What’s in your wheelhouse? If you’re not familiar with the term, the wheelhouse in baseball is the part of a batter’s swing range where they can make the best contact with the ball. It’s an area of expertise. Something you’re great at or feel really comfortable with. Something you’re excited about doing because you know you will kill at it.
I spend a significant amount of time diagnosing, treating and counseling patients with HPV (human papillomavirus) related diseases. And while I love delivering babies and doing surgery on women, HPV is in my wheelhouse. Like, I read everything I can about it, I go to the scientific meetings, I have literally seen hundreds of women (or more) with these problems. Now don’t get me wrong, no one bats a thousand so I still see things that I haven’t seen before, I still have patients that don’t fit the rules for their disease process and I have to really think hard and ask my experts around me about what is best for management…but I feel pretty comfortable with most things in encounter in this arena.
If you follow me on twitter you know that I love to retweet scientific articles. All my twitter crushes are people who write about OBGYN topics and post articles of the same. Many of those I retweet are about HPV and the diseases caused by the infection. You see, HPV is responsible for almost all of the 12,000 cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in the US annually. About 4,000 of these women will die of their disease. So, I give this lecture to our second year medical students. They show up with their MacBooks and their phones ready to record what I say and I get to talk about how to better take care of the women of Oklahoma. Well, first I tell them that the information won’t be on their test…so I’m instantly a better speaker and much more popular. Then I tell them how at least 29 states do better than us at HPV vaccination of both young men and women. How our death rate from cervical cancer in Oklahoma is among the worst. How we fail to educate our young people about human sexuality, sexual health, HPV and HPV transmission, and how to care for themselves over a lifetime. It’s really just me mic dropping for an hour as I get louder and more excited as the lecture goes on.
The summary of the lecture is that we don’t do so well taking care of our women in lots of areas, but one of them is in regards to HPV vaccination and cervical cancer prevention.
So where’s the good news, right? There is good news…right? Of course there is! In fact, my Sunday School lesson to the third graders this week was on good news. These 8 and 9 year olds are excited about no cavities at the dentist, getting good grades, opening presents, and getting dessert, among other things as good news to them. The good news for the women of Oklahoma is that we have very safe and very effective prevention against HPV. The good news is that my girls will get vaccinated around their 11th birthday as recommended by their pediatrician. The good news is that the vaccine is safe, effective and does not increase the chance that my kids will become sexually active as adolescents. The good news is that their mom will continue to tell medical students about how they can eliminate cervical cancer and HPV related diseases in Oklahoma and that those medical students will go on to be leaders in their community and tell people about how they can help prevent HPV related diseases…maybe one of them will even be a pastor’s wife.
So that’s my wheelhouse. In addition to OBGYN care, education and research in women’s health. HPV vaccination, abnormal Pap screening, evaluation and treatment of cervical dysplasia…I plan to continue to try and learn all I can stay on top of my game.
Also in my wheelhouse: eating sour patch kids, hand written notes to friends, drinking coffee, eating bacon, shopping at nordstrom.com, knowing song lyrics (imaging me karaoke rapping) and finding good memes to use in boring powerpoint lectures to my students.
Enough about me. This post was much more gynecology than theology, but pastor jason would tell you to figure out what’s in your wheelhouse when it comes to church, or to serving your community…and I agree. Find your passion, find what you’re good at and use it to make your community of faith and your community at large a better place. Because being great at karaoke rap is pretty awesome, but making sure the vulnerable and marginalized around you know and feel loved is even better. What’s in your wheelhouse?