Thursday, July 28, 2011


Today some women (or a woman--I'm not even exactly who) from my church came over and while I was at work cleaned my house. Are you kidding me?! Who would want to do that? And for me? I can see doing it for someone who is sick, or a new mom, or an old woman. Or maybe for your family or best friend. But for me who is perfectly able to clean my own house and as far as I know wasn't related to any of these women? Wow.

I was embarassed. I had to talk myself (and Abe) out of cleaning so then they could come over and clean. I think time (or the lack thereof) was the only reason I decided that was silly. Maybe I've had the "cleanliness is close to godliness" phrase ingrained in me for too long, because it feels like one of my moral failings to not be a wonderful (or even average) housekeeper. And showing off your dirt and grime can be pretty personal. But, for whatever reason, they tried to convince me how I shouldn't feel embarassed and that it would be "so fun" and they were "looking forward to it." So, I being the wonderfully accomodating person I am was pleased (although hesitant) to "LET" them do my dishes, sweep my floors, dust my furniture (thank you! I have a real distate for dusting), scrub my toilet. Coming home to a sparkling house was such a relief (tinged with a little bit of guilt and a touch of mild embarassement). But I think it was worth it. Makes me feel a little ungrateful for all of the times I tell myself I'm not available to do nice things for others. I'll try to do better.

Thank you! I hope you really did have fun or at least had that "I'm helping someone" feel-good-feeling because you really did more than I had expected and I feel a little bad now. Although I am really loving the results of your hard work. Maybe I'll even LET you come again.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I kind of crashed and burned when it came to logging my first week on general surgery. Should have seen that one coming!

So far things are going surprisingly well. I have a great appreciation for physicians when I rotate on their teams. They really do know so much about the human body and many of the intricasies of its management. I also know more and more how human they are. I used to think Doctors knew everything. That what they say GOES. But I know that Doctors are human. I hear a lot of people complain about the mistakes their doctor made, how they had to wait at a doctors office, about a missed diagnosis, etc. They are usually doing their best and things don't always go as planned.

Anyway, not to wax too philosophical but I have been enjoying my (very busy) time with the pediatric surgery team. I am learning a lot of good things and hope to learn a small chunk of what these surgeons know. I am getting a better understanding about how to manage medical issues such as dehydration, tube feeds for people who can't eat, and how to get people to poop. I've seen kids make great recoveries, children get diagnosed with cancer, cute little babies in the NICU, and even the loss of a child in a tragic accident. It is really fun working with kids and also very challenging.

The team is really nice. I work with 2 upper level residents, another intern, and two med students as well as a staff surgeon. It is very busy. I arrive about 5:30 am and leave about 6:30 or 7:30 at night. This week I have logged 51 hours since Sunday. Three more days until my next day off! I am at work a lot but overall enjoy the time I spend there. If only I had more time at home. Please don't come over unless you plan to do the dishes or sweep.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Peter Piper

It seems like growing up we always “worked out in the yard.” My grandpa had a huge garden (I wonder now if it was as big as I remember). We almost always had a garden growing up. And now that I am an adult with my own place, I’ve found the magic of gardening. Abe and I have had a lot of fun with the few plants we’ve planted this year. Watching them grow from tiny seedlings into large plants has been really fun. (Fun? I don’t know what other word to choose.) We’ve been especially excited about our pepper plants.

Yellow pepper (look at Abe, the proud pappa of a 2.5 foot pepper plant. We don’t have time for a baby or pet so this is about all we can handle, okay!)

photo 1

Red pepper

photo 2

I was so pleased with the idea of planting functional and hopefully one day, pretty and colorful plants as decoration for our pergola. They really seemed to take off and were bearing a ton of peppers that were growing rather quickly. These pictures were a few weeks ago.

Unfortunately, (did you see this coming?) a large storm hit IC this morning. Abe dropped me off at work a little after 5 am. It was very ominous and strange feeling (Very Wizard-of-Oz-zy or maybe just tornado-ey). He thought about the plants on the ride home (less than 2 min each way) but by the time he arrived home, he found this

photo 3

and this

photo 4

and thisphoto 5



I’m surprised how sad I was. I’m glad we don’t have a dog because Abe and I were both really down to see what had happened. We were so close to enjoying the vegetables of our labors and it was as Abe put it, “The one thing I had to look forward to at the end of the day.” Yep, I think we are working too hard if vegetables are our most exciting thing to think about but at this point it is probably true.

As for my other plantings, if you ever wondered if those topsy-turvey tomato planters work, they do! Luckily this thing is like a TREE so it survived the storm. But I”ve noticed some rot already on the tomatoes. Hopefully we can correct that with some plant food.

photo 1

And speaking of trees, this little guy didn’t make it, either. Sigh. If you aren’t sure what I mean, that little evergreen is supposed to be everGREEN not red.

photo 2

And the 97 flowers I planted a few months ago? I think I have about 40 left. We have a mole I can’t seem to get rid of that has unplanted almost very single flower as he digs beneath them. Enough have shriveled and died that it really doesn’t look very good.

photo 3

I guess we’ll have to keep paying $2 per pepper at the grocery store.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July 2

People keep asking me what my new rotation is like. I thought I would keep a log of my first week to give an idea to those who care. “It’s like real life Grey’s Anatomy” I was told today. Only if Abe gets to be Dr. McDreamy.

July 2: My first day on-call. Remember that the duty hour rules changed so considered an “intern” I am not allowed to take 24 hours of call at a time. This is maybe the one nice part of the new rule changes, weekends are only 12 hours of call. However, it used to be call from home. Now I am “in-house” while on-call, meaning I have to physically be in the hospital. This didn’t make a big difference yesterday as I was so busy I wouldn’t have left very early anyway.

At 6:00 I met the other resident (my senior) on the floor. We gathered up our list (22 patients—luckily, we didn’t have to see about 4 of them) and looked over the data for the night. Then we rounded.

About 8 am we met our staff doctor and rounded with him again. Had some tricky parents to deal with, including one who felt we had hurt her child while moving her and another who would not give consent for an emergency, life-saving procedure that was needed for her child. In instances like this, the law can dictate a surgery be done to save a child’s life. This was the case here. I am learning it must be so overwhelming to have a sick child who stays in the hospital for days/weeks/months. Not only do they have to live there, but you have to stop your life to be there with them. How exhausting. And stressful on many levels. It makes me grateful for my health. I’m learning especially to be grateful I can have normal bowel movements in a toilet. Seems so simple (and something you don’t want to even think or talk about) but there are a lot of people that can’t!

After about 9:00 the senior and the staff go to the operating room and do two surgeries (including the emergency—all went well). My med student (I know, I “get” a med student on this rotation which is really cool!) and I worked on paperwork. I had notes to write on every patient we saw as well as orders to update. I also had 6 patients to discharge, meaning they have to have all of their orders modified and updated to go home as well as a summary of their medical condition and the course of their hospital stay.

10:30 I finally got a muffin for breakfast.

10:45 back to the notes. Luckily the med student could write notes and I could use them as a starting place to make my notes from. That helped. And my senior got back about 1:00 and helped with a few notes and took care of a few new patients. Abe dropped by somewhere in here on his way home from rounds to say hi. Answer questions intermittently from (nicer) nurses.

3:45 “Oh yeah, forgot about lunch.” Head down to the cafeteria with the senior. Run into Rafael from the ward and eat some sushi. Talk about our busy lives.

4:15 Continue on with notes. Answer nursing calls and issues.

5:30 Finally done with all of my notes for the day! Patient has a rash, could I please come look. Mark it with a marker. Fun, my mom never let me write on myself. Child fell out of crib while mom was watching her. Could I come check her over for injuries. She seems okay. Poor thing!

6:00 Done!

Duty Hours: 6 am to 6 pm

Hours between next shift: 24+. Yay, one of my days off.

Friday, July 1, 2011

July 1

This is an important and busy day for all academic hospitals. The day that all of the residents who finally figured out how things work move up and on to other things and you get stuck with the interns, fresh out of medical school (or in my case, dental school). I realized today that even though I am finally a 2nd year with some clout, I am treated as an intern on other rotations. So maybe I haven’t really moved up in the world yet. Ha ha!

Here is a little info about my transition/sampling into the life of a general surgeon.

I arrived at 5:25 am for my first day in pediatric surgery. I was nervous as I had no idea what to really expect. I get nervous even about simple things like presenting in rounds, even after 2 years, and especially in front of my MD colleagues. I don’t want to stick out too much. Sometimes I feel like I’m an imposter! or a spy. I don’t want to be caught (especially by patients) pretending to be an MD. I want to just blend in.

We made up our list of patients (16) and gathered the data. Then, we rounded as a big group. I felt like a dentist when I needed a stethoscope and didn’t have one. I have used Abe’s until now but he is back in clinics so took it back for his own use. Luckily, my mother-in-law is amazing and when I couldn’t borrow one from my physician father-in-law, she bought me this and delivered it right to the pediatric floor at about 10:30 am without me even saying anything. So nice! I guess Abe asked if they had an extra and since they didn’t, she took the initiative. A late birthday present? And so nice to see a friendly face when you are feeling out of your element.

3M Littmann 2812 Classic II S.E. Stethoscope, Orange, 28 inch

12:00 noon: Not so nice: mean nurses. Had a particularly bad run-in with one who was very rude and unprofessional when she accused us of joking around and walked out on us when we in fact where being quite serious about our patient’s condition. That’s all I’ll say on that.

1:00 It took all morning to write up the notes because I didn’t know much initially about the patients. We fielded some nursing questions and a few new consults, including to the NICU (which is fun to see all the cute little babies). I realize I know nothing about guts (a lot of pediatric surgery has to do with colon and stomach problems), baby formula (Marci, can you help with this?), and babies in general. I should learn a lot this month. Also reaffirmed how many people die, are mangled, maimed on ATVs.

3:00 Finally, about 3:00 I made it to the OR for a laproscopic cholecystectomy (gallbladder removal). I got to maneuver the video-scope and suture a 1 cm wound. I know, be impressed! I was feeling very tired and sore at this point (residual effects from a long day in the OR yesterday I suppose). The child had a very loose baby tooth that I helped wiggle out (with my fingers) so she wouldn’t aspirate (swallow it into her lungs). Finally, something I know!

About 5:30 we finally rounded again with our staff doctor. By then we probably had 20 patients. I have a headache. My masseters hurt (the muscles on the angle of your jaw).

6:45 “Erin you can go home.” I don’t question. I don’t linger. I say, “OK!” and leave.

I survived my first day. I think it will be okay. I also think it will be very busy. And I will definitely be humbled.

Duty Hours logged: 5:30 am – 6:45 pm

Time off between shifts: 11 hours 15 minutes