Friday, June 29, 2007

Black-Eyed Pleas

I have nothing much to comment on.

The eye is much better, but is still distinct enough that I have now become a "familiar face" to even the surgeons.

I gave in and turned the air conditioner on because I was tired of waking up in a sweat from the stagnant summer air.

I turned it off again today after a cold front came through.

I am hardly running, but sweating like I have gone three times as far.

Even the grass thinks it is too hot to grow this week.

Death caught up with one of my patients this week, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

Monday, June 25, 2007


Ok, so this entry is a little off. I arrived here with my friend, Ru, June 22nd last year. So much has happened here since that long, frantic drive. I remember closing on the house on the 23rd. On the 26th, I started orientation at the hospital.

Today the new interns are starting orientation, and they will be in the department next week. We are having a welcome party for them this evening. It has gone by in such a blur. If it weren't for this blog, I wouldn't be able to tell you what I was doing most of this past year. Names and faces of patients have long been forgotten. I am glad to be able to look back on bits and pieces of what I was experiencing here.

This coming year brings new responsibilities. Most of the time I will actually be in the Emergency Department, with helpful nurses and clerks that I already know. So much of last year was learning how each service did things, and I won't have to deal with that any more. Now it's time to buckle down and start carrying more patients. In our department, the second years see the bulk of the patients as the third years are busy precepting medical students and interns. While it will definitely be busy, at least I will be doing things that are relevant to my career.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

The Shiner

My eye, sans makeup, in all of its glory:

Initially, there was a lot more swelling, but it does not hurt at all. It is really just an eyesore (ha ha).

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Keep Your Eye on the Ball, NOT the Ball on Your Eye

Um, yeah... so we lost the softball game last night 13-20. I started off catching and managed to get injured before the end of the top half of the 1st inning.

It was all very stupid.

In our little intramural league, we don't have a lot of equipment, specifically masks for the catchers. The first time I played catcher I was intimidated by having some stranger swinging a bat with all their might just a few feet from my head. The second time I was a little bit more comfortable, and last night I hardly gave it a second thought.

And, while I stay nice and pretty far back from the plate, that doesn't give you any protection if a foul ball suddenly ricochet's off the bat and heads straight for your eye in a split second.

I didn't have time to move.

I didn't have time to think.

The softball clunked directly against the ridge of bone just above my left eye. I stood up from my crouched position, as the first thought that entered my mind was, If I fall down they're going to think I passed out and make me go into the emergency department.

The rest of the game was spent on the bench with an ice pack slapped over my eye. My vision was fine, and my head didn't really even hurt.

Today when I woke up the eye had swollen up even more and I could only open it with great effort. Dark purple and hot pink pooled blood had collected above and below my eye.

When I walked into the department this morning, everyone stared. Several of the nurses lectured me for not seeking treatment. One of my attendings was initially concerned about my vision, but once he saw that my actual eye looked fine, he switched to giggling every time he saw me the rest of the morning.

And wouldn't you know it, one of my first few patients this morning had a black eye... only hers wasn't even a quarter the size of mine, and she'd gotten it from being punched out last weekend! My attending asked me if I had any sympathy for her, and I just laughed as I had joked about immediately sending home anyone that looked better than me at the beginning of the shift.

The eye actually doesn't hurt at all. I took a good dose of ibuprofen during my shift, even though it wasn't bothering me, and by the end of the shift I was actually walking around with an open left eye as much of the swelling had gone down.

It certainly got me a lot of attention today, although none of my patients actually asked what happened. I got all sorts of nicknames today from "Lefty" to "Slugger". Not exactly how the girl who doesn't like to draw attention to herself wants her day to go. Part of me would have liked to have found an eye patch and a stuffed parrot to wear on my shoulder.

The funny thing is that tomorrow night is the big graduation dinner, and I have to get all dressed up. Too bad I don't have anything fuschia to match my eye.

I think part of my next paycheck will go to donating a catcher's mask to the team.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wiped Out

The last two night shifts have left me wiped out. Emotionally-difficult patients, and always the less sick ones demanding more time than the really sick ones. Last night we seemed to be having a special on drunken lacerations that required a lot of time to repair. And for it being a week night, there just have been way too many patients coming in lately.

Right now, we're transitioning through the end of the year. The senior residents are done, so rather than running stuff by them, every one of us have to present to the attending directly. This wouldn't be so bad but we have been so busy lately that the attendings have been having to see patients on their own, so there ends up being a waiting line to talk to the attendings. So basically, my fastest, most-efficient coworkers are gone, so I'm feeling a little frustrated with all of the delays.

And on top of the working, there are numerous other activities going on this week, and morning meetings and simulation labs that have been keeping me busy. Fortunately, someone asked me to trade my shift tonight with them, so I can go to bed at a decent hour tonight after this evening's softball game.

Finally, the results of our national exam came back today. I am disappointed with my performance, but our program doesn't really place a whole lot of importance on the test. I didn't prepare for it at all, and that is pretty much obvious by my score. Basically, I just need to show improvement next year, and I managed to score low enough that I can pretty much guarantee that. Maybe this is the kick in the butt that I've been needing though to motivate me start seriously studying for my upcoming licensing exam next month.

Monday, June 18, 2007

In the Summer Time...

Much of this weekend was spent catching up on much-procrastinated on housework. Bleh.

On Saturday, I went down to the local farmer's market for the first time. I feasted on fresh strawberries, tomatoes, and peppers. There were plants everywhere, but I held back and only bought a rose bush to replace the one that died during the winter.

I thought I was showing pretty good restraint, and then I walked by the table of Amish baked goods, where I bought both a homemade pecan pie and a tray of coffee rolls. I have been living off the coffee rolls for the past two days. They were slathered in just enough cream cheese frosting and resting in the perfect proportion of cinnamon and sugar goo. Can you imagine more perfect food? I can't.

One of my friends dislikes the Amish. She says that they don't pay taxes, and feels it is hypocritical for them to come into the hospital as patients, particularly in the intensive care unit, given their shunning of current technology. Personally, I don't really see what the problem is. Just like any other community, I imagine that they have a hard time letting their loved ones go. And, while I don't exactly know what kind of financial resources they have, I just kind of lump them in with all of our other uninsured patients. At least they only show up for care when they absolutely need it, rather than coming in with imaginary aches and pains in order to get certain medications or a night's stay. One of our senior residents did a research project looking at return visits and costs of care for that special group of patients we call "frequent fliers". He found that 1% of the county healthcare budget went to covering costs for one of these patients alone. Now that's ridiculous!

I also went for a run along the lake, and saw several of this spring's goslings tagging along with their parents. Their feathers were still fuzzy. Although they were fairly large in size and learning to feed themselves, they still deferred to "mother goose". That's kind of what I feel like at work. Sometimes it does feel like I am just blindly following the leader, but slowly I am starting to think for myself. I had my second semi-annual evaluation this past week. Those things seem to turn out much briefer than I expect. I don't know what they are like for anyone else, but mine are just kind of "keep doing what you're doing" talks. I guess that's a good thing.

I called my father yesterday (Happy Father's Day if you celebrated!) and found out the PU's are in Montana currently. They're enjoying their RV and slowly meandering across the country to meet up with the family in July for a reunion and me at some later point.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Vegas, Baby

The rest of my vacation was pretty much spent recovering from our hike. I met up with an old college roommate and we flew to Las Vegas to see "Mamma Mia". It was a fun show, and after losing a few bucks quickly at the tables, we decided to spend the rest of our time there lounging by the pool and at the spa, which was good for my sore muscles.

I was in Phoenix long enough to witness a car accident in which someone plowed through a red light right smack into another vehicle. My friend and I left our names and numbers with the officer on scene, but as there were 2 other witnesses, I don't expect to be contacted to provide more details. Luckily, no one appeared seriously hurt.

I won't say that getting away fixed everything, but I do think that I have at least had a better attitude at work this past week. And, while the annoying people are still annoying, there's just nothing much that I can do about them, so there's not much point in worrying about stuff.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Long Walk

Well, I finally did it: last weekend I hiked the Grand Canyon! "The Phoenix" and I stayed in a hotel a few miles from the South Rim and then awoke early the next morning to start our hike. We hiked down South Kaibab Trail, crossed the Colorado River, and hiked out along the Bright Angel Trail. We had been talking about doing this for over a year now, and this hike is the reason I had been pushing myself to run further and further.

We went all the way down and back up in one day, which is highly discouraged by the park service. Despite all of our planning and preparation, we still ended up exhausted and overheated. We hiked from 7:30 am until 9 pm, with the last mile up being in the dark. For the next two days, my legs were so sore that I was hobbling about. Fortunately, neither of us ended up seriously injured, but I don't think that I would attempt a one-day hike again.

This is the start of the South Kaibab Trail:

South Kaibab Trail is very steep and without water, but fortunately a good portion of it was in the shade at the start.

Finally, we reached the river:

This is my proof that I went all the way:

This is near Bright Angel Campground, where we stopped to take advantage of the water supply, working toilet (!), and grab a quick lunch:

Desert squirrels are a little more scruffy looking than the beasts back home:

Taken along the Bright Angel Trail on the way up:

A small group of deer crossed our path. I guess we must not have looked very threatening by that point.

Final shots during sunset:

Although I was concerned about hiking in the heat of the day, there wasn't much we could do about it besides taking frequent short breaks. I couldn't really get heat conditioned either as it was simply too cool outside back home. What I didn't account for was hiking though that big of an elevation change. We were so exhausted by the end that breathing was labored, and we had to stop every hundred yards or so to catch our breaths.

It took us 4.5 hours to get to the bottom, where we rested for 30 minutes before our 8.5 hour hike out. The hike down was about 6 miles, with a mile crossing at the river, and a more gradual 9 mile hike out. We definitely underestimated the hike though, as it was way above our fitness level. Believe it or not, on the way up, there were actually a small group of men running up the canyon!

Best of all, "The Phoenix" and I are still friends and on speaking terms after this adventure.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Dentist for a Day

My vacation started with "The Phoenix's" graduation. When you graduate from medical school, you get hooded at graduation. It's not really so much of a hood as it is a velvet sash that goes around the neck. The person doing the hooding has to have a doctorate degree. There are instructors available to hood graduates, or at our school you can be hooded by a family member. "The Phoenix" and I side-stepped this little requirement by telling our school that we were cousins.

As I was flying in the night before, "The Phoenix" picked up my gown and hood. She told me the hood was purple, which I thought was a little odd as it was green last year, but then I thought maybe it had to do with my specialty or something.

All was going well enough, until an elderly gentlemen came up from behind me and started straightening my hood. "All of us dentists have to look good," he said. So that's how I found out that purple is for dentists, whereas green is for medicine. Between me not being her cousin, and not being a dentist it was quite the misrepresentation.

Her ceremony was just as long and drawn out as mine was. Our CEO (Yes, I said CEO, not president) was there, wearing her blindingly large, gold University medallion, ala Flava Flav style.

Finally, we double-checked that the name on her diploma was correct, and booked it out of there! I remember the feeling of relief that came with having that piece of paper in my hand.