My flu shot soapbox

Please allow me to pull up my soap box…

It is time for what is becoming my annual flu shot rant (see here and here for previous).

I got my flu shot this week.

Unless you are allergic to it or have another medical indication to not get it, you should too.

I mean, we are all running around terrified of Ebola and really, afraid of getting sick in general.  But, most of us are too chicken (or cocky or ill informed or paranoid) to get a simple measure that prevents a common and potentially deadly illness.  It is simple, it does not make you sick and the risks are really low (you can actually get some similar complications at random or from a bout of the flu).

Just to point out some facts… You can get the flu shot if you are pregnant.  This came up at work the other day.  It is not contraindicated.  It is advised (I know, there is limited data on fetal risk because the population data does not suggest an issue, but if there was a giant issue, they wouldn’t be doling it out to pregnant women… That is bad PR and asking for a lawsuit).  You can also get the flu shot while on most cancer treatments if you time it based on the advice of your doctor (ao came up at work)ls.  It is free in a bunch of workplaces and also if you have a chronic condition that puts you at risk if you were to get the flu.

Last year, I had, at one point, 3 people in ICU on ventilators (aka life support) with the flu.  The FLU.  And they were all in their 40s-60s.  Not old people.  Not necessarily people who were sickly before.  Crappy luck.  Bad strains.  None of them had received flu shots.  They all survived.  Not everyone is that lucky…  I also had a patient I cared for on an oncology related service die from complications related to the flu during their cancer treatment.

I have watched people die or nearly die from the flu.  I don’t want to watch more.

I know the vaccine isn’t perfect. Sure, there are years where they miss the mark in picking the viruses, but they still do confer some immunity and other years they are spot on.  I know people don’t trust doctors because apparently we have been brain washed.  And there is limited research on each specific year’s vaccine (because they are basically similar with different strains).   But, I like to hedge my bets.  It is simple, quick, easy and has more evidence behind it than most of the stuff seen on talk shows.

Don’t kill my patients.  Don’t kill my family.  Get the shot, it is extremely unlikely to make things worse and it probably will make things better.

Rant over.  I’ll step down again for now.

 

“Holiday” Monday

After a lovely weekend at home, I have a lieu day for working the Thanksgiving holiday last week.  That means long weekend for me!

As a result, I am now making turkey soup from scratch, am catching up on laundry and binge watching Grey’s Anatomy.  I feel very domestic.

I have shared my angst about still watching Grey’s before and it still hasn’t left me.

I cringe at all of the changes, especially the last few seasons.  I hate the drama.  I hate that everyone and yet nobody dies all at the same time.  And yet, I watched it since the first season and I am sticking it out.

As a result, I am curled up on the couch and kind of look like this…

Image from gifsoup.com.

Happy Monday.

Thanksgiving Turkey and “Meeosh”

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here.

I was on call.  It is how I roll these days, it seems.

Despite that,  I thought it would be a good idea to have people over for Thanksgiving dinner.  Because we have a biggish dining room and I like to cook.

It was a good idea.

Some planning ahead and good luck meant that we had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner with Child, D and Dr. Bond.

I was ridiculously excited that I found a “decently priced” fresh turkey that was small enough to fit in our oven and the disposable baking pan that would also fit in our oven.

Jeter made it his main goal in life to eat the turkey.  He tried to eat it raw, he tried to pick the chunk of extra skin out of the garbage can and then, once everyone arrived, he proceeded to jump on the counter and try to steal a bite repeatedly.  That cat likes his meat.

I like having some “family” away from biological family.

I also like hosting Thanksgiving because it means we wind up with leftovers… My favourite.

Tonight we had what my family calls “Meeosh.”  The recipe: Take all of the leftovers, mix and fry them together in a frying pan, then put extra gravy on top.  Other people call it hash.  I call it delicious.  Patrick and I both looked forward to it all day.

Interestingly, Patrick had never had “Meeosh” until he married me.  In fact, he never had anything quite like it.  He thought us a bit odd that time as my Mom and I combined everything we pulled from the fridge in a giant frying pan.  He was pleasantly surprised and has never gone back.

Mmmm… Turkey.

The last few weeks in a nutshell.

When it comes to regular blogging, I have been an epic fail lately. Sometimes life is just plain busy and my priorties have been such that sitting down to write has not been a priority.

So, for those of you who care… Some updates on my last couple weeks in a nutshell.

The treatment planning exam I wrote about went decently. It was challenging. I got through it and my score was not good, but was good for a first exam. Plus, that means I met the milestone of doing my first treatment planning exam.

The Child and I started going to Body Pump classes. Once a week. But every week. For those of you who are regular Pump attenders, this may not seem like much, but it is a huge stretch for us to commit to going every week and getting stronger (even if it would be better to go more than once a week, I’d rather set a realistic goal). As a result of attending these classes, we have turned into bigger gym rat-like people, not only discussing our run times at times, but now also plotting out how we could go up on our weights or do a certain move better.

I went wedding dress shopping in a real wedding dress store for the first time ever last week with my sister-in-law. True story. I am married, but I bought my dress online from Sears. I lived away, so I didn’t go dress shopping with any of the friends that I know who got married. It was an experience. I feel okay with never having to do it again.

I am very excited to go see Gone Girl later today. The book freaked the heck out of me (once I got past the first ¼).   I expect the movie could do the same.

Patrick and I went to a produce store yesterday that is known for its ridiculous deals. We have had friends from church recommending the place for ages, but had yet to go. We now understand the beauty that it truly is.

My program changed our academic half days to Friday afternoons. It is a form of torture to sit through 4 hours of lecture on a Friday afternoon. Especially when you have a busy review clinic all morning and no time to see your inpatients until after all the teaching. I discovered caffeine and cookies help, but don’t cure the Friday half-day blues.

I had a post-call day last week because I was stuck in hospital until 2am with a spinal cord compression who, after we treated, started having “new” chest pain (that in retrospect wasn’t new) and then was called several times overnight. I was so excited to have a post call day. And didn’t even feel that guilty for taking it because the night was that kind of ridiculous. Then I remembered, post call days suck when you were actually up most of the night because you need to sleep. Silly.

I love treating head and neck cancers. Even though they tend to get so sick from treatment. And even though some of the patients are tough drinkers/smokers who don’t want to do anything they should. I like a challenge. And I really want to help. And we can cure people with this type of cancer, which is always cool.

My computer at work was giving me the blue screen of death and shutting down intermittently. It got to the point that I couldn’t get any work done and had to use someone else’s computer. The helpdesk person had no real explaination as to why my computer blew up in my face like it did. He had to reload everything back on it from scratch (and I lost everything that was saved on the computer itself (not much)). In retrostpect, I like to rest my feet on the computer console thing under my desk and twice in the last few weeks I accidentally kicked it over. That might be related. Whoops.

I have been attempting to read The Maze Runner for two weeks. Much like my blogging, life has gotten in the way of my fun reading. Silly.

I have been obsessed with listening to Needtobreathe lately. Not sure why, but their mellow has been drawing me in. Like this song:

What is new with you? Anything exciting?

Happy Birthday Patrick

Patrick turned the big 3-0 yesterday.

He is almost fully grown, as his uncle would say.

We celebrated with a steak dinner, Chapters date and then started on his birthday gift from me (the first 4 seasons of Boy Meets World).

His parents and sister showed up on his real birthday and we got to go out to eat again and celebrate with them.  Oh, and we went out for free for Patrick birthday lunch too (it doesn’t count in the budget as eating out three times if one meal is free and two were free for Patrick thanks to Pizza Delight and my parents, right?).

I must admit, I like his birthday because it is pretty fun for me too (not just for the food).  Plus, I got to have a just plain normal people(ish) weekend this weekend without doing something work related more often than not and that was nice.

Bear Hug

Some days, you wonder if you are doing enough, caring enough, loving enough.

You go to rounds and hear things like doctors don’t care or don’t spend enough time with patients.  And you sit there wondering how you can do more.  Because maybe, just maybe, they could be right.

You spend time researching to help someone.  You talk someone through even the simple things.  Sometimes you just make small talk because it seems right.  You stay late.  You go in early.  You think about them when you are home.

Then, someone you cared for dies.  And you get a big, tearful bear hug from the most challenging family member.

Suddenly, it is all worth it.  Suddenly, I believe it might just be enough.  Suddenly, I remember God put me here for a reason.

Head and Neck

I got an email with the topic for my very first treatment planning exam.

Aside… A treatment planning exam is an oral exam where we get grilled on our management of patients from presentation to treatment and follow-up to help us practice for our licensing exams at the end of residency.  It can include basic questions right up to referencing why we do treatment in a certain schedule and where a target its. They start in third year, which is where I am now.  They are supposed to start off easier and get harder as time goes by.  At least in theory.

The site is “Head and Neck.”

Agh!

My issue with this?

Head and neck is probably one of the most difficult sites to treat and master.

I mean, we don’t do much head and neck related stuff in med school or even the first two years of residency and then, bam!  I’m treating cancers there.

At least, I have for the last two and a half weeks of this rotation.

I like head and neck.  I have said it is likely a site I’ll want to treat.  That doesn’t mean I feel anywhere near confident in it.

And it is my first exam.

When I opened the email, I just cracked up laughing.

Apparently most people get something like bone metastases from another primary.  Nope, not me.

Maybe it will be more simple than it sounds.

But, I don’t feel optimistic.

It is going to force me to read more.  But, I really was hoping for a relaxing weekend home.

That is how life works.  And how residency works.

Learning is good.  Looking stupid is part of learning.  I just need to embrace that.

Thank goodness Dr. Bond gave me some notes and tips.

I just hope my examiners remember I’m just in third year.

Ten Authors I’ve Only Read One Book From And Need To Read More

It is Top Ten Tuesday day! This week’s list is ten authors I’ve only read one book from and need to read more.5f1e1-toptentuesday

  1. Stephen King. I read 11/22/63 and loved it. Sometimes, the plots of the books Patrick reads by him sound great, but I get nervous when they are super suspenseful. Nonetheless I want to check out more.
  2. Gillian Flynn. I loved Gone Girl just like everyone else I seem to talk to. Even though mysteries and crime and suspense make me nervous, I still wat to check out other stuff she has written.
  3. Stephanie Perkins. I read Anna and the French Kiss and although it was nauseatingly annoying teenager, I did enjoy it. It made for a great easy read, so I only expect her other books to be similar.
  4. Rainbow Powell. Eleanor & Park was one of the best books I read this summer. She does a great job of getting in the heads of those characters and creating real situations.
  5. Markus Zusak. The Book Thief was an epic novel. It alone makes me want to read his other books, but I have also heard good things about them too.
  6. Pierce Brown. Red Rising was another one of those first books in a series that left me wishing and hoping for the next book to come out sooner.
  7. Iain Reid. The Truth About Luck was a journey. I kind of hope his other books are similar.
  8. Graeme Simsion. Apparently, The Rosie Project is going to have a sequel. I have mixed feeling about sequels, but I still liked the first book so much, I wanted to check it out.
  9. Timothy Keller. Everyone tells me his writing and preaching is awesome. I read The Meaning of Marriage and I must admit I loved how it was written and conveyed.
  10. Emma Donoghue. Room was great. I heard her other book (books?) is/are different, but that just makes me more intrigued in a way.

What authors have you read just one book from and want to read more?

How Did That Happen?: How Did My Job Eat My Life? And How Do I Make It Stop?

It has been almost a week since I last posted.  And what a week it has been…

For this week’s How Did That Happen?  I present How Did My Job Eat My Life?  And How Do I Make It Stop?stethoscopes1

Being in medicine is a time commitment.  I have heard people say it is a lifestyle or a sacrifice.  The guy from the bank who was trying to sell me a credit card called it those things and more.

Those were the last words I wanted to hear.

Usually I feel like my work-life balance is pretty good.  At least half decent.  But, the past few weeks before and after this conference, I am questioning that.  And this week, I had significantly more work than life.

So, how did my job eat my life?

Step one… Work with staff who seem like to take extra consults, at least at this time, and acquire sick inpatients.

Step two…  If something could go wrong with a patient, my computer, my schedule… It will.  And probably more than once.

Step three… The internet never has the information I am seeking readily available.  Clearly, I can’t find a good how to delineate a mediastinum on the internet.  Or good information on BRCA2 in men and cancer screening outcomes.   Lots of random stuff, but not what I want to see.

Step four…  Try to get things done in a reasonable order.  Suddenly everything less important will become a priority.  And get rescheduled.

Step five… Someone will send you an assignment for half day the night before.

Step six… The number of inpatients will increase nearly exponentially over the course of the week before you are on call.

Step seven…. Lose all sense of organization on your desk so that it is covered with papers that need to be filed, organized or shredded.  Get distressed by this whenever you sit at your desk then waste time trying to figure out if you have time to deal with it.

Step eight… Realize that your job has eaten your life and that you haven’t been home before 7 all week.  Then realize you are on call for the weekend.  And then worry about one of your inpatients such that you are up half the night even though you weren’t on call that night.

So yes, life eating has prevailed.

My plan to beat this is captured in this picture….

IMG_0429.JPGI’m on call… I can’t undo that.

But, I will win otherwise.

I will eat my delicious burrito and read a fun book tonight… Even if I take pages in between.

I will not work on research or study tomorrow or Sunday because it is already very apparent I’ll be at work a good chunk of the day rounding and admitting and all that stuff one has to do.

I will spend time with our friends visiting from home in between all of the work stuff.

I will say no to the second research project I already said I would work on because it isn’t something I am super excited about and I have other things that might come up.  I will not die because I said no to something.   I don’t have to say yes to everything.  And I was kindly reminded this week that not everything that is work or residency related is necessary because it may not meet my end career goals.

I figured out this week that if I go to the gym by 6:20, I can get a workout in and still be at work for 8.  That means I’m only dragging myself out of  bed an hour earlier than normal.  It still stinks.  But, even if I do it once or twice a week that will increase my gym time, which is great for my energy and health and all that stuff.  That also takes back some of my evening for studying or Patrick or other stuff.

I joined a band.  Small groups are starting up again soon.

I finally got a day planner and it is awesome.  Especially for planning ahead for presentations and classes (when they don’t get rescheduled a million times).

Work will stop eating my life.  At least for the most part.  I just need to be proactive about it.  And remember that some weeks work is hungrier than others.  I just need to make life fight back.