Wednesday, December 23, 2009

the answer

Sorry I kept forgetting to post and instead left the blog on a cliffhanger. The Navy gave Jack his first choice for residency!

Merry Christmas-eve-eve!

Monday, December 14, 2009

down to the wire

Two days from now, the military match results come out, which means that the Navy tells Jack where he'll do his residency... and thus, where we'll spend the next three years-- and to which location I'll have to limit my rank list in a few months.

I've been telling everyone for weeks that I'm no longer freaking out about this. God knows what He's doing, everything will work out, I'm sure it'll be fine, I got the worrying out of my system months ago, etc. etc. etc. All true.

But realizing that it's happening NOW? That in LESS THAN 48 HOURS the results will be final? That a large governmental bureaucracy is about to announce its decision that will affect the REST OF OUR LIVES in a rather large way?

Yeah, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.

(This also has the effect of causing me to avoid, for the past week or so, my usual hobby of intermittently checking out apartments on Craigslist in the cities where we could be sent. Because apparently my subconscious has decided that by looking, I would somehow affect the decision and jinx our entire future. Logical, no?)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


First, a warning, prominently posted in the student break room of the radiology department:

We were greeted on our first day of radiology with extensive exhortations not to take food or beverages into the reading room (the room with all the computers where the radiologists work). The food rule, it was explained, was to avoid mice. Fair enough. Then we were told that beverages used to be allowed, until the day some hapless student dropped an unopened can of Coke on the floor and it exploded all over his attending. From that day forward, no drinks.

This news was heralded with some mild grumbling, of course, but we took it in stride.

Then, what did our innocent disbelieving eyes see, but this:

What is that, there, in his hand? we asked ourselves. What is that attending holding?

The answer? Coffee. (If you can't make it out in the blurry cell-phone close-up taken in a dark room, trust me. That's what it is.)

Was this for real? Surely it was just a fluke! After all, Beverages Aren't Allowed In The Reading Room.

Alas, we learned it was not just an aberration, as we became more and more jaded over the following weeks. Observe (and note that all the photos in this post were taken over the course of one day).

Illegal water bottle:

Illegal pop can:

Illegal (and very hard to see from across the room, I'll grant) coffee:

Yes, it's true. With our naive acceptance of the "no beverages" rule, we hadn't realized that the rule apparently only applied to us. Students may not take drinks into the reading room, because evidently students are not capable of holding drinks.

It's good to know we'll gain this valuable skill once we're granted our MDs, isn't it?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

screen time

So Jack and I decided that our Christmas present to each other this year would be a new TV.

Not that the old one doesn't work, mind you. It works fine... and it was free (from Jack's aunt), which is even better. But it was just.... huge.

I mean, seriously, look at this thing. It's massive, and almost unbelievably heavy.

The observant among you will note that in the above picture, the morbidly obese TV has been relegated to the basement. This should be a clue that we got a fairly exciting UPS delivery the other day!

Ain't it purty? It's all sleek and shiny and... non-enormous.

The screen is actually a few inches larger, but it takes up a much smaller footprint in our living room.

Now for review purposes....

Tired and hopelessly overweight TV:

Thin, svelte, glamorous TV:

(Note: My intent is just to be mildly humorous, not to offend those who have weight problems, nor to suggest that they cannot be glamorous and should thus be relegated to the basement. This should be a "duh," but with the internet, you never know.)

Monday, December 7, 2009

o come all ye faithful

Last round of showing off our Christmas spirit!

The advent calendar:
(you can tell it was only the 3rd when I took this picture)

The advent wreath:
(for those unfamiliar, here's a link which explains the tradition and the colors)

And the Nativity scene:
(last year our then-3-year-old little friend Evvy broke the shepherd's legs off by accident... he's good as new thanks to the magic of super-glue, but we still laugh about it)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

let it snow

No, it's not snowing here yet. But our living room and kitchen are bountifully decorated with paper snowflakes!

these are left over from our wedding centerpieces last year

just barely visible through the sheers

see? pretty

We also have stockings hung-- not by the chimney, because we don't have one-- but in the window in the study. (Also left over from our wedding.)

And the family calendar made by my in-laws is also quite festive this time of year!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

o Christmas tree

We got our tree last weekend!

When I was growing up, we always had artificial Christmas trees. I loved the ritual of taking the tree out of the box and putting it together with the family. But Jack was adamant that he had to have a real tree. It was a point of contention for awhile, but after last year and now this year, I think I'm sold. I love that it's a living (for a while) part of God's creation... I love the little imperfections. And really... making sure it has enough water and cleaning up a few needles aren't really that big of a deal.

We also set up the mini tree... which is artificial, obviously.

It's probably older than I am... I think my sisters took it to college, and then I did. And then I kept it. (The plastic stand broke years ago, so my dad handily made me a new one out of a few layers of plywood sandwiched together.)

When we got our tree, the nursery also had wreaths for sale, so we got one of those on a whim, too.

I love the sharp piney smell that I get a whiff of every time I open the front door!

And the tree nursery also throws in a (small) free poinsettia when you buy a tree. Pretty.

(I prefer the red poinsettias by far. I can deal with the yellow ones though they're not my favorite, but I see people selling all kinds of bizarre colors. Blue sprinkled with gold glitter? Seriously?)

Friday, December 4, 2009

God rest ye merry

Seeing a little Christmas cheer in our windows as I got into my car early on a weekday morning is just bound to make the day a little brighter.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

adventures in the reading room

I'm currently taking a radiology rotation. Now, at most schools, radiology rotations entail strolling down to the reading room, looking at x-rays and CT scans with the doctors for a couple hours, then heading home. At our school, the radiology rotations entail 40 hours a week of... watching radiologists do their jobs.

In any case, the rotation is divided into four weeks of different types of images. The first week, I was assigned to watch musculoskeletal images being read (x-rays of broken bones, knee MRIs, etc.).... this week it's neuro (brain CT scans, spine x-rays)... next week it's gastrointestinal/genitourinary stuff, and the fourth week it'll be cardiopulmonary images.

Now we have a weekly schedule telling us which radiologist will be reading which types of images on any given day, so we know whom we'll be with on any given day. The other morning I was assigned to Dr. E, with Dr. S scheduled for the afternoon.

The morning went fine... Dr. E was nice and a good teacher. Then we went to lunch conference, which was being led by my resident. Halfway through, another resident stuck his head in and told him, "Oh hey, apparently Dr. S isn't going to be in until 3:30 or 4."

Now, here is a vitally important difference between third year and fourth year. My third-year self, upon hearing this news, would have gotten dejected, sighed, and thought resignedly, "I guess I'm going to be here late." My fourth-year self immediately thought, "Oh heck no!!!" and instantly began planning how to get out of there.

As soon as the hour was over and we began filing out of the room, I turned to my resident and said incredulously, "Is Dr. S really not going to be here until 4??" ...hoping that he would realize my situation and say, "Oh, you know what? There's no point in you sticking around until then. Why don't you go home?" But instead, he just shrugged. Hmph. Well, that didn't work.

Upon re-entering the reading room, I spotted Dr. E still sitting at a computer monitor. I positioned myself strategically beside him, hoping that he was just finishing up some images from the morning and would soon leave... giving me the perfect opportunity to leave as well. But instead he smiled and said, "Oh, I'm not doing neuro this afternoon, but you're welcome to stick with me anyway," before turning back to the screen.

Oh no no no no no. This would not do. I might very well learn valuable information from Dr. E if I stayed with him through the afternoon, but I was not about to risk being kept there with Dr. E until 3:45, and then having Dr. S show up and being obliged to follow him until who-knows-when.

So I did what a third-year student would never do. I waited until an appropriate pause in his dictating, then spoke up smilingly, "Um, Dr. E? If you're not doing neuro this afternoon, and Dr. S isn't going to be here until 4, is it okay if I just go home and get some studying done?" "Oh, sure, go ahead," he replied benignly.

Fourth year? Is awesome.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

make like a tree and get outta here

The other week, the city came and collected all the leaves on our street that people had raked to the curb.

This may not seem interesting enough to be the subject of a blog post, but it was interesting to me. I was home when they came to collect them, and I was bizarrely delighted and intrigued by the whole process.

When I texted my friend Jax to share my excitement, she replied, unimpressed, "Haven't you ever seen a leaf truck before?"

And the answer is, no! I lived in the country until I went away to college... then I lived in a dorm until I went to med school... then I lived in a shabby little apartment complex until I married Jack. I didn't even know cities collected leaves until last year.

And now my inner 7-year-old was looking out the window with glee, thinking nothing but, "THERE'S A BULLDOZER MAKING A GIANT PILE OF LEAVES IN FRONT OF MY HOUSE!!!"

Let me tell you, I was this close to going outside and taking a flying leap into that puppy. Well... at least in my head.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

oooh, burn

In yesterday's inbox:

We have begun our review of applications for possible interview invitations at [prestigious medical training program]. We have over 700 applicants and can only offer approximately 250 interviews. We have reviewed your application but are unsure at this point if we will be able to offer you an interview. We would like to finish our review of applications and see if we have enough space left to schedule applicants on our "hold" list. We hope to be able to extend you a firm offer to interview in the near future.

Ouch, I'm on the hold list! I wonder, is that like the blacklist? Or the sh--list? Evidently not at all like the wishlist. Hmph.

Friday, November 20, 2009

oh hey

I'm totally going to start greeting people like this.

Monday, November 16, 2009

waxing poetic

Ohio, how do I love you? Let me count the ways:

I love you for your changing of the seasons.

I love you for your prices within reason.

I love you for your waving fields of corn,

...and 'cause you are the place where I was born.

I love you for your Krogers and your Meijers,

...and for your pleasant lack of wildfires.

rain has to be good for something besides agriculture, right?

I love you 'cause your traffic's not a mess.

I love your honest unpretentiousness.

likely to be understood only by Ohio State Fair attenders... here's an explanatory link for the rest of you

(I even love your icy winter streets...
And that, you must admit, is quite a feat.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

veterans day

Also, just feeling the need to mention the day. According to the VA, the United States has had 48 million veterans, 23 million of whom are living.


One problem often faced in medical education is that, when seeing a particularly rare, serious, or classic presentation of a disease, the first impulse for students and residents is usually to say, “Oh, cool!” …after which, the immediate second impulse is to feel like an insensitive jerk.

I’m guilty of this myself. Of course I don’t think it’s cool that the patient who was admitted with anemia is discharged with a diagnosis of soon-to-be renal failure. But following the course, and observing the lines of reasoning, and then watching the pathologist point out the problem on the biopsy? That’s pretty exciting, from a learner’s perspective. (The resident, looking at the slide, exclaimed, “Wow, that’s so cool! --Well, I mean, it’s not cool for the patient…”)

On my Ob-Gyn rotation last year, a fellow student and I were discussing this problem. We were both killing time in the pre-op area, and I was animatedly describing the surgery I had just seen, in which the middle-aged woman who went in for a hysterectomy (she had endometriosis or something, I think) was discovered, on the operating table, to have what looked like cancer.

And all of a sudden we looked at each other and realized how much that sucked, and how weird and kind of disturbing it was that we were smiling and chattering about it like football fans reliving a particularly thrilling touchdown. So right then and there we coined a new word for such situations: learnful.

Not that I actually say “learnful” in most situations… because really, almost no one would know what I meant, they’d give me weird looks, and I’d be no better off. But still, it’s a good way to think about it. The best way to learn about disease is by seeing it, and yes, learning is cool. But we’re still talking about real people here, and real lives being ruined. And that is definitely not cool.

Friday, November 6, 2009

jargon, the sequel

Check it out! Answers!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


So I've noticed that in Southern California, the lingo requires that you put a "the" in front of all highway names. So whereas in Ohio, we say "take I-75 until you get to the exit for 475"... here people talk about "the 5" or "the 101."

Why is that? And is it strictly a SoCal thing-- as this Wikipedia article might lead one to believe-- or do people do it elsewhere too?

It's kind of a hard question to Google.

And now, a slightly-related video! (Song introduced to me by my youngest sis-in-law when she burned me a pair of birthday CDs. Thanks, Clare!)


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

knit one

I've been knitting fairly steadily for over 7 years now... a variety of hats, scarves, socks, gloves, mittens, baby clothes for the nieces & nephews. But I never got brave enough to tackle an adult-size sweater.

UNTIL NOW! (Dun dun dunnnnn...)

I'm working on knitting this cardigan. I started it back at the end of September... at first I worked on it a lot, so it was going very quickly, but since I started this rotation in SD I've been going much more slowly.

Here's the sweater as it was just before I left Ohio (so, maybe 3 weeks ago).

Sadly, I'm not much further than that. The second sleeve is a few inches longer now, but I've still got a couple inches to go.

Here's a close-up of the "pintucked" panel on the front. The other picture is much more accurate in terms of the color of the yarn, though.
It's this yarn, in the colorway "Cordovan," which is #863 (far right in the second picture from the bottom, if you click the link). It's this very dark brown with reddish undertones. Pretty. (It's much prettier than the picture in that link, actually. Which goes to show that it's almost impossible to accurately photograph yarn for some reason, because I never would have chosen this color from that picture alone.)

What I'm most nervous about is that I'll finish it, weave in all the ends, block, and it'll still turn out looking amateurish and awful and not something I'll ever want to wear.

That's the problem with knitting... it's such a time-commitment for something you can't see the results of until you put in the time! So you just have to keep going and trust in a wish and a prayer that it'll be worth it. (Of course, I do enjoy the knitting itself. But it does kind of suck to put in a lot of effort and have nothing to show for it.)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Seals (not the Navy variety)

My resident this month really, really wants me to have fun during my rotation here in San Diego. She keeps making suggestions and giving me ideas of fun things to do and saying things like "If it's 4:30 and nothing interesting is going on, I want you to go home." Since she doesn't know me very well, though, she gives me suggestions all over the spectrum, from the coolest places to go out and experience the night life, to winery tours, to beaches and parks, to restaurants, etc.

Last weekend (the one a week ago, not the most recent one) Jack and I took her up on an idea and drove up to La Jolla to see the seals.

First we went to the nearby La Jolla Cove beach.

We climbed down (there were stairs, no worries) and got sand between our toes.

We may or may not have thrown caution to the wind and let our jeans get soaked with saltwater. (Okay, we did.)

We messaged pictures like these to our friends and family back in Ohio:

Then we walked over toward the Children's Pool area. We spotted some pelicans along the way:

Then we came up to where we could see the seals lounging and frolicking on the beach.
I don't think I've ever seen seals in real life... not in a zoo or anything. And certainly not in the wild as these were (though they didn't seem to mind our close presence).

They're so funny-looking, really! All long slippery torso, with tail and flippers added on almost as an afterthought.

But pretty, too. They were so awkward on the sand, hoisting themselves up and squirming along, but so graceful in the water. And so cute in their weird, unfamiliar way.