Introducing…Our Very Own Dr. Sam!

We’ve added a real live doctor to the staff! Dr. Sam is a neurologist and my best friend since we almost got kicked out of confirmation rehearsal in eighth grade. For her first post, she would like to share with you some insight into her recent move to the laid-back state of Colorado. If you like Dr. Sam (and I know you will), she’ll be giving medical advice on this blog from here on out. Send any and all questions to us via email at, or on Twitter @NoMadBlog.

Dr. Perfectionist, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Disorder

I’ve never met a to-do list I didn’t like. I have a permanent to-do list in the reminders app on my phone, as well as a small notebook I keep handy for daily handwritten lists. It’s calming to write down what needs to get done, and cathartic to cross items out. Without my to-do list, I feel unsettled. I don’t like feeling unsettled. At all.


I recently relocated from Chicago to gorgeous Denver, Colorado. My westward migration over the past decade, from New York to Chicago to Denver, has been guided by my continued medical training, as well as by a desire for new life experiences. While I enjoy change, I enjoy it in a controlled, organized manner. I’ve never been a spontaneous person; instead I thoroughly research all possible options prior to making a decision (usually by making lists).

The move to Denver was meticulously planned and it went as well as moving 1000 miles away can be expected. I had four days to get somewhat settled before reporting to work on the traditional “first day” in the medical profession, being July 1 (side note, try not to get hospitalized in July, brand new doctors are starting and they are clueless. From personal experience, you would not have wanted me as your doctor on July 1, 2010. I spent most of that day wandering around the wards in a daze).

I had completed pages upon pages of new hire paperwork months prior and had all of the requested documentation with me, neatly organized in a folder. My schedule for the first day was printed out, as well as a campus map. I arrived at the first location on my itinerary, the badge office, and gave my name. The next sequence of events would become regrettably familiar. “Your name is not on our list, Dr. Holden”, they would say apologetically. This happened exactly seven more times over the next three days. My checkboxes next to my itinerary remained mournfully empty. It killed me.


Everyone I have encountered has been more than pleasant, though frustratingly relaxed. The more aggravated and anxious I became, the more laidback those I dealt with seemed to be. By the end of the day, I was expecting the next office I walked into to be manned by a guy in tie-dye and Birkenstocks, sitting on an exercise ball at his desk. No one seemed to understand the growing urgency of my unchecked list boxes. They just smiled and said, “We’ll see you again when everything gets worked out.”

After a few days of frantic work on my part, things are now almost completely sorted at work. The remaining items on my to-do list are finally dwindling, and as they do, so too is my anxiety. As I reflect on my first two weeks here, I’ve been considering my reaction to the circumstances. I feel more settled now that I have my badge, my computer access and my white coat (with my name embroidered on it, so official!).

But was the worry and frenzy I put myself through worth it? Would I have still ended up where I am now without it? The answer is, of course, yes. Am I going to keep writing to-do lists to make myself feel better? Yes. But maybe I should take a cue from my new neighbors and relax just a bit. Maybe not to the point of tie-dye and Birkenstocks, but maybe just a little. I did just buy a Prius. In sea glass green. So I’m working on it.

Ask Dr. Sam Column!

Since I first entered medical school, I have been approached countless times by friends and family (mostly Todd and my dad, Bernie) with medical questions. Now, instead of asking me privately, you will have to send in your medical questions to Kelly and I will answer them on her blog. In public. We can keep sensitive issues anonymous if requested. though I will most likely make fun of you, even if you are anonymous. But I’ll definitely give you free medical advice, too!


Filed under Do Something For Humanity For Crying Out Loud, Health

3 responses to “Introducing…Our Very Own Dr. Sam!

  1. Jeanie Carroll

    Don’t forget Pop!!! You were a God send to him.

  2. Ann Yacopino

    So awesome Sam! Glad I didn’t make your list of “what’s wrong with me?” LOL!

  3. Aunt Binkie

    Sam as a fellow New Yorker transplanted to the West Coast (Seattle ) I know what you mean about the total lack of urgency. Took me 2 years to loose that east coast “edge”.
    Congratulations on your new assignment! You’re gonna love the Wild West! Peace !

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