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5th September 2017

health update

I’m schedule for surgery for “capsulotomies” on Tuesday. Tuesday September 12th. Because I called today to ask why I hadn’t heard back (*SIGH*) and the availabilities was either December 5th or a week from today.

I hadn’t even had a chance to reach out to the tumor orthopedic here because my weekend was so so busy. I emailed him tonight (I hate these kinds of emails, ugh). I don’t know if he’ll have time to see me or if he’ll have any recommendations. I worry that I’m doing the surgery too fast without considering options. I’m worried that I’ve taken too long already.

My sister has been with my parents for most of the summer – she and my mom are going to drive back this weekend so they can be there for my recovery. If they can make it because the entire state is on fire.

I’m teaching the med students this week – I taught the neuro exam today, I’m teaching stroke subgroups tomorrow, and a lecture on coma on Friday. I’m taking stroke call Thursday night. I’m working nights on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I’m hosting this neurocritical care course in 3 weeks and I’m not sure we are going to have enough attendance. I’m trying to find a replacement for the week that I won’t be working because I’m going to be recovering from surgery.

I’m so stressed you guys. My anxiety is out of control and I am so sad and despondent about the state of the world and the destruction of the prettiest oasis in the country, that I feel like I’m barely holding on.

I’d really like a hug. Just a nice long, “things are going to be okay” hug while I cry and then carry on. Good wishes, thoughts, prayers and words of encouragement are desperately needed right now.

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31st August 2017


My previous ortho doctor emailed me back.

In his words: “the Venn diagram for MHE [my disease, multiple hereditary exostoses] and hand is quite limited”. He has a suggestion of a tumor ortho to see at OHSU, but more as a reestablishment, in case I need to any other surgeries and for followups (my bone growths have a small chance of transforming into cancer, whee!) but probably won’t be helpful with this situation. I’m going to be emailing him just in case. The only hand tumor specialist that he knows is a doctor in New York City, so who knows when I’d ever get an appointment to see him.

I’m still waiting to hear whether my (ridiculous, worthless) insurance company to approve the capsule surgery, 10 days later.

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30th August 2017


My previous post didn’t go to my RSS feed. Hmm. Anybody know how to troubleshot that?

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29th August 2017

broken wings

Nearly a year ago, I fell. Missed a step and went down hard on my hand and instantly couldn’t bend my fingers (I wrote about that here). The ED sutured my bleeding eyebrow, took an xray of my fingers, gave me a split to wear which I wore for a couple of days and then stopped because it hurt and wrote me a pain subscription (which I took for a couple of days but then decided that the nausea was worse than the pain, so stopped and just bore the pain). By 10 days, I knew that something was really, really wrong. I saw my primary care doctor, got an x-ray, which showed again that it wasn’t broken, and a referral to an hard orthopedic and hand physical therapy – both which were booked up and I couldn’t get an appointment to see them for a month (I’ll save my rant about people believing that it’s an issue only for socialized medicine. It’s not).

So, six weeks after I fell, I saw the ortho PA, who wasn’t sure what was going on, but thought she saw a hairline fracture (there wasn’t), and that it should get better with time, and agreed that hand therapy sounded like a good thing. I started seeing the therapist that day. I used braces to stretch my fingers and when that didn’t work, I switched to a TENS unit where I sent shocks of electricity into my skin for hours a day. I dipped my hand in wax to mold my fingers. I saw some improvement, mere 5 degrees at a time, which would last a matter of minutes and then disappear, leaving my fingers stiff and painful.

After a month, I made an appointment with hand ortho again, this time with an attending that I’ve interacted with on rare occasions. Who basically implied that it was all in my head and I wasn’t trying hard enough. It was devastating. Never mind that I have a genetic bone condition, with a legitimate reason to have pain that could be contributing. Based on his non-diagnosis, my (utterly ridiculous and waste of money, again I’ll save you the rant about socialized medicine) insurance company denied the MRI, which I didn’t find out about until after I got it (I may have written a strong email to my doctor informing him that he would be calling and get it approved that day – which his staff did). The MRI showed possible reasons for the finger stiffness but nothing clearly conclusive. My doctor never contacted me about the results, and by this point, I had so little trust in him that I wanted him nowhere near my fingers.

So I did more therapy. I met with my therapist nearly every week. I underwent “iontophoresis with dexamethasone” which is a fancy term to say that my therapist used an electric current to try to get a steroid into the soft tissues of my fingers. Pain got a little better – I could put on gloves, I could (mostly) shake hands, but movement and stiffness didn’t. And then my therapist stated that she didn’t think more sessions would help. So I continued to do it on my own. I wasn’t perfect, but I tried to do the wax treatments once or twice a day. There was one week when I wasn’t working, so I dipped it 4-5 times a day. Nothing I did really made a difference.

I knew I needed to see a new doctor, but honestly, I was really burned with the experience. I felt completely dismissed. And I just didn’t have anybody else I trusted to evaluate and likely operate on my dominant hand. And trying to navigate the system – getting referrals, collecting my medical records, getting copies of the imaging – exhausting.

So I dallied and delayed.

And then I fell again. I went to San Diego to vacation with my college girlfriends and on our first night, walking back from dinner, I stepped off the sidewalk and (I think because it happened so fast) tripped on a water sprinkler that was jutting out of the ground, and went down. It swelled up and bruised pretty much within minutes.

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Beautiful, right? I lost every bit of progress because the pain was unbearable to even attempt to bend, and once again, it was agony shaking hands and putting on gloves.

Finally, after the swelling went down, and I started crying to a colleague, because this has been utterly depressing and devastating and I am not dealing well with it, he recommended one of the hand plastic surgeons at OHSU, so I emailed him, and managed to get set up with an appointment last week. It was a better experience – he at least took me seriously and did a full physical exam, but he was also somewhat, I don’t know, a little victim-blaming? Basically, he thinks that my joints have stiffened, because of the initial immobility (which mind you I was instructed to do, and again I couldn’t get an appointment sooner and my therapist was terrified to work with me for days), and that I should have sought him out months ago.

He proposed taking me into the OR, putting me to sleep, and then forcing my fingers to bend – and then if that doesn’t work, he’ll open me up and lyse the joint capsules. Which may or may not work but we won’t know for months afterwords. So I agreed, and have been waiting for insurance clearance to schedule it – which probably won’t happen until late October or November.

He wanted repeat xrays though. Sure, fine, whatever. I got the xrays and then went back to work (it’s awfully fun trying to break away for a doctor’s appointment when you’re on service and your entire morning was interrupted for the eclipse).

I didn’t even look at them until the next day, when I was reviewing my patients’ images right before I went to bed. I actually read the report first, because I’ve already stared at my fingers a year ago looking for something wrong and didn’t think that it was going to show something new.

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Can you see it? The fracture at the base of my little finger, slightly displaced and extending into the joint. And at this point is over two months old and likely healed out of place. The fracture that I didn’t even know I had because why would this fall be any different than the last one?

(You can also see my shortened ring finger due to the short bone in my palm, and then many little bumps which are all of the bone growths that I have from my bone disease).

I broke down at work four times the next day, to colleagues that had known about my appointment and had asked how it had gone. I was a mess – honestly, I still am.

I emailed my new doctor, who felt that the treatment for the fracture (which would involve rebreaking it and putting pins in it) would be the exact opposite of what I needed to treat the joints and the stiffness, but again, he won’t know until after I’ve undergone the surgery of whether or not the fracture will interfere with my joint being able to bend.

So I’ve screwed myself over in so many ways and I may never have function of my fingers again.

I think one of the most frustrating aspects of this all, well, besides just the overall awfulness of having a hand not function properly, has been that I have been utterly without resources. In Utah, I had trusted doctors, who when they said I needed surgery or didn’t, I could take them at their word. They knew me, they knew my disease and how it manifested. And here, I’m seeing surgeons who have a passing familiarity with my disease. They aren’t even considering it as being a factor.

I emailed my old surgeon in Utah today, poured out my story in as few words as possible and asked him for a referral, either here or back in Utah (he’s not a hand surgeon. Hands are tricky and small and delicate). I don’t know if he’ll respond. I don’t know if it’ll make a difference.

I’m nervous about the surgery. I’m nervous that the surgeon will put me to sleep and my fingers will just move when they are relaxed and under a neuromuscular blocker and he’ll think that we’ve fixed the problem. I’m nervous that he’ll do the surgery and the fracture really will impact movement and I’ve just caused myself a whole lot of pain for nothing. I’m nervous that the little bone growths really are at the heart of all of this and nobody knows enough to fully evaluate it. I’m nervous that I’ll do all of this and it won’t do anything. I’m angry with myself, for not getting that xray after the second fall (it felt just like the first), for getting myself into this situation. I’m scared that I’m going to have a minimally functioning hand for the next 40 years of my life and what that is going to mean.

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4th May 2017

dig the grave


It passed.

The amoral, atrocious, vindictive, abomination of a bill passed the house today. The more I read about it, the more I am horrified. Truly horrified. The media has been focusing on the pre-existing conditions clause, but what has made my soul ache is the complete destruction of Medicaid and the loss of $880 billion in funding. $880 billion. The fact that every single medical society, every single healthcare advocacy group decried it should have meant that they considered the ramifications and had a thoughtful, careful approach to it. But I overestimated their moral conscience.

I’m enflamed and outraged. I am also terribly depressed and worried. I’m not comforted by knowing that it has to go through the Senate, as everybody keeps saying. All this revealed is how much our voices are ignored. I hope that this really does bring change at the midterm elections – but it didn’t when the republicans shut down the government for weeks so I don’t know why this would be different.

A few years ago, I was really into politics – I read about how the Supreme Court worked, I followed different bills and lawsuits, etc. A colleague of mine suggested getting involved in the AAN (American Academy of Neurology), as they have some political leadership courses and I could get involved in advocacy. And 4 months into this presidency and all of those kinds of thoughts have vanished. I’m tired and the thought of getting involved more… I hear that this has encouraged many people of the democratic party to seek office, and boy do I wish them well, and sort of wish it was me, mixed with gratitude that it’s not.

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3rd May 2017

in the red

I met with my department’s financial administrator today. A year or so ago, my division suddenly had a shortage in our budget, which has meant a year of trying to figure out why. So, in response, I took over in understanding our numbers and working as a liaison with the financial administrator. I’ve spent hours trying to figure out why, met with the billing department, changed our documentation, etc. etc. And found out today that it hasn’t made much of a difference.

Working in the health care business (and not just as a health care provider), has been filled with these frustrations. I work in a academic hospital and there is still so much pressure for better billing and collections. I spend so much time writing notes, putting in accurate diagnoses, making sure that the wording is clear and detailed and it still doesn’t feel like enough.

And it’s only going to get worse with the likely repeal of the ACA, in so many ways. Patients losing insurance again and not getting the care that they need, not being able to go to the rehab centers that they need afterwards, not getting their medications – being a resident in Milwaukee when so many of my patients didn’t have insurance was a nightmare, and I can’t believe we’re going back to that. Our hospital, as pretty much every hospital in the country, has been dependent on funds from medicaid for funding, which impacts the care we can deliver and so on.

The health care debate and debacle has been so stressful that I haven’t been sleeping well again. Having absolute ignorant, greedy politicians refusing to listen to how this impact their constituents, refusing to take their time and make improvements to the system. I hate them. I utterly loath them. I am having a very heard time thinking charitable thoughts about them – and I don’t like that. Even though I’m a fairly hard left leaning person in my politics, I’m also someone who believes pretty firmly in compromise and that there could be value in some conservative values, but this is truly trying.

It’s been months since the election and I’ve had this constant pit of anxiety that never really goes away. I started seeing my therapist again because I wasn’t sleeping and was cycling into a really dark place – that’s improved, with a couple of relaxation apps. My grandfather died when my mom was 15, from a bleeding ulcer and complications related to that, but my mom will say that he worried himself to death. While I know that the two are unrelated, I wonder how much of that worrying nature I’ve inherited.

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1st May 2017

finding my voice

At a Mormon feminist retreat this weekend, one of the sessions was about narrating your story and I felt such a longing for the time when I first started this journal, and the bits of my soul that I recorded and preserved. I’ve had spurts throughout my life when I’d attempt to be a great journallingist (compared to being a journalist). In junior high, I poured out my loneliness and crushes and sins into our old computer, saved carefully on floppy disks that I no longer have access to (they’ve either been lost or can’t be opened). In college, I wrote my words in bound books, but sporadically; long, passioned descriptions of the events of my life. Once my car was broken into, and a bag containing my journal was stolen. The absence of my thoughts from that time gnaws on me to this day, more than any other valuables lost. And then gradually, I found myself here, where I opened up and shared my life to the anonymous public and then to friends and family when they discovered my blog.

There’s so many small details from the last five+ years that I have lost because my journalling petered out, memories forgotten. I try to recreate them at the end of the year, but that’s relying on vague Facebook confessions and photos taken, and there are so many holes (also I am bad about getting them done on time).

For much of the last five years, I would open up this journal and try to write, the words stuck beside my inner turmoil about so many things: my faith and how it wasn’t fitting quite right anymore, even though I desperately wanted it to; singleness and trying to adjust to a life that I never thought I’d have; imposter syndrome; anxiety over work, etc, etc. So I didn’t write and it was harder to come back and try to write.

Anyhow. With the slow destruction of LJ and the migration away of so much of fandom, I’ve been hit with nostalgia and with a need to hold on a little longer. So I’m going to try blogging again this month. Yay?

LJ apparently celebrated their 18th birthday (and then sold us all to the dictatorship next to Alaska). I haven’t been here the whole 18 years – but I was sort of shocked to see that it’s been well over a decade – this is my entire 30s and a good chunk of my 20s encapsulated here in fragmented form. No wonder I am grieving at the loss.
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5th January 2017


Test post – checking out cross posting.

ETA: Okay, that was the sweetest thing ever. I should have switched over to dreamwidth from LJ years ago. Wrote this on my personal blog, used a plugin to cross-post to DW, which automatically cross-posted it to LJ – and the formatting preserved better!

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15th November 2016

Aaron Burr, sir


So this happened. 🙂

I, like a good portion of the US, fell in love with Hamilton. I have a small amount of pride that I was one of the early fangirls – when I was in New York City last year, it was about a week before the show went into previews and everybody was talking about it. And then NPR streamed the music when the soundtrack was released – I listened a day or two after that and I was hooked.

“Wait for It” was an instant, soul crushing, soul devouring favorite. I was so sad when the original cast left – alas, I did not listen to my inner, indulgent self and buy tickets last year.

So when Leslie announced a solo album, and then a national tour, and one of the cities was my city. Well.

He opened the show singing Autumn Leaves, which is one of my all time favorite songs, as covered by Eva Cassidy. A couple of Christmas songs, some Nat King Cole, a song from Spring Awakening and a song from Rent (Without You – stunning), and then of course, his three songs from Hamilton. I cried at Dear Theodosia, like I haven’t before. The line “if we lay a strong enough foundation, we’ll pass it on to you, we’ll give the world to you” hit me harder than it ever has – I sure hope that this is a firm foundation.

His voice was gorgeous, silky smooth and sexy and stunning. We sat 3 rows from the back of the upper balcony so the view was minimal, but his voice…

We stood in line for over an hour to buy his CD and then have him sign it and he hugged and took pictures with everybody. I told him how much his version of Autumn Leaves meant to me and we gushed briefly about Eva Cassidy.

Such a magical night.

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14th November 2016

Plans for writing every day sure are thwarted when an election triggers severe anxiety and panic attacks and insomnia and fear. I’m not sure when I’m going to be able to fill in those days. I’ve tried to be reasonable and then every day comes a reminder of what America has really voted – and this desperate prayer and plea that the safeguards of our nation will really protect us.

I am terrified.

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9th November 2016


I cannot even process today. I’m numb and angry and despondent and distressed and scared and so very, very sad. I’m sure I’m much like many people across the country who were pouring through exit polls to figure out how this could happen today. And I have no further answers.

My moment of fear that this was really happening came early last night, as Virginia and Ohio remained stubbornly red (Virginia turned blue at the last minute). I watched in horror as Michigan and Wisconsin went red and knew it was over, long before they called it. My friend Lindsay came over and we just stared at our respective phones while PBS droned on in the background, too upset to even cry.

Today wasn’t better. I am fearful of what comes next. The ACA/Obamacare is the most heavy on my mind because it directly affects the care I give and my patient’s health (not to mention that my sister is on it and my parents were planning on retiring in a year or so and using it to bridge them to Medicare) and it is likely to disappear into thin air, but when I think of the list of vulnerable people – and when I read Trump’s 100 days proposal which was so extreme and so hateful and will alienate every single one of our world allies, I start crying again.

I do live in liberal oasis. The freeways tonight are shut down with Trump protestors. But I’ve never felt further away from my country. The pundits tell me that that’s how the rural and suburban America has been feeling and I’m straining to have empathy. But for now, I have so much anger that they were so short-sighted to elect a man with no morals, no experience, no policy, who was racist, sexist, narcissistic, whose supporters feed into that mentality and I was blindsided.

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8th November 2016

i’m going to cry

Oh God.

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7th November 2016

Election Eve

I spent the evening tonight going through the Oregon ballot and circling in with blue pen my choices. Some of them were easy decisions (Hillary Clinton for president was a no-brainer), some of the local measures were much more difficult. Have I mentioned before how much I love living in a liberal city, where the politicians talk about how liberal and progressive they are compared to their opponent? it’s such a refreshing change.

I am nervous about the election tomorrow and the projected maps swinging so severely the last couple of weeks have not helped. I joked early on in the election that if the nightmare that is Donald Trump won the presidency, I’d move to Canada – and I do have good friends there who would sponsor me. It would take some exams and licensing, but I could find employment easily enough and Vancouver is beautiful – I could live there happily. But. I’m also a doctor, and as a doctor, it’s in my ethics and my morals to assist the marginalized and the downtrodden. So it’s all empty talk – I would stay and somehow try to mitigate the disaster. At least until the nuclear fallout from when Trump insults North Korea. I hope it won’t come to that.

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6th November 2016

professional comfort

I held three family conferences tonight (two with the same family). One was drama filled – a very emotional family, with lots of back history, with multiple family members who disagreed with the actions of the decision maker, which ended with the decision maker yelling at the other family members. *sigh* In the end I convinced them that pursuing medical management and not doing surgery was still offering a treatment, but I hate to think how the meeting is going to go in a couple of days if Patient doesn’t improve.

My second and third meetings were even harder, as Patient #2 was somebody who I had cared for a couple of months ago. P2 had come in very very sick at that point and I had had multiple conversations with the family then – but surprisingly P2 had done better than expected and doing well in rehab – and then had recurrence of the extreme neurological injury. The family was obviously in deep shock. It was a long night, with many unanswerable questions and I had to convey to them how close to death P2 was – and how they may not survive until morning. It’s worse having a closer relationship with the family – I had buoyed them through times of uncertainty, and now this.

This is the part of my job that I am good at, and in some ways, it’s what drove me to go into critical care. And it’s also exhausting.

I don’t dream about my patients much anymore. I used to through most of residency and fellowship, near nightmares that would keep me just under the edge of consciousness as I ruminated endlessly about the decisions I made that may or may not have contributed to their condition. Those stopped a year or so as being an attending. It helped having another person who took over after 12 hours, that other pair of eyes as backup, but I also have grown more confident about my decisions. I do chart stalk for the first few days after I rotate off, obsessively following up on how things develop and change, before that peters out. And then the cycle begins again.

I have this coming week off-service. Tomorrow will be my “post-call” day off. I have paperwork to do for the hiring process of our fellow joining in January. I’m applying for a teaching recognition and have to write myself a letter of recommendation for my chair to edit and sign (*whimper*). I’m mentoring a resident, who is struggling so I’m meeting with his program director. I’m creating our lecture curriculum for the next half year. And I’m revising our webpage, as it’s almost time for applications for fellowship again. It’ll be a busy week. And then on Monday, I’m back on service in the ICU with my patients and their families. And it begins again.

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5th November 2016

just random

I’m working nights this weekend. We have six patients on our team, so it was pretty quick rounds tonight. My typing on the desktop computers is somewhat limited by my fingers (it’s not so bad with the laptop because I can tip it just right), so it still took too long to get out of there, but it’s nice having an early night, and an extra hour of sleep tonight. I stayed up way too late last night, because my PA that I worked with is an avid west coast swing dancer, who adores (and has danced with!) Benji Schwimmer much like me, so we went hunting for all of his new and old routines. And now my body is saying that I need more sleep.

I am all the way done with my 2014 and 2015 year summaries! Only 2 years late! Except I can not figure out how to get an album inserted into wordpress, so that it shows the cover picture only, and then when you click on it, it opens the rest of the pictures as a slideshow. I used to use a plugin that was straight forward and did exactly that, but it stopped working with one of the WP updates. Anybody have any ideas of plugins that they like?

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4th November 2016

battered and bruised

Seven weeks ago, I went to a neurocritical care conference across the river from Washington D.C. DC was one of my favorite cities when I was in college/med school – my friend Sam went to law school there and I went out and visited her several times and just fell in love with the city. I hadn’t been back there since she graduated, so I was really excited to get to see the city. They changed the dates of the conference this ear, so I accidentally bought plane tickets for a couple of days before the conference started – which gave me a great excuse to do some touristing.

I took the bus into the city and explored the Capitol Building, which I had avoided my last visits there – I’ve had a pretty profound phobia of tall buildings since I was a kid, which has only improved this last year to my joy and astonishment. So I took a tour of the rotunda and the Old Senate chambers.

After the tour ended, I decided to walk around the grounds a little bit and then meander down towards the Washington Memorial. I walked up behind the Capitol, snapping pictures of what I thought was the Supreme Court Building (spoiler alert – it wasn’t. But the Library of Congress is a beautiful building). And as I was putting my camera away, I missed the curb and wasn’t able to catch myself and fell down hard.

I knew pretty much instantly that I had hurt myself badly. 2 tourists, 1 capitol police officer, 1 capitol doctor and a capitol nurse, another with another couple of capitol law enforcement, 3 firemen and finally 2 EMS personnel later and I found myself having an intimate tour of the George Washington emergency department.

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I lacerated my eyebrow (I was wearing sunglasses that sliced right across), requiring 2 layers of stitches and developed a black eye – I walked around my conference for three days looking like a domestic violence victim. And I fell onto my hand and pretty much instantly wasn’t able to bend it. 2 hours later, it was severely swollen and bruised.

That was 7 weeks ago. And I’m still not able to bend my ring and pinky finger. I saw one of the orthopedic providers a week ago Monday – they think there may be a hairline fracture (radiology didn’t call one and I think it’s just a skin fold).

I finally got to see a hand therapist who hooked me up with a brace to stretch my fingers.


I’ve been pretty discouraged as I haven’t felt that I’ve gotten much movement, even using this several times a day, but I went back to the therapist today and I have 5-10 degrees more flexion in both my pinky and ring finger so there is hope.

Being injured has been awful. I haven’t been able to write, shaking hands is excruciating, and I’m not able to intubate (not that I did much before – airways are the one thing that still truly give me nightmares). I’m petrified that I’m still going to need surgery or that recovery is going to take me months (and both are still equally likely).

On the plus side, I now know why my ring finger is so short, thanks to the xrays (I’m sure I have had xrays before – I just wasn’t a doctor then and knew what I was looking at): my metacarpal or the bones in your palm is shorter than it’s supposed to be – I actually have a normal size finger, but the “knuckle” is deeper in the palm. My therapist is actually impressed that I was ever able to make a real fist.

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3rd November 2016

A trip across the ocean


A year ago, a friend and I spent a couple of weeks in Europe (Italy, Austria, Germany – if I ever get my year summary done from last year, I’ll tell you all about it*, which woke up my travel bug that had been lying dormant for years. So when one of my favorite actresses revealed that she was going to be starring in Dreamgirls in the West End and it would be opening around my birthday – well, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. I asked for a couple of weeks off when we were making our schedules back in May and a month or so ago, I bought the plane ticket (for a ridiculously good price, thanks Brexit?).

So far, the plan is to meet up with a friend from Sweden for the weekend and to explore London and we’ll see Amber Riley in Dreamgirls on Monday. We’ll be staying in Notting Hill, in a very cozy and cute little hotel. She’ll leave on Tuesday…

And that’s as far as I’ve planned. I’m hoping to somehow get tickets to Harry Potter and the Curse Child, despite the mixed reviews, but tickets are pretty nonexistent. I’d like to get out of the city and explore the areas nearby, but I’ll be doing it by train and/or bus, so I really need to figure that out this week. I sort of have a hankering to go to Wales. And I’m toying with trying to make this an “Unofficial Jane Austen tour” or a “Unofficial Harry Potter tour” ala my trip to Hawaii and Lost (which was so much fun). I’m half tempted to rent a car – I did that in Germany – but this would be driving on the wrong side of the road with the wrong driver’s side and I’m not sure I’d make it out of England unscathed.

On the other hand, there’s an increasingly likelihood that after next Tuesday, I won’t ever want to return, so maybe getting closer acquaintance with the UK medical system wouldn’t be a bad idea.

For those of you who have been to London or the UK, any advice?

*it’s actually done, I just wanted to add pictures to make it more engaging. And it really needed 2014’s year summary done because they blended together at the end, so I’m working on that one. But it’s harder to remember what I did 2 years ago.

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2nd November 2016


I went to see Beautiful: The Carole King Story tonight, which was really terrific. Julia Knitel was utterly amazing in the lead role (she was the understudy on Broadway). Having season tickets for the Broadway in Portland has been so much fun – except I keep forgetting that I have them. It does have one very big perk: I’ll be able to get tickets to Hamilton next year easy peasy. 🙂

Matt Harding, my favorite traveling dancer, released a new video today which melted my heart. It was just what I needed after this horrible, ugly election season: a reminder that we are all beautifully connected in this world.

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1st November 2016

Must Be November

Ah, November, that time of year when the days become crisp and brief, and elections destroy my faith in society, and little writers put their pen to paper and attempt to make 50,000 words become a story – and I resurrect my blog in a vain attempt to blog every day.

So. Hi.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been here. Many things have changed. Many haven’t. I’m still in Portland, OR, where the dream of the 90s is alive and thriving. It’s a city that I adore in so many different ways. I’m still at OHSU as an attending in the neuro ICU – I’m already 3 months into my 4th year there. You’re considered a junior attending for 3 years after fellowship, so I’ve somehow passed that threshold – but I still feel new. I’ll probably write more in the next few weeks about my job as I’ve definitely moved beyond the honeymoon there. I live with my sister in the same cute little house (so far my landlord has not made any more threats of selling it). I’m not dating anybody and since I freaked out when my therapist suggested that I “flirt” a little more, I’m actively not dating and overall, doing pretty good with that. I broke up with my religion, a process that has been more agonizing than my laconic summation alludes. I subscribe to 3 different facebook groups for swing dancing and I haven’t gone once. I’m going to England in 3 weeks for a mini just-for-me birthday celebration. I fell two months ago, and I still can’t bend my fingers but I started doing physical therapy now (I’m not hopeful). I now have three nephews and one niece whom I don’t get to see nearly often enough but delight me endlessly. In short, life is full and overall good.

What’s new in your lives?

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1st January 2016

Year in Review 2015

– As I had flown back up to Utah with my grandmother (her dementia made it hard for her to be away from home and two days was more than enough), I stayed a day in SLC and spent New Year’s morning with my good friends and their kids. I then flew back to Arizona to spend a few more days with my nephews. We went up to the mountains (my family has an inherited cabin) and played in the snow.
– A Glee friend came out to Portland to visit family and I got to meet her for the first time. We explored the Chinese Gardens and the very early blossoms. It was lovely getting to know her in real life.
– Last season of Glee started. I may have cried. A lot.
– I attempted to fix the LCD screen on my camera. I failed miserably – luckily with no residual scars. On the other hand, all of those little dirt specks got removed.
– Work: I started working on a book chapter on osmotherapy. And I took a leadership course  this semester – it was great to get to know some of the leadership on campus, although it hasn’t been that helpful since its completion.

– I hung out with my friend Lindsay and my sister (Karin moved in with me last year). We went on a Galantine’s date to Salt and Straw, had dinner out a few times and watched glee and other movies together.
– Spring came early this year. I went on a few drives around Portland to photograph the early blooms.
– I started seeing a therapist. It made me realize that my feelings of depression and inadequacy were rooted in an not-quite-meeting-criteria-for-a-DSM-V-diagnosis anxiety disorder. I’m gathering some coping skills, but just having an identity has eased my feelings.

– Karin and I drove to Mt. Hood and then down to Bend, OR. Not much snow on the mountains this year. It was such a beautiful drive.
– Sunday on the beach with Lindsay. It was a warm, perfect day and the waves crashing were rejuvenating. We stayed until the sun disappeared far below the horizon and all of the pink faded into deep purple.
– Looking through my pictures, I really was in love with spring this year. 🙂
– I took a mini vacation and flew down to Los Angeles. There I watched the first hour of the series finale of my absolute favorite show and listened to my absolute favorite actors tell stories about the set and memories. 🙂
– I drove down the coast and spent the next day with my friend, Michelle. We went shopping together and then spent the afternoon and evening on the beach. San Diego beaches are AMAZING. I need to learn how to bodyboard.
– I drove back to Los Angeles and spent a day with my friend, Donna. She’s one of my oldest fandom friends and the last time I had seen her was nearly ten years before. AND THEN WE DIDN’T GET PICTURES. Ugh.
– Series finale of Glee. Karin and I had a party with Lindsay. I cried through the whole thing. It was the perfect ending for my very beloved imperfect show.
– Pi Day!

– Back to southern California. My best friend from San Francisco (Jen) got married, so I flew down a day early to help with the wedding. She was beautiful and it was a lovely wedding. More time on the beach capped off the delightful weekend.
– Karin, Lindsay and I went to the Tulip festival.
– Lost Day! I am such a numbers nerd that it was bliss having to such nerdy dates to celebrate in a year.
– April was hell (see my last entry). My book chapter was due, and I was up for credentialing renewal for the hospital, as well as my first annual review, so there were so many applications and papers due. To top it all off, I found out that I didn’t even have the hospital privileges that I needed to work in the ICU where I’ve worked for over 20 months – it was 3 days of hell while I tried to get paperwork submitted and attempting to find out whether I was at higher risk in a malpractice suit (short answer – probably not, but who knows).

– Northwest Pilgrims weekend up in Seabrook. Such a beautiful area. I was one of the speakers and talked about approaching end of life discussions.
– My friend, Nik, came to town for a conference. We went to brunch and doughnuts. (Mmm, Bluestar).
– Phantom of the Opera with Lindsay!
– My landlord informed me that he was exploring selling the little, completely adorable bungalow in which I reside. Which lead to several days for frantically calling places on craigslist and looking at a couple of houses. In the end, the sale fell through and I’m here for another year.

– My Liz visited! We had a glorious weekend together, which was, as always, too short. We spent one day on the beach and then drove up to Seattle to spend the day with our friend Brooke, where we took the ferry to eat ice cream and then to dinner and the movies.
– Neurology graduation. Where my residents shocked me with a “teacher of the year” award. Still stunned.
– Chris moved back to Wisconsin (Milwaukee, my old stepping grounds). I have so missed him and I am truly grateful for this year that let us reestablish our friendship.

– My parents came to town for the 4th of July weekend. We drove north (I had hoped to make it to Canada but no such luck) and explored Mt Rainer, where I ran into a colleague from UCSF. It was so unbearably hot that I wasn’t up for much hiking. We then drove up to Cascades National Park, which of the national parks in Washington is on the “eh” side. You actually can only hike into the park, because the road follows the river, which because of all of the dams was left private. Ridiculous.
– A weekend in New York City! Darren Criss from Glee was performing in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, so a group of us made plans to see it together. He was amazing – I wish that I could have seen him another time, because I was floored by the performance and the story and the music – I’ll admit it, I only went because he was staring in it, as “rock opera musicals” are not a big selling point for me; but the ballads were incredible. I also went to see Something Rotten which is a Shakespeare spoof and was pretty clever (the songs are forgettable). I met my friend, Stacy and spent a evening with her (dinner and watching The Terminator which I hadn’t ever seen). The weekend was capped with a picnic in Central Park, before we made a mad dash out of the city. I had flown in, but decided to carpool back with some of the women – so we travelled all of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minneapolis in a day and a half. I then spent a day with Becka before taking a late night flight back home. Whew.
– A friend of mine, Hillary, is a school teacher in Japan. She asked our group of friends if anyone was interested in coming to Europe and I volunteered because I’ve been dying to travel again. We had a marvelous trip together seeing Milan (for a day), Verona, Venice, Vienna, Salzburg, Munich and then surrounding areas in Germany. Some highlights:

  • started the vacation by getting lost in Verona on the first day and ended up walking down a very narrow sidewalk on a freeway, climbing a steep incline through pricky briars and then marching through fields of peas to ask directions at a bakery and then somehow, end up exactly where we started.
  • opera in the Arena di Verona – gorgeous costumes and scenery. It rained which delayed the performance, so the opera didn’t end until after midnight. I also don’t know Italian and I’ve only seen Marriage of Figaro once, so it was mostly enjoying pretty music.
  • Venice was so gorgeous – and also bloody hot and humid. Also, I’ve never had such blisters in my entire life.
  • Going to a concert in Vienna – unfortunately, all of the symphonies were on vacation for the summer, so this was a small group that catered to tourists. But they played music from The Merry Widow and I died of happiness.
  • It was kitschy, but the Sound of Music tour was fabulous.
  • Swiss Alps are stunning. I’ve lived around mountains my entire life and these were breathtaking.
  • Hiked to some thundering waterfalls in the Alps. Stunning.
  • I met SatisMagic! Ten years + of friendship here on LJ. She took me around her home country, we explored Roman ruins and small towns and she graciously introduced me to her pretty kitties.

– The majority of my Europe trip was in August. My layover was in Moscow, Russia, for approximately 7.5 hours -not quite long enough to make it worth it to get a visa and see the city. It’s a rather bland airport. I’m not a fan of Russian airport food either. I missed my connecting flight from Los Angeles to Portland because of a passenger’s medical issue – yes, I volunteered as the doctor – first time, actually!
– Back to the drudges of work.
– Wicked! Gosh, I <3 this musical so much. To think I almost missed out on seeing it because I loathed the source material.
– I lectured the medical students on some neuroanatomy topics. My neuroscience block in my second year of med school is what lead me here so it was defining moment to be here 13 years later.
-Book club: we read Nicole Hardy’s book “Confessions of a Latter-day Virgin.” I had read it a year or so ago; I related to it in a completely different way this time.

– I worked a lot.
– I had one weekend off and met my friend Lindsay for brunch at Lake Oswego and then drove down to Silver Falls state park and went on a 3 mile hike by myself. The falls were a little light on water due to the drought, but it was just the start of autumn and it was a gorgeous day.
– Third flat tire in the 2 years that I’ve owned my car. And as always, it was an adventure.
– Eclipse! Which I missed because I went to see Pippin instead. One of my favorite performances of the year.

– Neurocritical Society meeting, which was held in Scottsdale, AZ.  I flew down a couple of days earlier to see my sister and my too-adorable-for-words nephews. We played on the trampoline and dug in the dirt. Tanner, the youngest, called me “Ah-ha” and demanded to watch videos of “mum-mums” (motorcycles).
– 3 days of conferences, as always too long. However, I reconnected with some of my friends from residency, which was amazing. And I spent a lot of time socializing with my “boss” (director of the ICU – step-boss maybe), who I like so much more than the previous director.
– I then drove up to our family’s cabin and spent a couple more days with my family. We had a family birthday party, although the big excitement was raking pine needles.
– Had an internet group gathering down at Silver Falls again and hiked to a different falls. This time, the leaves had turned even more and it was a little more chilly. Perfect hiking weather.
– I worked. A lot. In fact, October started my 27-day-straight-without-a-day off-i’m-going-out-of-my-mind streak.

– See the end of October. In addition to working in the neuroscience ICU for 2 weeks, I also worked 2 weeks as the neurology inpatient attending. It reminded me that I made the right decision in not pursing general neurology and that it’s been a long time since residency. There were aspects that I loved (the time to teach was awesome), but I did not like the phone calls asking how to manage migraines, or the admissions for weird bizarre illnesses that left me scratching my head (and never find a satisfactory answer), or the consults for chronic headaches or the patients that refused to leave the hospital.
– 2015 really was a fandom focused year – I participated in an auction of Glee set items. Several stuff I didn’t get, but my prize was a macaroni art of my favorite character, Kurt. It now resides on my wall and is gorgeous.
– My church came out with policy changes that broke my heart, and devastated and alienated beloved ones, and I broke up with my church. It has been horrible and painful and emotional and I’m still grieving. I’m not sure if it’s permanent, but some distance was (and is) needed.
– My 37th birthday. It was a uneventful day, with the exception that I talked to several of my friends who I have neglected for the last several months (see anxiety) and that meant the world to me.
– I FINALLY HAD A WEEK OFF. Most of the week was spent doing things like laundry, but my parents drove out for Thanksgiving and we rented a house on the beach, where the skies were crystal clear and the air was warm and the waves were gorgeous, and I soaked in the sun and the ocean.

-My niece was born! She was a little early and so very tiny and is adored by her three older brothers.
– Work holiday party with ugly Christmas sweaters (I came straight from work so I missed out on that aspect). Gosh, I love the people that I work with.
– One of my hardest weeks at work, with many patients, and a family that could not come together to make medical decisions and then brought in lawyers who loomed over me. I know that I am likely to be sued (I work directly with neurosurgeons; their patients are my patients), but being faced with the reality is something different.
– My grandma, who has had years of slowly progressive dementia and worsening paranoia, was placed in a nursing home after a stay in geriatric psych. We have all breathed great sighs of relief, although she may not speak to any of us for months.
– I’ve been working for months and months revising the notes used by our electronic medical records. We went live the week of Christmas. So far, it’s gone smoothly (although I got very little sleep that week).
– I worked Christmas night. I had made tentative plans to go to Utah for Christmas, but because of a bunch of things, those plans never came to fruition. Instead, Karin and I stayed home and had a nice dinner.
– I spent the last week before the New Year, catching up on the 200+ notes that I haven’t written in the last 3 months. And updating this blog for the first time in months.

Movies watched:
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay part 2
Far From the Maddening Crowd
Pitch Perfect 2
Mad Max: Fury Road

TV watched:
Orphan Black
Agent Carter
Parks and Recreation
Supergirl (I’m so behind)
Jessica Jones
Too many episodes of Say “Yes” to the Dress

Dirty Dancing (better as a movie)
Guys and Dolls
I Love Lucy – Live on Stage!
The Phantom of the Opera
Something Rotten – Broadway
Hedwig and the Angry Inch – Broadway
42ND Street
Beauty and the Beast

Favorite music/songs:
Thinking Out Loud – Ed Sheeran
Adele’s entire album
Uptown Funk – Mark Ronson feat. Bruno Mars (the lyrics are sexist, but the beat gets me every time).
OneRepublic – I Lived (thanks glee for making me cry every time this plays on the radio)
This Time – Darren Criss
Hamilton Original Soundtrack (I am such Hamilton trash now)

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