Top Ten Characters I Would Want On A Deserted Island With Me

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday with the Broke and Bookish is kind of adventurous. They ask for the top ten characters I’d want on a deserted island with me. I’m not sure I’d want 10 other people with me if I was on a deserted island and yet, there is safety in numbers.

  1. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games I’m sure she’ll be on a ton of lists this week. She really is a great person to have along. Good at hunting, great with a bow and arrow and experienced in survival.
  2. Finnick Adair from The Hunger Games He is a bit crazy, a bit intense, but he can do a whole heck of a lot when it comes to surviving.
  3. Hermione Granger from The Harry Potter She is ridiculous smart, is used to hanging out with humans and heck, she is magic!
  4. Brian Robeson from The Hatchet. This kid survived alone after a plane crash. He has to be good to have around.
  5. Four (Tobias Eaton) from the Divergent I like that he does his own thing, so I think that would make him easy to get along with. Plus, he isn’t scared of very much.
  6. Augstus Waters from The Fault In Our Stars. This was a suggestion from Patrick and I think it is a good one. He would make for excellent comedic relief and entertainment. This would work best if he were healthy. Or at least medically stable at the time of deserting.
  7. Marley from Marley and Me. Again, great comedic relief. Plus, a dog might scare away some nasty critters.
  8. Pi from Life of Pi. He would be interesting to talk to and philosophize with. Plus, he has some epic survival skills.
  9. Robinson Crusoe from the book with the same name. He seems experienced in the deserted island field of things.
  10. Lena or Tibby (or both) from The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants I think I would get along well with either of these two. So, I figure I might as well get some friendship on this deserted island adventure.

What book characters would you want to be stuck on a deserted island with?

Nacho breakfast, unicycles and cat. Some random updates.

We had friends visiting from that lovely island where we once lived this weekend.  It was great minus the fact that I was on call (minor detail).  Thus the absence yet again of blog updates.  So, here are some random updates…

Our cat is currently trying to chew his way into a giant Costco box of garbage bags.  We think (and hope) it is because he can smell his cat food on the box.

There are some people in your life that you can just pick up where you left off… Even if you haven’t seen them in two years.  The people visiting are precisely some of those people.  

We played a new game this weekend basically about swimming robots.  What more can you want?

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I got hit in the face with a chunk of tree walking in our tail of a hurricane weather a few weeks ago.  Instead of being distressed or mad… I found it funny.  

I saw someone riding a unicycle down the street the other day.  That is something that always makes me smile.

My cat is out to kill our cilantro and our carpet.  He has knocked the whole pot over three times.  I think the cilantro is now dying. 

Some person or group in our city hung random red swings from trees in various places.  I really want to find one and swing on one.  There is one right by the hospital.  One day, I will do it.

When I see a hopscotch thing drawn on the sidewalk, I almost can’t resist hopping on it.  Almost.

My to do list at work is an expansile mass.  But, it is a colourful one.

I drew lungs on a piece of my patient list this weekend while teaching the new resident on call.  Patrick saw the drawing and asked why I had lungs on my paper.  I was super impressed that he identified the body part!

We went to a wildlife park last weekend and saw a ton of peacocks just wandering around.  They screech like mad, but are kind of entertaining to

Nachos can make a good breakfast.  Especially if you are on call.  At least I think so.


A Resident’s response to “Think Medical School Is For You? You’re Probably Wrong.”

Think Medical School Is For You? You’re Probably Wrong. (From the Globe and Mail by Katherine Sinclair)

I found this article on my Facebook news feed today and I read it.  At first I agreed with it.  Then it kind of bothered me.  I think I am in the middle when it comes to this piece.

You see, I do agree that lots of people go in to medicine because it is the next step.  It is what people expect.  That being said, I think the same thing can be said about people going into Master’s and PhD programs, people going to Law school, etcetera.  If you are bright and do well, people expect you to keep going.

That doesn’t mean you are doing something blindly.

I also agree that lots of people say their motivation for going into medicine is “to help people.”  The real reason why is a good think to think about.  That being said, sometimes this kind of decision isn’t always made of a cut and dry reason.  To help people…  That was partly mine.  And yes, many people secretly want the prestige or the money.  I can honestly say that wasn’t really mine. At least not the money part.  Prestige, sure, I guess.  I wanted to prove I could do it.  But, after I have done it I hate being called “doctor.”   I seriously wanted to help people and do more and differently than I could as a Nuc Med Tech.  Could I have been a nurse?  Sure.  But, I wanted to be on the technical side of things and the care side of things.  Medicine made the most sense for me.  

Does motivation have something to do with the happiness of people?  Sure.  Do people who went into medicine not knowing what they got into get screwed over?  All the time.  I think that is more of an issue of the screening process and education process. People should know what they are getting themselves in to.  Life experience counts for something just as much as grades do.

Most medical students get used to no longer being “the best” when they hit med school.  People start failing then.  It is a shock to the system, but again, I think not different from other professional degrees. And yes, that sucks because you are used to being the best wherever you were before.  That is life, though.  

Life experience is super important.  People skills are even more important.  People who are good with people, who are willing and able to help and not afraid to get a bit dirty and involved do well.  Grades don’t beat good bedside manner.  That is a fact.  It shouldn’t be shocking, but I get that it can be for some people.

That being said, most people don’t like not hearing “good job” and being at the bad end of interactions time and time again.  I agree that this is the case in many internships and isn’t that different in medicine.  Lots of jobs are thankless.  I agree that this is part of life in that kind of position, but that doesn’t make it right in any field.  

I also have to argue that the culture in medicine is such that people are often (historically) made to feel stupid in order to “learn.”  That the apprenticeship is more trial by fire.  I don’t know what other professions are like, but talking to friends in other fields, it is more ridiculous in medicine.  It is a real problem.  It is getting better, but it is still real.

I have to argue that although I was used to being “the best” and I don’t like failing, it doesn’t crush my soul.  I feel disappointed.  Some days I cry or feel bad.  I’m not just a spoiled child who is trying to avoid the real world by prolonging my education.  I am fully aware of real life.  I had jobs to pay for school, I paid bills and lived on my own.  

Its true that you can’t fail.  Once you’re in, they might make you repeat things, but most people get through and come out the other side as a doctor.  And then, they do a residency.  They might have to repeat a few rotations and exams, but most people come out a practicing doctor.  I think that is a huge issue.  Huge.  Some people are crappy doctors and shouldn’t be doctors.  Fact.

I can only imagine if you are someone who went into all this not knowing and not really wanting to do it, they would be more depressed and unhappy than someone who is happy in their job.  It just makes sense.  But, that happens in any career.

The suicide rate is ridiculously high in young physicians.  The burnout rate is too.  There is a problem.  I think it is both in the system and in the students.  That there isn’t a good, safe out when you get in med school.  That it is bizarre to change careers.  That we have to be perfect and are kind of used to that.  

I agree that medical school is not the right place for many people, including some of the people that get in.  I have worked with people I have thought must hate their jobs.  We really need to think about who is getting in (and who is not) as well as the system issues and hospital culture.  

Medical school should not be a defacto next step.  It drives me crazy when people assume they’ll do med school because they are smart with no foresight about what it really involves.  It also drives me crazy when people generalize me to that group of people.  

That being said, people getting in for the right or wrong reasons does not account for all of the issues that are being brought to the forefront with residents and young physicians. The medical culture is a fascinating entity.  The statistics should be an impetus for change.  And those of us in the system need to be part of that change.

As I said, I don’t fully agree with the article, but it makes some good points. Med schools are making some changes to admission criteria, but I think education before applications are in is key to making sure the right people apply and get in.  People need to really think before they make what turns into a life long commitment.  


My Top Ten Favourite TV Shows

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday with the Broke and the Bookish is a top ten list of nonbookish entertainment… Like movies or TV shows. I am going to focus on TV shows.

  1. New Girl. I quite like Zoey Deschanel. I like quirky hipster geek stuff, probably because that is what I kind of identify with. The show cracks me up because it is so ridiculous and yet so possible.
  2. Gilmore Girls. I started watching this show because my Dad was watching it. True story. My Dad. Because Rory reminded him of me and that was funny. Eventually, I grew to like it. I love the banter and the pop culture/literature references.
  3. Everwood.  Most people don’t know this show, but it is a pretty unrealistic show about a neurosurgeon turned family doctor who moves his family to a small town after his wife died. I loved the show when it was originally on and Patrick just got me all 4 seasons for my birthday last month.
  4. The Big Bang Theory. I love the geekdom that is portrayed on this show. Maybe because I exist in a world working closely with physicists and maybe because I love weird bands of nerdy misfits. Even more than that, I love Sheldon Cooper.
  5. Grey’s Anatomy. I mock this show all the time. I get angry at the TV, annoyed with the drama and I keep watching. I watched it from the pilot and at this point, I am just way too emotionally involved to stop watching.
  6. Modern Family. I like that this kind of reminds me of sitcoms from childhood, but with a few twists.
  7. Community. I am so excited to hear that they are going to do a 6th season on some internet based TV site. I went to a community college and I truly believe that some ridiculous stuff happens there. I know the show is over the top, but it is a brand of over the top I can deal with.
  8. The Cosby Show. This is a show that whenever it appears on re-runs, I will always want to watch it.
  9. Full House. Again a show that I will always watch in re-runs. I grew up on that stuff!
  10. Derek.  I love old people in both books and TV. This is a fantastic comedy about life in a nursing home with some bizarre characters. It is British and the seasons are short and apparently stopping after 2 seasons (sad face) but I quite liked it.

What are some of your favourite TV shows?

The Annual M Event

We went on mini vacation to the M family reunion this weekend. I do better with it every year.

I think I am getting used to bigger family. I also think I am learning my limits and not pushing myself to do everything with everyone.

I stayed at the cabin by myself after dropping Patrick off to meet his family for the second drive in movie. I found a hatchet in the cabin. I didn’t know whether to be comforted I had a weapon or terrified who left it there.

Saturday was a beach day. I hit the beach for a run first thing, then spent the day there with everyone reading and swimming and capturing marine life.

We played mini golf that night. I beat Patrick and tied for third. It was thrilling.

Sunday was a day for leisurely travel. Spent time relaxing in the morning. We even stopped at a wildlife park!

Good trip. Despite the sunburn that I got even though I applied my SPF 30 every 2 or 3 hours.




How Did That Happen?: How to overwhelm the pulp out of a new resident

I have been off my blogging game.

I blame starting core Rad Onc.  I keep staying late and studying at night and all of that stuff.  Funny how when you are doing something you actually love you tend to work more.

I also blame summer.  The nice weather nights have us out and about meeting up with friends.  Last night, we had a hymn sing at the nursing home we volunteer at with our small group and then went out for ice cream.  Tonight was coffee with a couple we know from back home who recently moved here.  So awesome.

I am a week overdue on a How Did That Happen? post.  So, that is what you shall receive.  stethoscopes1

I have been spending my last week orienting and mentoring our new, delightful R1.  My How Did That Happen? is how to overwhelm the pulp out of a new resident (in case you didn’t already know).

**Note: This is kind of sarcastic and based on things that really do happen.  There are some things I think administration and faculty can do better with.  There are some things that I can’t see solutions to… Just facts of starting new jobs.

  • First of all… DON’T OVERWHELM THEM.  This is my for real advice.  This will fail.  Starting residency at baseline is kind of overwhelming.  But, bits of information at a time and having someone available as help and back-up is better than just slamming it all in a book or presentation at once.
  • Have multiple giant orientation sessions for the incoming residents from the university, the hospital.  Fill them with tons of information that is both useful and useless intermixed with facts about failures, crying and patients dying.  Make sure that it is unclear what is useful or useless and make it seem like terrible things will happen.
  • Make sure to start them on call the first day or so of residency.  Nothing is better than really starting out with a bang.
  • Send out various passwords and user IDs to different email accounts and expect the person to sort them out themselves.
  • Have a very not user friendly computer system with a million different log-ons, passwords and variations.  Review these in orientations, but don’t do any practical training, that would be too helpful.
  • Use four digit paging in a hospital where you have to dial 7 numbers that can differ between sites.  Expect new person to call you back promptly.
  • Let new people loose in the hospital without giving a tour. 
  • Take the new person a tour on a hot day after a full day of orientation to show them everything.  Realize that they will remember very little of this.  Do it anyway.
  • Leave them to figure out everything on their own.
  • Tell them all of your call horror stories.
  • Take them to visit the ward.  Show them where everything is.  Show them the charts.  Talk about writing notes, finding computers and how the rooms are organized.  Introduce them to the all of the staff on the ward who promptly start asking who they are looking after. 
  • Go to a session about how to use an EMR only for the radiation oncology patients and for radiation planning.  Use technical terms just to really keep them on their toes.
  • Give them the sickest patients. 
  • Ask them to read around everything they saw that day.  The list of topics totals a page.  Oh, and review the clinic charts for tomorrow too.  Hope you can work the disconnected computer systems!
  • Talk to them about booking vacation.  That is months away.  On rotations that “you just need to take vacation from.”
  • Tell them you are so glad to be done intern year, it really does get better (this can be good… it can also instil fear of what is yet to come).
  • Try to tell them everything they need to know ever in one day.  Or at least make them think that is what is happening.


What things happened to you that overwhelmed you as a new resident or med student or employee in general?


First intent to swim beach of the year!

We had our first beach with intent to swim adventure this weekend.

I specify because I like just going on field trips to walk around the beach or explore areas near beaches all the time.

It was still pretty post-tropical stormy, but it was hot out, so we figured the waves would be epic and the beach might not be crowded.

Problem was, we failed to factor in that ocean windy is different even compared to the harbour windy we live every day.

We also forgot that it is still really early in beach season in these parts and that tropical storm/hurricane just passing through would mean cold water.

We got to the beach and the sign read that the air temperature was 16 and the water temperature was 13.  

But, I am stubborn and Patrick is insistent.  We drove an hour.  I put on my bathing suit already.  We are going swimming!

Child and D dug a giant hole in the beach.  They weren’t as hearty stupid as we were.

You kind of felt this searing pain followed by numbness as you entered the water.  It was the kind of cold that made you think you might actually have a heart attack and die.  It was the kind of cold that numbed my still sore-ish toe enough that I couldn’t feel it even when I knew I landed on it wrong jumping in a wave.

The waves were awesome, though.  And there were no jellyfish (probably because the rough waters were murdering them all offshore.  

We might have only stayed in for under 20 minutes.  We might have had to change right after to try to get warm.  But we swam.  And that was awesome (so was Child and D’s hole.  It was as long as Child’s leg.).  Other bonus was that I didn’t get much of a sunburn because I didn’t stay in the water longer than the lifespan of my SPF fifty million and two.  Last bonus was that I got to read some of my current fun book.

I love the beach.  And I love summer weekends where I don’t work (even if I had to spend the rest of my night on clinic prep and reading).



This was one of those weeks where you just can’t help but remember.

I went to visit my family doctor for the first time since we lost Elim today for some general prescription refills.  She did the right thing and asked how I was doing since the loss, if we were trying again and then reminded me that at least I know I can get pregnant.

I know.

She sent me off saying that she hoped she saw me again soon with good news.

Me too.

It doesn’t mean that I don’t exist in perpetual fear of another loss. Some days I wonder about losses that I don’t know about.

But, in that appointment, with our conversation, I realized that watching someone type those letters and numbers was bizarre.


In medicine, we have what I liken to a secret code when it comes to describing women and pregnancy. G means gravida. Number of pregnancies. P means para. Number of babies born after 20 weeks. A means aborta. Number of babies delivered before 20 weeks. Some expand it to GTPAL with G being number of pregnancies, T term deliveries, P preterm delivieries, A induced abortions or miscarriages and L live children.

When I learned this system, I found it awful. I found it really tough to keep straight and was forever getting my Gs and Ps mixed up. Plus, it bothered me that A was for both induced abortion and spontaneous abortion. People often specified, but both caused pain and one can have repercussions on future pregnancies if recurrent.

The system bothered me because you could look at those numbers and see joy or pain or fear. At least I could. My heart broke for people who had more Gs than Ps. I hated to ask about losses because I didn’t want to bring up that pain. For me, there was always something devastating about pregnancy loss. It was always something I worried about.

On the other side of the desk, knowing what it means, it still sucks. I think my fear of bringing it up with women was a bit excessive. I was uncomfortable then because it bothered me, not them. I mean, it is a fact of life and it kills me more when people ignore the fact that I had that loss than when they ask about it. I guess I needed to see that for myself.

I was grateful that she cared enough to ask how things were and where we were at.

Still. Seeing it on a screen was weird. Especially when I have thought it before. And knowing that really, months before Elim, there could be another G and A that I suspected, but never confirmed because it all happened so fast. It could be G2P0A2. But, I won’t know in this lifetime. And I think I’m okay with that because I never really knew for sure.


What if those numbers never change? What if the Gs change but the Ps never do? What if I match my Gs for Ps from here on out?

I can’t predict the future. I wish I could sometimes, but I can’t.

The things I do know are that I am healthy, that God is good and that there is so much to this life that I don’t understand. I know how much good has come out of our journey so far. That I have grown in leaps and bounds in my faith. That we have been tested as a couple and as individuals and keep coming out the other side. The experience has helped me to love other people in ways that I might not have otherwise had the opportunity to do.

I don’t talk about it a whole lot. I has become easier, but I miss my little A1 every day. Maybe I’ll tell you more about that one day.

It freaked me out to see the letters and numbers on the screen. Sometimes the letters and numbers in your head seem not so real until you realize someone else acknowledges the reality of the situation. In another sense, it made me feel better because it is only one, it is real and it is normal.
God is good. His timing is perfect. I am trying to hope in Him and not my future children (or job or spouse).

Letters and numbers don’t make me whole. They don’t save me from myself. They are just statistics. There are bigger things.

Happy Belated Canada Day and Residency New Year!

Yesterday was Canada Day.

That also means it was start of the new residency year day.

I am officially a PGY3  (well, I am still missing a few evaluations from PGY2, but barring surprise failure, I am a PGY3) and today is my first day of doing actual Radiation Oncology for the rest of residency (minus my medical education elective).  I’m a happy girl.

I started off my first day as an R3 on call.  I’m just festive like that.

It was a sunny, beautiful day.  Everyone and their dog was out for celebrations dressed in red and white and I was off to the hospital (also in red because for some odd reason, having to work made me festive).  I waded through seas of people coming and going to various festivities, dodged a parade route that they were closing strangely early and all of that good stuff before even 9 in the morning.  Getting coffee was a challenge because the first two places I tried were closed.  I had to settle for the very Canadian, but not festive enough to close Tim Horton’s (ugh).

The fact that it is home call, however, was good.  It meant I got to spend some of the afternoon sitting out on the deck with the husband and the cat watching the crazies and waiting for a page.  I even got a little bit of work reading done.  A little bit.  Oh, and we took a M family selfie.10480582_10152674222399316_5582227936371051593_o

Happy day late Canada Day and residency New Years!

Top Ten Favourite Classics

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday with the Broke and the Bookish is a list of my top ten favourite classics. I do love the classics, so ths one is kind of tough for me (especially because I wasn’t sure what was a classic versus what wasn’t beyond the obvious).

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Who cannot love this book? It is such a good story and lesson.   Patrick hadn’t read it, so we bought a paperback version from the 1960s at a used book store last summer. I need to re-read it.
  2. Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. This book is childhood to me. I have read it so many times and still love it.
  3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I only read this at some point during med school and really, I didn’t think I would like it. But, I loved it.
  4. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. This is a book I need to re-read. I LOVED it the first time and keep saying I am going to read it again, but never get around to it. Sure, it is a little long and at times, a little overzealous on the details, but it is a really cool story.
  5. The Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. So good. I love how they take you to another world that is timeless.
  6. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. When I was a kid I wanted to live on an island. So cool.
  7. Heidi by Johanna Spyri. This is another childhood favourite. It made me and still makes me want to one day visit the Alps.
  8. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. Another from my childhood. We have a Mark Twain anthology floating around the house (somewhere on Patrick’s side of the bed) I need to crack out this summer finally.
  9. The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved these stories as both a child and an adult. There is something about the family values and adventures of both the young and old in these books that stands the test of time.
  10. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte. Although the cast of characters makes me want to poke all their eyes out or slap them to say “snap out of it,” it is a well written and interesting novel.

What are your favourite classics?