Sunday, January 30, 2011

Almost February Resolutions

I remember as a child that New Year’s Eve was a BIG deal. I mean, my goodness, I got to stay up until midnight. That was huge, particularly when your mother put you to bed at 6 pm every night well into your childhood (at least 8 years old). That’s another story for another day I suppose.

Anyway, as I got older I had great expectations for this holiday. It seemed as if it was the night of ultimate party possibilities. As a teenager my parents would often encourage us to stay home, (“It’s the new millenium, you’ll be glad to remember spending it with family”) or to come straight home after the ball dropped. The most excitement I usually had was stake dance hopping or eating lots of food at home.

When I was in college I expected things to change. This was it! I was free to party the night away. Except none of my friends were around (they were all at home) and I couldn’t ever find a party to attend. The moral of the story is, I tried. I really did. I tried to like New Years. But I failed miserably. Instead, I think it is the biggest let down of a holiday ever. I think my expectations were just too high. You might argue St. Patrick’s Day is bad—really, wearing green and getting pinched sounds like fun, but my expectations are pretty low and now I know they dye the river in Chicago green so I think it still ranks higher than N.Y.E. Groundhog day, that might be one I consider (why does that stupid ground hog get to decide when winter is over? And why did we choose such a cowardly animal to do it?) except it is also my husbands birthday so it has a redeeming quality now.

Anyway, it’s a good thing I’m not Chinese because without the excitement of Christmas I might really be a bore not loving the Chinese New Year (I bet theirs is better than ours though). Whoop-de-do, I HAVE to stay up til midnight now.

So, this is a really long way of saying I don’t really “do” the New Years Resolution thing. It actually isn’t really because I think the holiday is usually disappointing (but I do appreciate a potential day off). It just never seems to work for me—I don’t think I’ve ever succeeded at one of these before. But I have been thinking of a few goals for myself, so I guess we could call them “End of January Resolutions for 2011.”

They say it isn’t really a goal until you write it down and share it so thanks for your patience.

--Clean up after myself/keep our house clean. This is something I have been working on for years! I can’t seem to shrug my habit of wanting to deal with things later. I am starting small—I’m trying for a week. I’ve had about 2-3 days of success. I hope to keep it up, particularly when I get more busy. When I get better, I hope to get more organized as well.

--Run a half marathon. Maybe. Not sure yet. Not quite ready to commit. I am scared. But intrigued. If nothing else, I am working on better fitness and health. Not sure what my actual goal should be, one that I can actually reach. Any ideas? I'm also trying to watch more what I eat. This is hard when I always have homemade treats like these lying around:

006-Study more. My goal has been to read an hour per day on OMFS related topics. This is hard to do. I’m trying to make sure I at least learn one new concept per day. We have a test coming up in April that compares you to all of the other residents nationwide. I really hope I’m not below average!

--Read the New Testament this year. So far I am going strong on this. Yay for success.

So we’ll see how I do. And Happy New Year!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Walk a mile

By the title I am guessing you are expecting a post about a race or something. I don’t blame you for the mistake because you are right, I would probably be in a walking race because I’m not too hip on running right now. Sorry to disappoint, but you’ll have to suffer through another topic.

It has been over 2.5 months since I started pretending to be an anesthesiologist. I think now that I have about one month left, I am starting to get the hang of it. There is still so much I will never know but at least I don’t have horrible fear every time I bring a patient into the room. It’s just sometimes now.

I am beginning to think all surgeons should have to do their own anesthesia cases for awhile. It would be one of those, “Walk a mile in someone else’s mocassins,” kind of deal. I think this can be the most challenging part of an anesthesiologists job. How so, you may be asking?

When the patient is asleep and the surgery is about to begin, the patient is prepped. This means cleaning the area of the incision with iodine (or another cleaner) and laying sterile drapes. Usually a drape is hung by two IV poles to shield the anesthesiologist from any splatter. This also can feel a bit like you are the man behind the curtain (Wizard of Oz?), a little isolated from what is happening. Usually conversations are separated from one side of the curtain to the next—the surgeons keep to themselves and the anesthesia staff have separate conversations with themselves. Some surgeons seem very annoyed if you breach the curtain, even if it means asking questions relating to the patient’s care. For example, if you administer a muscle relaxant to the patient it can take an hour or more to wear off. It is like the kiss of death in anesthesia to re-dose this drug at the end of the case (delayed wake up). But sometimes you have no idea how far you are and if they aren’t relaxed you will get yelled at by some surgeons. Do you dare ask a time estimate?

The other issue of the curtain is, you are often addressed by the endearing term, “Anesthesia!” Even though my name is posted on every case and I wear a badge with name clearly showing, “Anesthesia” is often all they can muster. It reminds me of my days of “Hey twin!”

There are other times I have been yelled at by surgeons. The first time I was stuck in a challenging emergency case. I was very nervous and had a lot to think about. Suddenly, I hear the surgeon yelling, “Valsalva. Valsalva?!” When I realized he was speaking to me my heart started racing and I had to admit, “I’m sorry sir, but I don’t know how to do that.” I fully expected him to explain what he was asking (he has obviously been doing this kind of procedure for years), but he only yelled to get my staff in there right away. I called on the phone, with him still in the background yelling occasionally, “Valsalva!” as if that would help the staff magically appear faster. I was given instructions on how to perform the maneuver and the case moved on. I could later hear him muttering how ridiculous it was that I didn’t know how to valsalva, (remember the drapes?) as if I couldn’t hear him. When the patient woke up, my staff arrived and he made sure to tattle on my by telling her, “This girl doesn’t even know how to valsalva! Can you believe it?” Luckily, my staff stood up for me and told him it was only my first week. I’ve been yelled at since, usually for simple things and also for things that are out of my control, such as the intestines moving in the way of the surgery. Sorry.

It can be hard dealing with surgeon’s egos all day. I am going to try to remember my experiences in anesthesia when I am on the other side of the curtain.


P.S. Valsalva is when you “bear down.” I know how to do it on myself, but had never been asked to do it for someone else before.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

This year I really savored the Holiday season. Unlike last year which I think I literally worked every holiday, this year I had not just the days of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years off, but also the entire weekend each time. As a student it is so easy to take for granted that you will have vacation during these times. Now, when people ask when I have to “go back to school” I have to think, first because I am not in-school any more, and two, because I often didn’t “leave” to get the chance to go back. But this year I had an easy answer all three of these weekends: “Monday!”

Abraham’s family spends a few days in Chicago every year right up until Christmas. I was happy that while I was unable to go home to Utah for Christmas, I was able to at least participate in this tradition.


-Christmas card picture at Greek Islands restaurant.


-Abe and I goofing off at the Lincoln Park zoo. I look like a marshmallow but luckily the weather was quite warm (for Chicago).

We had to brave the blizzard on our way home and were able to squeeze A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street, and most of It’s a Wonderful Life into what is usually a 3.5 hour drive. We were welcomed by a driveway and sidewalk full of snow ready for some shoveling. Hooray for a White Christmas (appropriate since we saw the play while in Chi-town), with copious amounts of fluffy Utah-like snow. Hooray even for shoveling at 1 am on Christmas Eve.

We had a nice Christmas day although I was missing my family more this year than last. I got too many nice gifts to list but a few were a new ipod nano from Abe, Michael Jackson the Experience for the Nintendo Wii, and some basketball shoes for Abe from my parents.


We rang in the New Year with Abe’s family and some of their friends. Abe lived up to his reputation with a Baked Alaska made from a recipe from Caitlyn.

Baked Alaska 1

Baked Alaska 3


The next day we made the drive to Omaha to say goodbye to Abe’s old friend…

Super Duper Last Drive 2

and to welcome his new one.

New Car 2

What a great month to end the year and an exciting start for the year ahead. My only regret? I was getting pretty used to all this vacation!