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.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Infection Control
This week there has been an outbreak of H1N1 in one of the wards of the hospital I work at. They quarantined the ward (no new patients, only staff that we necessary for patient care and only close family visitors). While H1N1 has been largely a mild disease this outbreak is where the kidney transplant kids (among others) stay.

I have always been pretty good about washing my hands at the hospital. I was quite proud of myself for going through all of clerkship without picking up any nasty bugs. But this outbreak has given me (and I think a lot of the other staff as well) considerable pause. While many of us might have previously been inclined to work through illnesses or gripe about how long it takes to "gown up", everyone is reaching for the hand sanitizer after and before every patient now. It is great that everyone is taking infection control more seriously now, and it will definitely decrease passing infection between patients.

There are already 5 residents off on sick leave. They will all be gone for at least 5 days to prevent spreading infection to any other patients (so far there are only two confirmed infected patients). This is creating havoc with the call schedules. I think the chief residents have doubled their grey hairs in the past week.

It also makes me think of Harold. I am now responsible to stay healthy to take care of him as well as to prevent passing a bug along to my patients.

But H1N1 is now a community acquired infection. Many of the kids I see in emergency (my present placement) most likely have it. We don't even considering testing for it unless the patient has to come into hospital. Most people with the infection aren't even being seen by doctors.

Now that Harold is in daycare he has a good chance of picking it up regardless of what I do. And if he does, I am probably not far behind. The only up side would be that I no longer have to feel bad about staying home when I am sick.

Monday, July 06, 2009

What do you think?

I haven't posted in awhile for all the regular reasons (too much in the to-do list and the regular cadre of everyday stuff getting in the way). But I have also been struggling over what I should be concentrating on in this blog.

Now that I am a doctor and all official like, I am somewhat reluctant to post about medical stories. Pediatric neurology is a very small specialty and there is no way to make these stories completely anonymous. To protect myself and the little ones that I am lucky enough to take care of, I don't want to expose them to the whims and harsh stares of the internet.

Then there is being a mother. Harold is a huge part of my life and is continually surprising me, mostly with normal progression of babydom. I could use this blog to tell little stories about how pleased, but also scared I am now that he is standing and able to reach a whole new world of mischief. While all of that gives me endless pleasure, I don't really think it is worth your or my time to dwell on so much navel gazing.

I could use this blog to broadcast all my ranks, displeasures and pet peeves. But usually, by the time I have a spare moment to write something I have either forgotten or no longer have the rage fueled energy to post about the jerk in traffic or how stupid the government's latest move to "improve" healthcare is.

So what do you think? What would you like to read about?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Long time coming

A lot has happened since I last posted. Not surprising since it has been such a long time.

I am now two days away from being done medical school.

I anticipated that these past 8 weeks (my make-up time for the "maternity leave" I took in the fall) would feel long, and they certainly haven't disappointed in that regard. I had my obstetrics and gynecology rotation first. It had been shortened from 6 weeks to 4 for the new class (or which I am temporarily a member). Unfortunately the director had been quite disappointed that the rotation had been shortened and wanted to make sure that we had as much experience in the 4 weeks that clerks had previously spread over the 6. This made for a particularly grueling rotation with lots of long hours and no time for studying. Bad enough if all you are trying to study for is the rotation test but even more frustrating for me trying to study for my licensing exam. At least they were kind enough to let me take the day off to write the test. (I still don't know my results, the dread of which still haunts me.)

I am not usually a huge complainer. I (at least in my own conception of myself) usually just go about getting done what needs to be done and don't whine. But there was a point in April while all of my classmates were sleeping in, sitting on their asses studying and complaining on facebook about being bored and I was doing crazy busy call, taking care of Harold whenever I was home and trying to sneak the odd cramming in that I was about ready to start my own pirate radio station just to bitch. "You think you're tired !?! Let me tell you"

Well I got through that. Then the next rotation was cardiology, busy but no call and I was usually home at a reasonable hour. But then there was graduation. I had fun at the graduation dinner but the whole thing was a bit depressing. Everyone was referring to themselves as "Dr". Aside from just finishing another day of my medical student rotation, I was reminded in a bunch of ways that I was not really a member of the group. No gown or hat for me. I didn't get fancy graduation pen with my name on it. My actual convocation will be small, with people I don't know - I might not even bother to go if I have to take time off of work.

Right now I am on an elective in my chosen field. It is kind of nice to get a bit of a relaxed intro to residency. I am still a medical student with no real responsibility but I am getting to know people in the program better and sort some of the paperwork and details out. The only problem is that I am completely burnt out and just counting the days and hours until vacation. I would like to be all keen and engaged but I can barely focus during a conversation. Not the best impression to start with.

In other news, Harold is doing really well. But that update will wait for another post.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Settling In and Strained Peas

I am starting to get used to the idea of residency and the idea that I will be a doctor with little munchkins under my care. And I am also getting really excited about it. Clerkship has been great but there have definitely been parts that were greater than others. Moving to more and more experience that is relevant to my chosen vocation is welcome.

In the meantime I have 11 weeks of clerkship to finish. The rest of my class has 3. 8 weeks is not very long for a maternity leave but right now, with the rest of my class making plans for their 2 months off and having abundant time to study for their licensing exam, it seems interminably long. Not to mention that spring keeps threatening to emerge (not this weekend, this weekend it snowed 10cm) and mock me as I am trapped in the hospital.

I am just going to have to swear off facebook, put my head down and plow through. And ask for the evening off to go to my graduation dinner.

In other news we have started the little guy on food. So far he has tried rice cereal, butternut squash, carrots, yams and honeydew melon. The melon is by far his favorite but most things go down pretty good. Each weekend I have cooked and froze (as directed here) vegetables to eat through the week. I was thinking again today how having a kid changes your life in a million little ways you don't think of. I never would have thought "strain peas" would be on my to-do list.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Today was match day.....

And I got my first choice.

Which mostly has me scared out of my mind

But when it came to ranking I had to go with my heart. I am still scared out of my mind but I have 4 months to get used to the idea.

And we will be staying put, close to friends and families and our favourite restaurants. A small part of me is sorry that we will not be heading out somewhere new, somewhere adventurous, but I am confident that this is was the best decision for us. Anything to avoid a move :)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Decision Making

Today was the day that our rank lists were due. I had arrived at a list I was fairly confident in about a week ago. Yesterday I started having doubts but, after gazing at it, I made only minor changes and went to bed happy.

This morning I had more doubts. Basically I have been deciding between two specialties. One that is more narrow and I have less experience in. The experience I did have was some of my favorite parts of clerkship but it is hard to know how representative those three weeks were. The other is more broad and I have done enough time to know that I would be happy there.

Then there is location. All the programs I interviewed at are reasonable so it comes down to where we want to live.

The deadline is passed and now I just have to wait and live with the result. I know that I would be happy in any of the programs and either specialty. So why I am stressed now? I have always been happy with the gut decisions I have made in the past and I have no reason to think this will be different. I think what is bothering me is the uncertainty. Once it is over, whatever the result is, I will be happier. Just a week and a half before this theory is tested.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Bad Blogger, bad blogger.

I really have meant to stay more in touch. And I can't say that I have had nothing to talk about.

I have recently completed the CaRMS tour, a whirl wind trip around the country to interview for residency spots for those not familiar with this particular circus. I traveled from St John's Newfoundland to Vancouver BC and many spots in between; including 10 flights, a car trip, many random bed and breakfasts, hostels and couches. It was hard being away from Harold for such long periods but my mother-in-law came to help take the strain off the Hubby and everything went really well.

It was a surreal experience seeing so much of this gigantic country in such a short period, often spending less than a day in many new places. I hope to go back to many of them, but I don't think I would pick January/February. We heard "it usually isn't this cold" at almost every stop (not Vancouver of course, there were bike riders wearing t-shirts). I remain incredulous.

Now the task of trying to decide our futures. I have to rank the different programs. I applied to more than one discipline; neurology and pediatric neurology. Not really that different I know but it adds another level to the decision making. I think I have mostly arrived at a decision but I will share more about that after match day (March 9th). I don't want to upset the matching gods and inadvertently jinx myself.

In the meantime I finished surgery (though not the exam, I was in Toronto that day). The next two weeks will be Emergency and then Family. I am starting to feel a little left behind with my classmates already on the home stretch. Many of them will be on their last rotation and are focusing on the liscencing exam or vacation planning. I know the 8 weeks that I have to make up is not really very long, but I think it will feel pretty long when all my classmates have already flown the coop.*Don't worry, he is well within arms reach of my husband.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Adventures in boob land

With a whole month between posts you might think I would have more to talk about (Christmas, school, momming) but things are pretty routine. Desperately trying to keep my head above water, but routine.

This post from a newly discovered blog has inspired me to post again. My little guy is now approaching 4 months and has been exclusively breast fed so far. This is the ideal that is promoted at every pre-natal, post-natal, vaccination, lecture, bus stop ad and match book cover (or at least that is the way it seems). Despite it being the natural option it is certainly not as easy as it might look. Child birth is "natural" too and that was no walk in the park either so I am not really surprised.

Things have been going pretty well for me and the little guy. I have friends who have not been able to keep it up nearly as long for a variety of reasons. While on leave I managed a modest stock of frozen baggies and have pumped (usually) twice a day now that I have returned to the hospital. Being a medical student with absolutely no control over my time, pumping usually means stealing 15 minutes away crouched on a toilet eating with one hand and trying to hold two pumping funnels on with the other. If this doesn't evoke a mental picture I will just tell you, it is not fun.

Sometimes I find an unoccupied call room where my pump and I can have a little more comfortable alone time. Which has probably led most of the cleaning staff to think I am having some kind of elicit midday affair ala "Grey's Anatomy".

After a few weeks of this my supply started to drop off. Combined with a growth spurt this made for a couple frustrating days for the boy and ate up all of our frozen reserve. My doctor put me on Domperidone - a gut motility agent that has raised prolactin as a side effect; or a prolactin raiser with diarrhea and gut cramps as a side effect. Holding a scope for a lap chole while your small intestine spams is also... not fun. But it worked and we are back to pumping enough to fatten the little guy up.

These problems are minor but med school and mothering are already pretty challenging undertakings and I am starting to resent the extra effort. For now I will keep at it but I can sympathize with all the other mothers out there that have sped the transition to formula or solids.

Happy New Year