Friday, February 26, 2010


Whew. February's almost over. Which is a good thing, because I don't think anyone can take any more of me cursing rodents or crying over Tide commercials. It's amazing how long the shortest month can feel.

I need to thank all of you. First for all your congratulations about my "accomplishment" earlier this month. And second, for being patient with my rants and raves. I try to hold it together, but occasionally I lose my grip and choose the blogosphere to do so. For which my family is grateful.

Since we're at the end of another month, and because it's Friday, it's time to reassess my 2010 to-do list.

I'm actually pretty proud of myself this month. Not only did I only cry at work once this month, but I did a good job checking things off my to-do list.

My 2010 To-Do List: February Version

-Lose 5 pounds by May 1st, then another 5 pounds by September 1st.
I haven't had the time to work out as much this month. I'm exercising approximately 3 times a week, instead of 6. I'm approximately down 3 1/2 pounds from the beginning of the year, so I only have 1 1/2 to lose by May 1st. You think it would be easy, but it's not. I'm convinced I have the slowest metabolism on earth. I think about ice cream and I gain weight.

-Be able to touch my toes.
Getting closer.

-Get my passport.
Nope. But nothing like frigid wind and endless winter to make a person motivated to hit a tropical island.

-Date night with Hubster once a month.
I'm really proud of this one. I actually found a baby-sitter and Hubster and I went out to a movie. With only 6 hours notice. It was amazing. We felt all grown up having a baby-sitter at our house with our boys while we enjoyed movie popcorn and Avatar. Which I love, by the way. So date night in February? Check.

-Pass the boards the first time.
Check! Oh, that feels good!

-Use my crock pot (at least) once a month. 2/12
February: A whole chicken with red potatoes and carrots. The vegetables were fantastic. The chicken, so-so. But check for using the crock pot this month.

-Finish moving in.
I did nothing in this category. Although I did look at a small file cabinet in the garage and think that it should probably be in the office instead.

-Finish moving into this blog.
Still a work in progress. I mentioned that I was going to give myself a blog make-over for my birthday, and Hubster stared at me like I had mentioned financially supporting my own roller derby league.

Over all, despite the cold, despite the demanding job, February was a successful month. Mostly because we all survived it.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

6 More Weeks

I'm blaming everything on Punxsutawney Phil.

I don't care how irrational, unscientific, or superstitious this is. I'm pretty sure it's his fault.

February is nearly over, March is around the corner. And the temperature today? 4 degrees. I walked out of the hospital in my post-call daze only to have my ears fall off before I reached my car.

Driving home, though the park still covered in pristine snow for the most recent storm, over the river covered in ice, it looks more like the beginning of January than the end of February.

The snow piles on either side of our driveway continue to grow larger and larger as Hubster adds to them after each snow storm. Our drive way has gone from a simple path to our garage to a ice bordered impression of the Grand Canyon with drifts higher than my car on both sides.

We tried making the most of the new snow two days ago by taking the boys sledding. We lasted 15 minutes due to the frigid wind and subfreezing temperatures.

The cold weather and the fact that I'm so vitamin D deficient it's amazing I can still walk have wreaked havoc on my will power. I've given in to Girl Scout Samoa Cookie ice cream. I've given in to buttery, salty popcorn. I've given into way too much pizza. I barely have the will and energy to exercise.

But I'm not taking the blame for this. It's all Phil's fault. 6 more weeks.

If that groundhog knows what's good for him, he'll get it right next year.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olypmic Spirit

I love sports. NFL, NBA, golf, college basketball, and college football. Especially college football.

But by far my favorite thing is the Olympics.

When I was 10 years old and watching the Barcelona Olympics, I wanted nothing more than to be an Olympic athlete. I convinced my parents to enrolled me in gymnastic lessons. (Never mind that I was already taking ballet lessons and their schedules were busy.) I quickly realized that I have probably thought of this 5 years too late. And the fact that, even at age 10, I was already 6-8 inches taller than anyone else in my class didn't help either.

My own dream for Olympic gold was a short lived one. About one month, to be exact.

But that doesn't stop me from spending two week blocks every other year in front of the television, devouring everything I can.

Here are some observations regarding the Vancouver Games.

-Within 10 minutes of watching a sport, I am instantly an expert. Whether it is ski jumping, moguls, snowboarding half-pipe, ice skating, or curling, I find myself providing astute observations and constructive criticism to the television. "Oh, his knees came apart there in the middle run. He'll be docked for that." "What were they thinking? That will make it so Sweden can get two points during this end." "Oh, the landing on that jump was a little shaky. And his footwork isn't as technical as the Russian's." Because my insight is both correct and it matters. Which is why I usually say it so loudly.

-I want Shawn White's hair. He has amazing hair. I'm surprised Pantene or Suave haven't snatched that boy right up. I wonder if he ever gets hit on at bars accidentally by guys who are completely taken by that beautiful, curly, red hair.

Borrowed from ESPN

-The Olympic spirit has also infected Bug. He makes observations that are great for a 7 year old. "It's okay that he's behind that Korean guy. All he has to do is be in second to qualify." "Oh, with a run like that, it will be hard for the other people to pass him." "I'm pretty sure the US has gold. No one can pass us!"

-If I have to hear any more about how Vancouver is having 40-50 degree weather and all the cherry trees are blooming, I may start crying. Especially when I look outside and realize it's still snowing! And it's 20 degrees.

-Who came up with curling?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Adventures at Wal-Mart

I hate shopping at Wal-Mart. I've said this before. It's crowded, the aisles are narrow, the produce is a joke. But the dang low prices...they get me every time.

Approximately every other week (once a week if we're really unlucky) we make the family trip to Wal-Mart to load up on groceries and printer paper and new socks.

And it's pretty much the moment we walk through the front door that I remember how much I don't like going here.

I think Wal-Mart has a strange effect on my kids. Suddenly, they don't realize there are other people in the world. They walk in front of other carts and shoppers, getting run over and stepped on and tripped over multiple times. And they suddenly lose their hearing. They wander every which way and can't seem to hear me in the least. We've tried putting them in the cart, but that leads to screaming and Evil Knieval-esque acrobatics to get back out.

The one thing that I really have to hand it to my kids about is that they never, ever ask us to buy anything. They do like to walk down the toy isle to see if there are any new Transformer toys. They like to see the fish. But they never once ask for anything.

I love those boys.

This weekend was particularly special.

Bug kept walking really close to the shelves and knocking things off. I would ask him to put them back, but then I forget...they've lost their sense of hearing.

Monkey somehow managed to knock some type of cart bumper around the frozen meat island out of the fasteners to the ground, so we just leaned the 10 foot piece of rubber up against the island. And went to check out.

When he sees that we are approaching the register, Monkey insists on being placed in the cart. Why this time, I don't know. But without fail, he asks.

As we are taking things out of our cart to be bagged, Monkey suddenly starts pointing at the magazines, asking to get closer. I lift him out and carry him over. "What are you looking at?"


His magazine of choice...

He reaches out, touches the cover and says, "I want this one."

That's just great. Thank you, Sports Illustrated, for starting them young. Apparently 3 years old isn't too young to notice the newest SI swimsuit edition. The first time ever he asks for something at Wal-Mart, and this is what he chooses.

He spent the rest of the time we were checking out standing by the magazine rack, staring up at the magazine.

Hubster and I were a mixture of horrified and completely amused. We might have laughed a little. Don't judge us.

As we're finishing up, Hubster takes the boys to the drinking fountain. That is when I notice the cashier is starting at me.

"Do you have kids," she asks, in an exasperated tone of voice.

Um.. Yes. Did you not see the little one mesmerized by the topless model and the larger one swinging from the cart?

"So you know how tired I am."

Yes, it is exhausting. How old are your kids? I'm trying to be polite here.

"No, I don't have any yet. I'm pregnant."

Oh. Yes, I remember that part of pregnancy. But it gets better.

"Does it!?" She almost yells at me.

I just stare.

"How old were you when you had your first?"

Why is she asking me this? Should I answer? Should I just ignore her? But I tell her. 20.

"I'm 20! Was it a planned pregnancy?"

Why, yes it was.

At this point, she throws her hands up in the air.

"How come everyone has a planned pregnancy except me!?!"

Thank goodness she's done ringing up my groceries. I wish her best of luck with her pregnancy. As I push the cart over to the boys, I wonder for just a minute if I'm some alternate universe where it's okay for cashiers to let you in on their personal lives.

And then Monkey throws his hat and hits a lady in the head with it.

And then I realize I'm not in an alternate universe.

I'm exactly where I should be.

On my way out of Wal-Mart.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Close to You

Love it or hate it, it's Valentine's Day.

When I was in high school, I hated this day more than anything else. The pink and red, the cardboard cupids, the over-priced flowers...everything screamed tacky and cliched.

And then this guy showed up at my house with a dozen pink roses and a poem and his heart and all the hate I felt for the holiday evaporated.

Now, whenever I mention doing something for Valentine's and Hubster groans or rolls his eyes, I remind him that it's all his fault that I like this holiday.

Add in two small, loud, usually dirty boys. Valentine's stopped being a romantic day quite a few years ago. While we still have managed to go out as a couple a few time over the years, Valentine's Day is much like other holidays. A family affair.

Everyone gets one small gift, a token of how much they are loved.

(Although Hubster went way out of his comfort zone this year and presented me a large pink box from Victoria's Secret. And that is all you'll hear about that.)

This isn't a day spent surrounded by roses and chocolates in candle-lit restaurants.

Today is a day that I get to be home, surrounded by the people I love most.

And a day that I get to celebrate that love, the love I feel towards Hubster, Bug, and Monkey, is truly a wonderful thing.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Tooting My Own Horn

Who passed boards*?

I did.

I would tell you my score, but then I would just be bragging. But it was really good. Not as good as my Step 1 and Step 2 scores. But that's expected. I studied 4-6 hours a day from March until June for Step 1. I studied 8-10 hours a day for 4 weeks for Step 2. I studied 2-3 hours a day for 15 days for Step 3. The scores correlate as such. Who cares? I studied for 2 weeks and did fine.

Who did a happy dance when they found out they passed?

I did.

Who is forcing her family to go out and celebrate with her?

I am.

Who can cross one thing off her to-do list?

I can.

Who should call her mother so she can find out in person instead of reading it here?

I should.

*"Boards" is the term used to refer to the steps of the United States Medical Licensing Exams. There are four steps or parts. Step 1 and Step 2 are taken during medical school. Step 3 is traditionally taken during intern year. The next test I have to take is at the end of residency. That is where the term "board certified" comes from.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?

Hubster is in the process of making blonde brownies as I type this.

I'm still not sure what parallel universe I'm in at the moment.

When we moved to Iowa, it meant that Hubster had to quit his research and development job. We talked about him getting another job while I did residency, but decided, at least for the time being, it would be best for our family if he stayed home with the boys.

So my double-math-and-physics-major-7-years-construction-working-dental-researching-hard-working husband became a stay at home dad.

It was a tough transition.

The first two months were fine. It felt like a vacation to Hubster. But then the reality that the house needs taking care of and meals need to be cooked and children need to be tucked in bed began setting in. The reality that these things need to happen every day is still setting in.

Hubster is the oldest of a family consisting primarily of boys. A lot of boys. He left home at the age of 18 without knowing how to cook, sort laundry, or clean a toilet. Okay, maybe he did know all that stuff at one time and just forgot along the way. I'm not sure. By the time I met him, he had been a bachelor for 6 years.

And he wasn't one of those bachelors with a sexy bachelor pad, who discussed imported versus domestic beers and had a few recipes hiding up his sleeve which he pulled out to impress girls. No, Hubster was a bachelor who ate Mountain Dew and Skittles for breakfast and kept Taco Bell in business for the other meals. The only furniture he had were things people had given to him when they came over and felt sorry that the guy had no place to sit and was sleeping on the floor.

Yes, and I fell for him hard.

During our marriage, I've been the one who does the majority of meal preparations. I would say all, but Hubster did occasionally put frozen pizza in the oven and he made very delicious fluffy mashed potatoes. Which he did about twice a year.

This was the extent of Hubster's domestic skills when he made the transition from sole source of income to stay at home dad.

In July, I woke up from a post call nap to Hubster grinning ear-to-ear, telling me dinner was ready. I groggily wondered downstairs to find the table beautifully set, and Hubster serving homemade gnocchi. Gnocchi is probably my favorite food of all times. Right behind seasonal Peeps. And Hubster, as a suprise, had made gnocchi from scratch. It was divine.

We went right back to our routine of frozen pizza and burritos. It's been that way for months.

But the last several weeks, things have been strange here.

I came home to Hubster making snickerdoodles last week. He made a vegetable chicken casserole the week before that. Two nights ago, we had hot apple crisp with vanilla ice cream. And tonight, blonde brownies.

We're sitting down to lunch of taco salads (that he also made) when he comments he found a great recipe for Navajo fry bread and can't wait to make Navajo tacos.

He doesn't complain when I watch Food Network. In fact, he says, "Well, that's not what I would do. I'd try a soup instead," when we watch Chopped.

His inner domestic goddess...god?...hero?...has been discovered.

The smell right now is almost overpowering. My mouth is watering. But I'm still wary. I may wake up at any moment or realize it's 1955 and the space-time-continuum has been disrupted.

Who is this guy, and what has he done with Hubster?

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

First of all, I would like to apologize for my last melodramatic post.

I had a hard day, and was discouraged, and lost my head for just a moment. Between your comments that I can indeed hold on for just one month and Hubster's amazing support, I've come to my senses. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

To answer a couple questions...

Internal medicine is what most people think of as general medicine. Dr. House is an internist. These physicians are not surgeons, not OB/GYNS, not pediatricians. If you get pneumonia and need to stay in the hospital, you will be taken care of by an internal medicine team. Same as if your liver is failing, or you have a stomach bleed, a severe electrolyte abnormality, or a kidney stone. As long as you aren't having a baby, under the age of 18, or need surgery, the chances are you will be cared for by internal medicine.

As for my particular experience...internal medicine is hard. Most of the patients are incredibly complex, are taking many mediciations, and always, always have more than one issue.

The last week has been hard. I worked 42 hours in 3 days. I'm taking care of 6-10 patients by myself. My pager goes off between 60-100 times a day, all of which are pages that require me to make phone calls. And then there are the pages that I need to send, to consult services, to social work, to the lab. Add in needing to place orders and write notes for 6-10 patients a day, and it all equals an insane amount of work. From the moment I arrive at 6:30 am to the moment I leave at 6 pm on my early days, to 9:30 pm on my normal days, I feel like I'm at a full out run. No time to check e-mail, catch up on my reading, or even go to the bathroom. I spend most of the days fighting back the panic attacks I feel at the back of my throat.

To top it off, my atttending makes sure every day he pulls me aside for some "constructive critisism." As in comments like "It's obvious you don't do much reading. Maybe you should try getting here early before you see your patients to do some reading. New England Journal of Medicine has great reviews. I'd start there."

Or, there's my personal favorite. "Let's go over how you write notes. Your notes make it obvious you're not an internal medicine resident [Really. Was that the first clue?]. I'll just show you how I like it done. I like the vital signs and lab work to be in size 10 font, while your assessment and plan should be in size 12 font. And I would bold each problem, and then indent and bullet point each aspect of your plan."

Yes, between all the other real work I have to do, I'm supposed to find time to format my notes in complicated ways according to someone else's obsessive tendencies.

And then there's the other intern on the team. Who is the most efficient, smartest person I've ever met. He has all his notes done before 9 am rounds. His pager seems to never go off. I never see him sitting at a computer, frantically typing as if his life depended on it. He's always just sitting at the table in the team room, reading a journal article about the latest techniques of diagnosing biliary disease. He even makes handouts with algorithims for approaching community aquired pnemonia, or differential diagnosis for acute renal failure. I can't compete with that.

My first day of this, driving home at 9 pm, I cried the entire way home. I thought about how wonderful it would be to get in a car accident and spend the rest of the month on a ventilator. That seemed like a better option than having to endure an entire month of this.

Hubster was standing by the door as I walked through it and just caught me in a hug. "It's okay. Only 27 more days," he said.

And it's true. It IS going to be okay.

So far, residency for me has been easier than medical school. I was overworked and emotionally abused during medical school. And after that, anything seemed easy.

The darkest time for me was during my pediatric sub-internship during fourth year of medical school.

Right now, I'm working harder than I did on that pediatric rotation. And even though, after only 5 days, I'm already exhausted and discouraged, I don't have the same sense of dispair I had during that time.

At that time, I thought I was going to do pediatrics. And all I could see was q4 call and no sleep and endless days of work stretching out in front of me for the rest of my life.

Now, I know that I'm doing anesthesia. This month of internal medicine is only that. A month. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it's called March 1st. And then I never have to do this again. That thought consoles me as I'm criticized by my attending, hounded by nurses, and yelled at by patients.

Every day, Hubster and I go over the things that I truely am thankful for.

- This is only one month.

- It's February, which means 28 days, instead of 31 had I done it in August.

- I'm doing this month during the winter, which means, even though I get home between 9:30 and 10 pm on long days, I didn't miss a gorgeous summer day.

- I only have three call nights instead of the typical four.

- Despite everything, I still care about my patients. Which means I'm still human.

See? No matter what, the optimist lives on.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Remember how I was trying to be hopeful that this internal medicine month wasn't going to be that bad?

I was wrong.

It's worse.

Either I'll surface into my real life come March or I'll have a complete breakdown sometime between the Super Bowl and Valentine's. If I can even remember when those are.

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. Well, I'll either be dead or Super Woman. Any takers?