Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The End of the World As I Know It

We did it! Oral Surgeons Ryan, Erin, and Ryan
After five years I finally completed my residency in Oral Maxillofacial Surgery! 

Funny how 5 years can fit into 2 little boxes!
My last day, holding gifts received from a patient
I can't quite believe that it is over. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday at the hospital and it felt so weird wandering the halls as a patient instead of with my big yellow "DOCTOR" badge telling everyone I deserved to be there. I almost stopped by my department to say hi until I realized that would look desperate and strange--she can't stay away a single day?!
So instead, I am home sorting through pictures and emails; finalizing (I hope) some new job paperwork and a last few lingering old job paperwork tasks as well. I am hoping to do something productive like clean my garage and maybe something fun, too. Oh, and I guess I am getting caught up on blogging.
* * *
June 20. 2014
I've been lucky to have such a supportive and wonderful husband during the rigorous hours of my training. It has been nice in a lot of ways to have the shared experience of residency. It is easier to be patient when he isn't home and to understand I sometimes just need to do my own thing. I can commiserate over difficult patients, frustrating paperwork, and interdepartmental political foibles. I hope I don't forget some of this over the next few years while he finishes his training so I can be as supportive to him as he was for me.

I was lucky to have my parents come visit us for the event. I don't get to see my family nearly as much as I would like so this was an extra special event. As Ryan said in his speech, "I wouldn't be here without you. No really, I wouldn't."

And Abe's wonderful family who has been very supportive and helpful over the years. Lots of meals, favors, errands (letting the plumber in or taking the car to the shop, etc), have been provided for us by them! Not to mention emotional support.

The Jackson clan
 So glad my brother and his girlfriend could make the trip as well.

My gnome was abducted the night before but luckily returned to me

I've been lucky to make some lovely friends along the way. I am going to miss seeing them every day.

Our department sponsors a nice banquet for everyone. This year the banquet occurred on my last day of residency. It was a highlight to end on.

I'm going to miss my friends Ryan and Ryan. Four years of jokes and friendship. I think my life will definitely be much calmer without them around. I'm not sure that is necessarily a good thing.

I really think doing an extra year of residency was worth it to be able to spend that time with them.

Congrats doctors and hope to stay in touch forever!


*It is a little strange as I write to realize this will be probably the last time I choose the label "residency" to describe a post. 

Japan Day 5: Tokyo Temples and Sushi

By the time we were back in Tokyo we were pretty tired from our travels and ready to hunker down in one spot. We went back to the condo we were staying at (graciously offered by friends) in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. After sleeping in, we made it out in the rain for some lunch.

First we stopped for a picture by the shop of my first ramen experience the night before
I found it interesting how everyone in Japan seemed to use an umbrella (It seems more Americans rough it without). When we were leaving the condo we realized it was raining. We ran back up to the room, hoping they would have an umbrella for us to borrow, only to find about 20 in the closet! It was kind of fun to see the colorful umbrellas at all of the crosswalks and they have special umbrella stands outside all businesses or bags to place your umbrella in so you don't get everything all wet.

We stopped an Yoshinoya, or Beef Bowl for some lunch. This is probably Abe's favorite fast food Japanese chain. Luckily you can find it in some US locations such as California.


Tired and hungry after a lot of traveling already that week

I wanted the real Japanese experience so I braved the raw egg
After days of exploring multiple Shinto and Buddhist temples, we decided it was about time to find one of our own. This was my first experience going to a temple in a foreign country. It was nice to see the familiar golden Angel Moroni on top of the spire in such an unfamiliar place.

We were able to meet up with some friends from Abe's time as a missionary over 10 years ago. It was really neat to see the change the gospel has brought to their lives and to hear their story. The husband told me how he was a horrible chain smoker with poor health until he was able to quit when he joined the church with a huge improvement in his overall health and well being. They were very happy to see Abe. Abe calls them his Japanese mom and dad, so I guess he was pretty happy to see them, too! We exchanged small gifts, which is pretty customary in Japan and received updates about some of Abe's Japanese friends.

I got to wear translating headphones during the session (which were a little spotty at times). It was neat even though I looked and spoke very different from almost everyone there, that I still felt like I knew such a deep and important part of who they were. 

Afterword, we were hungry and ready for some food (the best part of Japan, have I mentioned that before?). We were hoping to get some tempura (Japanese fried veggies and usually seafood) but we weren't able to get in to the restaurant. We happened upon a sushi restaurant which was a huge disappointment to me. Okay not really, I LOVE sushi so I was quite pleased.

We had a lovely multi-course meal of all kinds of delicious sushi. It was definitely the best sushi experience I have had.

The Japanese people are very gracious. One example of this was the restaurant workers. I was wearing canvas shoes since they were comfortable walking shoes. Unfortunately, they were less comfortable as they became soggy and cold in the rain. Even after hours inside they remained quite wet. The waitress was concerned about my cold feet and had me remove my shoes. She brought me paper towels and personally placed them in my shoes and tried to sop up some of the water. I was surprised she would touch a stranger's dirty shoes! When we left the restaurant they were very concerned about if the shoes were okay or not. I'm not sure what they would have done if I had said they weren't!

Isn't it gorgeous! I ate it all, even the eggs (not my favorite).
The Japanese seemed impressed with my pleasure with the sushi. I think they felt it was rather exotic for an American to enjoy so much. It was much more "raw" and actually was more exotic than the sushi back home, but it was definitely the best I have had. This is interesting as I have no idea if it was actually considered a "good" restaurant or not. It obviously wasn't very busy as you can tell from the pictures.

Happy tummy!
This sushi chef was flirting with me behind the counter almost our entire meal. He was kind of shy but seemed very interested in how I was enjoying the food.

After we left our friends in opposite directions on the subway, we did some shopping. The subways are all built with shopping malls and restaurants in the tunnels and above so it is easy to have a lot to look at as you travel around the city. We found a Hello Kitty section of a department store which brought me a lot of delight.

Do you remember how I said everything in Japan is cute? They even make sushi cute.
 It was nice to have a bit of a quieter day, meeting up with old friends, enjoying some of our favorite foods, and escaping the rain.

All in all, a good way to start our time back in Tokyo.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I realize that all of my posts lately are essentially the same:

I can't believe it but my residency is almost over.

Today is not going to be any different. I keep having those feelings but the "Wow, it is really happening" feeling just keeps getting stronger and stronger.

Last week we had our "pinning" ceremony where we quite literally put a push pin in the map to show where we will be practicing.

My co--residents Ryan and Ryan and I, happy to be almost done

Followed by our annual golf event, a reward for surviving our mock boards.

This picture reminded me more than usual that it really was always me and "the guys"

At the beginning of the month I completed call. Late last week I completed my last case in the operating room.

And after 5 years, it is strange to say I have 5 days left. Not even "5 
workdays," just 5 days-- no matter how you look at it.

I realize I have very few pictures from residency looking back

People keep asking me if I am counting down the days. Yes, but mostly on accident as after you have only 5 or 10 or 20 days left it is pretty easy to do the math. I wouldn't say I "can't wait to be done" because after 5 years, I think I can handle a few more days. And I am trying my best to savor every last minute of learning (I have surprisingly had multiple learning experiences even at this late moment), enjoying the people I have come to know quite well and their friendship and support, and realizing that REAL life, as much as I have looked forward to it, is coming soon.

And I honestly have no idea what that will really be like!

I'll miss meeting up with this guy for lunch and late night OR dates

Oh I hope it is as good as I have always hoped...

I have a lot to complete in the next five days. A research presentation (still have to make my power point), a casual oral report, complete and print surgical logs, finish photo documentation of some of my cases, clean out my desk, turn in my pager (I volunteered to do this earlier but they wouldn't let me!) complete my PALS (pediatric life support) course, and clean my house for family arriving in town later this week. Yay! (Among other things.)

And then our banquet on Friday.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Iowa Domestic Tourism

There is a long list of things I should be doing right now: studying for mock boards tomorrow (for which I will be surely mocked--okay probably not overtly but over my own feelings of academic inadequacy), practicing my golf swing for our golf outing in the afternoon (our "reward" for suffering through the mocking--too bad it is more like punishment for me, a total non-golfer with no idea what I am doing), cleaning my house for the visitors who will be here in a few weeks for my completion of residency, working on work check out stuff like surgical logs and research presentations, and maybe just getting ready for bed.

So why the compulsion to blog? Especially when I don't know what to say? Maybe it is my desire to connect to the world when my husband is at work (again), leaving my chatty extrovert self on her own with only the blogosphere to listen? Or maybe it is my way of putting off what I really should be doing.

I would like to finish documenting my Japan trip but I frankly don't have the time for that currently--hopefully in a few weeks. I am interested to share about how I was able to refinance my student loans for about half the interest rate (Yay! Yay! Yay!), but again, don't feel quite up to the task today. Unfortunately there are crazy or emotional or exciting or scary things in my life I am not able to share (either due to patient confidentiality or my own confidentiality, etc). And I am sure there are some deep topics rumbling around in my brain ready to come out. Something about the challenges of being a woman surgeon or what it is like to be a twin or some of my life goals.

Or maybe we can talk about my plans after June 20, which by the way, is the LAST day of my life as a resident.

I was hoping to go on vacation but that doesn't look like it will work out. So, I am planning a stay cation which mainly I hope will include some major rehaul of the house! Yes, the house I moved in to a few weeks before residency and has only known the love and care of at least one (and usually two) residents. One piled high with medical journal articles, fake dental teeth, and any and all kind of clutter you can imagine would accumulate after four years of living a crazy life.

It may not be Disney...but maybe staying home could be fun!

I am hoping I will have the stamina, time, and desire to actually do a full rehaul. I'm not very good at the organizing thing. Or at the giving things away thing. Or the decorating or having ideas thing. So that is certainly a road block, or rather a mental block. But I'm committed.

Beautiful Iowa!

Some big goals include:
1. Getting rid of clutter once and for all (yeah right!). Wouldn't it be great to have a fresh start?
2. Decorating the beautiful basement we finished and never furnished or decorated. Ideas? Anyone up for a Chicago Ikea run?
3. A few maintenance things like painting the front porch and arranging to have our hazardous 1930s stone steps replaced outside.
4. Clean out and make our second bedroom functional as a guest room.
5. Clean and organize the garage and get the yard in shape.  I was hoping I would be up to this task but I'm not sure I can do it. After all, it is a vacation!
6. Maybe some fresh paint or updates in general in the house.

I am hoping to trick myself into thinking all of this work will be fun! Liberating! Stuff I've been wanting to do but couldn't get done as a resident but now can as a real adult with a job and a domestic plan!

I am also hoping for some fun time. One fun thing per day, maybe... I wish I had more time to structure out my staycation to make it really productive and also fun. Maybe a massage one day, a few matinees, a little shopping, and hopefully a trip or two to Chicago (remember Ikea?). After that I'm not feeling too creative.

Anyone have any good ideas for "vacation" when I am stuck at home? Also I am accepting volunteers, slaves, friends, professionals who are willing and interested to help a domestic novice achieve a higher level of domestic bliss and feng shui. Because really, all the motivation in the world may not overcome a blank slate of ideas or know how.

Monday, June 2, 2014

The light at the end of the tunnel (is blinding)

Yesterday was my sister's birthday. What does that mean? It's June!

June has always been a great month. The first month of summer. Warm weather. My birthday. But this year it is especially exciting. It is the month I finish my residency!

I can't hardly believe it. After 4 years and 11 months, I am in my last (less than) 3 weeks of residency! It is one of those moments I never thought would actually arrive (for me).

To make it even sweeter, I just completed a month of trauma call (did you notice my long absence?). I have always been one to try my best to enjoy life's moments and not wish my life away waiting for, "only when..." But I can say I have been a little guilty of anticipating the arrival of June 2 and my freedom from call. I had a busy few weeks on top of a serious case of senioritis. So, I may not be feeling quite like myself, even today. I feel a little emotionally frazzled and physically tired. I keep looking for my pager. I keep forgetting it is okay to make plans. But when I remember, I am relieved!

I thought when I got to this month I would feel pretty relieved. Maybe the residual stress of call is getting to me, but I feel a little bit of stress, maybe a touch of anxiety, and some nervousness. I have a lot to get done this month before I jump into my new practice. And I am sure I will continue to encounter a whirlwind of emotions: relief, anxiety, excitement, feelings of sentiment, disbelief, nervousness, and question marks about what is to come next.

18 more days!