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Practicing Gratitude

Practicing Gratitude

“This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, which is one of my favorite holidays because it is a special opportunity to focus on family, friends, food and fellowship. It is a day to stop and reflect and give thanks, all while cooking up scrumptious food with your family. Personally, I am thankful for my loving husband of 34 years, who has supported me 100% along the way, and for our two daughters, who are kind, funny and smart and who know how to throw down in the kitchen. I am thankful for my wonderful staff, who make me it a joy to come to work. And I am thankful for my patients, many of whom have become like family after all these years of performing their annual exams or delivering their children and grandchildren.

But although Thanksgiving can be one of the most fun and relaxing holidays of the year, it can also be a sad and stressful time for many. Our hearts may ache thinking about who will not be sitting around the dinner table this year – loved ones, close friends and family who are no longer with us. We miss them terribly already and that pain usually only intensifies during the holidays. Yet, we must give thanks anyway, no matter what our situation. This month’s message, then, is about the power of practicing gratitude every day, in all of life’s circumstances.

Don’t worry if practicing gratitude is not already a normal part of your daily routine. Experts say gratitude is something you can learn. A good way to start is by journaling. Write down one thing a day that you are thankful for. You can write about the big things, like having a roof over your head, food to eat, a job, health, children, a significant other, parents, friends, a car, and even gasoline to put in the car. You can also give thanks for the smaller things in life: a beautiful flower blooming in the garden, the cheerful chirping of a bird, the friendly mailman at the post office, knees that bend, feet that walk, teeth that chew, ears that hear, the ability to talk and  smell, and, and, and… You get the point. There are a million and one things to be grateful for every day; the challenge is just to make sure we take time to express that gratitude!

“Well,” you might say, “I have nothing to be grateful for because of this and that and the other. Once my circumstances have changed, then I will give thanks and be happy for what I have.” This is unfortunately how so many of us live our lives: we miss out on true happiness and the ability to enjoy our lives because we can’t see all the many things, big and small, that we have to be grateful for. We are unhappy because we can’t tap into a sense of gratitude for what we have. The good news is, though, the more we practice gratitude – even if it’s just fakin’ it ‘til you make it – the more grateful we become.

Maybe I can inspire those of you who may be skeptical about taking up this new habit by letting you in on some of the health benefits associated with gratitude. Robert A. Emmons, professor of psychology at UC Davis, has found that practicing gratitude “can lower blood pressure, improve immune function and facilitate more efficient sleep.” Another study from the University of California-San Diego’s School of Medicine found that people who were more grateful had better heart health, particularly less inflammation and healthier heart rhythms. A third study showed that people who keep a gratitude journal have a reduced dietary fat intake — as much as 25 percent lower. Stress hormones like cortisol are 23 percent lower in grateful people. And having a daily gratitude practice could actually reduce the effects of aging to the brain. In other words, gratitude is a serious health booster!

So, I challenge you this holiday season to start consciously practicing gratitude, not just on Thanksgiving, but every day. And that starts by being truly present with your family and loved ones over the holidays. Turn off the TV, put down the smart phones and tables, and be present. Listen to and participate in conversations in the kitchen and at the dinner table. Show them through your actions and words just how grateful you are they are in your life. As William Ward brilliantly put it, “feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” And gratitude is one of the best gifts you can give this season.


Dode Washington

Thoughts about Breast Cancer and Domestic Violence

Welcome back to our monthly Wellness Wednesday! I Googled what the month of October is known for, and to my surprise I discovered that this month is home to a total of 105 awareness-raising campaigns. This month’s celebrations include Down Syndrome Awareness Month, LGBT History Month, National Domestic Violence Month, National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, World Menopause Month, and most celebrated of all, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Although many of these issues are dear to my heart and relevant to the practice of OBGYN, today I will share reflections on just two: breast cancer and domestic violence.

Many of our patients remember with fondness Dr. Barbara Jean Bozeman, the beloved co-founder of Coastal Carolina OBGYN who passed away from breast cancer in 2011. Dr. Bozeman grew up poor in Tennessee in a home so small she and her seven siblings slept two to a bed. She did not grow up wanting to be a doctor and sort of stumbled into the profession. Dr. Bozeman was originally a science teacher and taught students how to take the MCAT, the medical school admission exam. One day, one of Dr. Bozeman’s students said the MCAT was so hard, he bet she herself could not pass it. So, Dr. Bozeman took the exam just to spite him. After passing with flying colors, she received entrance offers from many medical schools and decided to enroll at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN. The rest is history. Dr. Bozeman was a phenomenal clinician and surgeon. She prayed with and over her patients and went to Haiti for years on medical mission trips. Dr. Bozeman was a woman of few words, had no time for pity parties, and, just as she expected a lot from herself, she expected a lot from the rest of us.

I remember showing up at Coastal Cancer Center when she had her first chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer. A dear friend of hers also came along. Dr. Bozeman was aggravated that we both came, as she said no one else had two people visiting them. She said one of us had to go. We both refused to leave, so we just sat there as she fussed at us. When it was time for radiation therapy, Dr. Bozeman scheduled it for 6:00 am and then went straight to work afterwards for the entire six weeks of treatment. Dr. Bozeman fought bravely against breast cancer while simultaneously caring deeply for her patients. She ministered to both their physical as well as their mental and spiritual needs, including giving advice to patients who experienced domestic violence.

South Carolina has the sad distinction of being in the top five states with the highest rates of domestic violence (DV). As an OBGYN, I am exposed to DV often through my patients. I remember vividly a young, kind, and beautiful patient who came in for her annual PAP smear. I noticed that her hand and foot were swollen, and she was in a depressed mood. She shared with me that her husband had beat her the night before. I sent her straight to the emergency room, and they diagnosed her with a broken foot and hand. She had no formal education after high school and was dependent on her husband financially. She tried to leave him by escaping to her mother’s house, only to have the mother call the husband and ask him to come and get her. Her mother said a wife’s duty was to be by her husband’s side, no matter what. Our practice eventually lost contact with this patient and I often wondered what had happened to her. One day, I received a letter from another patient who wanted to let me know she had finally made a successful escape from her husband. She had mentioned to me at her last visit that she was contemplating this. She had left everything behind and started a new life elsewhere, which took much planning and courage. My patient was one of the lucky ones. Sadly, not every woman in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship is able to escape.

On an even more personal note, I remember once seeing my mother with a bruised eye. She said she had gotten it from running into a kitchen cabinet door, which didn’t seem quite right. The truth is, my father had beaten her, which was a hard pill for me to swallow, as I loved both of my parents dearly. I later learned that my father had said he would kill my mother, my sister, and me if she left him, and that is what kept her in that marriage for years. Only years after his death did my mother even talk about it. Her sister committed suicide at age 41, after having lived in what we later found out was an abusive marriage. These two sisters had an MD and a PhD between them. The truth is, abuse does not discriminate. Any woman, regardless of education, social status, nationality, or skin color can find herself in an abusive relationship. We must therefore raise awareness about DV, offer support for survivors, and combat the toxic masculinity that leads men to believe it’s OK to attempt to exert power over women in a violent manner.

In closing, let me end on an upbeat note. Remember to live life to its fullest, remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made, remember to get your breasts checked, and may you find the faith, courage, and strength needed to change your circumstances if you find yourself in an abusive situation.




Dode Washington, MD

What do you do when your best isn’t good enough?

What Do You Do When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough?

Welcome back to another Wellness Wednesday! I would like to acknowledge and thank readers for the enormous outpouring of sentiment from my last message. It is clear that death and dying are quite emotional topics for many of us, and I am happy to have been able to provide a forum for people to express themselves. This month, I invite you to share your thoughts about this post in the comments section or via email.

Today, I would like to reflect on the following question: Have you ever given something your very best only to find out that your effort was not enough? For example, after putting your heart and soul into creating a delicious meal, spending hours planning and preparing it, you discover that no one likes it. Your family complains that it’s too salty or not salty enough, too spicy or too bland, undercooked or overcooked. After all your hard work, your meal is a total disaster.

That’s what happened when my husband, while we were still dating, first invited me to the parsonage where he lived for a home-cooked meal. He was so nervous that he ended up serving the bluefish he had prepared raw. To add insult to injury, in the middle of what was supposed to be a romantic dinner, his best friend showed up unannounced to “see how things were going.” We laugh at this dinner fiasco years later and thank God there was much more to him than his cooking 

While this is a lighthearted story, there are far more serious situations in which diligent preparation and heartfelt anticipation of a positive outcome fail. I am reminded of my cousin who passed last year from throat cancer. She was a vegetarian, a health coach, never smoked and not overweight. When she had the typical signs and symptoms of throat cancer, she ignored them. She thought that there was no way she could have cancer because she had led such a healthy and spiritual life. By the time she came to grips with reality, it was too late, and she suffered greatly before her rapid demise.

I am also reminded of my beloved partner in medicine, Dr. Bozeman, who, too, was healthy and a faithful Christian who had yearly mammograms, only to find out that she had an aggressive breast cancer, which in the end took her life. I am thinking of the hardworking student who applies to college or grad school and does not get in to their first, second, or even third choice. The person who vows to love their beloved in sickness and in health only to find themselves in the middle of a divorce. The athlete who, even after long hours of disciplined practice, is still defeated.

As a physician, my main purpose is to provide both physical and mental care for the patients entrusted to me. I wake up every day praying that I hear what I need to hear, see what I need to see, and do what I need to do to help each patient. I pray before surgery; I pray for the patient and for everyone involved with her care, myself included. But that does not mean that things always turn out well. Some poor outcomes that occur are already acknowledged as a possibility, and others come as a true surprise. Most patients deal with poor outcomes with patience and understanding, but others can let anger and disappointment overwhelm them and they punish the physician through legal action. But what do you do when a medical team has done everything correctly and you are still faced with a negative outcome?

What I do know is that no one is perfect, that we strive for perfection in midst of our imperfection, and that none of us have been promised a life without challenges, pain, or disappointments. But no matter the outcome, all of us must keep giving it the best that we have. Keep leaning in and never lose hope. When we fall down, we get back up, dust off our hands and knees and keep on walking. That is really all that is required of us.

I leave you today with the Serenity Prayer, a helpful reminder to all of us to acknowledge that though challenges are an inevitable part of life, we are equipped to face them with serenity, courage, and wisdom:

God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
(prayer attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr, 1892-1971)

Dode Washington

On Death and Dying...

On Death and Dying

Welcome to our monthly Wellness Wednesday. This month, I have chosen to reflect on death and dying, quite frankly, because I am grieving. A few days ago, Mama P, my third and last mother figure, my adopted American mother, died. She was preceded in death fifteen years ago by my beloved mother-in-law, who died during her favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. Six years ago, my own mother died basking in the sun on a lounge chair while on vacation with us in Myrtle Beach. And now, my Mama P is gone. She, too, had the foresight to die on vacation, surrounded by her entire family on the Caribbean island of Sint Maarten. She had reached the ripe old age of 102, and she was ready to meet her maker.

The truth is, Mama P had been ready for a while. Her mind was in full functioning order, but her body was tired and broken down and she was in pain most of the time. She had buried her beloved husband, who died from a sudden heart attack, many moons ago. She had also buried her older daughter, who died from kidney disease. It is said that there is no greater grief than burying a child, and Mama P lived with that grief every day.

Once Mama P retired from teaching, she moved in with her younger daughter and helped run her busy household. She cooked the most fabulous meals – lamb and gumbo were her specialties – and baked the best lemon meringue pies ever. She drove her grand-kids to activities and to church, and her constant presence afforded her daughter and son-in-law the opportunity to pursue distinguished careers. They could do so because they knew Mama P had their backs.

My husband was her adopted spiritual son, and thus, I became her adopted daughter. In fact, she traveled with an American delegation of eight extended family members to our wedding in Copenhagen, Denmark 34 years ago this month. Then she, together with my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, my husband’s high school principal and wife, and a family friend, travelled with us on our honeymoon to Greece. No worries, we stayed at two different hotels, but we would pop by their hotel every night on our way out to dinner.

Mama P was that kind of woman: hardworking, faithful, God-centered, loving and kind, fun and adventurous, someone who even made it to our honeymoon. Once I moved to America, she stood in the gap on behalf of my own mother, and was here to give me hugs, home-cooked meals, advice and encouragement. I was a young student, newly married to the man of my dreams, soon to be a new mother, and an immigrant far away from home, so you know I needed it.

I chose the baby-delivering business of medicine because I love life and I love being there for the miracle of new life. My patients are, for the most part, healthy and happy, and the world is their oyster, whether they know it or not. I get to advise and aide in sickness and in health, and it is a blessing to me. However, death and life are closely connected, even in the baby-making business. To grieve is natural. It is painful, but necessary. In her book, On Death & Dying, psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross describes the five stages of grief so well: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally, acceptance. Learning to transition gracefully through these stages is just as important to living a full life as is the ability to experience joy at the sight of a new baby. Life and death go hand in hand, and we could all do a better job of preparing for and dealing with death.

Every day is a gift that should not be taken for granted. We all have to leave this earth some day, thought most of us wish it to be later rather than sooner. Death waits for no one, and it does not discriminate, and not everyone gets 102 years to get it right. But it is not how long we live, but rather how well we lived and what we did with our lives that counts. As the great poet and author Maya Angelou said, “People won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.” So, my question to you today is, how do you make people feel? Are you present and available to your loved ones? Are you kind, loving and patient? Do you have forgiveness in your heart or do you carry grudges?

Everyone’s life matters – yours and mine, too. Let’s not waste another minute on minutia, but make sure to live our lives to the fullest, bringing peace and harmony with us wherever we go.


Dode Washington, MD


Love and Serve Your Neighbor

“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me to your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.” Matthew 25: 35-36

Last month, I participated in my first ever-medical mission trip. Until then, I admit that I allowed school, raising children, and never-ending work to get in the way of service. Well, that has all ended. My husband, who is an ordained minister, organized a trip for 13 volunteers to go to Kumasi, Ghana on a medical mission and education trip. We were two physicians and one dentist, two educators, one journalist and seven other missionaries. Our ages ranged from 14 to 70! We brought along 19 boxes and duffel bags full of medical and dental supplies, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shoes, clothes, and Bibles. It was a wonderful experience, and mind boggling to the two teenagers with us. To meet smiling, happy, and welcoming youth in the midst of unbelievable poverty surprised them. The kids their age did not have cell phones, laptops, cars to drive or the latest new sneakers. They lived with no electricity or running water and no school cafeteria. Yet, they were smart, eager to learn, and they appreciated what little they had. Our teenagers were inspired and came back home also more appreciative of what they have.

The mission trip affirmed what has been instilled in me by my parents since childhood, which is to be of service to others in whatever way you can. When I grew up, the basement of my family’s home in Copenhagen was always occupied by a newly arrived immigrant, a refugee, or a friend of a friend who was in need of housing. My dad was always in the kitchen cooking scrumptious Ghanaian food for everyone and anyone who needed a good meal. As a recent retiree, my mother moved to Katmandu, Nepal for 18 months to work as a pediatrician in a hospital in a very poor village. She returned 15 years later, close to 80 years of age, with a substantial donation to the hospital that she raised through friends and colleagues.

Janet Jackson sings in one of her songs, “What have you done for me lately?” She clearly does not feel any love because the object of her affection didn’t show love through action. He was all talk and no walk. We should also be careful to make sure we both talk the talk and walk the walk. Caring for and loving others takes compassion and commitment, time and money. Thoughts and prayers alone are not enough. Loving our neighbor and serving our neighbor go hand in hand. So, I encourage all of us to show our love in service to others by any means possible. We should be both intentional and creative about how we can be of service to others – whether that means opening our home to a stranger, or going out of our way to give of our time, talents, and treasure to those in need.


Dr. Washington

How Does Your Health Grow?

How Does Your Health Grow?

Spring is in the air and summer is just around the corner! The excitement is palpable as we anticipate the days we will spend playing at the beach, lounging poolside, taking strolls in the mountains, and just enjoying those things that make our hearts happy.

This spring, for the umpteenth time, I have decided to plant an herb garden. I love to cook with fresh basil, cilantro, dill, parsley and mint, and every year I start out great for the first two weeks. Then life gets in the way. Slowly but surely my herbs wither away because I forget to water them and pluck out the weeds that threaten to choke them. But I always keep hope alive and reassure myself that this year I will do better. I will finally take time out to tend to my little patch of herbs.

My herb garden can be seen as a metaphor for those things in life that we hold dear and wish to accomplish. We know we want something, but we usually don’t make the sacrifices necessary to have and keep it. Patients share with me daily how they really, really, really want to lose weight, but they cannot find the time to work out regularly or change their eating habits by cooking healthy food at home. They tell me how stressed they are, and that their intimate relationships are on the rocks, but that they are still somehow unable to carve out the time and energy the relationships need to flourish. Health and relationships are like my herb garden: without water, sunlight and weeding, they die, too.

So, this spring, I invite you to join me in rededicating yourselves to regularly spending time doing what is good for you and what makes you happy. Unapologetically clear out the unhealthy, smothering weeds in your life. You might find that your blood pressure will improve, your tension headaches will lift, your shoulder pain will ease, and your stomach and digestive system will calm down. Stress sits in all these places, and our bodies speak to us daily asking us to please make a change. Instead, most of us just go to the doctor to get medication, which treats the symptoms but not the causes of our discomfort. The best treatment may simply be to water your desires and needs, give them some sunlight, and weed out whatever may be hindering your growth.

Happy gardening!


Dode Washington, MD

Earth care

Care for OUR Earth

There are many awareness issues celebrated in April, but I would like to focus on just two – Autism Awareness Month and Earth Day (April 22) – and combine them through introducing you to my newfound heroine, Greta Thunberg.

Greta is a 16-year-old Swedish girl with Asperger’s, which is a developmental disorder on the Autism spectrum. She is a passionate environmentalist, with tremendous zeal and courage in communicating her agenda to politicians on a global scale. She is urging them to make an immediate and drastic change to current environmental policies so that we do not experience a human-induced environmental catastrophe in our lifetime.

Greta learned about the greenhouse effect in elementary school. It interested her so much that she started conducting research on her own. Eventually, Greta realized that the adults in charge of environmental policy refused to make policy changes to save our environment not because they didn’t have the necessary scientific information, but because of political inertia. Environmental policymakers were lackadaisical, apathetic, lethargic and nonchalant about the scientific information available to them to make change.

This realization was so devastating to Greta that she went into a deep depression. She stopped eating, speaking, and going to school as she lost hope for the future. Thank God Greta eventually realized that she did have something to live and fight for. She decided that even as an introvert with Asperger’s, she had a voice and she would use it. Greta says she was inspired by Rosa Parks, who too was introverted and quiet, but who nevertheless started a movement by sitting down and refusing to get up on that bus one day in Montgomery, Alabama.

Greta’s protest involves skipping school on Fridays to demonstrate peacefully outside the statehouse in Stockholm, Sweden. What began as one lone teenager has now become a worldwide phenomenon with its own hashtag #FridaysForFuture. Due to the impact of her work, Greta spoke at the United Nations Climate Change Summit in 2018, and I encourage you to watch her inspiring speech here.

For Greta, having Asperger’s means her brain is wired differently than other teenagers her age; she sees things as back or white, and solutions are very obvious to her. She is not interested in usual teenage girl activities like partying, makeup and boys, but is very focused and determined to solve the problems that matter to her. Greta has become a vegan because of the impact that meat production has on the greenhouse effect and has asked her parents to follow suit. She has also stopped flying and chooses to take the train instead – even for international meetings and speaking engagements – because fossil fuel emissions from airplanes are devastating to the environment. And she has convinced her mother, who is a famous opera singer, to stop flying all over Europe to give concerts and become home-based in Stockholm. This is indeed practicing what you preach!

Greta speaks with no religious overtones that I can detect, but the words from Psalm 24:1 come to mind when I think of her work: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it. The world and all its people belong to him.”

My question for you today is, what are you doing to protect the earth? Are you a good steward of our planet’s resources? Are you trying to live a sustainable lifestyle by reducing, reusing and recycling? Are you eating less meat and more vegetables? Do you turn off the water when brushing your teeth, buy fuel-efficient cars, opt for e-receipts, use cloth grocery bags, or decrease your use of plastic bottles and straws?

I invite us all to make 2019 the year where we commit to taking better care of OUR earth. Where we become more informed about our environment and how to love it better, and worry less about what “they” are doing and begin to understand that change begins with us.

I will end with a quote by our 26th president Theodore Roosevelt, from his speech “Conservation as a National Duty, given at the White House in 1908:

“We have become great in a material sense because of our lavish use of our resources. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone, when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted, when the soils have been still further impoverished and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields, and obstructing navigation. These questions do not relate only to the next century or to the next generation. One distinguishing characteristic of really civilized men is foresight; we have to, as a nation, exercise foresight for this nation in the future; and if we do not exercise that foresight, dark will be the future!”

Here’s to the bright future that I believe we can all create through collectively deciding to be better stewards of our planet.



Dr. Washington

Womens History Month

Women’s History Month

March is a busy month for health awareness topics. When I Googled “Health in March,” this is what came up:

  • National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
  • Brain Injury Awareness Month
  • National Developmental Disabilities Awareness Month
  • Save Your Vision Month
  • National Nutrition Month
  • Bleeding Disorders Awareness Month
  • National Kidney Month
  • National Endometriosis Awareness Month

There’s so much to say about all of these very important topics, and I encourage you to research and learn more about them. But March is also National Women’s History Month, and I feel led to reflect on that for this month’s Wellness Wednesday.

I am fortunate to have had many wonderful women role models and mentors in my life, and I would like to mention just two of them.

My mother, Dr. Eleonora Faber, was born in 1929 in Copenhagen, Denmark. She went to medical school at a time when few women did and married an African man when interracial relationships were unheard of. She had courage and led a fearless life, not worrying about what other people would think of her. That led to great inner peace. She took the exam to become a pilot and could fly a small plane, learned sign language so she could communicate with her patients at the school for deaf children, and often traveled to work where she was needed most, in places like Kathmandu, Nepal and Greenland.

My mother always followed her heart unapologetically and has been my role model in life for just about everything. Watching her practice medicine made me the doctor I am today. Her love of Jesus Christ and her fellow human beings meant she was always helping someone, regardless of their nationality, race, sexual orientation, or economic station in life.

The second phenomenal woman who comes to mind is Maya Angelou.

Among the first books I read when I immigrated to the U.S. in 1985 as a newlywed was the autobiography of Maya Angelou. I admit I bought the book because I liked the colorful cover; I had no idea who she was! But I fell in love with Maya Angelou after that first reading and have loved her ever since. To celebrate her legacy, I would like to share her poem, “Still I Rise,” written in 1978.

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I’ll rise.


Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

’Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells

Pumping in my living room.


Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like hopes springing high,

Still I’ll rise.


Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops,

Weakened by my soulful cries?


Does my haughtiness offend you?

Don’t you take it awful hard

’Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines

Diggin’ in my own backyard.


You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

But still, like air, I’ll rise.


Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got diamonds

At the meeting of my thighs?


Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise

Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,

Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.


Leaving behind nights of terror and fear

I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear

I rise

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,

I am the dream and the hope of the slave.

I rise

I rise

I rise.

In closing, dear women of Coastal Carolina OBGYN, this month and every month, I invite you to reflect on your own she-roes and role models. If you have one that is alive today, send her a card or flowers or simply give her a call and let her know what she means to you. Likewise, I encourage you to take hold of a young girl’s hand, help her along the way, and be a mentor or role model for her. Pay it forward!


Dr. Washington


Take Care of Your Heart Health

Take Control of Your Heart Health

Welcome back to our second Wellness Wednesday talk. I received such nice feedback from the first one that I will try a second one.

The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1897-1971) is accredited with the Serenity Prayer, which many people are familiar with from the 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous program. It goes something like this:

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference”.

February is heart health month, and I challenge all of us to acquire wisdom and courage to make changes to our lives in order to take better care of our heart health, and to let go of the things, which are out of our control.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in all adults, surpassing deaths from all cancers combined. Yet, we often seem more worried about cancer deaths than deaths from heart disease. The main culprits in heart disease are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, diabetes, physical inactivity, unhealthy eating habits and stress; these are all factors, which we actually can do something about!

Starting today, let us take control of our heart health. We do not have to suffer the same illnesses as our family- we CAN change our destiny.

  1. If you smoke, quit those cigarettes NOW.
  2. Begin a daily exercise program aiming at 150 minutes of exercise a week. Join a gym or do your work out routines at home in front of your TV or computer using of of the many work out routines found online, like for instance , “21 day Fix” which I find fun.
  3. Drive past the fast food restaurants to avoid the deep fried foods and sugary drinks and begin to cook you own nutritious food. Current dietary information seems to point us toward eating a more plant based diet. Did you know that dairy, red meat, and pork leads to increased cancer and inflammatory conditions like arthritis? Let me reference a couple of great vegan cookbooks one can order online (vegans eat no animal products at all) and two documentaries which I think are a must to watch this month on Netflix.

The must watch documentaries are “What the Health” and  “ Forks over Knives”.  They had a profound impact on me, and I am sad to say that we were not taught this information in medical school or in residency.

Great Cook Books to help inspire you to try vegan recipes are “Forks over Knives”, which also has a very handy APP that I use a lot,  “ The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cook book” by the Esselstyn family, “Oh She Glows Cookbook” and the “Sweet Potato Soul” cookbook for the southern palate.  We can REVERSE heart disease through our diet! Isn’t that a crazy thought! Somehow, we have come to believe that only pills prescribed by doctors can do it or stents and bypass surgery can help us, but we can truly do something for ourselves by completely changing our eating habits, exercising, and by leading less stressful lives.  The latter often means that we have to change our attitude and not let things get to us, that we have to make an effort to stay calm, cool and collected. Some folks pray to stay focused and calm, some meditate, some sing, some exercise, some read, some go for walks, some spend time with peaceful loving people, some garden. Whatever works for you, make an effort in 2019 to seek it out and give it a try for the benefit of your own heart health.


Dr. Washington

Wellness Wednesdays

Wellness Wednesdays


Happy New Year to all of our patients, friends and family of Coastal Carolina OBGYN.

Thank you for choosing us to be your gynecological and obstetrical provider.  We appreciate you and we will continue to strive to provide you with the very best and most compassionate care possible.  Excellent medical care however, does not only deal with treating ailments of our physical bodies, but also talks about prevention, nutrition, and mental and spiritual health.  I have found that the latter three topics are as important as the first two, and I encourage everyone to make 2019 the year of mental and spiritual healing as well as beginning a path to wholesome nutrition.

Starting today I will share with you a monthly Wednesday Wellness blog, which I hope you will find beneficial.

Mother Theresa is often accredited with the poem “Anyway”, but it actually originated from a 1968 leadership book by then 19-year-old Harvard student, Kent M. Keith. He called it “The Paradoxical Commandments”. Mother Theresa found these commandments so inspiring that she hung them on the wall in her children’s home in Calcutta, and thus they became famously known as the “Anyway” poem.

I would like to begin 2019 with sharing this poem and invite you to meditate on it, and encourage you to forgive, be kind, succeed, be honest and sincere, create, be happy, give your best, do good and always love anyway.

People are often unreasonable, irrational and self-centered


If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives


If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies


The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow


Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable


What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight


People really need help but may attack you if you help them


Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth







Dr. Washington