Sunday, June 28, 2009

Easy as...

Can she make a cherry pie,
Billy Boy, Billy Boy? '
Can she make a cherry pie,
Charming Billy?

Indeed, she can.

There were fresh cherries at the grocery store this week, along with a useful item I never really knew existed: a cherry pitter. (Mine is not as fancy as that one, being plastic; however, it is cuter, as it has pictures of cherries on it.) So in a fit of domesticity, I decided to bake a gen-you-wine, bona-fide homemade cherry pie. Fresh cherries, crust from scratch, and all.

Here's the aftermath:

Of course, that doesn't show the splatters of bright red cherry juice that went everywhere during the pitting process. Our kitchen trash can looks like the scene of a very small, contained triple homicide.

And I had to make brown sugar snails from the leftover crust, just like my mom always does. (Some people call them pinwheels, evidently, but I grew up calling them snails, so snails they shall remain.)

(Look closely and note the imprints where several of the goodies had been located.... before I ATE THEM.)

Saturday, June 27, 2009

In Which I Am Unwittingly Aided By The Shady Toledo Underworld

The other day, I woke up to a not-so-pleasant sight:

Yes, some ambitious soul had taken it upon himself (or herself, I suppose... vandalism and petty theft can be equal-opportunity crimes) to smash in the driver's side window of my car.

Safety glass shatters quite prettily, doesn't it?

Fortunately, the perp (that's my Law-and-Order knowledge of Police Jargon showing itself, right there) took nothing but an old purse which was completely and totally empty. Ha! Joke's on your, would-be purse-snatcher! I know, though, I know, it was stupid of me to leave anything purse-like in full view in my car. I have learned my lesson.

It strikes me odd that they didn't take anything else, though. I mean, it's not like I keep bags of diamonds in my backseat or anything, but they didn't mess with the CD player or anything like that. That's one good thing, at least.

So! With that thought, I'm counting this as a Blessing In Disguise. Doubtful? I shall list my reasons:

1- The smash-and-grab happened the night before nothing. I didn't have to go in to the hospital the next morning; in fact, I have no real need of my car for over a week. Seriously, what are the odds of such good timing?

2- Cleaning up the glass forced me to do some cleaning, in general, which my car desperately needed.

3- I spent the morning outside in the sunshine and fresh air (again, cleaning up glass, but whatever).

4- I met the neighbor across the street, who came over to put her hands on her hips, shake her head, and cluck her tongue in dismay that such a thing had happened. She also said she had been awake at 3AM and had seen a couple teens in a white Grand Am messing around in the street, and helpfully offered to report the incident to her brother-in-law, who is evidently a police officer.

And last, but definitely not least:

5- My car had been making a grinding sort of noise for a while now, but I had been procrastinating on taking it in to a mechanic. Well, this gave me a reason to do so, and surprise! The brakes are completely shot. I've apparently been driving around for weeks with no discernible brakes. Comforting thought, that.

So thanks, Petty Criminal Of Toledo, Vandal Extraordinaire. You never know, maybe you just saved my life!

Friday, June 26, 2009

the nerdiest room in the hospital

On the fourth floor of the hospital, in the little-known D wing, beyond a keypad-locked door... lies the Resident Call Suite. Or the Resident Lounge. Or whatever you want to call it. Most people just call it 4D.

4D consists of a long narrow hallway flanked by small rooms... mostly call rooms which contain nothing but a bed and a desk, where the residents sleep-- if they are so lucky-- when they work overnight at the hospital. There is also the Learning Lab, containing computers (for looking stuff up and checking one's email) and phones (for paging and dictating).

At the far end of the hallway, through a couple doors which seem to serve no real purpose, is the kitchen which is stocked with a couple fridges, a microwave, and free food (bagels and chips if you're lucky, string cheese and saltine crackers if you're not). Last in the string of common spaces is the lounge, which contains sagging couches, a large TV which is endlessly on, a ping-pong table, and a pop machine which gives out free pops. (Score!)

Probably the least-used common area in 4D, though, is.... well, actually, I'm not sure what it's called. It's got shelves lining one wall, a whiteboard on the other, and a large table in the middle strewn with textbooks:

(Really old textbooks, I might add:)
I've only ever seen this room used for two purposes. The first is for the occasional medical student who wants a quiet place to study-- since the so-called "Learning Lab" is usually full of not learning so much as seven or eight twenty-something young doctors engaging in loud and often profanity-peppered conversations about their families, their superiors, their work schedule, the latest exploits of their favorite athletic team, etc.

Note the sutures tied to a chair, where some medical student had no doubt retreated to practice tying surgical knots in peace:

The other purpose for the room is for the residents who occasionally feel pangs of guilt about making their medical students stand around, and really honestly want to make the rotation a Good Learning Experience for the students. So during some down time, they drag their students to this room and give them an impromptu lecture on IV fluid management, antibiotic use in septic shock, or (in this case, apparently) the physiology of the heart:

And so ends your tour of the Nerdiest Room In The Hospital. (I wish I had something witty to say to end this blog post, but I don't. So there you go. The end.)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Anatomy of a White Coat

Medical students are easy to spot in hospitals, for three main reasons:

1. They wear short (butt-length) white coats.
2. They are often seen following people with long white coats (the doctors), many times with a practiced, forced smile of pleasant expectation habitually on their faces.
3. Their pockets are loaded full of more stuff than the saddlebags on a pack mule.

see the smile? she will get a better grade than her bored classmate in the back.

The med student white coat, you see, is not to be confused with the attending physician white coat. Attendings are the head honchos of any medical team, so they are far too important to risk looking like pack mules. Their pockets are generally empty save for a shiny pen advertising Celexa or Zetia, the list of their patients, an iPhone or some equally fancy device, and-- if they're really on top of things-- perhaps a journal article they want their residents or students to read.

look how glamorous!

So here shall be revealed what the lowliest person on the medical team (the third-year medical student) is carrying around. Or at least, what I carry around, but I'd guess it's pretty typical.

Breast pocket:

1. Multiple pens, including one favored clicky or gel (or both!) pen, which I'll use until it runs out of ink... and at least one backup, a cheapy or found-on-the-floor pen. The backup is the one that, if a doctor asks, "Anyone have an extra pen?" I'll offer up. This way I appear helpful and avoid losing my favorite pen when the doctor then absentmindedly pockets it.

2. Penlight, for shining in patients' eyes and mouths.

3. Maxwell's Quick Medical Reference, much beloved by all medical personnel.

4. Smell-good lip balm... because I am, after all, a girl.

5. Alcohol pads for cleaning my stethoscope-- when I remember. Here's a comforting thought: your doctor's stethoscope may be the germiest thing in the whole hospital.

run away! run far far away!

6. Extra AAA batteries, because my cheap, school-distributed pager eats through them like you wouldn't believe.

7. Cell phone, for surreptitious text-messaging of the husband when I get bored on rounds.

note: my phone is not this cool

Left Outer Pocket:

1. My "cheat sheets"-- laminated cards outlining the basics of taking a history, listening for heart murmurs, reading EKGs, and deciding which antibiotics get used when.

2. Whatever snack or drink bottle I'm carrying around at the moment to quiet my grumbling stomach or keep myself from passing out from dehydration.

Left Inner Pocket:

1. Change purse (a cute one I got here) for storing my driver's license, debit card, and various cash & change... since neither the cafeteria nor the vending machines take plastic.

Right Outer Pocket:

1. Cheap, school-distributed pager mentioned above.

2. Handy-dandy little book of medications listing various info about the 1,000 most commonly used drugs-- brand & generic name, how it works, what it's used for, dosing, side effects, etc.

3. Highlighter(s), in constant rotation because they run low on ink so darn fast.

Right Inner Pocket:

1. Keys. (Self-explanatory.)

2. More laminated cheat sheets, these outlining differences in vital signs, lab values, etc. between adults & children. Most students probably don't still carry these around (they handed them out during our pediatrics rotation), but I do, because I want to go into peds and all that. Kids are my peeps, man. *insert fake gang sign, or something*

yeah, like this. you go, little dude.

3. Calendar/planner, which I mostly use, not so much for scheduling, as for (shh!) writing down the codes to all the keypad-locked doors in the hospital that I've learned so far. Don't go stealing my secret code book, now, or I will hunt you down!


1. Stethoscope slung around neck, unwisely without any kind of tag to identify it as mine if I misplace it (which has happened a couple times, but so far it's always been where I left it).

dr. miller has more foresight than I do

2. Some kind of study book, either carried around and used as a makeshift clipboard, or stuffed clumsily (if it's small enough) into a pocket.

3. Various other papers stuck wherever is handy-- patient lists, progress notes, hastily scribbled lab values, outlines of topics I've been told to read up on, etc.

4. ID badge clipped to lapel, identifying me as a MEDICAL STUDENT, complete with unflattering oily-faced photo. Oh, and the phrase "how may I help you?" in larger letters than my name... because if there's one thing med students learn during their third year? It's that really... we don't matter.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Just in case

Spotted this sign at the bottom of one of the hospital stairwells... a bit of a remnant of a bygone era. (It's a pretty old hospital.) It made me giggle, though I suppose it's good to know where it is.... you never know what might happen, right?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?

Jack moved into our house last July (and I moved in after our wedding in December), so this is the first time we've experienced our place in June. It had some surprises for us!

The other day, I looked out the bedroom window into the backyard-- which is mostly taken up by the driveway and garage, with just a tiny fenced-in strip of grass-- and what did I see?

Roses! We have a rosebush in our yard! This thrills me to an unreasonable extent, because my mom always refused to even attempt roses in our yard when I was growing up. Too finicky and hard to care for, she said. I feel as though this neglected-but-still-beautifully-thriving rosebush proves her wrong once and for all, and makes me determined to grow roses (if and when I ever have a house of my own for any extended period of time).

But that's not all!
Honeysuckle, if I'm not mistaken! And...

I'm not sure what these purple flowers are, but they've got tall slender stems, they close up at night, and a passing bumblebee seemed to be getting positively drunk on their nectar. Also...

These aren't in bloom currently, but I recognize them as lilies-of-the-valley-- pretty little white bell-like flowers.

I immediately felt the need to bring some summer into the house:

(Don't you love Mason jars? They're so homey and comfortable, somehow.)

Anyway, I'm kind of absurdly excited. I feel like Mary Lennox or something, finding a garden all coming to life even without anyone to tend it.

(Please excuse the poor-quality cell-phone pictures. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

I'm not happy, Bob. Not. Happy.

Thanks for the line, Mr. Huph. My feelings exactly.

The next-door neighbors (yes, the ones with the Evil Tree in their yard) are having their roof redone. I'm sure that's all very nice, improving property values, yadda yadda yadda. But it is so ridiculously loud. There's all this machinery roaring all the time, they're throwing boards and shingles and who knows what else into the dumpster they set up, and sawing with power saws, and hammering, and yelling to each other, and...

And did I mention that, since we live in an old neighborhood where the houses are close together, the neighbors' roof is like, 8 feet from our open windows?

See? This, courtesy of Google Maps, is our house (the brick one) and our neighbors' house (the white one)-- and yes, that is the Evil Catkin Tree in their front yard. And we only have the upper floor since our house is a duplex... so there's no escaping to the first floor to get a little farther away from the noise. I don't think the downstairs neighbor would appreciate us breaking and entering, you understand.

Also, since I don't appreciate workmen peering in at me (not that they would, probably, I'm just paranoid and like my privacy), I'm having to keep all the curtains closed on that side of the house, robbing me of my much-loved sunlight.

*indignant glare, complete with fists on hips*


Friday, June 5, 2009

Curses, foiled again!

A few days ago, I had something of an inspiration. A couple of the blogs I follow always have the cutest sewing projects, and it's been occurring to me that I'd like to learn to sew better so I can join in the fun. The problem is, if I have to drag the sewing machine in and out of the closet every time I use it, I'm never going to want to bother.

Then it hit me: I could totally do my own Craft Closet.

Over on Apartment Therapy, they've blogged about quite a few people who've turned closets into mini offices or craft rooms. Here's a particularly charming one:

Fortunately the closet I have in mind is not that funny shape-- and since we rent, I don't want to bother with built-ins that we won't be able to take with us when we move in a year. So I had it in mind to find a basic, inexpensive little desk on Craigslist and set it up in the closet.

Two days ago I found the perfect one! Plain flat top, not a lot of drawers to bother with in a closet, looked to be the right size, and only $20. So I quickly emailed the seller:

"Hi there! Is the desk you're offering for sale still available? If so, I wonder if you'd be able to give me the dimensions for it. Also, is it dismantle-able? (I have only a medium-small car in which to transport stuff, and if the legs can come off that would help quite a bit.) Thanks in advance for your reply!"

To which he replied:

"Yes, its dismountable, and its 3ft in length and 20inches in width, and 30 inches off the ground. Thanks."

YES! I was right, it was indeed the perfect size! Yesterday afternoon when I received the above, I responded with:

"Great! I would definitely be interested in buying it. Is there some time this weekend that my husband and I could come pick it up? (Do we need to bring any tools to dismantle it?)"

Pretty clear interest, right? I mean, I understand that Craigslist sellers do sometimes deal with people who back out of deals, but I'm basically asking, "When can I come and put money in your hand and take the desk away?"

The reply came:

"Would you be able to pick it up tomorrow? Or even Sat before 4pm? No need for tools, I got a screwdriver. If its easier just call me at [number]."

I got the message, then spoke with Jack about when we could go pick it up. Just as I was about to write back with specific details, I realized I had gotten another email in the interim:

"I want to apologize someone just bought the desk. But thanks for your interest."

What?!?? Dude, what the heck?!? I thought we had a deal here, I thought we had a partnership going!

I thought "When can I come pick it up" implied that I, you know, wanted to buy the thing, but evidently my language was not clear enough.

*shakes fist in fury*

The perfect desk still eludes me!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

the good stuff

Disclaimer: I would like to clarify that the last entry was classified as "amusing" not because of the unfortunate patient receiving incorrect bad news... that part isn't amusing at all. It's amusing because it illustrates the absurdity of situations that can go on in medical education.

And on that note! More gallows humor!

Working on the floors in city hospitals, you do tend to see quite a few more examples of drug problems than you might otherwise. Now, I am definitely not downplaying the struggles these individuals have, and no, I don't think drug addiction is funny. But it can lead to some somewhat humorous and ridiculous situations... at least if you have a warped sense of humor like everyone in the hospital seems to have.

Some real life* examples:

1. Nurse: "The overnight nurse wanted me to let you know she found a syringe stashed in that guy's sock. His sock! And you know what he said to her? 'You're not going to tell on me, are you?'"

2. Doctor: "Oh, the arm abscess patient. Did you hear how he got it? He ground up some narcotic tablets, mixed them with water, and tried to inject them! Yeah, good thing he missed the vein, or he'd have lung fibrosis on top of the abscess... the talc in those pills is not meant to be injected."

3. Nurse: "The patient in that room is not the most pleasant person. She keeps yelling at us whenever we pass by, 'GIVE ME SOME F-ING DILAUDID!!!'"

4. Med student: "Patient denies alcohol use or smoking.... but then again, she denied cocaine use too, until they found it in her tox screen...."

5. Doctor: "Yeah, that guy admitted to using marijuana, but his eyes bugged out to here when we told him we found traces of barbiturates in his system. I bet when he gets out of here he's going to have some choice words with his dealer..."

*Real life, yes. But I'll always either change a few details or leave things vague enough to still protect patient privacy. You hear me, HIPAA police?