Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Ending October

Tomorrow I go back to the department. Between my toxicology rotation and my vacation, I have been away for just over five weeks. We had Wednesday lectures as usual today, and several people told me that I looked really good, or different somehow. I think it's the vacation and my general disposition. In general, I think I am smiling and laughing more... which is good.


Today my driveway got resurfaced. I finally found a responsible contractor who actually shows up when he says he will. As an added bonus, this is the same guy who insisted that he could fix the existing unevenness, when everyone else wanted to break up the old driveway, and start all over from scratch for two-three times the cost! The driveway looks great, and the edges are nice and tidy. It definitely will be smoother on my snow blower this winter and should help with some of my water drainage problems, too.


I also talked with my computer repair guy (the same shop my car rolled out of), and my laptop is unfortunately a total loss. The problem is either with the motherboard itself, or the battery, which is so expensive to replace that I might as well get a new laptop. I think I'm going to just have this PC for a while. My main concern was that before the laptop imploded I was able to backup all of my digital photos, but my iTunes music (20 GB) was still on there, and with about 15 minutes of work-time when the laptop would actually boot up, there was no way to get the transfer process going. It would have been easy enough, had I not downsized to a 4 GB iPod Nano earlier this year. However, what the computer guru suggested was that we salvage the hard drive from my laptop and transform it into a portable external hard drive, that way I could keep all of my files. I thought this was pure genius on his part. I donated my laptop shell to the store, so that they waived all of the labor and diagnostic fees and only charged me $30 for the work and the hard drive case!


And as for my research project, that has not taken off yet. First, there was problems with getting the chemicals, and then the pharamaceutical company "forgot" to send us the drug. Over the past two days I have done more computer modules on the proper handling and treatment of research rats. I just want things to get going before I start my ICU rotation at the end of November because that month I take 24-hour call every 3rd day, so to be running over to the animal lab is just going to kill me schedule-wise.


The other morning I woke up to find frost on my car, which prompted a much-overdue oil change and putting the snow tires back on. I am really not ready for dark winter skies just yet. However, in the time that I was gone, many leaves have fallen, and the neighborhood trees have fully reddened.


The Trick-or-Treaters have been really few tonight. I guess I could have gotten into the candy corn a whole lot sooner!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Turks and Caicos Islands

For our vacation, "The Phoenix" and I stayed at Beaches, Turks and Caicos Resort. It was great. The company is the same as Sandals, but it caters to families with small children. Being two single girls, we figured it would be better to be around families than honeymooning couples. The resort was all-inclusive, including two scuba dives per day.

I was really impressed with how responsible the resort was with the diving. Before they would let us go, we had to demonstrate basic skillis in the pool first. Every morning, resort guests could choose to go on either a one-dive or a two-dive trip. Being basic Open Water level divers, we are not supposed to go below a depth of 60 feet, and the resort was really good about adhering to this. They also made sure that there was an hour surface interval between dives.

I had been a little concerned about diving at a resort. I don't know that I mentioned it here, but over the summer a resident in a different program at my hospital died while scuba diving in Belize. Apparently, he took a short resort course, and then went on too many dives. The first couple of days that we were there, I mapped things out on the dive table and found that they were being pretty cautious, despite the fact that our guides were all equipped with dive computers (which keep more precise depth measurements and allow divers to extend the time of their dives).

As for diving in October, the temperature was perfect. It was 85, and probably about 75-80 in the water. We didn't use wetsuits, and with it being off-season, the beaches and the swimming pools were never crowded, and our room prices were 40% off!

The diving was also much easier than my certification dives. The resort supplied all of the equipment, but we brought our own masks, snorkels and fins. The tanks were lined up along the side of the boat, so that all you had to do was set up your stuff, and walk just a few steps off the end of the boat. I think the buoyancy of the salt water made it a lot easier as well.

The water was really clear, and the numbers of tropical fish that we saw were amazing. On one day we descended to the bottom with two black-tipped sharks circling around us. We also saw barracudas, lobster, and my favorite-- a sea turtle. At the end of one of our dives, a dolphin followed the boat back, jumping out of the water and showing off.

Another great thing was that there was a protected coral reef about a ten-minute walk down the beach from the resort. In the afternoons, we snorkeled there several times and got a great look at many more fish.

On Thursday, we went on a night dive. It was fun. At one point, we all turned off our flashlights, and by waving your arms around you could see little sparks of light, or bioluminescence underwater. We had hoped to see an octopus on the night dive, but it didn't work out. I'm glad that I did it, because everything did look a little different, but I much more prefer daytime dives as you can see so much more. Plus there's something kind of creepy about only being able to see the 5-foot diameter beacon of light from your flashlight while other, bigger things are able to spot you from a distance away.

Unfortunately, as our flight left early Saturday morning, we weren't allowed to dive on Friday. Instead, we went on what was supposed to be a 3-hour kayak tour. The tour was fun and included more snorkeling, a stop at an iguana preserve, and "The Phoenix" found a huge beautifully colored conch shell right there on the beach. Unfortunately, it was quite windy that day and our 3-hour tour ended up being 5 hours of difficult paddling.

The food at the resort was delicious. I think I ate some sort of fish every day for lunch and dinner. There wasn't much of a night life there as it was more set up for families, but with waking up at 6 am to get ready, it didn't really matter. I would highly recommend this place for new divers. They did allow more experienced divers to buddy-dive away from the group.

Saturday, October 20, 2007


Off to a warmer climate for a week! Hopefully there will be plenty of sun, lounging, and diving.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Everyday Miracle

If you have been reading this blog for any length of time, then you already know that I get into more than my fair share of mishaps. I seem to attract odd characters, or sometimes things just happen to me (like an attack squirrel coming down a lit fireplace) that just don't seem to plight your average person.

This afternoon, I took my laptop back to the shop. During the summer, they re-soldered the jack which fixed my charging problem. However, now the internal battery is entirely shot. I can't even turn the darn thing on after leaving it plugged in for a week!


I had been in the repair shop for only about 10 minutes at the very most. When I walked out of the store, I was a little confused because my car was not next to the maroon van that I remembered parking by. I walked around the van, thinking that maybe I was mistaken about which side of the van I had parked on. However, my little blue car was not there. Had someone stolen it? Who, in their right mind, would go through the trouble of disengaging a security system on a 6 year-old Saturn? My heart started to beat a little faster...

... and that's when I saw it:

My poor baby had not only rolled backwards out of the parking lot, but she had crossed FOUR lanes of traffic and come to rest in a small, grass-covered ditch! I couldn't believe it. There had been no sounds of horns or screeching of brakes while I was in the tiny window-paneled shop.

I guess it is a good thing that there was no median on that road, otherwise my car would have seriously blocked traffic. I also can't believe that my car rolled across all of those lanes on a fairly busy road at 5:30 pm without anyone getting hurt. It could have been really bad.

So, I did what any other grown woman would do: I walked straight over to my car, like I had intentionally parked backwards into a ditch and drove it out of there! Then I pulled into the nearest gas station to inspect it, and there wasn't a single scratch on it.

Can you believe it? What a goofball I am! I figure that I must have forgot to put on the parking brake as my car has manual transmission.


I also went for my first run in about a month. I only did 2.5 miles (with walk breaks). I went to my usual spot along the lake parkway. I was almost a mile in when I saw the police tape. I had forgotten all about it, but this morning there was a story on the radio about how a jogger discovered a body along the parkway. I don't know why they still had the area roped off after almost 12 hours, but the four officers just by their cars looked pretty bored.

And that was about all of the adventure that I could handle for a Tuesday!

Friday, October 12, 2007

On Writing

Ru has joined the NaNoWriMo project, the goal of which is to write like mad and crank out an entire novel during the month of November. Part of me is jealous because I simply don't have that kind of ambition.

The other part of me sees her sitting at her laptop typing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." over and over. Inconveniently, I don't have a big maze-shaped garden in my backyard to hide from her when she comes after me with an axe. Let's hope it doesn't come down to that.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Organ Donation

Many people are uncomfortable with organ donation. They don't want to think about their own death, or don't like the idea of being all "hacked up". Many more aren't ready to think about this topic immediately at the time of their loved one's death, or are concerned about violating a loved one's wishes.

Here's something you may not know: if you do want to be an organ donor, you had better alert your family of this because once you are gone, the decision is basically theirs. It doesn't matter if it is on your driver's license. It doesn't matter if you are listed with an organ donation registry. At the time of your death, if your next of kin isn't agreeable to the donation, it doesn't happen.

The other day, a thirty-something male intentionally overdosed on cocaine. His dingbat girlfriend drove around with him for several hours before bringing him in to the ER. By that time he had suffered a major stroke. After several days in the ICU, there was nothing left that we could do. He had no will, and unfortunately, his next of kin was his 18 year-old daughter. She wasn't very close to him, and definitely wasn't prepared to make any decisions. Eventually, life support was withdrawn and he died. Despite being listed on his license as an organ donor, his daughter had never discussed his wishes with him, and she wasn't comfortable making that decision. I don't blame her. She's very young, and it is a difficult predicament to be in. However, at the same time, the guy was fairly young and healthy, and at least his death could have helped several people.

Talk to you family or spouse, whatever you decide.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

October Skies

I think it's official... summer stuck around here kind of late, but all of a sudden, it's gone. Unfortunately, the sunny skies disappeared at the same time as my stupid cold symptoms. It has rained every day this week, which doesn't bode well for my contractor showing up and getting my driveway redone before the winter arrives. All of the bulbs and dead-plant replacements that I ordered weeks ago finally showed up and are actively drying up in the garage since even I am not crazy enough to plant bulbs during lightning storms. I was scrambling to get the lawn mowed this afternoon as the first few raindrops started to fall.

It is also no coincidence that with the cooler weather, I am finding myself hungry all the time. I guess it is time to put away the sunscreen and re-vamp my gym regimen.


Monday, October 08, 2007


I spent this past weekend in "Nearly Canada" finishing up my Open Water Diver Certification course. The last part of the course involves completing four dives over a two-day period. The water was cold enough that we had to wear wetsuits, hoods, and gloves. While wearing all of that equipment made performing our basic technical tasks awkward, I am also confident that I will have a much easier time in warmer water.

To my surprise, we did shore entries on all four dives. I think that shore entries are much more physicially exhausting because you have to strap on all of your weights, tank, BCD (buoyancy control device) and clambor down a plank while holding onto your fins and mask and hoping that you don't fall on your rubber-encased butt. In a boat, you can just gear up and jump off.

The bay where we were diving was pretty cool because there was an old ship that had sunk right there off the shore many years ago. Although visibility wasn't more than about 20 feet, I did get to see a few fish and some interesting wreckage. However, most of my time was spent trying to focus on my breathing, not dropping to the bottom or bursting to the surface.

Saturday night I spent in a roadside motel. While the staff was extremely friendly, I was more than thankful that I hadn't seen that recent slasher film about motels in the middle of nowhere. I guess it was actually kind of quaint... if you like wood paneling, shag carpet, and red lighting in the bathroom! There wasn't even a deadbolt on the door. Yikes.

Today, I am surprisingly sore. My calves ache, despite all of my running this past summer. My shoulders hurt... which I kind of expected given that I have the upper body strength of your average 7 year-old girl. However, when I take a deep breath, my entire rib cage hurts. I think I pulled every single one of my intercostals!

The reason that I pushed to get the course finished is that I have another adventurous vacation with "The Phoenix" coming up in a couple of weeks. With being at opposite ends of the country for residency, we decided that the best way to stay close friends would be to vacation together. So after suriving our crazy Grand Canyon hike, we decided that SCUBA would be the next adventure.

Friday, October 05, 2007


Entirely forgot to mention our first procedure: a cricothyrotomy.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

All in a Day's Work

This evening I was watering some of the plants out in the front yard when I overheard some of my neighbors talking about their daily activities. I ended up with somewhat of a smirk on my face because I wonder what they would think if they only knew what I was up to.


Yesterday, we had a morning of lectures, reviewed journal articles, the usual stuff. Then, in the afternoon, I went to cadaver lab with all of the other second-year residents. There were enough to go around that we worked in teams of two. Our mission was to basically perform as many procedures as we could with the equipment that we had available over the course of two hours.

My partner and I went right to work. We did venous cutdowns on both ankles, both thighs, closed and open DPL's (Unfortunately, my buddy perforated the bowel on that one, which made us in a bigger hurry to get out of there!), a couple of Burr holes, bilateral chest tubes, followed by a thoracotomy. The idea is that some of these procedures we may not actually get to perform during our residency time, or even during our careers (DPL's are kind of obsolete) and we should at least be somewhat familiar with the basic technique.

It was helpful to be in a low-stakes environment to practice, rather than our typical on-the-spot trauma bay learning, with tons of people watching and judging. And there's always something somewhat amazing about holding a lung or heart in your hands, even if it is not actively beating.

After that, I picked up my friend at the airport. He offered to thank me by buying dinner, and although I may not be the brightest crayon in the box, I am certainly not dumb enough to turn down a free meal! We ended up going to the casino that he's been trying to drag me to since we started residency. After dinner, I watched him play craps (I wasn't confident enough about strategy to fork over any of MY money, but I was more than happy to roll the dice with his!). I finally pulled him away from the table an hour and a half later and $95 richer, so technically, I think he owes me another dinner since it didn't actually cost him anything!


Today's activities were much more common. I went to work, sat through some lectures, and followed it up with an evening of watching television and baking chocolate chip cookies. Not exactly the satisfaction of hand-drilling into someone's skull, but still a good day.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Ode to the Taxi Cab Driver

The hours are horrific,
His sense of direction uncanny.
His malodorous backseat
Has carried many a large fanny.

That guy on the corner--
"Where to?", no other question.
A good driver knows
There's more pay for discretion.

A gunshot or stab wound
Gets driven with haste.
When they prepay,
There's no time to waste!

Drop him at the ER,
Somewhere near the door.
At $2.80 per mile,
That is all he paid for.

The man in the lot,
His story, no one knows.
"Hey wait, Mr. Cab Driver!"
But silently he goes.

With a screech, he drives off
To the next airport or bar.
Wherever it is,
May the next fare go far!