A Haunting Encounter

Today, I had a class on incorporating the humanities in medical education.  We were asked to write a short piece of prose or poetry on a patient encounter that haunts us.  Hearing what others wrote was way to much for my hormonal psyche.  I didn’t share mine because I was too busy trying not to let anyone see me cry about the ones that were shared.

I am not a poet, but it kind of has a poetic feel, I think… Here it is…

You did your best.  You knew something was wrong.  You were low risk, they said.  But, now, you are sit in clinic and don’t know how bad it really is.

You are angry and scared.  You cry when I review what is happening within your body.  I am gentle, but I am up front.  Medicine is so advanced, but so limited.  

Together, we bring you down off that ledge.  We have a plan.  You know what is likely to happen.  Then, I point out you need to meet my staff.  To keep in mind that a chance for second opinion isn’t gone.  

Gruff and curt, he approaches.  The plan changes and you are confused.  There is no explanation.  Just a closed door.

I try to help you understand.  I feel a sense of loss.  Like I am free falling in a place outside of my control.  It can’t compare to what you feel.

You don’t want another opinion.  You trust him.  Because you trust me.

In that moment, I don’t trust me.

I go home and review the literature.  I think and think.  I talk to another staff person.  I am right.  There may be more.  But, how does that get approached?  Who is willing to speak up?  

Everybody talks, but nobody deals.  That seems to be the way sometimes.  The questions are brought up, but I wonder if they were truly dealt with.  They get swept under rugs that some of us can’t help but look under.

This time, someone did say something.  This time, something did change.  Somehow, the suggestions were accepted.

I was relieved.  I want the best for you.  I want the best for all of you.  But still, the whole thing is unsettling.

In the long run, will it be enough?  Will you continue to get the care you deserve? 

If I hadn’t been there, if you didn’t trust me, would it be different?  Would you have made a different choice?

Maybe it is enough.  But, I wonder if we could do better.  I wonder if it is my fault.  That my being nice, that we “clicked” made you not question, not request that second opinion.

I won’t know.  I can’t help but wonder it is my fault.  And I’m not even sure what “it” is.

Teacher, teacher

I’m doing an education elective this month.

I have almost always wanted to be a teacher (and an author).  Well, after I got over the wanting to be a vet (my parents quashed that dream when I was about 4 when they informed me that if I was a vet, I would have to take a bath every day) and work at KFC (I was a chubby kid who really liked the way it smelled, despite the fact that I was informed I would no longer like KFC if I smelled it every day… I didn’t even have to smell it everyday to develop a dislike for KFC as an adult).  Honestly, medicine came much, much later in life.

I realized as a teenager that I hate kids in mass, so perhaps teaching elementary or middle school was out of the question.  I also realized science was very fun.

Once I hit medicine, though, I came to this crazy realization that maybe, just maybe I could “have it all.”  Who knew doctors teach?

Probably most people.

But, the fact that it could be my reality blew my mind a little.

So, I have always thought teaching was important.  I tutored in med school, mentored new students, all that stuff.  And now, I am doing an education elective and launching some new education related stuff in my department.  It has confirmed that I want to teach more.  I think I might even start working on my masters in the next year or two (depending on how this whole juggling residency and baby thing goes).

The funny thing is about the elective is that, for the first time in a long while, it is like being a student again.  Sure, there is no call and my hours are a bit more set, but I have assigned readings and projects and assignments.  Plus, the studying/prep for my usual program academics.  I forgot a bit what it was like to be a “real” student.  I have a love-hate relationship with being like a “real” student.

My focus is suboptimal.  Lectures from 8-12 and 1-4:30  That is a lot now.  Friday afternoon half-day is like torture and that is just 1-5 one day a week.  Plus, the degree of interaction is much more than I’m used to.  Group work?  Heck, usually my whole program is the size of a group they have me working with.  Non-clinical assigned readings are novelties.  Doing assignments and writing papers are things I do much more rarely now, but they are becoming regular occurrences.  Presentations and teaching practice prep is similar, but different.  And then there is switching focus completely to study for my usual departmental half-day stuff and exams.

That being said, it is neat to learn more about being a better teacher.  And knowing that it is something I can do.  And will do.

Seeing the enthusiasm of the Med 1s in tutorial and how everything is challenging and exciting is super cool.  Learning about what always seemed to be the top secret world of designing OSCE stations and training standardized patients makes me realize how much goes in to our learning.  Finding ways to make things better for newer trainees is encouraging.  Even figuring out how and why I learn the way I do and how to make that work for me is useful.

Most of my friends are teachers.  Heck, I’m married to a teacher.  And I am realizing that in more ways than I originally thought, I am a teacher too.

I know, I’m a huge geek.  But, I’m okay with that.  Just humour me.

Seeing redemption in my world

In my small group (or D-group as they are affectionately known here), we take turns telling a “Redemption Story”.

Sounds cheesy?

I thought so.

But, this is my third year here and I actually really like that part. Because it isn’t just a hokey “I was bad and then I got to know Jesus and now I am good” sort of thing that you hear on TV. It is more like saying because I am in Christ, I am being convicted of my sin. Things are happening and changing and they are really subtle or really big and I want to share about it, so the others in the group know and can pray for me and be encouraged by what is happening.

The thing is, nobody is perfect. And no human on this Earth is without sin. It breaks my heart to see how high and mighty we all get with ourselves from time to time. It is easy to get caught up in comparing yourself up higher than others or down lower than others.  It also kills me to see the hurt that comes from it.  That isn’t real love or grace.

Sometimes, it is nice to step back and identify areas that you are struggling in or that you have struggled in and see what is happening. It is okay to be a work in progress. It is okay to feel like you aren’t making progress, because at least you know there is a problem and can seek help. Because it isn’t about the past. It is about the present. What is happening right now.

I think that makes it more relevant. I think it, for me, makes redemption more real, more tangible.  It frames it in a way my concrete mind likes to see it.

There has been this Classic Crime song stuck in my head called “Glass Houses.” For me, it illustrates that struggle to identify those areas that we ignore or don’t even realize are there and how judgemental and hurtful we can be of others. It also points out how things fall apart when we start “playing God” with ourselves and others. How hypocritical we can be.

I’ll admit that I am broken. That I have all kinds of faults and flaws and that sin is in all kinds of little places in my life. I’m thankful that God is working that out in me day by day. And that he stuck me in a community that pushes that along without throwing stones.

24 Weeks!

Today is the magical 24 weeks.

Hello, “viability”!

What do I mean? I mean the point in gestation where most North American hospitals consider infants born to have enough potential to live that they will try to resuscitate them. It ranges from 22-26 weeks, but 23 or 24 is the point I was taught.  Plus, at 24 weeks, at least half of the little ones born survive with the help of modern medicine.

As a crazy medical person, this is significant. Because I like my kid and want to keep it around. And because I know how the medical system works and fear the choices I would have to make or have made for me before this point. And yes, there would still be tough choices now and even at 40 weeks. Things go wrong. I know too many bad things. But, I also know the probability of good things increases on a weekly basis from here on out.

So, hooray for babies the size of an ear of corn. Who kick and roll around and grow at a good pace. Who give their mothers lumberjack sized appetites.

I hope this little one keeps cooking.  Because we are literally nowhere near ready for a baby to actually be in the house.  And I still have rotations to finish (and have a (what some people consider) lofty goal of working to 40 weeks).  And like many others, I fear childbirth and want to put it off as long as reasonable.

On a related aside, I’m obviously not a photographic/blog pregnancy documentarian. Those sorts of posts were a strange mix of fascinating and heartbreaking to me before, so I am choosing to skip them.

But, this was a milestone I looked forward to most after the disappearance of the mind numbing morning sickness and the 20-ish week ultrasound. So, I thought I’d share my joy.

Just another day (and a “normal” one, at that)

It is Valentine’s Day.

Surprise world!

Image from nerdier.com.br

I know, you were oblivious.  I mean, if the ads and heart shaped crap everywhere didn’t give it away, it if your *apparently* love sick friends who post how awesome their spouse/partner/child is and how much they love him/her.

Last year, we had a friend text us saying thanks for not being so in your face and annoying about our relationships.  That she knew we loved each other and that she appreciated our not flaunting it all over the place.

We laughed, but I appreciated it because sometimes, I think people think I am a terrible person because I am so not sappy.

But really, you can show you care about someone without being all dramatic and in-your-face.  There is no reason to  try make everyone jealous or show off your great relationship.  To me (and this is my opinion), sometimes, the best proof of a good relationship is when people get along and function on a day to day basis.  Not just because of a made-up holiday.  In fact, Patrick saw an article earlier this year that said that couples that “flaunt” relationships are often statistically less happy than those who don’t (no, I can’t site the source… I am far too lazy for that).

Image from someecards.

Also, I need to point out that I hate public displays of affection and the creation of a “holiday” to share love.   Even though love is great and should be shared.  I just think it shouldn’t be so commercialized and sexualized.

So, this day drives me as crazy now as it did when I was single.

But, today was a good day.  I had band and went to the gym and cleaned.  We got to spend time with the lovely Child and D and play “Ticket to Ride,” which is an awesome game, in case you were wondering (check out the Tabletop video below).  Seriously.  It was easy to learn and efficient to play.  Also, it was one of the least disruptive games we have played (we tend to get kind of loud and aggressive), but not in a bad way.

Now, it is hockey night in the M house (if I can stay awake for the whole game).  And I get to drink from my new mason jar mug and enjoy flowers (because my romantic husband intentionally ignores my dislike for the holiday).  I also am having a skip the homework day today with the exception of submitting my abstract for a conference next fall that I probably won’t go to because flying across the country with an almost 3 month old seems like a not so good idea.

Today was like a normal people day.  I like those days.  I don’t need dates or fancy things or mush to be happy.  I just like being able to do things I enjoy and having a clean house, good food and friends.  I’m grateful.

Water Pressure

The M household made an exciting household renovation this week.

We got a new shower head.

I know, we aren’t exciting at all.

Since we’ve moved in here (almost 3 years ago), I have noticed that there has been a small leak where our shower head connects to the pipe.  I also thought our water pressure sucked.

Thursday, when Patrick got home cold and wet from picking up our car from Canadian Tire in the rain/snow craziness that cancelled school for him (he only worked 2 days this week, lucky bugger), he decided to shower to get warm.  He tried to move the head and the hole got epically bigger.  Like non-usable bigger.

So, Patrick did what any good man would do, he Googled how to fix it and when he realized we didn’t have the appropriate plumbing tape, he tried electrical tape (it was stormy out).  Jeter helped.  They both got wet.

Thus, when Patrick picked me up from work that night, he informed me that we needed to make another trip to Canadian Tire.  I was concerned for the car.  But, no, it was because he wanted to replace the shower head (I’m pretty sure our building people would do it, but that would mean waiting a good day or two).

So, in the beginnings of storm of the week number 3 or 4 (depending on when you start counting), we trekked to Canadian Tire (which we have started calling CT for short because it came up in a few texting conversations this week). We selected a shower head (you would not believe the selection).

We came home and installed it.  Jeter supervised.  I got a bit wet, but only because I’m the fool who wanted to check out every setting while standing on the edge of the bathtub while Patrick kept worrying that I was going to fall.

The next morning, I had the best shower at home I’ve had since we’ve moved in.  Seriously.  I didn’t even fully realize what we were missing.  (Poor Jeter is down a leak to sneak water from, though).  It made the morning so much better (despite the heaps of snow and ice outside).

Then, today, I get a text from Patrick while I’m at the gym informing me of how awesome our shower is.  I know.  So freaking awesome.

So, that is our big excitement.  We have water pressure we didn’t even know we had!

Big News (especially for my teenage bookworm self)

Yesterday, I went on Facebook and my newsfeed was blown up by news that I actually cared about that doesn’t involve the vaccination debate or the inordinate amounts of snow my hometown is getting.

Harper Lee is publishing a new book!

If you haven’t heard, then check out this article from the New York Times.

Okay, a new-to-the-world book.  She actually wrote it many, many years ago.

I promptly “reposted” an article on my friend V’s wall.  Because she is someone who shares with me an unhealthy obsession with the wonderful novel that we coined “To Kill a Bird” in grade 10 IB English.  We did presentations that were way overdone with excessive bristol boards and background research.  We finished the book before we were supposed to and re-read it and loved the movie.

I’m excited.  I know other people are too.

And I don’t usually even like sequels that much (although I do have to read them for closure).

As a big nerd, I must admit, this is a book that I am looking forward to more than many other books that I have excessively looked forward to.

Top Ten “Classic” Novels I Can’t Believe I Haven’t Read

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday list with the Broke and the Bookish is “the top ten books from genre x I can’t believe I haven’t read.” I feel like I can make a list in many genres, but I am going to go with the “classic” book genre.5f1e1-toptentuesday

I like to think I am well-read. That I have read all kinds of stuff because I want to and like to, but really, there are just so many more important works that I still haven’t read and many, many people have.

  1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. We actually got this as a Christmas gift from a friend. Patrick has now read it, but I still have not.
  2. 1984 by George Orwell. I see this intermittently on sale shelves at Chapters or hear it referenced in TV shows and movies. Still haven’t read it.
  3. Animal Farm by George Orwell. Another Orwell book. Clearly, I am avoiding him. I feel like a lot of people read this book in high school. I skipped that step.
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger. This is another book that gets referenced all the time by different people because seemingly everyone read it in school except for me.
  5. Lord of the Flies by William Golding. Another high school miss.
  6. Sophie’s Choice by William Styron. I almost bought this with part of our Christmas Chapter’s gift card haul. But I opted not to because I know it will be easily found in the library because it is another popular and well-referenced work of literature.
  7. Dr Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. It sounds interesting and sad and right up my alley. Yet I have not read it.
  8. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Sometimes I wonder what I really did read in high school/university given the theoretically great books I have missed out on. I still sadly don’t really know much about this book other than what movies/TV refer to.
  9. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. This is one of the few books I picked up and then put down after a few chapters.   It is shocking I actually gave up on a book.  I want to try again.
  10. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. I got this as a free ebook on my e-reader. I need to actually read it.

What “classics” do you have yet to read?

My Study Buddy

I’m studying.  Again.

You see, I have another sporadically scheduled treatment planning exam this Tuesday.  I had one last Tuesday (which got cancelled… And has yet to be rescheduled… UGH).  It seems that I have a “get me to do something” sign taped to my face.  This week’s topic is Rectal Cancer.  Last week’s was Small Cell Lung Cancer.  We can’t get much further apart.

I spent my morning picking up a few things at the grocery store and cleaning (ah, I do love a clean house (just don’t look in the guest/to-be-baby room or our room)).  I have mac and cheese in the slow cooker and the oven preheating to make some veggie crisps (looked like a good idea on the internet).  Patrick is playing Wii with his little brother with Big Brothers Big Sisters (great organization, by the way).

I decided to hole up finally and get some studying done.

I can’t study on my own anymore.  I have these two study buddies.  One goes everywhere with me, thanks to a little thing I call the placenta.  The other is the feline that can only travel as far as the confines of the apartment (hypothetically).

Jeter has a strange obsession with sticking nearby.  Today, he passed out on my textbooks.  Including the one I wanted to read. 10325749_10153286555099316_5885870976480320603_n

Silly cat.

Plus, the placenta attached study buddy is having a small dance party in my uterus.

Clearly these folks are not the best study partners.  They did not get the memo.

So, I’m updating my phone and my laptop and writing a blog post.  With a textbook open in front of me.  If it is open, it at least half counts, right?

Top Ten Books That Kept Me Up Past My Bed Time

It has been a bit since I’ve done a Top Ten Tuesday with the folks over at the Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is about book clubs. I would love to be in a book club (no, journal club does not count). But, alas that is not in the cards any time soon (unless you count my plans to drag the Creature with me to the kids programs at our new library once he makes an appearance).5f1e1-toptentuesday

So, I’m going with the freebie from last week. And my freebie item of choice is the top ten books that kept me up past my bed time. And I did not included textbooks that were involved with studying (plus, I don’t often study past my bedtime anyway).

  1. Hannah’s Dream by Diane Hammond. I didn’t know a book about an elephant could make me feel the way this one did.
  2. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. Yes, I stayed up late reading the end and then had crazy dreams.
  3. Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson. I just cared way too much about these characters.
  4. Looking For Alaska by John Green. Once I hit a certain soul crushing point, I had to keep going just to know what happened.
  5. The Fault in our Stars by John Green. I read this whole book over the course of a call shift and post call day. I got angry when pages interrupted my reading and it took a lot of will power by the time I finally thought I could settle for the night not just to stay up and read (because I was probably going to be woken up anyway).
  6. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I’m pretty sure I stayed up way to late reading each of these books while I was away on an elective.
  7. The Case For Christ by Lee Strobel. This really surprised me in a number of ways. I quite liked it and again as a result stayed up to keep reading on more than one night.
  8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Sometimes you just have to know what will happen, even when you already know it is probably not going to be good.
  9. The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls. She draws you in and the next thing you know, you are almost done and might as well finish it the same night.
  10. Twilight and the other books in that series by Stephanie Meyer. Don’t judge. I would allow myself to read one after every exam in Med2 before things got crazy again for a period of time. Between the excitement of reading for fun and the fact that they are pretty engaging books, I wanted to read the whole thing at once.

What books have kept you up late?