Saturday, April 28, 2012

Trippin’ it

It’s been one of the busiest weeks I’ve had in a very long time! Long hours at work, minimal sleep, sewing up a lot of faces, and not much else in between. Good thing Abe and I took a weekend vacation last week to prepare. And yes, having a full weekend off, especially if you leave home (and all of the tasks behind) is a VACATION in my book.
We left right after work for Chicago Friday evening. We usually stay downtown but we decided to be a little more adventurous (and cheap) and stay closer to the airport.
The next morning we took the metra and bus to Wrigley. We were starving so decided to get some Chicago style dogs before the game. Maybe a little unconventional timing but also about half price! And a few things I like about Chicago are their hot dogs and their pizza.
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We made our way to the stadium. Did you know Wrigley is located on Sheffield street? This is the less picturesque side of the stadium, unfortunately.
On Sheffield Street in front of Wrigley
Want to go to Montana? A saw a lot of billboards and busses advertising Montana.
 Abe The Sheffield
Here I am with “The Sheffield.” I may have to start referring to him this way, on this blog and in person.
Our friend shared his season tickets with us and we were able to sit in the bleachers which were actually great seats. Although I’m not fond of watching baseball on TV, I really enjoy attending games in person. Wrigley is a really cool place to visit, even if you aren’t huge on baseball. The field def has preserved that historic feel with the old fashioned scoreboard changed by hand and the ivy covered wall.
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The Cubs pulled it out with a 5-1 victory over the Reds. We stayed until the end to be sure we got to hear the awesome “Go Cubs go” song which is still stuck in my head.
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Did you know they have rooftop bleachers on all of the buildings surrounding the field? I’d be curious in seeing what this is like.
We decided to start walking from the stadium towards downtown after the game. We stopped for some frozen yogurt. In the meantime, Abe (now AKA THE SHEFFIELD) kept talking about how his hat didn’t fit because his hair was too long. We happened upon a corner barber shop and decided we couldn’t pass it up. While watching I realized one thing, The Sheffield has a lot of hair (and this picture if only half way through). And then I realized a very wonderful thing, this guy does not have a problem with thinning hair or male pattern baldness. At least not yet. I hope our future children get his full locks.
We continued our happy walk with The Sheffield’s much shorter ‘do and my happy realization as stated above. And we continued and continued and continued about 4-5 miles. Until we reached our destination:
Grand Lux Cafe –we’ve been adding this into our list of Chicago traditions
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Beignets! Which if you are unfamiliar are extremely yummy N’Orleans style donuts. If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll appreciate when I say “Don’t worry, we ate them all,” –that’s right, just the two of us, and after dinner. (One of my pet peeves is when (always skinny) people feel the necessity to give the disclaimer that they didn’t eat all of their food. Yes, I was worried until you told me otherwise that you ate the whole cupcake yourself.)
I think the beignets did us in so we made our way back to our hotel ready for bed. We had a lazy morning, a nice breakfast buffet at the hotel, and made our way home.
And to show you how nerdy we are, we studied almost the entire way to and from Chicago. I’m lucky The Sheffield and I will have so much overlap in our fields because it makes studying so much easier and more fun to do. And it is great have a physician who can explain all of the medical terms and details I never learned.
Abe thought I looked like a teacher in this first picture. I was getting serious about mitral valve stenosis.
The only bad thing about vacation is that it makes going back to work that much harder. Can’t wait until May!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

I have a question

People often ask me what it is like being on-call. When you are on-call you never know what you are going to get. Some nights are completely quiet. Others are non-stop in the ER.

A large portion of our time on call is answering patient questions by phone. We perform hundreds of tooth extractions and outpatient surgeries each day and you can imagine the number of questions that arise.

Here is a typical call:

Caller: "They are still having XYZ problem."
Me: "Hello, can you give me some more information? Who are you calling about and what did they have done."
Caller: "They had surgery. They are having a lot of pain."
Patient in the background: "Tell them I am having a lot of pain."
Me: "Can you give me the patient's name. When did they have the surgery? What have they been taking to help with the pain?"
Caller: "Yesterday. They are taking the pain meds and it isn't helping."
Patient: "It still hurts."
Me: "Can you tell me exactly what they are taking?"
Caller: "What are you taking?"
Patient: "HydroCODEINE."
Caller: "HydroCODEINE."
Me: "Is he taking ibuprofen? How often?"
Caller: "How often?"
Patient: "Every X hours."
Me: "Have you tried the ibuprofen?"
Caller: "Have you tried the ibuprofen?"
Me, trying to interrupt all along the way: "Can I please just speak to the patient?"
Caller: "They can't talk."
Me: "I can hear them in the background, can I please speak to them?"

Here are a few of my favorite questions (which may help you next time you have a tooth out).

Q: My friend had their teeth out earlier today and are having pain. She hasn't taken any pain meds yet. What do we do?
A: Start by taking the pain medications you were prescribed. That's a good first step! Call me if that doesn't work.

Q: My friend had surgery about an hour ago. Their mouth is still numb. What do we do?
A: The local anesthetic (numbing medicine) we use lasts for hours. Give it a few more hours to wear off.

Q: My son had surgery a few days ago and has the hiccupps. What do we do?
A: I dunno...stand upside down, try to swallow water, hold your breath, scare him.

Q: My friend had surgery earlier today and can't talk or move her mouth. She also has a lot of other questions. What do we do?
A: How do you know what her questions are?

Q: My friend had surgery a week ago and her stitches just came out.
A: The stitches are designed to dissolve in about one week so that's great.

Q: My friend had surgery 3 weeks ago. When can he start brushing his teeth again?
A: Three weeks ago!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Not by the hairs of my (new) chinny chin chin!

Would you ever go under the knife?

This is a question I asked on this blog a few years ago. And I have a confession to make. I did consider. And I went for it.

It looks like I'm not the only one.

I know that most people like to keep their plastic surgeries to themselves. I've debated about this off and on over the past few years. I guess this article prompted me to share. And as a surgeon who will be performing this procedure myself, I'd like my patients and friends to know that this is an option as I'm sure I'm not the only one unhappy with my chin (the article is good evidence of this), even at the risk of being the recipient of negative judgements in relation to how much vanity I possess.

I have never been happy with my profile and my double chin. When I started my internship in Oral Maxillofacial Surgery I realized that this was a pretty simple fix for me. Although many plastic surgeries use the "chin implant," our department is very adept at what is called "genioplasty." Essentially, this is modifiying the bony part of your chin rather than placing an implant or other device to augment the chin. I like this procedure over the implant for a few reasons. First, besides the metal plate and screws holding everything in place, there are no foreign bodies, which can be prone to infection or other reactions. Secondly, the procedure is done solely through an incision inside the mouth. No visible scars!

I had the procedure done in our clinic on a Friday afternoon. It took about 20 minutes while I was out using standard sedation drugs. Monday morning I was back at work (although an extra few days would have been great). I was bruised and puffy for a few weeks but back to normal pretty quickly.

This is shortly after the procedure with some lingering bruising and swelling. Abe didn't have a chin procedure (he already has a great chin!), just a funny coincidence (sliding injury in baseball) that we both looked like this.
I am very happy with the results. I think the results are subtle (did you even know?) but I feel like it made a big difference to me and I am very pleased. Let me know if you have questions about this procedure or feel free to call the college of dentistry for a quick consultation. It is a pretty quick outpatient procedure with a relatively low cost.

 These are my xrays before and after. Can you see what they did?

This one shows well the plate holding everything in place.

This is me before the procedure. 
And just a few weeks after.

Here is my before profile. Can you see how far back my chin is? (Okay, I know it wasn't THAT bad, but it still bothered me.)

This is my "profile picture" just a few weeks after the procedure. The clock was just a decoy so I could post this online for my family to see without anyone else knowing what the deal was.

What do you think of the results? Would you ever consider surgery yourself?

Saturday, April 14, 2012


I remember in college when many of my friends were getting married, we would receive wedding invitations with engagement photos. My roommates and I would eagerly open the envelope to see (and perhaps make our critique) of the happy couple. There were multiple occasions I found myself disappointed. You know, I hate to admit it, but the times when your should-have-been-a-super-model friend fell for the chubby bald guy, or the guy you’d had a crush on all year married the girl who was definitely less pretty than you. Yes, there is often one person in the couple who is more attractive but if you deviate away more than a few points (on the hot scale) it becomes quite noticeable. It is silly, really, because part of me finds great satisfaction and a feeling of triumph in couples who clearly choose their partner based off less superficial qualities than their attractiveness. But there is something about the aesthetic value of couples that at that point at least, had a large impact on my feelings of if they were a “well matched” couple.

I know other people didn’t feel this way and had no worries about the matchability of their future spouse. But I, being again, (somewhat?) superficial, had some worries. I wanted to marry someone who people would think was attractive, but mostly, I didn’t want to be the girl who people said, “Wow, how did she end up with him! He could have done so much better!”


This is the engagement photo we sent out with our invitations. I guess I can only say what I think with accuracy, but no one has told me yet (and please don’t start) that we weren’t an acceptable (physical) match, except for maybe our almost 12 inch height discrepancy.

Recently, I have been thinking in different terms of how well matched we are. I still wonder about our physical appearances. He is so thin, it is hard to keep up! And people are always telling him he looks like _____ movie star, or that he should be a movie star, or he looks like he should like in Hollywood (you get the idea). His medical school friends used to call him the “Mormon George Clooney.” I don’t think I’ve had any stranger approach me and tell me I am so gorgeous I should be a model. The only movie star I get compared to is “Princess Leia.” My friends never told me I was like the “brunette Heidi Klum.” I’m not sure if this means we are mismatched but sometimes I wonder.


I started thinking about all of this with Match Day for Medical school. He is graduating with his MD/PhD in less than one month! I know he will be a great physician and he was certainly in high demand by multiple programs. I think he let me be “doctor” first, so I could feel important for a little while until he laps me with his dual degrees.




(These are his medical school photos for his first and last year, 8 years apart. Still looking good!)

He works very hard for our church. He has been serving as our Elder’s Quorum President (meaning he was in charge of the meetings, activities, and welfare of most of the men in our congregation). This week he was just ordained to be a High Priest so he could be in our Bishopric. He serves with a smile, even when he has to wake up early and attend multiple meetings.

When other women talk about “MEN!” or how their husbands are horrible about helping out at home, I have to hold my tongue. Abe has been the hugest blessing in my life, especially in relation to my residency. He lets me vent or unload all of the thoughts about my day (and there are usually a lot!), often makes dinner, helps with dishes, does the majority of laundry, makes our lunches, drives me to work on early mornings, etc etc. I hope to give him even a small measure of the support he has given me during his upcoming intern year. I didn’t even mention his awesome baking skills.

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I figure if people use their blogs to brag about their kids, surely I should be able to brag about my husband. I guess what I have learned is that even though I feel our engagement photo didn’t evoke any strong negative gut reactions about our compatability, I have come to learn since we’ve been married that we are terribly, horribly mismatched. He is clearly the superior one in our relationship.  I hope he doesn’t figure this out too soon. But I’ve also changed how I feel about this. Now I know that I come out the winner (if I can just keep him around)! Before I was just looking for a good match. Now I know the key is to get the best you can get. Clearly some of the couples in the engagement photos figured that out already.


Poor Abe is stuck with me.

Thursday, April 12, 2012


I just got back from a Western Caribbean Cruise this past week. I had a lot of fun and have had a lot of questions. Here are some of my thoughts:


Would you recommend a cruise to others?

Some people take a cruise and find that that is the only kind of vacation they ever want to take again. Although I am not of this mentality, I think there are some definitive advantages to cruising. 1) Convenience. Everything is basically taken care of for you when you arrive on the ship. You can eat whenever you want. You don’t have to worry about transportation issues. Activities are planned and available for you. 2) You can eat whenever you want. Enough said about that. 3) Relaxation. When you are at sea there is only so much you can do. I felt a little forced to sit in the sun and enjoy doing nothing. 4) Cruising can be very affordable. They often offer big discounts to get you on board (to spend money in other ways).

Disadvantages are you aren’t free to explore as much, there are a lot of people (thousands of people on one ship), some of the activities can seem a little contrived or cheesy. Also, if you like the extras, you could end up spending a lot more than you anticipated.

Which cruise line did you use?

We chose Carnival. We were looking for an inexpensive trip and Carnival is more budget and perhaps family friendly than some of the other cruise lines. If you aren’t looking for the Ritz on the high seas, I think you can have an enjoyable time. A few of our dinner mates on the ship had only bad things to say, but I think they had very high expectations.

Where did you go?

We sailed out of Tampa and went to Cozumel and Grand Cayman. I really enjoyed Cozumel. I forgot about the beauty of Mexico, the amazing SCUBA diving, the friendly people. Grand Cayman was also pretty but more built up and less friendly.

Did you book shore excursions through the ship?

The ship offers a wide range of activities you can book conveniently through them. However, these are often more expensive and crowded than private options you can book off of the ship. We visited Sting Ray City in Grand Cayman (booked through Orbitz) with Captain Marvin (highly recommend this operation) and I booked a private two tank boat dive trip in Cozumel while my companion booked a zip line tour through the cruise.

Did you get seasick?

There were times I could definitely feel the boat rocking. However, I’m not really very prone to seasickness (I think you can get used to it). My companion wore a scopalamine patch and did very well with that.

What kind of room did you stay in?

We got a great deal in an inner room (the cheapest rooms with no windows). We had two twin style bunk beds. We were very nervous about this arrangement but in the end were pleasantly surprised. We didn’t spend much time in our rooms except for sleeping and the beds (even my top bunk) were very comfortable. I didn’t miss the window. Our room was very dark which was great for sleeping, along with the gentle rocking of the ship. I think a balcony would be nice but if you aren’t picky I don’t think you need a super fancy room to have a good time.

How was the food?

Throughout the day they have multiple food options. For breakfast they have a buffet or you can visit the sit down restaurant. For lunch they have multiple buffets such as a sandwich line, dessert table, rotisserie, wok, grill, and rotating genres. The also have a pizza and grill option open all day, as well as ice cream available around the clock! At night there are a few buffet options but most people choose to do the assigned dinner seating where you get fancier meal choices like lobster, prime rib, veal, etc. The food wasn’t as good as I remembered from the cruise I took when I was a kid (poor memory or pickier taste now? or economic issues?), but most of the options were pretty good . You shouldn’t go hungry because there are so many options you should be able to find something you like. Occasionally they would have special midnight buffets or other dining options.  There is also 24 hour room service. We didn’t try this.

Would you do it again?

I would be interested in trying another cruise line to compare. I wouldn’t cruise every time but I would be up for another one at some point, especially if Abe could come along! It would also be fun to do with a group of people.

If you have any other questions about my experience with cruising let me know. I’d also like to hear your suggestions about cruises you have enjoyed.


(also, these are not pictures I took during our cruise but were found online)


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Have you seen the "I'm a Mormon" campaign?

I created a profile a few months ago but just found it today. Check it out. What do you think?

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Recently at work I was sitting with some colleagues. Milo and Otis (names have been changed) were laughing amongst themselves about a funny email they had received. Herbie asked to be let in on the joke. Milo and Otis continued ignoring the requests until they finally said, "Sorry, this is just between us." Herbie left, feeling frustrated and like an outsider I am sure. They turned to me, let me in on the joke, and told me,"It's not a secret but we knew that would make Herbie mad (not to include him)." I gave a polite, awkward laugh, nodding knowingly. I guess I am an agreeable person.

I relayed this experience to a wise friend who said something like, "Good,  so you stuck up for Herbie." I was embarassed to say that no, I hadn't. In fact, I hadn't even thought of it. I felt ashamed. With all of this talk of bullying in the media, I would have thought I would have realized it when it was staring me straight in the face.

As a kid I was bullied. I don't think I thought of it in that way at the time but looking back, that is what it was. My twin sister and I were well liked in elementary school. We were quite the novelty, identical twins. Older kids would ask us in the bathroom, "Are you Erin or Amber?" People knew us as the "Jackson twins" and I felt we always had a notoriety about us. We switched schools in 5th grade to go to a special program. There were a few girls who were very unkind to us, the popular girls who were also the teacher's pets. I remember crying many days over (now seemingly) silly things like being excluded from kickball or being uninvited to a birthday party the whole class was going to. My sister and I often found solace in playing soccer with the boys or basketball with girls from other classes. Although there were only a few girls that were blatantly mean to us, I don't remember any one ever sticking up to them. No one ever left the kickball game to come play with us. No one ever said, no that mean thing isn't true, and in fact, they laughed or said mean things themselves. No one even left their sides. Everyone was too afraid that they would be unliked or that the wrath of these girls would be turned on them. They wanted to be liked by the popular girls (and I guess I did, too). Even into my adult life the feelings these girls inflicted upon me would come back, like when I would see one of the girls on campus, or when it turned out that she was marrying the one cute boy in my sister's ward in NC. Even when I moved to Iowa I had a sick feeling in my stomach when I saw one of the ring leader's friends here as an adult (which turns out she was super nice and wasn't maybe a great friend to that person, anyway).

So, I am sad to say, I didn't learn much from being bullied. As an adult there was a very small and simple act of bullying going on right in front of me. And just like all of the girls in my 5th grade class, when I had the opportunity to stick up for someone else, I shied away. Not only did I not say anything, but I even laughed (although timidly). It would have been so easy to say something even jokingly like, "What are we, in 5th grade again?" Or, "Wow, that was kind of rude, don't you think?"

One of my biggest frustrations about residency is feeling like a little kid again. Being constantly watched over, questioned about my motives or whether or not I am fulfilling my responsibilities. I have often said to myself, "Man, if I am not treated like an adult as a DOCTOR then when will I ever be treated like one?"

Looks like I still have a way to go.