Thursday, July 12, 2012

The digital ball and chain

A small fire/explosion has taken out the electronic systems in the hospital. Digital records, booking systems, email and the internal website are completely inaccessible and no one knows quite when the system will come back on line. Needless to say it is chaos.

It has me wondering if the electronic systems are worth it. If our systems are so easily and completely disrupted, are they worth convenience? All the news reports proudly exclaim that patient care is not affected. I admire their (whoever they are) optimism. 

Month 2 of headache.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

My nonadvice advice on maternity leave planning - and really anything else.

When I was pregnant with my son (forever ago in medical school) many people had advice for me; particularly regarding when I took off work and how long to take off. At first I listened to everyone. I had never had a kid before so what did I know.

And then I started reading mommy/doctor mommy blogs. At first it seemed like a horrible idea that was going to drive me crazy. There are stories of everything from doctors who had persisted, completing surgeries as they went into labour, to babies born early after a complicated pregnancy. I would feel like disaster was upon me and then that I was a wimp if I couldn't be a work horse until I was at 39 weeks.

Finally I realized that you can't have fixed expectations or rules about what your pregnancy is going to be. And you especially can't compare your experience to others, because every pregnancy is different. Just about everyone has advice, usually based on their experience, almost always given with the best of intentions. My only advice is to listen to people's point of view as it was intended and then decide for yourself. Your particular health/work/childcare/family/financial situation and a hundred other variables play into how you handle future planning. Even if you have never had a kid before, you are the expert of your life and no one can give you better advice than your gut can.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Pain in the...

I get migraines. I know it is a very common condition and seems to be even more common in this continental city with its high altitude and dramatic weather shifts. They used to be horrible, occurring every couple of weeks accompanied by vomiting and committing me to at least 10hour of incapacity.

After stopping birth control they went away completely for awhile but came back slowly over time (I suspect 24hr call shifts may have had something to do with that). Despite this I have never been too disabled by them because I can almost always abort them with ibuprofen; 600mg gel caps (no skimping) at the beginning of the aura and nausea is the secret.

Recently, however, I am plagued by a new beast. I have had a headache everyday for more than 3 weeks. It crept up on my slowly, bred from all the usual suspects: lack of sleep, lack of exercise, too much stress, bad posture. Now it has grown to inhabit what feels like a permanent home at the back of my head and is eating my energy. Between the regular burnout and the grinding constant pain, I have very little focus, patience, sympathy, empathy left - not a good combination of deficits for a physician.

Now that it has settled in, it seems to have built a fortress around itself. Ibuprofen, or anything else in my armament, doesn't touch it. Time to start another long day.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Reality is so boring

Sometime in my extensive hiatus, blogger added stats to my page. I don't think it is very good for my ego. Most of my page views were for a particular post that had a bunch of comments in Chinese. I suspect they were not about medicine or motherhood. I will never know what they said (I am not curious enough to learn Mandarin or even try to run them through a translator) but I would guess they were a little off colour, because many of my page links were from xxxtacy(dot)com. Though even more were from a Chinese furniture sight. Weird.

So to run up my views for purely reasons of personal ego, here is a list of things trending on twitter:
Stephen Jackson
Captain Jack
Django Unchained
Tony Parker
Carrie Underwood

Unless Marty refers to the zebra in the Madagascar movies, I have no idea what any of these things mean.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Un Memoir

I have a terrible memory. It is even worse for personal details. If I were asked to write a memoir it would be about 25 pages long and consist of 2-3 page stories that were completely disconnected and followed no particular theme. I think I realized this from a very early age and, as a result, I have kept journals on and off for good chunks of my earlier life.

However, a poor memory, for someone as socially inept as I tend to be, is a protective mechanism. I have come to realize that time can particularly heal all wounds for me, or at least I forget about them completely before they even stop bleeding. It is actually pretty reassuring that some moment of red faced humiliation will be blunted and dull in about a week, and completely obliterated in a couple of months. So I have long since given up recording my life and have thrown away any previous evidence.

The down side to this is reliving this episodes as friends tell them back to you. I have been in more conversations than I can count (literally, I have no idea how many) where a friend tells me "I tell everyone that story about how you ___. It is hilarious." If it is recent enough a spark of recognition will be lighted and I feel my embarrassment afresh. Sometimes I have no idea what they are talking about and I try to switch the conversation to a different topic.

I have no idea what this will mean for me in my declining years. Hopefully it continues to be life's disappointments and humiliations that continue to drain slowly and reliably out of my head, leaving only choice memories. If not, at least those are the ones that are documented in pictures and videos.

That reminds me. It is about time that I backed up my hard drive.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It takes a village. So why do we keep tearing down each others hut?

I had a very interesting conversation over dinner tonight.

A little bit of background - I am attending a symposium on early brain development. It is the result of a wealthy philanthropist who has made great efforts to alert policy makers to the importance of early life experiences to maximize a child potential. There are people from research, healthcare, education and government. A more varied group than I generally hang out with.

For some reason over rhubarb pie and chocolate mousse (both for me) the discussion turned to why mother's are not more supportive of each other. One lady with children in early school years relayed how she had originally joined a mother's group when she had her first baby. She didn't last longer than 6 months because, rather than being a place of support and collective wisdom, the women talked about what mini-van they were going to buy and judge each other.

I have many opportunities to talk with parents and they often tell me about their fears for their children. Of course many of the parents have very specific fears like "how will the stroke affect my baby?" or "will the medication control the seizures?". But many have visible stress about breast feeding, sleep schedules, education plans, etc. And apparently many have difficulty talking about these issues with their mother friends.

The comment field of any mommy blog is a good indication of why mom's might be reluctant to discuss these things. The level of condemnation and judgement is beyond disappointing. I am obviously not the first person to talk about this so I was surprised when one of the women at dinner asked "Why would mothers do this to each other?"

Aside from a couple of naturally nasty and self righteous women (lets face it, some people just suck), I think that most mothers do this from a place of insecurity. They are naturally insecure about their own skills as a parent and they are trying to hold on to something that they feel they are doing right.
  • "What do you mean you give your baby a blanket? My child is in a sleep sack (which is much better; look I am a good mom)"
  • "You co-sleep with your child? My baby was sleep trained at 3 months (I am desperate to do everything I can to make sure they will be independent and successful)"
  • "You don't co-sleep with your child? My baby sleeps with us every night (I am desperate to make sure they feel love even though they are in a daycare during the day)"
  • "What do you mean you supplement with formula? I exclusively breast fed to 9 months, 12  months, 2 years (I am UBER mom, my child will have to turn out ok, right? right?)"
But I also assumed that most people thought this as well. Am I wrong? Or maybe I am delusional. Maybe it is my way of deflecting the judgement of others. Maybe more people suck than I think.

Everything old is new again

I have recently taken up twitter (I choose to consider myself retro rather than old). Not that my thoughts are overly sophisticated, but I am finding the short form frustrating. So I am back to the long form.

We will see if my schedule, attention and/or energy will persist. I appreciate any comments or suggestions to keep me on track.

I will try to think of a coherent, relevant post in the next couple of days (I can feel my resolve weakening already). In the meantime here is a picture from my first solo nature walk in ~ 6 months.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

And other cliches
This past week my husband took Harold out of town to visit the extended family. They were gone for three days making the rounds to various grand-aunts and uncles, second cousins and a great-grandmother. They were gone for 5 days.

While they were away I realized how all my classmates actually found time to study during clerkship. I did all the housework, went for walks to get coffee, did a bunch of reading for my rotation and even some pre-reading for half day. I wouldn't ever give up the support and love of my family, but it was a short glimpse into how, without them, there would be a lot more room in my day to devote to medicine.

By the time they came back Harold had learned how to wave bye bye, can sit back down from standing without a crash landing (he learned to pull to stand a couple of weeks ago), and started shrieking when he wants something. Well that last one is not so charming... but it is just like "they" say. They grow up so fast (sniff) and every moment I miss is something that I can't get back.