Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A New Thanksgiving

Yeah, right.
Are you tired just looking at this picture? I sure am! 

Maybe some people really enjoy shopping for, defrosting, prepping, and cooking a turkey all week.....but I am not one of them.

Is turkey even that good of a food? 

I suppose once my kids are old enough to enjoy turkey, potatoes and all the fixins that maybe this holiday will be more enjoyable. But right now, they would rather eat chicken nuggets. There's no way their 3 and 5 year old palates will touch any icky sticky mashed or sweet potatoes, or goopy beans with crispy onions. 

They won't even touch pie! So why put in all this effort only to fail? For Thanksgiving, I want some peace and sanity so I am trying something new. Tossing aside the roaster pan! 

I decided that this year, we will take a break from the craziness of the big holiday meal. I will try some easy and 'clean' recipes, in reasonable portions, kind of how I do it every day. I'll keep trying to feed the kids new things but am not going to stress over this meal. 

*How do you feel about cooking Thanksgiving dinner?*

Whatever your meal of choice, I hope you have a peaceful and cheerful holiday!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Baby planning

Joyful peanut!
If you can believe it, I had this little peanut during the last year of my residency. Saying it was difficult would be a understatement, for sure.

I learned I was pregnant while I was working in the surgical intensive care unit (ICU). Obviously I was exhausted but figured it was from the demanding schedule. There was overnight call duty every 3rd-4th night. I was stressed, sick, and not eating much. Definitely not the most ideal conditions to gestate a little human.

The news was jolting-while something I wanted desperately, I couldn't imagine worse timing for starting a family.

What got me thinking about this was an article I found floating around Facebook recently, written a few years ago by an anesthesiologist, Dr Karen Sibert. It is titled, "Give yourself a break-Don't have a baby during residency."

The link is HERE

While Dr Sibert did not have a child during residency, she did have one before and after. She witnessed other residents go through this process and noted the difficulties as an onlooker. Her article has been controversial because of its judgmental tone towards women residents. It really hit a sensitive spot for me (and others) because we each have the right to decide when having babies is best for our own families. Having one in residency is extremely difficult as you will see in my personal experience. BUT it was my choice.

But Dr Siebert touches on some ways that having a baby during residency affects the mom's professional career. Having a new baby is tiring and distracting from your career. You are 'looked down on' by others and certainly by the others that have to cover you while you are gone. Your board scores are likely lower. Your chance of getting a top job is  jeopardized because you have 'other priorities.'

There are more personal ways that the baby process affected me. I basically had to pretend I wasn't pregnant in order to get through those following 8 months.  I got really good at pretending I was ok. 

It was very hard to ignore a pregnancy. There was no time to be tired or rest. No time to eat or take a bathroom break. No time to take care of my worsening back pain. No time to sit down during a long procedure or while leading a code or caring for many sick patients. I had to pretend I was fine because if I didn't, it would make a lot more work for the others around me. And those others were not going to jump in and help easily. Admittedly, they had a lot on their plate too. There was always plenty of work to do in the ER.

Can you believe I only had ONE attending tell me, during the entire 8 months, to take a lunch break and rest? Once I even had a combative patient kick me in the abdomen when I was 6 months along, and no one took any notice. I felt invisible and just kept trucking along. I had to make it to Dec 1st, where I could shift gears and do an 'easy' elective rotation which involved a lot of sitting. No codes, no trauma, no night shifts. I was very worried that I wouldn't make it since shift workers are known to have higher rates of miscarriage and preterm delivery. (Nice summary of shift work effects: LINK)

Somehow I made it to Dec 1st. I cried a lot with relief (and hormones), put my stethoscope away, and started putting the nursery together. But in a BIG twist, I was forced into working an extra shift in the ER during the first week of my elective. Mentally, I was completely devastated even though it was just one more shift. So I pulled my stethoscope back out and worked an awful shift on Dec 3rd. I think I was visibly steaming the entire time.

Later that evening, during a classic midwestern snowstorm, I was in bed eating cookie dough ice cream. (Hey, I deserved it!!) And then they started.....those darn contractions. It was the real deal! I texted my husband to come home (because he was working overnight in the hospital) and we rushed to the hospital. I still remember the bumpy, slick, frigid ride in the snow like it was yesterday.

I am so thankful that my daughter was born healthy and happy. And technically, just made it past the premature period. She is an amazing kid and about to celebrate her 6th birthday. I think the timing of her arrival was extremely difficult but having her in my life was, and is, such a joy. Her presence in our family changed my job opportunities, like Dr Siebert gets at in her article.

More on that later! What was your pregnancy experience? Did you feel like you had to hide your 'disability' because of your job, professional or not?

Friday, November 7, 2014

What is Residency like?

Have you wondered what going through a medical residency training program is like? You have probably seen episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" and wondered how much of it is true. 

First of all, residency is not sexy or fun! There are no McDreamys (although some thought they were). There are no romps in the call rooms (you are too tired and the rooms are gross). Hopefully there are no cases of syphillis among the staff. 

I did a 3-year emergency medicine residency and it was anything but glamorous. There was the occasional complicated trauma patient like you might see on the show. An open leg fracture with bone sticking out. An eyeball sticking out of its socket. Eviscerated guts spilling onto your shoe. Severed digits. Lots of dramatic, warm oozy blood. But mostly in the ER, your shift is filled with seeing patients in various amounts of pain, with various amounts of authenticity, and various levels of sobriety. Your job is to triage who really needs the ER services and who can go home, which is way more complicated than it sounds sometimes.

"Grey's Anatomy" DOES have it right about a few things. Like the show, residency is full of drama, overbearing attendings, plenty of competition, interpersonal struggles, difficult patients, sleepless nights, and impossible board exams. 

Somehow through all the layers of pain and drama, a medical education emerges. After years of running on the gerbil wheel, you are then ejected out of the cage and become an attending physician with all the answers.

Honestly, I didn't realize how unhappy I was until it was all over. There wasn't a lot of time to dwell on being unhappy.  If you stop to think about how in-over-your-head you are, you drown. So I just kept treading water. My husband, and then-resident himself, helped me stay focused and get through it. (Thanks, honey!) You have to put in your time during residency in order to actually practice medicine and make a living. I know it was harder for residents who didn't have an understanding partner at home.

So even though I went through an actual medical residency, I don't mind watching the ridiculousness of "Grey's." The only semi-Grey's moment I had was when my hubby and I were on call overnight together at the children's hospital. The other residents thought this was SO funny that they decorated my husband's call room with rose petals, soft music and apple juice (champagne). Ironic thing is, neither of us even saw the room because we were so busy taking care of patients all night!! Ah, the memories...

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Blogger's Cold Feet

The most interesting thing happened once I set up my blog...

I didn't look at it for a few weeks! It was like I had cold feet. Maybe I am subconsciously scared to put my writing out there for people to view and criticize. It's actually a really hard thing to put yourself out there on such a potentially massive platform. I think it's more scary to be ignored once putting yourself out there. Well, I think I am finally ready to take the plunge...

That's me!

Hmmmm...maybe in a few days!