you for each and every healthcare worker to whom you have entrusted the care of your people. I am so grateful for each clerk, housekeeper, security guard, floor and radiology tech, nurse’s assistant, physical and respiratory therapist, transporter, mental health providers, surgical tech, nursing home or office staff member, biller, nurse, doctor, administrator—every single one who has the honor and the burden of a life devoted to the health and care of others.

You are El Roi— the God who sees us and fully knows us all. You have seen the struggles, the fears, and the heartbreaks of the last year. You have seen us as we cried with the loved ones of those we lost, you have held us when we were so exhausted that we thought we couldn’t go another step, you received into your rest 1000s of us who gave our lives in the fight against Covid 19, and you have continued to strengthen us in face immeasurable odds. You have shown us mercy and given wisdom to the wise and knowledge to scholars to create a vaccine that offers us protection and hope.

We thank you for the grace you have poured out upon us in the midst of this unprecedented time of sickness and suffering. God, we recognize more than ever before the work that we must do to ensure that ALL your people receive equal access to and delivery of the care we provide. Forgive us, Lord, for the times we were so concerned with trivial things that we failed to care equitably for all people because we failed to accept and believe that we are ALL made in your very image.

I ask that you give us your eyes that we may see that each person we encounter is a precious one that you died to save. Give us your heart that we might love as you do—unconditionally. Give us your wisdom, that we might choose our words, actions, and each plan of care thoughtfully and compassionately.

Lord, we are eternally grateful to you for the lives and hearts and courage of every healthcare worker.

Now I ask a special blessing on each of us, and on our families. I pray that you meet every need. I ask that you heal your healers and purpose us all to be your hands and feet here in the earth.

In the Jesus’ name I pray, So be it.

Realizing a dream

This week, I realized a dream of mine—I started performing robotic surgery!😍 I’ve been wanting train in robotic surgery since the very first time I saw Jeffrey F. Hines, MD performing robot-assisted cases in 2011. Sadly, at that time, my training hospital did not have a robot— or even great laparoscopic equipment for that matter, so I didn’t get a lot of laparoscopic experience until I got into practice.

After completing my residency training, I chose a job at a site that had a robot and a talented GYN surgeon, thinking I would be treated like a colleague, trained and mentored by this individual. Unfortunately, that wasn’t how it turned out. Instead, that individual said and did things that I allowed to damage to my confindence in myself as a physician and surgeon.

When I moved on from that toxic environment, regaining my confidence and acquiring strong mentorship as a newly minted OBGYN were at the top of my to do list! I had been very well-trained and had done every case available to me during my residency—sometime driving over an hour to scrub into cases with community surgeons all over Atlanta. Thankfully, my next move yielded a wonderful Dept chair who took me under his wing and mentored me and came to all my surgeries. I attended every minimally invasive GYN surgery course I could find, I bought a pelvic surgery simulator, and I practiced relentlessly until I mastered each laparoscopic skill.

After 4 years, I moved to an institution with a robotic surgery program and another great Dept Chair, who invited me to train in robotics!

After months of simulation training and passing all of my courses, I performed my first 3 robotic surgeries yesterday, and I LOVED IT!!! My first case was a pretty large uterus with a lot of fibroids—I was feeling really intimidated, but my trainer and my proctor (a person who basically oversees my first cases and makes sure I am operating safely) didn’t say a word about the size of the uterus, even though it was much bigger than the imaging study originally led me to believe. I was so tempted to go back to straight-stick laparoscopy—what was most comfortable for me, but I refused to go back to my comfort zone without at least giving my best try, and so, I docked the robotic arms just as I had practiced time and time again. I sat down at the console, I envisioned completing the case safely and successfully. Then…I DID that case!! And it was faster and easier than if I would have gone back to straight-stick laparoscopic surgery! I was completely amazed that I did it so quickly and smoothly. Then I did another complicated case and finally to end the day, a straightforward one. At the end of the day, my proctor, who has done hundreds of these cases said to me “you made these cases look easy. There is pretty much nothing different I would have done.”

I was on cloud 9!! I praised God all the way home for allowing me to realize this dream, but also for how He has restored my confidence in my ability to do precisely what I believe he put me here on earth to do— to care for women throughout their lifetime compassionately and excellently. I am in awe of all the honor he bestows on me in trusting me to care for his most precious creations.

Looking at the size of the uterus in the first case was SOO intimidating that I was tempted to back out. But then I remembered my favorite Bible character, the Dahveed Israel and Judah (King David), when he faced Goliath and MANY other challenges. He wrote “when I am afraid, I will trust in you.” He RAN out to meet the challenges courageously, even in the midst of fear. I determined to do that as well. I said a silent prayer, slipped off my shoes, and sat down at the surgeon’s console and got started.

God blesses what we DO. In order for him to bless our efforts, we have to MAKE THE EFFORT first—even when we are afraid or intimidated by the scope of our dream.

I was so encouraged by the surgery outcomes and by the lessons of this day! I hope you will be encouraged to trust God’s timing, to pursue the dreams he gives you, and NOT to run from the Giants that seem to guard the territory that YOU know you are to possess!

My VP Looks Like Me!

It’s a whole mood!! Had to pack my pearls for work today, so as soon as I finished my surgeries, I could capture the memory of today. I always wanted to be a surgeon, but I never actually saw a black female surgeon (April Spencer)until I was 25 years old. I had no lack of confidence or determination, BUT there is something about being able to SEE what you aspire too… I knew that day in that classroom that my dream was totally attainable, and so I pursued it with abandon.

There is a girl somewhere dreaming today. She’s dreaming big dreams and wondering if she can achieve them. I hope she is watching history/herstory happen, and I hope she is thinking, “Yes! I can do it!”

My VP wears pink & green
My VP is a Soror
My VP LOOKS LIKE ME!!

Daughters, Sisters, Women of the World: you can be anything you want to be—the possibilities are endless! 💗💚💗💚

#myvpisablackwoman #myvplookslikeme #myvpismysoror #kamalaharrisday

#BidenHarris #KamalaHarrisVP

Am I Sorry I got the vaccine? NOPE!

Someone commented on my vaccine video that I would be sorry I got the vaccine in a couple days.
Well, it’s been a few days, and yes, I did have a day that I felt kinda crappy, but I am NOT at all sorry—I’m grateful because I understand how my body works and I trust the process. After about 24 hours of sore throat and muscle aches, My symptoms are completely gone and I feel great.

But, Let me tell you what I am sorry for: I am sorry for the people who died literally GASPING for breath. I am sorry for their loved ones who could not be there to hold their hands as life left their bodies—and in many cases they were not even able to celebrate their life at their funerals. I am SORRY that black and brown communities bore the huge burden of disease and we lost so many people! in some areas (state of Michigan) it was TEN Black Deaths for every 1 white death, and that is a #FACT! I am sorry that people have lost their livelihood, homes, and so many have lost hope—depression/anxiety has also risen to pandemic proportions.
I am sorry that instead of taking this pandemic seriously, our country’s leadership chose to play political games, and several politicians MADE A LOT OF money while marginalized communities—including rural poor white communities paid the price with their lives.
I am sorry for every other doctor, every nurse or PA, or NP, or respiratory therapist, tech, etc. who feel like a failure every day because we work damn hard to save these folks with what little knowledge and treatment options we have so far. THAT is what I truly feel sorry about. I am reporting TRUTHFULLY everyday about my vaccine experience on my blog here:

https://deliveringjoymd.com/2020/12/27/my-covid-vaccine-chronicles/

People perish from a lack of knowledge. In all your getting, please make an effort to get an understanding of RELIABLE information. God gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the scholars. I am grateful to Him for giving Dr. Kizzy Corbitt and other scientists the knowledge to develop this vaccine. Any sort of medical treatment is a personal decision, and in order to make an informed choice about whether to accept or decline the vaccine (or any medical treatment for that matter) you have to get the right information. #CovidVaccine #COVID19 #covid19inpregnancy #sciencematters #ThisIsOurShot #blacklivesmatter #blackdoctors

Start Healing the Wounds

We have a President!
💙💙💙💙💙💙💙💙
To God be the Glory!!!
(& immense gratitude to a few God-inspired black women like Stacey Abrams)

My circle knows that I fast at the start of every year to reset my body AND my mental focus. I’ve recently started Intermittent Fasting. I usually fast 16-20 hours and eat one meal a day or one meal &a snack. On Election Day, I decided to do an extended fast, and pray every 4 hours about the election and the state of our country. Each time I felt hungry, I’d say “God I’m hungry for change, God give us justice.” I kept fasting I finally broke my fast at nearly 48 hours, about the time Biden/Harris pulled ahead.

I’m grateful to President Trump for his role in exposing the deep, ugly, festering wounds of racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, our propensity for hatred and violence, and all manner of corruptions in our nation. No deep, gangrenous wound can heal until it has been lanced—Trump was the perfect person to wield the blade—the corrupted tissue must be cut away, and the wound washed out and carefully cared for—systemically (antibiotics, healthy diet, no smoking, etc.) and at the local site (cleansing, removing debris, poultice placement and dressing) so that healthy tissue can grow.

The same is true for our nation. Now that we have opened this wound, it is time to drain away the putridness of hatred in all forms, to get down to the base, to remove the old, dead, diseased way of thinking and acting, so that we will have an opportunity to heal.

My heart is so GRATEFUL right now. Thank you God!

#BidenHarris2020 #HealOurLand