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27th April 2009

start at the very beginning

This totally made my day:

posted in Randomness | 1 Comment

26th April 2009

fawlty faucets

My basement is leaking again. Thankfully, the drain was able to keep up with the amount of water (it really pounded for a while; I thought for sure that they’d back up again). This time, however, the window sills were caulked, the outside drain took most of the water away from my back door, and the walls were dry. It was just that there was a puddle of water that continually drizzled towards the drain–coming from the bathroom. I think it’s seeping up from under the toilet (it’s water, it’s not sewage as far as I can tell). I’m worried that I’m going to need to get a plumber in here. I don’t know how; I have no days off during the week and I don’t get done until after 5 or 6 most nights. It’s times like this that I wish I had a husband or roommate so that I could let them deal with this.


On the bright side, it did not flood and all of my belongings are still safe.


posted in Adventures in Home Ownership | 2 Comments

25th April 2009

4,600, but who’s counting?

After the symphony, we met up for dinner and drinks. The conversation turned away from surgery and medicine and into the impact that the failing economy was having on us. Chris joked about how when I started residency, he had pushed me to buy a house for the financial investment (it was encouraged to most of us freshly graduated medical students) and a year later, when he was in the same position, he had decided against it and how glad he was that he hadn’t bought a house.

“How much has your house lost in value?” One of the group asked me.

“I don’t know,” I demurred, “I’m not selling it for another two years at least and I figured I’d save my heart the stress test.” Besides, I reasoned, the housing market had never been as profitable in Milwaukee. Milwaukee is very much a blue-collared city and the home values and resell reflect that. Surely, it could weather the storm a little better.

The City of Milwaukee decided, however, that they would have none of this blissful ignorance, thank you very much. Since I am the one paying taxes on the property, they felt it was their duty to inform me of their recent appraisal of my property and sent me a nice official letter (in purple ink. I applaud the creative and aesthetic touch). Net Change: -4,600. Ouch.

My first thought: “Hey, that means my taxes will go down!”

The COM may have thought that they were bringing doom and gloom, but they hadn’t ever encountered the little orphan annie who resides prominently in my frontal lobe. For my raspberry bushes have sprung the first leaves of green this week and I have tiny rhubarb shoots popping through the ground and a garage door that now locks. You just can’t get better than that, even if the CoM has decided that it’s worth less this year.

posted in Adventures in Home Ownership, All About Me | 2 Comments

22nd April 2009

everyone’s your friend in new york city

I’m not doing the English dancing weekend after all. I piddled around, delayed sending in the registration, debated eternally where or not I should go until it was too late. It would have been easier if there was somebody that I was going with… or if the price had been half as much; then I’d have done it without a second thought. In the end, I decided that I could not splurge on it, and I’ll have to find another place to wear my pretty dress. I’m planning on going down to Illinois in May for a English dance so it will be displayed then.

So instead of men in cravats, I’m going to New York to visit Sam and baby Meghan. This is such a huge deal for me and evidence of how much I want to see that wild baby hair. I’m already trembling and have a pit of fear in my stomach. I don’t do tall buildings. That’s the understatement of the year. I become paralyzed under their shadow, frightened to near death that they are going to fall on me (yeah, September 11th was virtually my worst nightmare come to life). And that’s just the comparatively scrawny buildings in SLC. Needless to say, a visit to the Empire State Building/Chrysler Building/Times Square/Ground zero and even the Statue of Liberty are not on the list. Right now, I’m liking the idea of a boat tour of the city: a chance to see the important sights and bridges, but from a distance, where I can practice taking pictures of reflections in the Hudson River. I’m also looking forward to central park and seeing the skyline there.

And if all else fails, I’ll get myself a prescription for some propanolol and/or alprazolam and medicate my way through. The benefit of being a doctor.

So, question to my wise friends out there who have been to NYC: Which are the must see sights, mostly in Manhattan and that won’t frighten me to death? And from those who live there, any hidden nooks that shouldn’t be missed but are often overlooked by the tourists?

posted in All About Me, Friends, Social Life | 4 Comments

20th April 2009

dreaming through the noise

dreaming through the noise

I had this awesome dream last night where I was working for President Obama. I was supposed to deliver something for him, but got caught up in this conspiracy and we were talking over this telephone that had a garden hose as the cord as it was supposed to be safer than our cell phones. As we were talking, he suddenly realized that it had been wiretapped and I was in trouble, so he stole a car from the secret service to come pick me up. We then escaped with other members of the team, who included a few people from my residency, on a ferry from Milwaukee down to Chicago. It was a pretty fancy ferry with a big chandelier and a garden with a pool. Barack (as I called him) and I discussed security policies (aka, who was after me) and how I could stay safe. As is the case with most of my dreams, the rest is rather vague. I think he left to confront of the men who was chasing me, as he had also ended on the ferry, and I was sleuthing and flirting with the pool boy (alas, Dream!Barack was as married as in real life).

I woke up this more in a rather good mood. 😉

I wish it had lasted longer, that I could have pressed the snooze button just a few more times. Hard day. Fifteen patients that I had to see before noon. By far, the best part of the day involved taking a mid day break with one of my friends and getting hot chocolate and swooning over Franz Ferndinand, who is apparently coming to concert in a week. As a resident, there’s no such thing about having a lunch hour; if you manage to finish your work in time, you can look forward to a noon lecture. But today we played hooky, even though it put me behind and I was rushing to finishing seeing everybody.

And now off to bed again. I wonder who/what I’ll dream about tonight?

posted in Randomness | 1 Comment

15th April 2009

the slow path

(written this afternoon. The hospital’s firewall prevented me from posting)

I realized yesterday, as I was looking at my schedule for next year, that while I’ve been feeling like I’ve been doing residency forever, I still have 10 months of internal medicine left to go. 10 months. Since I’m doing a combined residency, I have 30 months of medicine and 30 months of neurology, compared to my colleagues who do 36 months of medicine or neurology. Not only am I missing out on six months of training, but as it is, I’ve still got a third of my training left. I’ve been comparing myself pretty harshly to my fellow residents, especially the medicine residents as they are graduating in 2 months and I certainly have not felt that I’m at that point and was quite discouraged. Yesterday, I was dispondant after getting lectured by one of my friends about a disease presentation that I didn’t know anything about, but he was rattling off all of the clinical symptoms and signs and I felt like an idiot. I feel a little better now, realizing that I still have time to learn it all.

I’m on neurology consults this month (I think I mentioned that) and it’s also been an opportunity for me to appreciate how much I have learned as well. I was on this same rotation two years ago as an intern and it was one of the hardest months of that year (the other 2 being the inpatient neurology wards). I didn’t know anything. I felt like I was struggling every day to ever come up with one idea of what exactly was causing the altered mental status/weakness/seizure/what have you, much less come up with a differential diagnosis or a diagnostic and treatment plan. Now, I at least know where to go and read about it, or know the common workup for common problems and can generate some reasonable ideas about where to go next. My attending actually commented on it. It was his last day, so he was giving me feedback, and he stated that he could see the growth and knowledge maturity. I feel more optimistic that by the time these next two years are over, there may be a middling fair neurologist in me. And that’s better than what I’ve been feeling in a long time.

On a related note, I’m still struggling on the decision for a career path after graduation. Unfortunately, the decision about fellowship needs to be made relatively soon, so that I can get research projects started to beef up my slim and rather non-impressive CV, as well as trying to go to conferences so I can start networking etc. I change my mind on an hourly basis. It’s a sad state of affairs. I’ve decided to give myself until June. Someday, I’ll do a big long post about the positives and negatives about the decision. Maybe it’ll help me think through things.

I am quite smitten with one of my attendings. I worked with him briefly last month and had butterflies during every patient presentation. Recently, I’ve gotten to interact with him more because our teams have been consulted on the same patients. When he greets me with a half smirk and razzes me about my treatment ideas, I get swoony. You think music is the language of love? For me, it’s vestibular neuritis due to colistimethate (don’t worry, I hadn’t even heard of the drug before, either!). I’m almost seeking out consults, just so I can have those few minutes of conversation.

I’ve missed having a work crush. It’s been a long time since CuteIntern disappeared into the dark coves of the hospital and I have not had a good flirtation since then. I think, however, that all of the period dramas that I’ve been watching these past weeks have affected my mind and I’m ready to see romance from every random corner. It’ll pass, I’m sure.

The hospital has a repeating playlist of songs that are piped over the hospital. It includes a piano version of the theme to Titantic and it plays Every. Single. Day. Usually around 10 or 11 in the morning. I went the entire day today without hearing it… until I returned a phone call just now and got placed on hold to that song. Grrr.

Vienna Teng is performing in Chicago this Friday and I’m so excited. She’ll never come to Milwaukee again; poor attendance for two concerts would convince anybody not to come again, but I’m grateful that I live so close to Chicago so I still can see her.

I realize that everybody has probably seen this video, but I couldn’t resist sharing. I love Britains Got Talent; it has a way of tugging at your heart strings. Paul Potts the first year, Andrew Johnston the second and then this year, Susan Boyle. Just lovely, I was seriously in tears.

posted in All About Me, Resident Life | 1 Comment

10th April 2009

pretty stick

Today was one of the most exhausting days I’ve had in a long time (boy, I’ve been spoiled). It was endless pages and endless consults (I had 5 before 1 pm and another after that), haggling with radiology to get an MRI done (if I hear one more time that’s its protocol… I understand that you don’t want a patient with metallic things getting an MRI done as those metallic things can come ripping out. However, when I tell you that this patient had a MRI done 1 week ago and survived it just fine, I think we can forgo all of the drama, okay?), managing a patient in status (poor intern had no idea what to do), answering questions about the dozen patients that I thought I could finally sign off (and got pulled back into their disease) and somehow still seeing all of the patients that we are still actively following as well. I didn’t leave until after 7:30 (and still came home to a glimmer of daylight! I love spring!). Good thing I didn’t have plans tonight (this is the reason that while I’m going down to Chicago next Friday to see Vienna Teng in concert, I’m buying tickets for the 10:00 show, rather than the 7:00 show. I may be driving home at 3 in the morning, but at least I’m mostly guaranteed to make it).

I came home to a lovely little package on my front porch though, which made the whole day better:

It’s wrinkled (muslin wrinkles like nothing else) and I didn’t wear any makeup at all today, so the big pimples that I’ve been fighting for the last week are quite prominent, (and we’ll entirely ignore the weight issue, shall we?) but I love the dress! I’m still fighting with the neckline (you can make out my divotted and scar-ridden right shoulder on the second picture), but I think if I pin it to the underslip (and maybe the bra), it should look better. Chris brought me home this gorgeous lilac silk shawl from India, which matches my dress perfectly, giving it just the perfect elegant touch.

Next is figuring out how to do my drab hair (the new haircut lost its luster pretty quickly). And finding my fancy jewelry. And then actually sending in the registration for the weekend of dance.

posted in Friends, Rejuvenating the Soul, Resident Life, Social Life | 5 Comments

8th April 2009

budding neurologist

Today, I woke up and thought to myself that for the first time in almost three years, I like neurology again. I’ve taken care of some really interesting patients with diverse diseases; I’ve come up with diagnostics and differentials that my attending agreed with; and I had a chance to read so I was starting to feel like I understood the difference between polyradiculopathy and polyradiculoneuropathy (don’t ask). It didn’t hurt that we had maybe 1 consult a day, so I could really sit and think about my patients care.

Of course, right after I thought that, my pager went off nonstop all morning with new consults and complicated questions (as well as stupid questions), making me feel like a freshly chopped chicken and the love faded. It’s still there, dimly trying to stay alive. Who knows, if I manage to survive tomorrow and clinic, it might take up permanent lodging; that would be nice.

Other thing going on in my life:

  • I have just about caught up with all of the little requirements that residency piles on me. I completed the last of my dictations (it was nine months old, but, as I discovered when I dictated it, I had never even taken care of the patient and it really wasn’t my responsibility. So I suppose that evens out). I finished all of my evaluations. I’ve stayed caught up on my clinic notes (that will probably change tomorrow). So I’ve finally been able to concentrate on something else: my house. It’s been a disaster since January when I got sick for a month and was working close to the 80 hours/week limit. But this week, I went through all of the papers that I’ve collected and recycled three entire boxes of junk mail and have collected another 3 boxes of patient information that I need to bring back to the hospital for shredding. No wonder I felt like I was drowning. I’m focusing on the progress and ignoring for now the pile of dishes, the laundry that needs to be washed and all of the sweeping. All in due time.
  • My beloved mommy finished my Regency dress this weekend and mailed it on Monday. I hope to get it tomorrow. There will be pictures. 🙂
  • I had a fabulous weekend, visiting Chris and his friends. We went to the symphony (incredible pianist!) and out to eat and then made crepes the next morning as we watched Sicko. Three years ago, as a fresh idealistic medical student, the documentary might have inflamed me to action. Now, after experiencing the multiple complexities of the medical system, I am become more cynical about the likelihood of success with medical reform. Doesn’t mean that I don’t support efforts to do so, but I see much more of the pros and cons of all of the proposals. Surprisingly, Chris was as conservative about the movie’s premises as I; residency has changed him as well.
  • In any case, there is some pictorial documentation of the weekend at my Picasa site. It already hurts thinking how much I’m going to miss this.
  • I’m getting an elliptical machine and a bench press from my friend who is also moving away (*sniff*). I’m so excited to have my own little gym. Now, the bitter cold of Milwaukee won’t be an excuse to keep me from exercising AND I won’t have to endure endless ball games. As soon as my house is in order (I’m hoping this weekend) I’ll get to retrieve it.
  • It’s actually been really hard recently, thinking about all of the friends that are leaving this year. My medicine resident buddies are graduating and going on to fellowships and careers, leaving me behind for another two years.
  • I am trying to get the courage to buy tickets to visit Sam and her little one in New York over Memorial weekend. In New York. I start hyperventilating at the thought (serious phobia issues here!) but I think my love for baby Meghan’s poofy hair might win out over my fears. I may not see anything more than central park and in the inside of her apartment, and I may just be one quivering jellyfish the entire trip, but it’d be worth it. Right?

And that’s all folks. Tune in next time for another addition of Glimpses of Julia’s Oh So Boring Life.

posted in All About Me, Chris, Friends, Healthy Living, Resident Life, Social Life, Those Rare Days Off | 1 Comment

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