16 December 2016

Making Christmas Wishes Come True

I know it was your secret Christmas wish to celebrate my birthday with me!

My brother asked me what kind of special plans I had going for my birthday, and I told him I've kind of gotten used to celebrating holidays and birthdays on unofficial days or over a span of time because of medical school. Residency is apparently no different, because Scott was on nights this week, which hindered our normal dinner and a show birthday plans. But he sweetly gave up an hour of his morning to take me to breakfast before I started work!

Happy birthday to me!

10 November 2016

Life Snapshot: November 10

At the base of Holy Hill October 2016
Wisconsin Tidbits: When we first moved to Milwaukee, I was told that Holy Hill is a must see in the fall, because there are incredible views of the foliage. We decided to drive up there one Saturday when we were both free before all the leaves had fallen. Our visit was probably a week or two too early because the leaves were prime when we came back from NYC at the end of October. Plus, the day we went in mid-October was overcast and foggy, so you really couldn't see across the countryside much. Still worth the visit, though! Be prepared to hike a little uphill from the parking lot to the basilica and back.

What I'm Reading: Still slowly making my way through Gilead by Marilynne Robinson while I should be getting started on my November book club read Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng 

Part of My Spiritual Study: There Are Many Gifts by Marvin J. Ashton

Church Calling: Young Women's President for our ward (just sustained a couple weeks ago!)

On the Telly: Poldark and The Durrells in Corfu

Dr. Hubs: He's back at Children's Hospital this month in the Emergency Department. He seemed excited about the rotation until he came back from his first full day in the ED. It's not the children, he says. The countdown begins, I guess!

Goal for Next Week: Even before the election results were announced I saw the need to listen more than I speak and not assume that everyone shares my perspective on life. So I'll continue my goal to listen first and respect new perspectives.

My favorite moment from this last week: Not exactly last week, We traveled to New York City with friends for a long weekend over Scott's birthday and had a blast. I am making a video, but haven't been able to record the commentary yet. Excuses, excuses!

On My Mind: Do all Hallmark Christmas movies have to include: a heroine who should forgo her ambitious career to pursue love, someone who has never once had a real Christmas tree, and intrusive small town neighbors? Shame on you for perpetuating stereotypes, Hallmark!

Also, while we're talking about it, there are SO many things wrong with Christmas Under Wraps. I realize that these are low budget productions, but I'm sure it doesn't cost much to do a little research! To be clear, I'm talking about:

  • Alaska in the winter morning should not look like it's noon (more like midnight)
  • Fellowships are typically matched into 
  • No general surgeon would be so daft as to only apply to one fellowship if they were truly driven enough to pursue that specialty in the first place
  • Fellowships in Family Medicine don't exist, especially ones where you're running a rural hospital with no attending
  • No local in their right mind would go have a "picnic" in the frozen tundra to watch the northern lights (which look totally fake, by the way) with no hat, gloves, lightweight clothing, and only a thin blanket for extra warmth

 I'm disappointed, but this in no way will stop me from watching all Hallmark Christmas movies that are playing when I happen to be watching TV.

18 October 2016

A Thought Provoking Sunday

This Sunday we had a really uplifting church service. If you've never been to a sacrament meeting with a congregation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), you should add it to your bucket list. The talks given by members after the sacrament was passed were so brave and honest. Then Scott and I went to a teacher's council meeting where we discussed ideas on how to improve challenges extended to class members that are open and allow for agency and varying spiritual progression. The Relief Society lesson talked about charity and how we can show more love to our neighbor. Then that night we attended a special meeting where they announced that our ward boundaries were shifting slightly and a few families would now be attending another ward, including the presidents of three of our ward auxiliaries. A lot to ponder!

One of the sisters that I serve(d) with in the Relief Society presidency gave a talk on Sunday that truly moved me. She began her talk by saying, "How many of us would love to be able to have a magic wand that we could wave like Harry Potter to give us all of our righteous desires? ... Three years ago I had the privilege to hear Elder Oaks from this very pulpit. I have not forgotten one of the things he told us. He said, 'We are children of a God. We have a heavenly father and mother. He reminded us to have hope. You cannot have everything you desire in morality, but you can have everything you desire in the eternity. But you must desire it more than your desires of the world. We have the capacity to become whatever we desire in all eternity.'" This sister reminded us that the purpose of this life is not to get everything we desire, which means that at times we won't be blessed with the righteous desires of our hearts.

She then shared some words from Elder Neal A. Maxwell in a talk given at our church's General Conference in April 2000.  He admonished us in that conference to be content and find purpose in the space allotted to us in life. That's not to say we should stop progressing, stretching, and striving for something more, but rather that we should, as he put it, "do what we can within our allotted 'acreage,' while still using whatever stretch there may be in any tethers."

Elder Maxwell went on to say, "The Lord knows our circumstances and the intents of our hearts, and surely the talents and gifts He has given us. He is able to gauge perfectly how we have performed within what is allotted to us, including by lifting up some of the many surrounding hands that hang down. Thus, yearning for expanded opportunities while failing to use those at hand is bad form spiritually."

I needed to hear that, and I know others felt the same words applied to their current prayers. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and wants us to be happy, but that doesn't mean he's going to give us answers in the way we expected. It was clear from the messages this Sunday that I need to be more observant to see the opportunities at hand that might still accomplish my righteous desires.

12 October 2016

Capturing My Grief

My Wisconsin Sunrise. June 2016

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. I have a friend who is following the 2016 Capture Your Grief program and her posts are raw, real, and inspiring. After thinking about this for awhile and then seeing her courage, I figured that this is probably the best of times if any to share my story on this blog.

I don't talk about my health, for many reasons. One of which being that I've learned from experience having Crohn's Disease that people unintentionally define you by your trial and end up treating you differently. Since I occasionally have flare-ups of inflammation and poor digestion, casual conversations with friends and family take a pause to include a "how's your health" moment. Or having a meal at someone's house can bring about the question "what can you eat, anyway?"

I'm guilty of doing the same. In fact, I asked my brother these same questions on Sunday, right after I tried for two seconds to think of some other way to find out how he was feeling since his recent flare (comme si, comme ca, btw). Maybe I should have said, "I love you and want the best for you, and if you ever want to vent about bowels, I'm a phone call away." Hindsight.

My natural instinct is sympathizing instead of finding empathy. It seems like society has taught me all the wrong ways to express my sadness for the pains that others are feeling. I've been on the receiving end of those failed sympathies and attempted silver linings to know that those words don't make a positive difference. It's a hard habit to break. In addition to being a lame empathizer, I've noticed that I have a tendency to be whiny when I'm fishing for sympathy from Scott or my mom, so it's best that I avoid that.

That's all to say that I'm not public with my suffering (though Scott may get an earful, not to mention a nose-full of my belly pains), and I'm not open with my grief.  So while there are many who may guess that we struggle with infertility, and a few who are up to date on our attempts to find answers, I hesitate to share about my miscarriages with most unless openly asked, and even then I'm reluctant to be detailed.

For those privileged few who read my blog and want to know the details (potentially TMI, so beware) here is your exclusive: We’ve been trying to conceive for over two years now and I've had several miscarriages all ending around 6 weeks, the most recent confirmed miscarriage having occurred in June 2015. We put off TTC at that time so that we could have tests done, and let's be honest, because miscarriages are an emotional roller coaster, even at 6 weeks. Six weeks is just long enough to take a picture with a positive pregnancy test, research best prenatal vitamins, schedule the first doctor's appointment, and plan a pregnancy announcement before having all those dreams go down the drain, literally.

In the beginning of this year, we met with a reproductive endocrinologist who suggested that both Scott and I be tested to rule out reasons for the miscarriages. This included blood panels, hormone tests, chromosome genetic tests, a sperm sample, a sonohysterography. All the tests came back normal. The results gave the doctors no indication why we are having multiple miscarriages. As far as we know, with unexplained recurrent miscarriages there are only minor treatment options  (taking baby aspirin to prevent clotting or supplementing with progesterone) until we have more information about what may be causing them. For now we will continue to try to conceive and keep the pregnancy naturally, and then go in to the specialists once I have the next positive pregnancy test in hand to do labs and occasional monitoring.

You may ask, if I'm so averse to sharing grief and details about my health, then why am I posting now? While I don't find comfort in support groups, I do find solace in knowing that I'm not the only one experiencing infertility. Also, I'm incredibly grateful for those few that I HAVE shared my story with who have an empathetic ear and some knowledge of the testing because they've experienced the pains of infertility... trials that I am only aware of because friends were open with their grief.

While it is essential for coping and my motivation that I focus my thoughts and daily planner on what is going well in my life (oh, you know, work, book club, dating my hubby, travel, service, church, Gilmore Girls mini-series coming to Netflix, etc.), I recognize that all questions asked come from a place of caring for our happiness and health. Even though I would prefer not to talk about infertility because I don't want it to define me, I've found that being silent strains relationships. Those who care, or those who are going through something themselves, are wondering if they can ask and likely don't know how to support me if I don't make that clear.

So I'm trying. I hope to be able to pause before my automatic defensive feeling kicks in when someone asks me directly about babies. I've committed to myself to share updates with family when I have an update and to be clear about whether that information should be kept private or what a supportive response might be. It seems ridiculous that I have to be so conscientious about sharing these things, but I guess that's due in part to my introversion and in part to the nature of infertility which is a sensitive topic for many and not generally talked about openly.

So to start things off right, know that you can share this post with individuals if you know someone who might specifically benefit from reading it or someone who loves us and would like to know more about what we are facing. The best way to support us at this point is prayers or happy thoughts, whichever floats your boat. No sympathy cards, please, unless they happen to include gift cards to Jane.com. I kid... about the gift cards anyway. No sympathy allowed. You're welcome to email me, though, if you have questions.

Of course, with every miscarriage I mourn what just days before was the potential for our family. I also mourn the blissful innocence that would have come with a healthy first pregnancy - excitedly taking a pregnancy test as soon as there are signs, worry-free testing and ultrasounds, months of planning and happy nesting in anticipation of the due date. I feel a tad shallow for saying so, especially after reading other women's infertility stories. It's not fair to compare, I suppose. I believe that each of us have trials that we are capable of handling. It helps me to find purpose and opportunities in my trials. The trouble is not blaming myself in the process.

One of my sisters-in-law reminded me last year that her story is different from my story. Even though she can empathize a little, she still doesn't know what I'm going through. But she cried with me anyway, and that meant more to me than anything she could have said.

12 September 2016

Life Snapshot: September 12

MOD Pizza in New Berlin
What I'm Reading: Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

Part of My Spiritual Study: Meek and Lowly by Neal A. Maxwell
Church Calling: Relief Society Secretary, temporarily subbing as organist for sacrament meeting

On the Telly: A Royal Night Out on Netflix
By the by, I feel like it's important to mention that I've discovered the Goodreads of movies and am terribly disappointed that no one is using it, which means I can't see everyone's movie recommendations. It's called Letterboxd, and you should check it out. There's no way I could rate all the movies I've ever watched, so I'm just going to start rating them from now on. 

Dr. Hubs: Can I get an AMEN for a new rotation?! Even if it is Gynecology, I'm convinced that anything is better than last month's internal medicine rotation. Some funny stories, but mostly exhaustion and frustration... for both of us. 

Goal for Next Week: In addition to working full-time from home, I've just recently been hired to teach children's swimming lessons at a local gym on Saturday mornings. Just for fun! I'll be teaching preschool age kiddos and level one beginning swimmers this swim term. So my goal for this next week is to layout a couple lesson plans for each level to get me rolling. 

My favorite moment from this last week: The long Labor Day weekend was glorious, and especially wonderful because this was the first full weekend in a month that Scott also had off to relax (he even had Monday off!). We debated doing something outdoorsy or Wisconsiny, but opted for total relaxation at home, an outing to the driving range (where, let's be clear, I read a book under a tree), and a BBQ with friends on Monday evening.

On My Mind: This upcoming election. Though in an effort to keep my blog from becoming political, I will briefly say that this lesser-of-two-evils political game makes me want to vomit, and I'm shocked at some friends choices.

15 August 2016

Life Snapshot: August 15

Catch 22 Escape Rooms in Brookfield, WI
Wisconsin Tidbits: I intend for this section to include information about places we've discovered in Wisconsin, but today I'm posting this linked story about the riots that have been going on the last two nights north of downtown Milwaukee. We live 20 minutes southwest of the city, so we haven't seen any of the violence first hand, only heard about these events from friends at church and in the news. Sad and a little too close for comfort.

What I'm Reading: Amy Snow by TracyRees

Part of My Spiritual Study: I realized this week that meekness may be my weakest link. I was in a meeting and was way too stubborn with my expectations. So now I'm studying how to be more meek. Reading suggestions are welcome!

Church Calling: I was just released from my other two callings, so I am now only the Relief Society Secretary for our ward.

On the Telly: Gilmore Girls Season 6, Episode 9 - the omega and alpha of awkward episodes. I remember enough about the immature mistakes that Rory made from watching this series the first time to fast forward through the silent treatment and life mistakes of this season. Episode 9 brings back the happy, witty banter of Gilmore Girls, though I know more awkward episodes are around the corner. 

Dr. Hubs: This last week was the first time that Scott spent the night in the hospital because it wouldn't be worth driving home and then driving back again for his next shift. He texted me in the afternoon that he felt like he would be lucky if he could get out of there before midnight, and I thought he was exaggerating per his usual. I expected him home around 8:00 Pm. He called me at 11:00 Pm, waking me up, to tell me that he had just finished and had decided to spend the night at the hospital since he had to work again at 7:00 Am. I felt so bad for him. This rotation has been rough, schedule and patient-load wise. 

My favorite moment from this last week: Okay, not quite this last week, but a couple Saturdays ago we went with friends to an escape room. When Scott has a free weekend, we like to play strategic board games (like Power Grid or The Castles of Burgandy) with a few couples from our stake. Before meeting them, the most similar games we'd ever played were Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan. I mention all of this just to say, that this might have been the best group to go with to our first ever escape room. When we came out with 2 minutes and 50 seconds to spare, the company rep could not stop mentioning how smart everyone was. Sure, it was a tad crazy at the end with six different theories and strategies being yelled out (five really, because at that point Scott decided he was confused and let everyone else take over). But we conquered!

06 August 2016

Life Snapshot: August 5

Milwaukee Delicatessen in Kansas City, MO
What I'm Reading: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Part of My Spiritual Study: Ether 2-3
Church Calling: Relief Society Secretary, Ward Music Chairperson, and Activity Committee Member

On the Telly: Gilmore Girls Season 5 on Netflix and The Philadelphia Story (had to watch after reading this)

Favorite Eats: Our Costco has been selling Rosemary Parmesan bread in the bakery section that we've found makes for great sandwiches or dipping in oil and vinegar. Also, lately we've been throwing ice and lemonade in our Vitamix to make lemonade slushies. 

Dr. Hubs: 2nd Year, Internal Medicine rotation, presently running on five hours of sleep/day (or less)

Goal for Next Week: Pop in that Tracy Anderson DVD at least three time to workout. Family pictures came back from our California vacation, and I committed to tone after looking at them. Not exactly what you want to feel when looking at family pictures, but it is good motivation. 

My favorite moment from this last week: Last Saturday Scott and I returned from a three-day trip to Kansas City. He was asked to represent his residency at the AAFP National Conference, and I decided to tag along and work from the hotel (my job is awesome that way!). It was fun to see him so excited about the things that he learned by attending conference workshops, and the behind the scenes stories of residencies recruiting medical students was FASCINATING! 

On My Mind: This blog. My attempts to document my life and write have been lame. I recognize that there are few that follow this blog, and I'm cool with that. There was a time early on that I thought blogging fame was desirable and attainable - I got over that long ago. I see my blog as a journal of sorts, a newsletter to friends and family to give you a glimpse of what's going on in my world, and as a resource for anyone following our journey through medical training. As my life has become more full, there is less perceived time to write, and I'm sure that will only get worse.

Hence, this snapshot. My hope is that this template will inspire my creative juices in a shorter time frame, and still fulfill the blog's purpose. Fingers crossed that this motivates me to be more current with posts. Suggestions are welcome!

06 July 2016

Residency Update: PGY2 Begins

Intern year is officially over for Scott and his second year of residency (otherwise known as post-grad year 2 or PGY2) has begun. Intern year ended with a night shift delivering babies (he personally caught 32 babies this last year). Second year began with Scott finishing that night shift, sleeping the morning away, and then waking up at lunch when some of our Western University medical school friends came to visit us on the way back from northern Wisconsin, driving to their residency home in Michigan.

Many have asked me, will second year be better than the first? It's hard to say at this point.

Scott and I had the opportunity to attend the graduation celebration for the outgoing Family Medicine residents leaving his program. While we mixed and mingled through the event, the new third year residents assured me that second year would be better than the first. They said Scott would have fewer drop-in shifts, and more weekends free, with the addition of having some elective rotations throughout the year. But then I reminded them that there would be 28 hour shifts added to second year schedules and more senior responsibilities. That was when those new third year residents told me, "Well, third year for sure will be better than second year."

Our intern year wasn't too bad, in my opinion. I've heard horror stories about residents being on their own with no seniors or attending physicians to run hospitals or weeks of work without the resident being given a day off to recuperate. Other than my dislike of Scott's night shifts and the obvious fatigue that Scott was feeling by the end of the year, I feel like I can't complain. At least Scott is in the same city as me and is home every day, even if I only see him for a couple hours.

As for whether second year will be better, I will wait to be the judge of that. Scott already came home from his first day in the clinic as a second year and said that he had to see double the number of patients in the clinic that day as opposed to the number scheduled for a first year resident. I'm crossing my fingers for some restful weekends for that boy!

If you want to learn more about the residency that Scott is in, or the residents that are in this program, you can watch some of the videos on the residency website. They asked Scott to answer some questions for the "Coffee with the Residents" section of the website. Of course, it's pretty clear from the video that Scott doesn't drink coffee, because he looks exhausted. Cute, yes, but completely spent!

And as for that line about wanting to be an obstetrician, I think that thought may have crossed his mind at some point during his third year of medical school. But if it did, it probably only lasted a minute. Ha!

06 June 2016

In the Head of An Average Accompanist

Yesterday I accompanied my friend Amy and her sisters as they sang a special musical number at church. Amy and sisters grew up doing musical theater, so their voices were divine and a treat to hear! Her sisters came into town Saturday evening, and we had 90 minutes to practice the song together at the church building Saturday night and 15 minutes to practice the song on Sunday morning. I had received the sheet music on Friday, but since I don't have room for a piano in my apartment, I just reviewed the sheet music to make sure it would be simple enough to accompany with very little practice time. It looked good - one key change from B flat to C. Seemed like something I could pretty much sight read, which is the only way I could be successful with less than two hours of practice.

I love accompanying on the piano, but I've never been a great performer. Acting, tests, music, make me so nervous, I get in my own head just worrying about what might happen. Before show time I review the material frequently, focusing on the parts I've messed up on before, thinking that perhaps if I focus on it for a few seconds I might be able to fix it when I'm nervous on stage. This usually goes against me, because I'll be playing the song and think to myself "Ooh! I played that part really well just now and totally synced with the singers." BLAMMO! Mistake! Right after I thought how great I was doing, probably because I was thinking about it and not letting the music just happen.

So when I accompany anyone on the piano, I like to have the music pretty well down so that my hands can do the work on their own, despite whatever anxiety or self-congratulations are happening in my mind.

I didn't have enough time to get the music into my hands for yesterdays performance. *insert wide eyes emoji face*

We arrived at church on Saturday night, and I had trouble catching on to the sharps and flats thrown into the music, and at times my hands felt like they were abnormally stretched. By the end of the practice session I felt like I had played the all parts of the piece right at some point, just not straight through. So theoretically, I thought, it must be possible for me to play the whole song, every note, perfectly.

Sunday morning I prayed for divine assistance to help my hands play as best as possible, considering the short time frame to practice, because this special musical number wasn't about me - it was about the spirit those sisters could bring to the meeting with their incredible voices. I went early to church and sat down at the piano. Sleep is magic for the brain and performance. I played it better the first time, just sitting down to the piano Sunday morning, than I had any time the night before. But as I practiced parts where I was nervous about the fingering or sharps and flats, I started making mistakes and getting in my own head.

Deep breaths. It's not about me. That's what I was telling myself when we got up on the stand when it was time for our special musical number. Then my right foot started shaking uncontrolably. It's rare for this to happen any more. It used to happen when I first started accompanying choirs in middle school, but as I grew in music I knew how to prepare myself and detach myself from the performance so my nervousness wouldn't become physical (shaking hands and feet). Having a shaking foot might not be so bad, except that it was my right foot that I put on the sustaining pedal. My bouncing foot was literally shaking the piano.

I started playing, but my brain was on my foot. Take a deep breath. Maybe if I breathe and become calm it will stop shaking. Nope! Maybe as I get farther into the song I will become more comfortable and recognize that the song is so close to finishing that my foot will stop shaking. Nope! Violent shaking until the very end of the song.

But what was incredible was that I made very few mistakes with my hands. The piano sounded as good as it possibly could have sounded with only two hours of practice. I was able to roll through the mistakes I did make, with my hands finding the next note. This is seriously a miracle, because the whole time my brain was in two places - looking at the sheet music for notes, and looking at the sheet music flap around because my foot was dancing on the pedals while physically trying so hard to tense up or relax to lessen the shaking.

As soon as I stood up from the piano and started walking, of course my foot stopped shaking. It didn't even shake when I sat down in the pew next to Scott to listen to the rest of the meeting

That was an answer to prayer, I thought to myself. I can't say whether I played better because my mind was on my foot instead of looping worry or if I played better because I was blessed with a capacity beyond my own in a moment of physical weakness. Either way I see it as an answer to my prayer to be able to play beyond my abilities because I knew I didn't have enough practice to give the accompanyment justice on my own.

Its certainly not the answer I had imagined. I imagined a practically perfect performance coming through my hands with no other complications. If I had received this type of answer, I don't think I would have felt so humbled after our performance. Instead I might have thought about what a great sight reader I've become.

This was a good reminder to me, as I was fasting and thinking about our fertility journey, that prayers are not always answered exactly in the way that I might expect, but that a loving Heavenly Father does answer prayers in a way that will teach and humble me.

02 May 2016

My First Book Club

I love to read. When we moved from Oregon to Wisconsin and I had the summer to play, I read a lot of books - 26  in three months according to my Goodreads account. So when a new Wisconsin friend invited me to be part of a book club, I was excited and nervous to join. Nervous because, while I love to read, I often read for entertainment and don't think too much into any hidden messages from the author. In my mind I imagined book clubs were something like my Honors English class in high school.

Despite not being the cleverest reader at the party, I have thoroughly enjoyed myself. The book club meets once a month at someone's home after we've all had a chance to read that month's book. The monthly book is chosen by the group the month prior after one of the members nominates three books of her choosing. The book hostess leads discussion if there's ever a pause, but most of the time there is great discussion about characters, ethics, and favorite lines. It's not always Honors English, and when it is, I've surprised myself by having an opinion much of the time.

While I've been a member of this book club we've read:

The Screwtape Letters
A Girl Named Zippy
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Alchemist
The Nigthingale
and Valiant Young Women: Heroines

The Nightingale was my favorite book club read so far. There was such interesting discussion about the two sisters' lives and choices. The book for May is The Girl On The Train and I'm in charge of bringing three book recommendations to choose for our June meeting. So feel free to pass along any recommendations in the comments!

Don't worry! Everyone is on their phones because we were choosing the next
book and looking at reviews and library availability.

When I started attending the book club meetings, I was worried that I would be embarrassed by my lack of insight from the books, or that it would be too much pressure to finish books if I didn't enjoy them or didn't have time. I've been lucky to be in a book club with really wonderful ladies who are all busy but have in common a love for reading. Each of us brings a different perspective and interesting analysis to the table. The best part is that the group is laid back enough that if you haven't read the book, you are encouraged to still come just to hang out. Spending time with these ladies has made the winter fly by and Wisconsin feel like home.

20 April 2016

Wisconsin Dells in the Winter

In this residency, during intern year, each of the residents has four months where they do not have to take call and can take vacation time. Scott took some vacation time around his birthday and we had a week visiting family for Thanksgiving. We've discovered that with all the long hours at the hospital and general lack of sleep for Scott, the best way for him to take vacation days is to have long weekends throughout his vacation months. A whole week off is nice, but it seems like you take the time off for granted when you have a full week. One extra day or a long weekend to sleep in, exercise, and get caught up on his work is surprisingly more effective and valued.

So when Scott had vacation time available in February after two intense rotations, he elected to have Fridays off throughout the month and a long weekend at the end for us to get out of town. Knowing that Scott wanted to get away, we arranged with a couple a friends to drive a couple of hours to Wisconsin Dells, which according to the tourism site "may be known as the waterpark capital of the world."

When I was five, my family lived in Minnesota (this was before we moved to Alaska) and we visited Noah's Arc in Wisconsin Dells for some summer waterpark fun. The Dells draws a crowd in the summer, but the resorts that are full in the summer also offer indoor waterpark and indoor theme park fun. We just missed the best rates of the winter season. When we booked at Mt. Olympus for the last weekend in February, we were told that was when Spring Break rates began.

It was fun to get away and spend time pretending to be warmer. I wouldn't choose to go to Mt. Olympus again. There wasn't enough to keep us entertained for more than one winter day - two water slides, two tube slides, one small lazy river, one small pool, a kiddy pool with pirate ship, and a hot tub - but my disdain was more likely caused by the impromptu party SLASH drunken volleyball game that was allowed to happen in the hotel hallway Friday night.

To their credit though, the indoor theme park at Mt. Olympus had the best ball pit I've ever seen. No joke!

We could have spent the whole afternoon having nerf ball fights in there with the kids. There were two levels with air blowers to send balls up to the second level and air blowers on the second level to shoot the balls back down.

22 February 2016

Residency Update: Discovering Efficiencies

Updates are sparse of late, in part because when one works at home there isn't a lot of mischief to write about and in part because I haven't felt inspired to write. But that certainly doesn't mean that an update isn't called for. Occasionally I think to myself, "I really should vlog." It seems simpler to turn a camera on and start talking about life, which could lead to more frequent updates, and then a video would be much more fun to edit. But then I remember that I started my blog because I love to write. By far the easiest and most exciting life event to write about right now is Dr. Chandler's residency.

Since December, Scott has had rotations in the hospital and in the NICU (Newborn Intensive Care Unit). Both of these rotations were designed to be a little less demanding on interns - the rotation in the hospital involved only seeing family medicine clinic patients who are admitted to the hospital. So in theory if the doctors in the clinic are doing their jobs right, they won't have many patients admitted. The NICU rotation is more observation than responsibility, to allow doctors to see what conditions would require intensive care and how those babies would be treated.

Even though these rotations were touted as low-key, Scott has felt pretty overwhelmed over the last three months. In addition to learning about and having pop-quizzes on new conditions for each rotation, he still see patients weekly in the family medicine clinic. Scott described a day for me, where he wakes up at 5:30 Am, gets to the hospital by 6:30 Am, looks over the charts of patients he knows he will see that day to prepare for rounds, rounds with attending physician, returns to take care of patients, triages care for any new patients assigned to him, calls in orders, writes notes; and then rushes over to the clinic to see his afternoon patients, which calls for more orders, prescriptions, follow-up with previous days labs, and notes from today's clinic visits. This full day of work is a lot to juggle, and he still has administrative responsibilities - keeping up with emails, residency training sessions, meetings, studying, trying to be ahead of the fellowship game, etc. Occasionally Scott needs to bring his work home in order for him to feel like he is home that day. He writes notes while he watches a basketball game, records his work hours online, completes evaluations.

That one time Dr. Chandler had to respond to a
page while we were on a date.
The other day Scott said that some of his colleagues had recommended him to be a junior chief during second year. Nominations are considered and then the potential candidates are interviewed and some number of junior chiefs (no idea) are selected for year two. It is certainly an honor to be considered, but Scott felt overwhelmed by the idea. Chief residents, in addition to having all of the above responsibilities that any other resident would have, also administrative responsibilities that would take up time during the work day and outside. Scott has a great personality for that, and being a junior chief would look great on his resume for fellowship applications. But how can you approach thinking about an opportunity like that when work hours are maxed out as it is.

I'm not pushing Scott to take on any more responsibility, though when he initially told me about the nominations I said I thought he would be successful as a junior chief if he chose to go that route and was selected. I'm not worrying about Scott's resume either. Sure, there's a lot more he could do to put himself at the top of the pack and match into a coveted fellowship spot, but at what cost? He knows how much he can handle, and I don't think he's so overwhelmed that he would ignore a clear impression to move forward.

So that's what residency life is looking like at the moment. Luckily Scott has some Fridays off this month, which helps him to feel like he has a work/life balance again. He can sleep in at least one day a week and commit a whole day to studying at leisure, if that's his choice. Whatever floats his boat.