Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A stranger is just a friend you haven't met

A short time ago, I met Dr. Orthochick for the first time.

I've known her online for a really long time. I can't remember exactly how we found each other, but I was definitely still in residency at the time. Anyway, we've had a lot of contact with each other over the years, and Orthochick always said to me that she thought we'd get along really well if we ever met in real life.

I agreed, but with reservations. I have no doubt in my mind that Orthochick is really cool, based on everything she had told me. However, I know for a fact that I am not really cool. When you talk to people online, it's easy to portray only the good aspects of your personality. Of course, I guess the opposite is also true. I've confessed things online that I would never tell real life friends.

This was not my first time meeting an online friend. The first time was about seven years ago. A blogger I knew really well was coming out to my neck of the woods with her husband and child, and we all went out to lunch. I was sort of terrified about meeting her, although she seemed more excited than terrified. But in reality, I really enjoyed meeting her. Having known her so well online, it didn't even feel like I was meeting a new person. It seemed like getting together with an old friend.

More recently, I met Gizabeth from Mothers in Medicine. She and I had talked a lot privately over the years, so we finally got together. Again, I really enjoyed meeting her and her children.

Weirdly, I didn't tell anyone that I was meaning Orthochick until right before. I finally told my husband the day before, when I felt obligated to say that I was going out and would be leaving the kids with him.

Me: "I’m meeting a friend."

Husband: "who?"

Me: "you'll never guess."

Husband: "yeah, I'm not going to play this game."

Me: "fine, I guess you'll never know…"

Husband: "gah!" (Proceeds to guess every single one of my real life friends)

Me: "no."

Husband: "is it someone you know online?"

Me: "yes."

Husband: "is it a doctor?"

Me: "yes."

Husband: "Oh, I know. It's that one who's the doctor who specializes in… you know, things."

Me: "huh?"

Husband: "You know what I mean! Things! Like, ortho things."

Me: "ok, you're right."

Husband: "Well, when will you be back?"

Me: "I don't know. If we're just sitting there in awkward silence, it could be pretty quick."

Anyway, I refused to make a big deal out of the whole thing. I was working that day, and I even kept on the same comfy shirt and fleece that I wore to the hospital, although I did change into jeans from my scrub pants.

When I met Orthochick for the first time, she gave me the absolute best hug that anyone I've ever met for the first time has ever given me. She raced across the train platform and threw herself at me and I almost fell over backwards. It was the kind of hug that makes you like a person instantly, as long as you survive the hug.

Anyway, we definitely did not sit there in awkward silence. I should have recognized that the two of us are both...well, let's just say, loquacious. We both had so much to say, we were practically interrupting each other the whole time. She's really funny and interesting and it was even fun to talk shop with her. And I don't think I've exchanged that many Simpsons quotes in quite a long time. I also learned that apparently, if I have to work with a big group of guys, my best bet is to become well-versed in South Park, and short of that, say "that's what she said" as much as I possibly can.

Also, I was pleased and/or disturbed that even though I was gone for close to three hours, I did not receive one hysterical text asking where I was, despite having gone out with random internet possible murderer.

So in summary, I'm happy to report that Orthochick is absolutely as awesome as I always imagined she would be. It was bittersweet though, because she lives far away for me now and the chance of us ever being real life friends is basically zero. But we'll always have oreo ice cream cake.


  1. Even though I have not been in a medical position for some time now, except as a patient, I have also enjoyed Orthochick's writing. And obviously yours. While it is highly unlikely that I will ever meet either of you I sincerely hope that fate will throw you two back together again. The years will pass and things will always change.

  2. I had such a great time with you! I was so glad we could finally meet after all these years :-) Thank you for the post, it made my week.