Monday, March 28, 2011

Romance Ain't So Bad

After spending an hour trying to find a movie on itunes we settled for turning on the television in the unlikely event that something watchable was on RTE at 2200h. RTE mostly shows reruns of Friends* and The Simpsons. It's 2011 people, enough already with The Simpsons. 

"The Bridges of Madison County" was on and we initially started watching mostly so we could crack jokes about how Clint Eastwood was playing the 'sex symbol' in a romance movie. I hadn't seen the movie or read the book so we decided to stay with it for a while. 

Warning: spoiler for those of you who still have this 1995 movie on your "must see" list!!

Ok, I may get flamed for saying this was actually quite a good movie (as long as you can stomach geriatric sex scenes involving Eastwood). I mean, it was as good and as realistic as a romance from Hollywood can get. Of course, unrequited love movies always hit the soft underbelly of my heart, but some scenes just ruined me!  Oh, the fact that she tried to find him after her husband died...sighhhhhhhhhhhhh. But she couldn't reconnect with him because he was no longer working for National Geographic. Nooooooooooooooo!

This morning I commented that the movie could never be as realistic now because she could have easily tracked him down on google or FB. To which Tobie replied, "yeah, it would have kinda killed the movie if she'd just looked him up on FB after her husband died".

Then again, he would have had a GPS and would have never needed to drive up to a strangers house asking for directions in the first place.

Which, I guess means that new technology has killed any possibility of realistic, meaningful romance movies.

I was just thankful that I didn't meet Tobie after getting married and having two children with a farmer from Iowa. 


*Was Friends ever good? I try and go back to my 90's brain and watch it with that question in my mind. I realize that most comedy has a period shelf-life. Unless the person writing it is Lenny Bruce.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

It's A Bird...

It's a's SUPERSHEEP!! The little rascal started running towards me so quickly that I was only able to catch a fleeting image of his rocket-candy-colored-coat.

Computer is back. Posting will resume again shortly. I was about to write one now but I am yawning with every second breath and daylight savings just happened. I looked at my clock and it was 0059h and then when I looked up again it was 0201h. So I really need to call it a night.
Off to count sheep.
(Couldn't resist.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Computer Broken


All I heard were the words "motherboard" and "communicating" something something something. Have no techie skills but do have most (all?) of the important stuff backed up, and thankfully my central line infection paper was salvaged. Good thing too, as I'd have likely laid down in the middle of my kitchen and had a proper 2 year old temper tantrum if it hadn't been rescued. The only thing worse than writing an epidemiology essay is having to write the damn thing twice.

Minor bump in the road but the blogging / emails might be a little slim this week as I need to commandeer Tobie's weird French PC whenever I want to do anything. Worst thing is, I constantly slag his computer and now I need to borrow his ramshackle machine to get any work done.

As you were. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy Match / St.Patty's Day

I really need to take my headache to bed but I thought I'd be remiss if I didn't post a wee something on such an auspicious day.

To my fellow meddies, CONGRATS on the match! I can't even imagine what emotions I'll be going though in two years time on match day. It gives me chills just thinking about it.

And to everyone else, happy St. Patrick's day!

And yes, I rang it in with style, and with friends. There was hiking, jigging, pint drinking, green cowboy hat wearing, and laughing throughout the day. Photos to follow, but for now I leave you with an Irish toast:

Whiskey, drink divine!
Why should drivellers bore us
With the praise of wine
When we've three before us.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Take THAT, All Work and No Play

I am getting oh so very excited. Cathy and her husband Nate are arriving from Wisconsin tomorrow!!!

Cathy and I met on our Himalayan Health Exchange volunteer trip in 2008. You know when you meet someone and instantly know they will always be a part of your life from that point on? I have to say I was lucky enough to have that feeling about several of the folks on that trip, Cathy was no exception. There is also something about seeing your colleague's underwear drying on the line day after day, for a month, that really causes all pretense to fall.  It is pretty hard to put-on-airs and be aloof when no one has had access to running water for 3 weeks. Ok, one girl was aloof but we won't go there (who brings a white felt pea-coat as their jacket on a backpacking trip??) Bottom line, you bond with people when you are living and working together in the midst of controlled chaos and pit toilets.
Just chillin' (literally) at 14 000ft.
On the trip, Cathy was a 4th year medical student waiting to find out about residencies, and I was a nurse waiting to find out about medical school interviews.

Needless to say our lives have changed a little since then! She's now an old married woman and 2nd year peds resident.

I haven't actually seen her since our goodbye in Delhi, but we've kept in touch via email and random gift packages.

I've worked like a mad-woman all week in the hopes of taking next week off. I even managed to finish my paper early, and most of my homework for the next case is done. Now it is time to enjoy some Irish adventures and shenanigans. I don't feel a lick of guilt for my planned truancy. Besides, Cathy is like some kind of brilliantly-hilarious-Asian-American-Halley's-Comet that only comes around a few times in one's lifetime. I've got to enjoy the downtime when I can get it, after all, the hospital will be making me it's bi*ch soon enough.

Speaking of which, I GOT MED/SURG for the summer! STOKED!! Too many people wanted to do med/surg as their first placement (instead of GP) so the school had to do a lottery. The big issue is many of my Canadian classmates (myself included) are trying to arrange electives in North America in the hopes of getting some residency connections and local letters of recommendation. As you can imagine, the hoops to get back into a North American residency are many--but one step that many people have advised is DO AS MUCH IN CANADA AND THE US AS POSSIBLE* when you are a medical student. Many of these electives require that you have completed your 3rd year med/surg rotation. Needless to say there are quite a few unhappy Canadians right now in my class. I am hoping it will work out for them, the school has said they will try very hard to give them the preparation and skills required. Still, it's a gamble. Anyway, I am so excited as I cannot wait to get back into the O.R and back in the hospital in general. The small flickering light at the end of the basic science years is starting to show itself!

But now I must get cracking and get ready for the arrival of my esteemed guests. It's going to be so great to re-connect with this formidable woman!

*Any of you want to provide the ultimate clerkship experience for me in years 3 and 4? G'head and email me!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Lost In Irish Translation

The phrase, "to get a ride" in Ireland does not equate to "getting into someone's car and having them drop you off at a specified location", it means something quite different (I will allow you to use your imagination on that one).

Today I was in the hallway at school and one of the profs bumped into me and asked if I'd found and purchased a car yet.

Several of the 1st years began filing out of their clinical skills, walking in between us.

I replied enthusiastically, "Oh yes! And the best thing is now I don't feel like such a teenager having to bum rides all the time!"

She turned her head to one side, squinting out of the eye closest to me.  A few of the students exchanged glances.


"Er...I mean, ask for lifts all the time!"

When. Will. I. Learn??

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Currently Reading: In Stitches

Some days I think I am probably doing myself (and my GPA) a disservice by keeping this blog going. I've watched 90% of my hobbies and pastimes fall away, so I figure the blog is probably next on the chopping block. But then something really cool happens and I think, "NEVER!! They will have to pull this blog from my cold, dead, permanent-student fingers!!!!!"

Allow me to explain.

It appears that putting near-daily efforts into maintaining a blog does indeed have some benefits.  This week I received a galley copy* of In Stitches by Anthony Youn and was told that I could do a contest for a book giveaway on Asystole. I started reading it 2 nights ago and am already halfway through it. This, to me, is a genuine sign that I am enjoying it. The only commodity I have right now is time and I give that away very selectively.

It is a book about a gawky Korean-American who grows up in a 99% white community in Michigan. On top of a wildly controlling father and constant nerd-herd constellation keeping him from ever being cool, he also develops a disorder in his jaw, resulting in a lot of headgear wearing and eventual plastic surgery. He is forced by his father decides to study medicine and eventually becomes a plastic surgeon (I am not that far in yet, he is still in first year med right now).

So far I've found the book to be an easy and enjoyable read. There are some absolutely hilarious parts in it as well, and some definite parallels to my life in medical school. It is hip and self-deprecating, and honest**. It is also an interesting perspective for me to see; he was a very intelligent, driven, hardworking kid who did everything right and got into medicine. I was a rambling, traveling, musician, wanderlust ER nurse, who did everything wrong and got into medicine.

Anyway, details of the contest will be up soon, but in the meantime you can check out excerpts from the book here. Or you can go to the website for the book, here.  Heck, you can even pre-order the book here. Now back to my regularly scheduled program of pulling out my hair and typing a paper on central line infection rates in Ireland. Hooray!


*I am pretty sure that just means an advance copy in cool-publisher-jargon-speak.

**No I am not getting paid to say this, reading is a serious matter to me and if I didn't truly enjoy it I wouldn't tarnish my good-hobbie's-name by promoting something I thought was shite.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Tim Hortons "Double-Doubles" as Emergency Outpatient Department

Honestly, if I never eat another Timbit for the rest of my worldly existence, it will be too soon.
It seems no matter where I work in Canada there is always a rock-hard raisin Tim Bit to be found somewhere in the emergency department. You see it when you come on shift and wonder, "How many days has that been there? Where did it come from? Has it fallen on the floor? Where are the raisin doughnuts which supposedly give rise to these revolting timbits? Is that a sugar coating or a MRSA coating?" yet by three am the only question is "Where the HELL is that raisin timbit??" Gnom, gnom, gnom.

I think it is safe to say that most Canadian emergency departments are fueled mostly by T-ho's and *Bucks. So it seems like a natural (and horrifying) transition that a West coast emergency department had to actually use the Tim Hortons as an overflow department last week. In reality the headline (of course) is not really as shocking as it sounds; the coffee shop is right next to the ED, not open to customers at that hour, and the patients were separated by screens.

I have had to treat patients in much less civilized environments which never made headlines because they were considered 'part of the department'. But really, gangrene-limb dressing changes in a packed ultrasound waiting room, bed pan toileting in the main hallways under the 'privacy' of a blanket, infusing blood into demented septic geriatrics stuck on gurneys for days near the constant swoosh of the ambulance bay is all completely inappropriate and dangerous. Yet just part of the day to day challenges of the emergency department.

What baffles me is the shock that this has happened. Um hello, if you fire facilitate retirement of senior nurses, decrease medical floor staffing, and close or cut feeder hospital services in the face of the oncoming silver tsunami then, guess what? A lot of flotsam and jetsam is going to back up in the emergency departments.

The only question I have about this whole ordeal is how plopping the fast-tracks into the T-Ho's wasn't a major health code violation for the restaurant. I guess now the MRSA will come free with your extra large double-double. 

It is actually good that this happened because I can guarantee that for at least a few days some magical discharges will happen, beds will suddenly appear, staffing levels will be startlingly appropriate, and at least a handful of people who've been rotting as inpatients in the ED will finally get access to a room with a shower and a toilet in it. Oh, and the ability to turn off the overhead lights. What luxuries.

Damn though, now they also might want a honey cruller with that...

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Dreaded Mini Mental State Exam

For the uninitiated, the Mini Mental State Exam (or MMSE) is a fairly quick way of assessing a patient's cognition.

Academic side: Though it has reasonably high sensitivity and specificity (i.e. low false positives and false negatives) it can be somewhat biased in favor of younger patients with higher levels of education.

Reality side: It is a horrible, annoying, frustrating test for many elderly people. Either they are sharp as a razor and the test is insulting, i.e "tell me where you are, the month, name this object, write me a sentence", or they are mildly demented and get quite upset and befuddled when you ask them to do things like count backwards from 100 in increments of 7.

I thought that there was no way that administering a MMSE could get any more heartbreaking and painful than having to conduct it on someone who had Alzheimer's.

Well today I found out that there is one more thing which is worse: having to watch it conducted by a train of medical students, in front of about 20 people, on a mildly demented patient. Oh, yeah.

It was sad. And I felt so awkward and uncomfortable watching this burly, checkered-shirt-wearing retired farmer trying to scrawl a sentence on his knee.

The session was conducted professionally, I must say, but it still made me think that if it had been my Grandad up there I'd have probably swooped to the front of the class (created a scene) and escorted him out for an afternoon of fishing.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Funny Irony

Funny irony I've noticed lately: the farther away from actually being a doctor, the greater your desire to be seen as one*. The longer you've actually been a doctor the less you want to be identified as one.
This has been seen with the first years who are wandering around campus with their stetho's around their necks while doing BP checks for charity. Really, do you have to keep it there while you aren't even doing BP's? No. It just makes you look like a douche to those of us that are old, bitter, jaded have been around the healthcare block a few times. 
I suppose it isn't as bad as scubs at the gym though, that takes the cake. 
In social/public situations many of my doc friends either lie completely about their profession (common substitutes are 'computer guy' and 'video store clerk') or really downplay it. And guaranteed, on a flight they'll shrink to just below their tray table when the announcement overhead asks if there is a doctor on the plane.

I find it all very amusing. 
*Or greater desire to be seen as a medical student. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Oh the Puns, I Don't Even Have to Tri...

Couldn't help myself. Sorry! It is just too easy.

Yes, I am going to attempt my first sprint triathlon this June. I am going to do a novice race here in May and then the 'real-deal' this June back in Canada.

I know this is no great feat for many people (like OMDG who did like a hundred in the past) but for me it is HUGE. Not for the reasons you are probably thinking, either. No, it'll be tough mostly because I have a near phobic fear of being in a bathing suit in public, and a deep hatred for chlorinated pools, changerooms, swim caps, and goggles.

Oh, and I. Hate. Swimming. 

Much of my recent posts have been to do with how little time I feel I have, how stressed I am about school / USMLE, and how I have no time for hobbies, so it might seems a little ridiculous to take on training for a triathlon. Well, it probably is ridiculous, but I figure it'll FORCE me to squeeze in daily exercise and it'll give me a little training mojo. I have been in a major slump in that regard lately, and thanks to tendinitis in my wrists, the yoga has been on hold. This is forcing my rump out of bed for spinning and my pegs onto the trails for running. And come tomorrow morning...into the pool for swimming.

[Cue blood curdling scream].

The one advantage in that respect is that I have a national team swimmer in my class and she's offered to show me some tricks in the pool. In return I have offered her hyponotherapy for the PTSD which may ensue once she sees me in my swimming zoot-suit. Oh, the humanity.

Wish me luck.