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8th November 2010



I got my flu vaccination last week – as a health care provider and one who has gotten the flu before, I get one every year. This year, I went for the nasal mist. I’m working on the consult service, so not in as direct of contact with the immunocompromised patients (those on chemotherapy) and I’m not that fond of shots. Both forms don’t reach full immunity until approximately 2 weeks after and the spray is a little bit of live virus which can make you feel a little ill. I woke up this morning with the sniffles (I initially typed “snuffles” but found out that that is a upper respiratory infection of rabbits and since my name didn’t change to Harvey overnight (oh I kill me), I had to be accurate and change it) and have been feeling just a little less than healthy today – not terrible, not enough to try to go home or even beg for chicken soup, but just bad enough that I think I’m making it an early night.

All About Me Day 5 – A picture of a place where you have been. I really should just remove the “A” from all of the questions and make it plural, because there’s no way I’ll ever be able to limit this to just one.

First stop: Guatemala. March 2004.


I went to Antigua, Guatemala to learn medical Spanish. It was a course for intermediate to advance speakers – and I didn’t know a word, but the program agreed to let me go. So at the last minute, I asked for a rush passport (with truly the most terrible passport pic ever. No, believe me, I win), bought a ticket and away I went.

Tina and I, early morning in Tikal

My traveling companion was the unlikely combination of a procrastinating perfectionist. She would always put off doing important things, but then wouldn’t hurry up because everything had to be just so and we were often late. Very late. We almost missed the plane down there. And the plane back up. And the bus from Tikal, etc. It was the first time she had ever left home (except for her mission) and she had to talk to her parents every single night -which mean we missed out on seeing a lot of the city. I was much too nervous to break out on my own and go sight-seeing.


We were there for just over three weeks. During the day we went to spanish language lessons or to programs around the city that provided care to the poor and the ill. We visited orphanages, an AIDS clinic, a poor farmer’s hut, a primary school, the mental hospital, a nursing home. The weekends we took trips: up north to Tikal and then to Lake Atilan.

Lake Atilan

Some of the culture was overwhelming. I never got used to the begging of the children, which usually occured only at the tourist sites. When we stepped foot out of a bus or a boat, they would come swarming. I hated haggling prices for souvenirs – I didn’t know the language and I found it frustrating. The food was pretty incredible, though and cheap. And the scenery more than made up for the frustrations.

Learning how to Salsa with Antonio

Tikal ruins

Learning the language was extremely difficult for me. The only language I had attempted to learn was sign language and there was very little cross over (the few months of online German in the 7th grade does not count either). I spent most of the month not knowing what anybody said. I had difficulty with the grammar and the pronunciation – I have a hard enough time with English, you should hear me slaughter drug names!

Admiring silk blankets

So while I came home only knowing how to say about 10 phrases (and I’ve forgotten most of those now), what I gained was an appreciation for a beautiful culture and the desperate need that other countries had. I realized how very spoiled I was by the American culture. I stayed in a middle class home, but even there, the showers were limited, the plumbing was fragile, electricity and food was very carefully utilized.

Colored sand with borders of flowers and fruit arranged in a Catholic cathedral for Semena Santa (Easter) Festival

I know it’s an overused phrase, but I can honestly say that Guatemala changed my life. It opened a thirst to see and experience new cultures and to make a difference.

I think I’m going to extend this over the next couple of days, because I’m am becoming more and more stuffy and my head is aching. Bed sounds really, really good right now.

posted in All About Me, Guatemala, Meme me, Passport Stamps | 0 Comments

4th November 2010

sing me to sleep

sing me to sleep

It’s already interview season, where the neurology department interviews nervous 4th year med students who are eager to find the perfect place for residency. Five years ago, that was me. The best part is always the dinner the night before – we take out all of the applicants to a nice restaurant and spend most of the time catching up with each other. 🙂 Tonight’s dinner included pumpkin cheesecake which brought out Homer SImpson-type salivating.

I was a little miffed at the dinner, as two of the neurology fellows came (it’s supposed to be the residents only) – and one brought his girlfriend. Really? The department is paying for it, and you’re going to turn it into a free date? Scuzzy. Haven’t decided if it’s worth it to rant to the program director yet.

I’m mixing and matching the 30 day memes, because I thought some of the questions on the original one were lame, so I googled for other memes to supplement.

All About Me Meme Day 02 – Where you’d like to be in 10 years.
In 10 years, I will be finally, finally completed with my medical training (I hope), and finally, finally in a real job. Right now, it seems too distant of a hope. Everybody always asks me where I want to end up and the answer is always “I don’t know.” Honestly, I have loved living in the Midwest more that I thought I would. I miss the mountains and the quick easy getaways to nature, but I love this little city and I love the surrounding farms and villages, so there are times when I contemplate coming back. It would be fantastic to be closer to home and be able to see my family and friends more often. I’m missing my nephew growing up, not to mention all of my friends’ kids. My grandparents are getting older and frailer. When I interviewed at Portland, I could easily see myself settling there – the fellowship program was too weak for training, but as a job once I was done: pure heaven.

I do hope that I have a life where I’ll have some free time so that I can become involved in all of the little hobbies that were dropped once I started med school: some painting and writing. I’d love to be involved in community theater and take some real photography courses. I’m also hoping for enough flexibility that I can do some international work; while I no longer have the burning desire to flee to another country for several years, I think that spending 1-3 months at a time in needy areas would be more my style.

HP Meme Day 2: Your favorite movie.
I don’t have one – they provide a couple of hours of entertainment and that’s about it. The first two movies were just glorified picture books. The third spent so much time concentrating on floating leaves for “atmosphere” that there wasn’t enough time to explain anything. The fourth had the needlessly long first task and then skimmed over the return of Voldemort. The fifth: okay, I loved Luna and Umbridge, but I only saw it once. The sixth: the fire at the Burrow, Ginny tying Harry’s shoes, Ginny feeding Harry food – yeah, haven’t seen it again either. It’s not that I’ve hated them, but as they came out at the same time as Lord of the Rings, which besides the murdering of Faramir’s character, was the most perfect adaption of a book that I have ever seen, I have been disappointed. I AM looking forward to Deathly Hallows – it looks awesome. But not awesome enough to get midnight viewing tickets.

posted in Frivolous Fandom, Meme me | 0 Comments

3rd November 2010


So, um, posting every day is really hard. Especially when you’re out of practice blogging and the most exciting thing going on in your life is the fact that you forgot you had an early morning meeting AND your parking badge didn’t work, making you really, really, really late.

So, I’m making it easier by doing a couple of 30 day memes that were floating around the interwebs a few months ago.

Snagged from [info]claidheamhmor : 30 days of me:
Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself

This is a couple of months old, but I really like it:

Broke that board with one blow, yo.

Facts about me:
1. I am unable to tie shoes properly. I learned the “bunny ears” method when I was 4 and any other way feels wrong to me. I can do a mean surgeon’s knot, now, thanks to the hours spent tying threads as a med student. I prefer an instrument tie- it just feels tighter to me.
2. I wrote a limerick collection to memorize the brachial plexus in med school. It was fabulous. I just found it again tonight while looking for an old “25 Things about me” meme that I started and never finished two years ago. Look for it tomorrow. Be prepared to be astonished (in all definitions of the word!).
3. It’s taken several years, but for the most part, I’m okay with the fact that I probably won’t ever get married. I’ve wanted to be in a relationship since I was a teenager, but it’s only been in the last 2-3 years that I think that I could be a good partner, but I also know that it’s not very likely. At least not until I’m 60-70. I’ve got great teeth and I expect to be quite the hit in the nursing home.
4. I’m a road trip junkie and want to see every state of the USA. I’ve got 16 to go, all of them in the south, except for Delaware and Maine. I’ve been within 20 miles of both of those states, but still couldn’t manage to cross the line. I’d love to take a Yay! Residency’s Over!! trip this summer and see the rest of them, but since I’ll be spending a fortune moving, that’s not the wisest decision.
5. I still want to do international work, once I’m done with residency/fellowship. But the thought of doing it alone without friends makes me really nervous.
6. I used to read voraciously and was probably the only kid who was ever forbidden to go to the library by their mother. Now, I read about 5 books a year if I’m lucky. The last series of books I read was The Hunger Games Triology. I chewed through them during my flights back and forth from SF: incredibly good.
7. I have a genetic bone disorder called Hereditary Osteochondromatosis. I’ve had 10 surgeries so far, with scars that crisscross my knees, shoulder blades and hip. The most obvious deformity is my shortened R ring finger – its just about the same size as my pinky. Most people don’t notice it. Because it’s short I tend to type with just my index and middle finger on my right hand.
8. My feet are horribly ticklish. The one and only time I got a pedicure was the most tortuous experience of my entire life. I don’t care how thick my callouses become–never again!
9. I can’t fall asleep unless my feet are warm. Hence, I wear socks pretty much every day of the year.
10. I can’t wear high heels. No really. I never learned how to properly walk in them, so I tend to clunk heavily and they cause so much pain to my ankles
11. Logically, I’m okay with getting older every year. But I find it unbelievable that it will shortly be 10 years since I graduated from college (May 2001) and almost 5 since med school, and wow, I feel like it was just yesterday and I can’t possibly be that old. But I guess I am.
12. I miss having summer vacations. If I had one now, I’d become a campground host for a remote place in the mountains, sit by a campfire, meet and greet people from all over the country, make sure that the pit toilets didn’t stink too much and sleep under the stars.
13. I worry everyday about my decision to do critical care. If I had known me when I was making the decision for residency, I would have just done internal medicine and would have been quite content as a hospitalist. Or at least, I think so. I’ve worked many, many months in the ICU and love it, but I worry about finishing at the end, still thinking that “yep, could have been a hospitalist.” That said the decision to do the double residency and move to Milwaukee was one of the clearest answers to prayer that I’ve ever had and I don’t regret it either. When I visited and interviewed in San Franscisco, I felt the same sort of “This Is The Place rightness” – something that had been lacking in my other interviews.
14. I go back and forth daily about whether or not to sell my house now, or wait for things to recover. I’m not sure how much of it is emotional attachment to my home; even with all of the multiple water issues and heating issues, it’s been my home and the thought of somebody else owning it is heartbreaking.
15. I can remember random numbers really well. A patient’s temperature curves. Or their lab results for the last 3 days. I wish that it would cross over better into actual academic learning, but sadly, I seem to have very poor retention of details related to what I’m studying. It’s making me very nervous for boards in (eep!) 9 months.

And in honor of the last Harry Potter movie coming out: 30 days of Harry Potter
Day 1: Your favorite book.

The Order of the Phoenix. I know, it’s everybody’s least favorite. Harry’s so whiny and angsty. It’s so long. And it is – I definitely think that Rowling’s needed an editor at this point who slashed away the fat – and it only got worse). I’m partially sentimental because my roommates and friends read it aloud to me that summer, which was really awesome. My sister Karin does an awesome Delores Umbridge impression. I loved the twins. I loved Dumbledore’s Army and Harry waking up to the fact that he could be a leader. I love the plot – it was well-crafted and made sense and didn’t seem to have a lot of dei ex machina plot fillers that populated the later books. The death of Sirius was so tragic – I seriously cried for days. And Luna!! Oh, Luna is the best!

posted in Meme me | 0 Comments

2nd November 2010

The 30 Day Memes

So, those at home can follow along. 🙂 I mixed and matched questions because I didn’t want to answer lame questions or the same question, just asked in a different way.

30 Days of Me
Day 01- A recent picture of you and 15 interesting facts about yourself
Day 02- Where you’d like to be in 10 years.
Day 03- A picture of you and your friends
Day 04- A habit that you wish you didn’t have
Day 05- A picture of somewhere you’ve been to
Day 06- Your earliest memory
Day 07- A picture of where you live
Day 08- Bullet your whole day
Day 09- Your hobbies
Day 10- Songs you listen to when you are Happy, Sad, Bored, Hyped, Mad
Day 11- Your views on religion
Day 12- Your current relationship, if single discuss how single life is.
Day 13- Somewhere you’d like to move or visit.
Day 14- A picture of you and your family
Day 15- Put your iPod on shuffle: First 10 songs that play
Day 16- Favorites: movie, tv show, song, color, food, actor/actress, book, quote
Day 17- Someone you would want to switch lives with for one day and why
Day 18- Something you love about yourself
Day 19- Nicknames you have; why do you have them
Day 20- Someone you see yourself marrying/being with in the future
Day 21- A picture of something that makes you happy
Day 22- What makes you different from everyone else
Day 23- Something you crave
Day 24- A letter to your parents
Day 25- What I would find in your bag
Day 26- What you think about your friends
Day 27- How important you think education is
Day 28- A picture of you last year and now, how have you changed since then?
Day 29- In this past month, what have you learned
Day 30- Who are you?

30 days of Harry Potter:
Day 1: Your favorite book.
Day 2: Your favorite movie.
Day 3: What house would you be in?
Day 4: Least favorite female character and why.
Day 5: Favorite male character and why.
Day 6: Moments in the books/movies that made you cry
Day 7: Favorite female character and why?
Day 8: Hogwarts subject you would most like to take
Day 9: Least favorite male character.
Day 10: Horcruxes or Hallows?
Day 11: What character would you say you are most like.
Day 12: Favorite ship.
Day 13: What aspect of the books has been best translated to film?
Day 14: Your favorite villain
Day 15: Who would be your best friends at Hogwarts? (three only)
Day 16: Favorite professor?
Day 17: Are you excited about The Deathly Hallows movie or scared it won’t do the book justice?
Day 18: Least favorite book
Day 19: Favorite book moment
Day 20: If you had to meet one member of the cast, who would it be?
Day 21: Out of all the characters that died, if you could bring one back, who would it be?
Day 22: Harry Potter or Twilight?
Day 23: Any part of the books/movies that makes you cry?
Day 24: Any particular scene you wished would have been put in the movie but it wasn’t?
Day 25: Nineteen years later. Are you happy how it turned out, or do you wish something was different, ie Neville married Luna?
Day 26: If you could be able to work one spell without a wand what would it be?
Day 27: Would you rather own The Invisibility Cloak, The Resurrection Stone or The Elder Wand?
Day 28: Fandom: discuss and share
Day 29: Favorite quote
Day 30: What affect has Harry Potter made on your life and how much does it mean to you?

posted in All About Me, Meme me | 0 Comments

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