Friday, February 27, 2009


I may be a slightly paranoid conservative, always on the lookout for the vast, left-wing media conspiracy, but recently I have noticed something that I swear I am not making up.

While Clinton was president, the news anchors and others in the media seemed to always refer to him as "President Clinton." When Bush was elected, suddenly to me it seemed that he was always refered to as "Mr. Bush", rarely being called "President Bush." I thought maybe I was mis-remembering since he was president for a long time. Now, though, listening to NPR every morning on my way to work, what do I notice?

Everyone talking about what "President Obama" is doing - "President Obama" said this in his speech, or "President Obama" wants to reform this particular area. I have yet to notice him being called "Mr. Obama." I have not conducted any kind of scientific study about what presidents are called, but what do you all think?

Am I just paranoid?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Our annual resident retreat was this past weekend - filled with lots of good food, games, cool mountain air, and a nice refreshing break from residency. The retreat was at a little resort/inn in Flat Rock, NC.

Sunday, a big group of us went to the Biltmore estate. Even though I've lived less than 2 hours from there for most of my life, this was actually the first time I'd ever been. It's always nice to get to hang out with everyone away from work.

Inside the green house at Biltmore.

The albino peacock that lived at the place we stayed. He looks like he's wearing a wedding dress.
Cute goats at Carl Sandburg's home.
Biltmore! (Sadly, you are not allowed to take photos inside the house. How lame is that?)

It was a little sad to come back and get to work, especially since I worked all day yesterday, then worked the ER until 11pm. Today, I got home from to work to find my sweet husband feverish and laid up on the couch. It gave me a good excuse to try a kind of medicine I can't give to most of my patients - homemade chicken soup.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I heart hearts.

This month I'm on my cardiology rotation. Mostly this means that I get to watch cardiac stress testing, something I will hopefully one day do in my own clinic. I also get to pal around with the 70-something year old gentleman cardiologist who still works here part time. Every day he shows me several echocardiograms that he has read.

My love for ultrasound technology just grows. Watching the way the heart moves as it is beating, watching valves open and close, monitoring the forward and backward flow across valves - it is just stinkin' cool. The mitral valve (which is the valve between the left atrium and the left ventricle) looks like someone with two very large lips singing at the top of their lungs as it opens and closes. The aortic valve has three parts, so when it closes it looks like a Mercedes symbol. I watched them do an echo through someone's esophagus yesterday (something they do to get a better look at the aortic valve and the left atrium) and we could even see the atherosclerotic plaques he had built up in his aorta. It was amazing.

What impresses me most so far, though, is that as we are looking at these echoes, Dr. Smith does not just talk to me about the pictures on the computer. He tells me a story about the patient. He tells about the first time they met, how he also took care of their mother, about the other things they have gone through, their jobs, their families. Even though he is a cardiologist, he truly see his patients as people. Not as a conglomeration of medical problems or a list of medicines. He sees them as a husband, a father, or a sister, people who love, live, and breath, are afraid, cry, get sick, and then one day pass on. He remembers that behind every Xray, every echo, every lab value is a person. He doesn't condemn them for their bad decisions or get annoyed that he has to take care of them when they are to blame for their health problems. He simply takes the best care of them that he can, in a kind, caring, and gentle way.

That is the kind of doctor I want to be.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Book Meme

I've seen this meme around for a while and thought I'd do it, mostly since I'm post-call, need to put a new post up, but have not the mental capacity right now for creativity. I do not think well post call. Even answering questions I should know the answer to requires mental calisthenics. But I think I can handle making some things bold or italics.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read (films don't count).
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Tag somebody if you like

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
(on my favorite of all time list.)
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte (maybe I should check out the Bronte sisters.)
8 1984 - George Orwell
(good and disturbing)
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman (I read part of The golden compass and really, really disliked it.)
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
(I feel like I should like this more than I do.)
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien

17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks (I haven't heard of this one.)
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (much better than anticipated.)
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky (not my favorite Russian novel.)
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck (the last scene is just unforgettable.)
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy (long, but very good.)
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis

37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini (I bawled in Barnes and Noble reading this one.)
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres (I did not see the movie, but the fact that Nicholas Cage was in it makes me not want to read the book.)
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden (interesting, sad, and beautifully written.)
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
(another favorite children's series)
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (read it for high school English - very interesting.)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel (I still think about this one.)
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
(all of her books kind of run together for me.)
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens (his books kind of run together as well.)
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley (creepy, futuristic vision - well written but disturbing.)
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon (excellent.)
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold (a ghost is the narrator - it's OK.)
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas (exciting, adventerous.)
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac (wierd.)
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (really, really depressing.)
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding (a light read, fun if you ignore the sex.)
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie (I really love most of his stuff. It reads like poetry.)
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett (One of my favorite books.)
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray (Hated it.)
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker (excellent.)
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry (I haven't heard of this one, either.)
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad (another high school read - I was not a fan.)
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery

93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams (I read this back in middle school, but remember loving it. I probably need to revisit this one.)
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet – Shakespeare
(loved it.)
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl (I can't believe I haven't read this one.)
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Anyone who wants to participate - consider yourself tagged!

Friday, February 13, 2009

St. Valentine's day

In the medical profession, older doctors, especially during medical school, often ask younger doctors/students questions to try to test their knowledge and make sure they understand important information. This has long been referred to as "pimping." Sometimes, the real purpose of pimping is to embarrass or otherwise demean a student/intern/resident by proving to them their lack of knowledge. Thankfully, that does not happen at my residency program, as all we are interested in here is teaching people to learn in a non-threatening, non-demeaning way. (Have I mentioned how much I love my residency program??)

Occasionally, an attending may try to "pimp" you on something non-medicine related. Once in medical school, a surgeon asked me numerous questions about 70s and 80s rock music. I did not fair very well on that quiz.
Today, the older cardiologist who works with us on our cardiology rotation pimped me about who St. Valentine was. (really he just asked me if I knew.) As I didn't, I took a little time to do some reading, given that I do somewhat enjoy being a repository of arcane factoids. So, in light of this weekend, here is what I learned:

No one really knows. Possibly he was a priest. Possibly a bishop. He may or may not be buried on the Via Flaminia north of Rome. Even when his feast was established in 496, nothing was really known about him except that he was a martyr. Later information from the 15th century says that he was arrested for marrying Christian couples during the reign of the Emporer Claudius. The story goes that to kill him, he was beaten, then stoned, then finally beheaded when nothing else worked. Apparently most of what has been written about him was actually invented by Geoffrey Chaucer.

So there you go. Enjoy the random facts of the day, just in case you ever get "pimped." Or appear on Jeopardy.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Did you know this?

We are currently in the middle of a long, bleak, sports winter. It's this long season every year between the end of the baseball season in October, and the beginning of the next baseball season in April. The bleak mid-winter, in which there is virtually no reason to turn on the tv, or check ESPN. Sure, for a little while you can get by watching college football. And yes, I go to the requisite football parties, pretending to be knowledgeable, even though I've never once noticed a penalty before the refs called it. But after the New Years bowl game bonanza, the pickin' get even slimmer. It's even harder to pretend to be interested in the NFL. Thankfully, by January it's already playoff time for the NFL. And the Superbowl is a fun watch despite the fact that there is a football game breaking up the ads.

After that, though, the last dim lights of sports interest have extinguished until Spring Training. Golf has started again, but Tiger won't play for a couple more months, so that's no good. I checked ESPN the other day, to see what they talk about this time of year. Apparently the NBA is still going on. Did anybody know about this? I kinda figured that after Michael Jordan retired that the whole league just kinda sorta decided to do something else. But I guess not. Weird. So there is that possibility. But still, I think I'll wait for spring training.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lucy's Dream Come True

Last night, just after 10 o'clock, it occurred to me that I hadn't yet fed the dog. This happens occasionally, and thankfully, Lucy is a patient little dog, and doesn't mind eating a late dinner. However, I simultaneously remembered that we had run out of dog food the night before. As in, used the whole bag up and threw it out. Not even any dog food dust left in the bottom. And Aubrey and I had already wound down for the evening, and didn't feel like running out to the store for a late night dog food run.

So began Lucy's dream dinner.

So Aubrey and I began pondering what to feed the poor dog. Should we make her some scrambled eggs? Toast? Its easy enough to give her table scraps and let her lick plates, but we've never considered having to make a whole meal out of it. Lucy kindly offered to just go through the fridge herself, but we told her just to be patient. We had some leftover chicken and rice in the fridge, but the rice had a bit of a kick to it. Aubrey had given a little bit to Lucy the day before and it had caused her to have some.... well... digestive unpleasantness.

The answer lay in a leftover hamburger that had been in the fridge for a couple of days. It was on the older end of the leftover continuum, so neither Aubrey nor I were particularly excited by it anyways. I nuked it, and toasted a piece of bread for a side dish. Of course, Lucy would've eaten either one cold, but still... as long as she was getting a special dinner, I decided to do it right. I cut the burger up, and tore the toast into bite size pieces, and mixed it all together in her bowl for a little burger casserole. And so Lucy got to have a real cooked hamburger for dinner.

As a side note, I noticed about half way through her meal that a bunch of pieces of bread were scattered on the floor around the bowl as she was clearing a path to the meat! Perhaps she needed some mayo? But all the pieces were cleaned up before she was done.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Quilt #2 and baby shower present

After I finished my first quilt, I was quickly inspired to get started on #2. And somewhere in the middle of the whole quilting process, I abandoned the project, folding it into my craft room closet. About a week or so ago, I decided I couldn't take any more mocking from the folded up fabric and decided to finish it. I'm not sure what took me so long. Although, since it took me about 2 years to finish the first one, 6 months is an improvement. I even took my inaugural post call nap underneath today.

I quilted it in circles, to contrast with all the lines and squares in the design of the quilt. And I tried a "self-binding" quilt, where my backing fabric was cut larger and then folded over to make the binding. This worked fairly well, but as usual, my slightly wonky sewing created some issues.

Here it is on the back on my couch. I really like the colors and how it matches our living room.

And here is my latest baby shower project - to be given away tomorrow. I got the onesie idea from a cute etsy store when I was looking for how to make a onesie with monkeys. I was excited about how it turned out. Hopefully the as-yet-name-unknown boy will get some good use out of it!

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Friday, February 06, 2009

7 Quick Takes

1. I had some blood work drawn at the hospital on Thursday. And it took me about 15 minutes to find the outpatient lab. Seriously. And when the lady who checked me in tried to give me directions, I stared at her blankly because I really didn't have any idea where she was talking about. Apparently, there is a whole part of the hospital I didn't even know existed.

2. Even though I've been a resident for 18 months, I had not actually been able to successfully intubate someone. Combining my lack of opportunities to do it with having a hard time when I did resulted in several unsuccessful attempts. Thurday, though, I finally conquered my fears and successfully intubated a patient just prior to surgery. Thinking of my nephew Sam (read this comment), I gave myself a little mental review of all the things to do to be successful. And it worked. Woo-hooo. I no longer have to feel inadequate because of my lack of intubations.

3. Every time I watch Food Network, it makes me want to cook whatever it is they are making on the show. This works out well when it gives me good ideas for dinner, but not so well when it makes me want orange-creme filled chocolate cookies or raspberry pound cake with whipped cream on top.

4. My husband gives really good gifts. I am constantly reminded of this. One of his gifts this year was a swim cap. It may not seem like much, but I really, really hate the way my hair feels when I get out of the pool -- like sticky, brittle straw. He knew this, and hence the appearance of the swim cap under the tree. Now I don't have that problem anymore. I love my husband.

5. I hate insurance paperwork. I hate the signing of so many papers, the need for prior authorizations, the writing and re-writing of license numbers. Only to have the insurance company "lose" the papers after you fax them. Grrr. I worry that putting the government in charge of health care will only make this worse. I hate when non-physicians try to tell me how to take care of my patients. I worry that this will also get worse if the government is in charge of health care.

6. I know lots of people out there are praying for Jeff and I. I have had much more peace about this whole situation recently, and I thank you all for your wonderful prayers. I also praise God, our Prince of Peace, who I know has been sustaining me.

7. I recently re-started For Whom the Bell Tolls. I read/skimmed this in high school but remember almost nothing about it. As much as I love reading, I am ashamed to say I have never gotten into Hemingway. I wish I could. I like it when I can honestly say that I enjoyed this or that classic novel. Mostly, though, this book has been helping me to fall asleep at night. The same thing happens when I read Faulkner. (Sorry to any Hemingway/Faulkner fans out there.)

For more Quick Takes, visit Jen.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Photo of the Undetermined Period of Time

So I went up to class at Erskine yesterday, and lo and behold the fountain was covered in ice! It was beautiful. I'm afraid I didn't get any really great pics, so this will have to do. Note the ice. It's not all palm trees and flip flops down here in SC ya know... there was ice.

Indecisive Lucy

My sweet quirky dog only occasionally asks to be let out our back door, being that the best place to be in our house is either right next to us, on a bed, or curled up in a very small space. Every time, without fail, as soon as the glass door slides shut behind her, she immediately turns around and looks at me like I've betrayed her. Then she sits there mournfully looking inside until (I suppose) she remembers why she wanted to go out in the first place. Then she'll trot around the yard, eating grass (no lie), until she's had enough.

She also never can decide where to eat a treat. I don't know if it makes her nervous, or if she suspects Jeff and I of wanting to eat her Cheweez, but she'll pace up and down the stairs with the treat in her mouth, looking for just the right spot to eat her snack.

Sometimes I think she might have an anxiety disorder.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

25 things about me.

This has been going around Facebook for a while, and I've been tagged several times, but never wanted to participate. Then Jeff did it, so I thought I should. Here are 25 somewhat random things about me.... (And by the way, 25 is sort of a lot. By the end I was kind of scraping the bottom of the random-info barrel.)

1. Although I'm not grossed out by much, I HATE that sound guys make (I swear - it's only a sound they make) when they're trying to get all the snot out of the back of their throat.

2. I have three brothers, so guess what sound I heard a lot growing up?

3. The other thing that grosses me out is the food particles that float in the sink when you are doing the dishes. Ewww.

4. I don't have much of a southern accent, in spite of living here nearly all my life. It does come out occasionally, though, especially when I'm talking to older people from the South.

5. Even though I've competed in several 5Ks, 10Ks, and a half marathon, I still sometimes hesitate to call myself a "runner."

6. I rarely wear makeup. Still.

7. I started sewing during my third year of medical school and now it's my favorite hobby.

8. I love the smell of clean laundry.

9. The first cassette tape I ever bought was Michael W. Smith. The first CD was Handel's Young Messiah.

10. The first secular music I liked was U2 and Counting Crows - two of my favorite bands still.

11. I spent a year in seminary in between college and medical school. Everyone I meet now always thinks that I must have changed my mind about something during that year that made me want to be a doctor. Then I have to explain that I just wanted to do something different for a year before starting the long process of becoming a doctor.

12. I did meet my husband at seminary. My brothers like to tease me that I went there for the sole purpose of finding a husband. But honestly, I figured no pastor would ever consider marrying someone who wanted to be a doctor. And who didn't really play piano. Thankfully, I was wrong.

13. I love all forms of chocolate, except chocolate-flavored cake. The only chocolate cake I like is homemade german chocolate, and this killer texas sheet cake my mom always makes for my birthday.

14. I took Latin, German, and Spanish in high school. I kind of have a thing for languages.

15. My secret dream job would be to write and take photos for National Geographic.

16. The best part of my work day is when I get to deliver babies. Or do ultrasounds.

17. I love my husband. And being married to him.

18. I never really drank coffee until I started residency. Now I drink it every day. When I miss a day, I get a killer headache.

19. I'm a fairly adventurous eater and will try almost anything. At least once.

20. I have a strong sense of smell and always know if Jeff's been eating something like chocolate or has gone to the pool when he gives me a kiss.

21. Peru is my favorite place to go outside the US, sort of my home away from home.

22. I easily cry at movies or reading books.

23. I loved almost every part of my four years of medical school. (Yes, I'm sort of a dork who has always loved school.) The only exception would be the 8 weeks of my surgery rotation, which felt like the longest 8 weeks of my life.

24. Apart from babysitting and doing some research in high school, this job I have now is basically my first.

25. My family lived in Germany for several years when I was young. I'm told I actually could speak a good amount of German when I was there, but forgot essentially all of it after we moved back to the US. Then I took it in high school, and have forgotten nearly all of that, too.

Big Red Ball Red

This post is a shout out to our nephew Sam. Hi Sam!! Sam is two. The last time Aubrey and I got to visit Sam was back around Thanksgiving. Sam is very smart, and very talkative, and loves balls. Especially his big red ball. Sam is also a very diligent learner. He loved to carry his big red ball around the house and quiz himself... "what color big red ball?" "big red ball red."

I've been feeling especially kin unto Sam recently. I've just begun trying to learn German as part of my most recent masters degree. I like to use it regularly, so I stay sharp, but I only know a few words. I can't carry on a conversation yet, so I just walk around the house saying...

"Welche farbe roten ball?"
"Roten ball ist rot."

Keep up the good work Sam! Let's hang out soon!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Updating the blog...

So we're still not finished messing around with things around here, but it's slowly getting better.

I used this great (and free) website to make the header. Then I exported it as a JPEG and uploaded it to flickr.

This color scheme generator is awesome to give you the 6 digit code for almost any color imaginable that you can use in the HTML to change colors. Once you find a color you like, it also automatically generates other colors that go along with the one you like.

I do still think I'd like to do something different with the background, but we'll see....