A New Address

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Well, it's finally happened.

I've moved.

Check out my new blog here.

Hope to see you all there.

A Change

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's came and went almost without me noticing. Between finishing another month of internship, a impromptu visit from my brother-in-law and his girlfriend, and catching up on sleep, the new year has started in the same fashion the old one ended.

Not to say that I haven't thought a lot about it.

I've thought about what this last year has brought.

Matching into anesthesia residency.

Hubster going back to school.

Buying our first home.

Moving halfway across the country.

Starting residency.

Potty training.

New schools.

It's been a long crazy year, to say the least.

Hubster and I did take a break from dishes and laundry to toast each other at midnight (his brother was scheduled to arrive in a few hours, and clean dishes and a place for them to sleep were much called for.)

The toast we made...

May many things be just as good, and the rest of them be better.

What more do you need?

Actually, a few more things.

I've been thinking a lot about my resolutions. I went back and looked at the list I made last year. What a surprise. They are all things I still need to work on. Obviously, that went well.

But there is one thing that I am going to add for this year.


Our lives are in desperate need of simplicity. There are so many things that detract from us having the time we want together. The piles of papers on nearly ever surface. The extra toys. The occasionally ineffective schedule. Our goal this year is to minimize the distractions.

As part of that goal, I'm going to minimize my Facebook use. No more Facebook games. Just checking statuses so I can keep up with friends and family back in Utah.

The other change that has been in the back of my mind for several months now is the need to consolidate my blogs. I have two blogs. Initially, I started a family blog to share photos of my boys and to keep the grandparents in the loop of all our activities. A couple months later, I realized that I wanted to write about things that had nothing to do with family. Books, poetry, movies, and the constant onslaught of random thoughts I was filing away every day. My thoughts about weight loss and vampire books didn't seem appropriate for a family blog, so I created another blog. This one. Since that time, it has been a constant struggle, not just to keep two blogs updated, but to separate my life into two different categories. What blog do I put my marriage rules on? What blog do home improvements go on? I could (and have) posted the same entry on both blogs, but that's twice the work.

I'm tired to trying to divide my life into sections. I am a mother, physician, book-lover, photo-taker, movie watcher, deep thinker, mistake maker, home improver, and silly post writer all at once. I can't put part of my life here and part over there.

So, a new blog is just around the corner. Well, just as soon as I have a name for it.

Now that's embarrassing. I cannot think of a name for my new blog. I think I get close, but then someone else has it, or I change my mind. It's not supposed to be this hard, right?

I hope if you follow me that you continue to do so. Many of you have become just as good of friends as any I have in real life. Your comments, input, and insight have made me laugh and buoyed me up.

So wait for it. A change is in the air.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Eve is full of the anticipation, the waiting, the stories, the candles and lights.

Christmas morning is full of joy, excitement, crinkling of paper, hugs, and laughter.

After opening the presents on Christmas morning, the rest of Christmas Day has always felt a little anti-climatic. An emotional low after the gift-giving high. The presents are opened...now what.

Christmas this year didn't feel like that at all.

From our bedroom door being thrown open at 7 am by bright-eyed children, to the present opening, to the cinnamon smells from brunch, to setting up of marble tracks and watching of movies, to the smells of dinner, to the snowman building (and knocking over) in the backyard, to the stories and kisses at bedtime...the entire day felt like Christmas.

This Christmas had a similar feeling to when we watched the train moved away towards the west, carrying my mom and my little brother, who had come to help us move to Iowa. We felt, that truly for the first time, we were on our own.

This Christmas, it was up to us, and just us, to create those holiday memories for our boys. Memories like the ones we all have. Full of magic, and treats, and presents, and happiness.

This Christmas, we had to be the ones to create the traditions.

Opening one gift Christmas Eve...

Reading Night Before Christmas, My Penguin Osbert, The Crippled Lamb, and the Nativity story from the Bible...

Presents early Christmas morning...

Monkey bread, fruit, and juice for brunch after presents...

Games, movies, playing in the afternoon...

Brown sugar glazed ham with au gratin potatoes for dinner...

It's the first time for many of these things, but it still felt comfortable...and traditional.

When Monkey came in from playing in the snow, he hugged me around my legs and exclaimed, "I'm just so happy!"

That, combined with the joy on the boys' faces, and the feeling of happiness so palpable in our home, let us know that Christmas memories are well on their way.

Wish List

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

We finished wrapping presents the other night (all nice and cozy in front of our new fireplace.) As we placed the presents under the tree, we stepped back and looked.

That's when we realized.

We may have gone overboard just a little this year.

At first, Hubster and I looked at each other embarrased. "That's a lot of presents." Yep. And once you realize things might have gotten a little out of hand, the justification instantly starts. We started shopping in October. It's easy to forget exactly what you've gotten when you bought it 2 months ago. It's our first Christmas away from family, so we need to make sure it's a great Christmas.

We are excited for Christmas. It is going to be a wonderful Christmas. I can't wait to see the look on Bug's face when he opens the (can't say yet). I can't wait to hear Monkey's squeal when he sees his new (shhh...not yet.)

Like every parent, I want only the best for my children. It was hard to narrow down what to buy them for Christmas because I want so many things for them.

But ultimately, the things I really want for them, they won't be opening on Christmas. Most of what I want for them, I have a hard time putting in words. It's mostly this overwhemling feeling that causes an ache in my chest, full of hope, and success, and goodness.

So what do I truly want for my children? I want them to...

-know someone is always in their corner.

-feel the thrill of finding the perfect hiding spot for hide-and-seek.

-know where their food comes from.

-watch a catepillar metamorphasize into a butterfly, and then watch the butterfly emerge from its cocoon.

-always know where home is.

-spend a night wrapped in a blanket, watching thunder, and eating popcorn.

-fall asleep next to someone they love.

-lose themselves in a book.

-to finish first at something, and to finish last at something.

-fill a jar full of fireflies.

-know what it is like to not have everything they want.

Part of the Deal

Monday, December 21, 2009

When I first saw my intern schedule, one of the first things I saw was December filled with the dreaded words. Trauma Surgery.

That is when I knew. I would not have Christmas off. There would be no way to go home and visit family over the holidays. Yes, clinics shut down for Christmas. Why couldn't I have clinic in December? But trauma? That happens every day of the year. Every single day. Just watch some guy in a Santa suit fall off the roof Christmas Eve.

Over a deparment lunch, I was complaining to a fellow intern that I thought I would work over Christmas. She shrugged, non-chalantly, and replied, "Well, we're doctors. That's what we do."

Her statement made me want to shrink into myself and cry. So this is what I'd signed up for. Holidays, weekends, and birthdays away from family are just part of the deal. They don't put that on the brochure for medical school.

But I started thinking about it. Maybe this is what I signed up for. If I have patients in the hospital over Christmas, it's not as if they want to be there either (except for the homeless drunk we admitted two weeks ago. He's as happy as a clam to be in the hospital for Christmas.) And if my patients are going to be in the hospital over the holidays, they still need lab work and xrays and nursing care and food and medication. And the people who provide all that are working on Christmas. I'm part of a system that doesn't take days off.

It turns out that I don't work Christmas. So all the insight and mental preparation were for nothing, right? Well, probably not. I'm not delusional enough to think I'll go my entire residency (much less my professional career) and not work a major holiday. The fact that I got both Christmas and Thanksgiving off as an intern is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. But I remember watching home videos of Christmases over the years, and realized that many of those Christmases didn't happen on December 25th. Many of the videos had the date Dec 24 or 12/26 on the bottom. My dad often worked Christmas. And we adapted.

But I'll work on the acceptance and coping mechanisms later.

When I got my schedule with December 24 and December 25 as days off, I danced for joy. I actually bounced up and down as my schedule printed out. I hugged everyone in the house. I felt like I could finally start celebrating. I've thrown myself into Christmas. I'm more excited for Christmas this year than I have been since I was 9.

It also helps that my co-intern, who is working Christmas, is Jewish. He got the first weekend of Hannukah off. I get Christmas off. We're both happy.

Yes, there will be Christmases where presents are opened the day before or the day after or late in the afternoon. That's what I've signed up for.

But this year? Christmas morning will find me around the tree with my three boys, wearing pajamas and drinking hot cocoa and enjoying the moment.

A Place to Hang Stockings

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Home improvement projects have slowed significantly. Okay, they've actually come to a complete stand still. Except for me exclaiming to Hubster that I've finally found the perfect place to hang the Dustbuster.

There are still projects aplenty. The master bath needs re-tiling. The blue bathtub and tile in the hall bath have got to go. It would be nice to have closet doors, stair hand rails, and lights in the living room. Those are all on the list. For later.

There was one project, however, that I was determined to get done before Christmas.

Do you remember when we finished the playroom/family room? There was a large black box in the far wall. Otherwise known as the fireplace.

The one thing I wanted done before Christmas was a mantle. A place to hang stockings. A gathering stop for the bitter cold Iowa winter nights. A focal place in an otherwise rather bland (but always messy) room.

We started by tiling around the fireplace. We chose a beautiful travertine tile (which we could afford to do, since this particular color was on sale, and there wasn't that much to tile.)

After I tiled and grouted, Hubster installed the surround and mantle. Let me clarify. I came up with an idea in my head about what I wanted the surround and mantle to look like. Hubster then patiently listened and examined my drawings. He then made multiple trips to the hardware store and built our mantle from scratch. By himself. With me playing cheerleader and avoiding anything with a sharp edge.

(There were many pictures of all the steps from start to here, but that would have meant subjecting you to dozens of blurry photos. Which I wasn't going to do. Merry Christmas.)

(And please note Monkey's little wooden tool box at the bottom of this photo. He and his wooden hammer, nails, and screwdriver were helpful at every stage of this project.)

After the (surprisingly large) mantle was built, I then painted it the same antique white as all the trim in the house. And painted. And painted. Repeat this step several more times, turning what should have beeen a one weekend project into a two week project.


Two weeks later, instead of this...

We now have this...

And a beautiful mantle like this is just begging to be decked out for Christmas. Just apply stockings the boys decorated two Christmases ago, free pine branches from the local hardware store, and handfuls of pinecones that the boys are always collecting.

I think the result is just magical.

There was still something missing. Hubster rectified this with a trip to a bait-and-tackle shop by the lake, from which he returned with enough wood to fill half our shed.

Last night, we enjoyed our very first fire in our new fireplace.

It feels more like home and more like Christmas than I would have ever imagined.

A Day In My Life

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Over at Mothers in Medicine, a blog dedicated to exactly that, the most recent topic has been "A Day in the Life of..." These amazing women tell what a typical day is like for them as a mother and a neurosurgeon/cardiologist/obstetrician/pediatrician.

This blog has been a wonderful "support group" for me. It lets me know that there are women who have been through what I have and come out as real people and functional mothers on the other side.

The most recent topic has inspired me to share a typical day for me. The only problem? There is no typical day for an intern. Each month is a new service, a new team, a new job. I can only share what is typical for this month.

A day in the life of an anesthesia intern on trauma surgery...

4:30 am: Alarm goes off. Want to push snooze, but don't.

4:55 am: Toast bagel, pack bag with fruit and snacks to eat later that day.

4:58 am: Run upstairs, kiss sleeping boys and sleeping husband good-bye.

5:00 am: Get in car, drive to work in the dark. Eat bagel while driving.

5:10 am: Catch shuttle in parking lot.

5:15 am: Arrive at hospital.

5:20 am: Get to locker room, hang up coat, put on green hospital scrubs and white coat. Check to make sure I have stethoscope, pager, ID badge, PDA.

5: 30 am: Arrive in SICU for check-out from overnight team. One new admit overnight, 19 year old assault victim, intubated, 2 chest tubes in place. Hemoglobin stable. One of patients on the floor had SVT overnight, beta blocker started.

5:45 am: Pre-round on SICU patients. Neurosurgery taking one patient to OR today; we sign off. Assault victim looks stable, tell SICU team okay to extubate.

6:00 am: Pre-round on floor patients. No further SVT seen on telemetery. Patient reports she had this before, but has been off regular medication. Start home medication back up. See orthopedics team, taking another patient to OR to fix tib/fib fracture. See ENT service, thank them for suturing ear laceration on patient.

6:30 am: Return to team room. Write notes, adjust some orders.

6:45 am: Go with team to cafeteria for breakfast. I don't eat any. I had a bagel when I left home. Sit at table with surgery residents. Can't wait until I'm doing anesthesia. Conversations re-affirm I do not want to be a surgeon.

7:00 am: Head to conference. Topic is interesting: angiography to identify vascular injury in trauma. Still can't stay awake. Doze off in back of auditorium.

8:00 am: Conference is over. Head back to team room to check on chest x-ray for assault victim. No evidence of pneumothorax. Labs back on floor patients. No electrolyte abnormalities on patient with SVT.

8:30 am: Call neurosurgery regarding patient with lumbar spine fracture. Injury non-operable. Order patient back brace.

9:00 am: Meet attending trauma surgeon in SICU to round together. Assault victim has been extubated. Remove one of chest tubes. Put in orders to transfer patient to floor.

9:30 am: Get page to clarify order.

9:35 am: Get page to let me know patient's IV infiltrated. Patient taking good PO. Stop IV fluids.

9:37 am: Get page with update on rehab placement for patient.

9:45 am: Return to team room. Finalize notes, finish orders. Finish discharge summary for patient going to rehab.

10:00 am: Try to read ICU textbook. Read blogs, check Facebook, check e-mail, check weather. Try to read. Check Facebook.

11:34 am: Trauma pager goes off. Activation. Self-inflicted gunshot wound. Go to ER Trauma Bay. Get on lead, gowns, face shields, gloves. Hear helicopter land on roof. Team ready when patient rolls in. Patient intubated. Take report from AirTeam. Listen to mid-level resident call out primary and secondary survey. Enter orders. Call CT. Call Neurosurgery. CT calls back, ready for patient. Neurosurgery comes, says injury is non-survivable. Transfer patient to SICU to wait for family to arrive. Contact social work. Go to SICU to talk to SICU resident. Write trauma note. Feel numb.

12:45 pm: Grab bag from locker room. Eat apple, drink Coke Zero. Wish I could finally lose the weight. Team members eating pizza, hamburgers.

1:00 pm: Answer more pages. Feel exhausted. Day only half over.

1:40 pm: Trauma pager goes off. Alert. Fall from roof. Go to ER Trauma Bay. Get on lead, gowns, gloves. No face shields this time. Ambulance team rolls patient in. Patient awake, talking, groaning from pain. Order fentanyl. Order labs, xrays. Go with patient to CT scanner. Sit in reading room while patient's scan comes up. Lumbar burst fracture. Call Neurosurgery again. Admit patient. Neurosurgery will operate tomorrow.

2:00 pm: Go back to team room. Finish trauma note. Answer more pages.

2:15 pm: Code pager goes off. Code Blue on Neurosurgery Floor. Run up stairs. Think about how I should exercise while I run up stairs. Get to room. Room full, chest compressions already going. Senior resident asks for rhythm check. Monitor shows asystole. Chest compressions restarted. Mid-level resident places femoral line. I do nothing. There are so many people in the room. Feel numb.

2:30 pm: Return to team room. Text Hubster. Feel tired. Try to read. Blog instead. Return a few more pages. Wonder why I can't pull my life together like other people seem to have.

3:00 pm: Go to surgical skills lab. Play MarioCart on Wii. Lose every race. Still have fun. Pause game to answer pages.

5:45 pm: Head to SICU to sign out to night team. Let them know the SICU is going to withdraw care on gunshot patient later tonigh.

6:00 pm: Go to locker room, change out of scrubs, grab coat.

6:15 pm: Catch shuttle back to parking lot. Drive home.

6:30 pm: Pull into garage, door opens. See boys waving and smiling at me. Help with dinner, start laundry. Sit around table as a family every night I am home. Ask about school for boys and Hubster. Feel tired.

7:30 pm: Bath boys. Give them their Advent calander chocolate. They never forget. Help them brush teeth. Hubster studies for test in morning.

8:00 pm: Read to Monkey. Tuck him in bed.

8:30 pm: Read to Bug. Give him piggy back to bed.

9:00 pm: Fold some laundry. Watch whatever is on DVR: The Office, Survivor, Chopped, Mythbusters.

10:30 pm: Turn off Christmas lights. Unplug Christmas tree. Plug in cell phone. Shower. Standing in shower, feel sad for the first time today. Sad for what happened at the hospital. Sad for only seeing my family for 2 hours a day. Sad for missing so much. Sad for myself sometimes.

10:50 pm: Kiss sleeping boys goodnight. Every night I am home I do this.

11:00 pm: Fall into bed exhausted. Asleep before I know it.

This is my everyday. The pager goes off at different times. The traumas are different people, different stories. But one day feels much like the same. Until next month.