My love-hate relationship with Christmas hospital

The hospital is a funny place at Christmas. I kind of have a love-hate relationship with Christmas hospital.

One part of me loves Christmas hospital. I love that everyone tries so hard to make it festive and that each floor or section have a different décor scheme (or lack thereof). I love that some people really rock the decorations. I get excited for the treats on the nursing units.

I love how people try so hard to make it a welcoming and festive place, even if for many people it is the last place they want to be.

But, I hate that people have to stay in hospital over the holidays. I’m glad we have the option and that these people are well taken care of. But, this weekend, I seem to have spent a good chunk of my on call rounds talking to people about their hopes to get out, their dismay about not getting out and trying to help them see or find the bright sides in the situation. It comes up a lot. And it is important, so it makes sense that it comes up.

I remember when I was about 5 (it was the year I got a Troll watch for Christmas), my Aunt was in hospital over Christmas. And she swore never to be there at that time again. I am too young to remember what was so bad about it, but I do remember her saying repeatedly she would never go to hospital before Christmas.

That is something I won’t forget.

I don’t want that for my patients. Because, unfortunately for a number of them, this probably is their last Christmas…

Our service is pretty good in that if there is any way the person is stable enough to go out even for a few hours, we try to make it work if the person and their family is wanting, willing and able.

I have one person who has the most festive room ever and plans on having their whole family in for Christmas dinner, although the logistics are still being sorted out. They are pretty excited and encouraged about being around for the holidays at all.

I saw another who only just realized home isn’t going to be an option and just wants to not be alone. Another who is going to get someone to bring in decorations. And a third who was working on Christmas cards and gift wrapping with their spouse.

Its not all that sunny, though. Some people say it won’t be Christmas this year, or get upset when talking about not being home.

I can’t make it better. But I want to. We can treat pain or nausea, but treating being in hospital over the holidays isn’t easy.

The nurses on our ward are awesome and make the best of it. We all, for the most part try to. That is what humans do over the holidays. And that makes it kind of a cool display of how people are decent.

Thus my love-hate relationship with Christmas hospital.

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1km, downhill in a blizzard.

Image from globalnews.ca.

Today was the storm of the century.  Or decade.  Or year. Something like that.

Either way, there was a lot of snow and even more wind.

Ah, Canadian Spring.

Everything was shut down.  Everything.

But not the hospital.

So, Patrick drove me to work this morning before it all started.

I saw my follow-up visits.

They took the busses off the road.

I got called to go to the other site.

I learned on the shuttle that the police had told people to stay off the roads.

I went back to the other site and watched an ambulance do a 360 in front of my very eyes.

I had a hard time tracking people down to get information because they had all bailed early if they could.

And then, it was 5 and I could go home.

Except I couldn’t see across the street.

I was ready for this.

I had my giant green, puffy coat that is the best $200 I have ever spent. I bought this expensive monstrosity when I started med school because I didn’t have a car and walked/bussed everywhere in a very, very windy, stormy city.  It is always warm.  It also makes for good padding when you wipe out on the ice.

I had my giant winter boots.  The sort that are so heavy and warm and dry you can’t pick your feet off the ground when you try to walk.

I was so bundled with scarves and hats you could only see my eyes.

Image from arcticlise.blogspot.com.

I had a crummy day, so I had all kinds of angry energy.

So, I said, “bring it on, winter,” and left the hospital on foot.

It is a 15 minute walk.

It took me 25 minutes.

My glasses fogged up and froze within 2.  So, I took them off and stumbled home blind the rest of the way home.

The sidewalk for the first bit was plowed.  Well, kind of.  It was plowed,but then the wind un-plowed it.  The snow was only ankle deep.

But, then it started to really suck.  The snow was knee deep on the sidewalk.  Some of the banks were as tall as me.  I staggered my way down the hill.  I only fell over once and that was because I didn’t quite clear a snowbank. I got stuck a few times, but not for long. And I kind of fell in someone’s sunken stairwell (one of those ones that goes under street level), but I caught myself on their house).

This is what I was afraid of happening to me. Image from smartcanucks.ca.

I walked on the road a bit.  It wasn’t like anyone else was as ridiculous as I was and was out. I seriously saw 4 cars and 2 pedestrians.  That being said, I am too paranoid and blind (and the visibility sucked too much) to walk in the road the whole time.

It was kind of like one of those stories our grandparents tell us of walking 5 miles uphill, barefoot in a blizzard.  Except I was wearing 10 pounds of clothing, going mostly downhill for only just over a kilometre in a blizzard.

I have good training for this having lived in a city where they never plowed sidewalks and walking took your life into your own hands.   I just don’t have to crack out that level of hearty very often here.

I kept telling myself that this will make a great story over and over again. That and that it is totally my workout for the day.

The Joy of Renting

Gratitude.

We had some horrendous wind and rain, which led to some sleep deprivation in the M household last night.

Why gratitude, you ask?  I’ll tell you…

When your barbecue cover somehow flies off into oblivion (despite it being bungee corded to both the deck and the BBQ), but your husband notices and rescues the barbecue of the balcony before it projectiles off as well.

When a chunk of your living room ceiling (that has never leaked before) caves in sometime in the wee hours of the morning, but does not hit your TV, other electronics or wedding photos. Also, that your husband is awake to clean up said chunk and the water that fell with it, put down buckets and call the rental office (who are coming today to survey the damage and do some repairs because apparently we aren’t the only ones who had that happen last night).

Image from strifeinc.com

When the window you swore was leaking last year during one storm, but then the maintenance person came and looked at it and said it was fine and it never seemed to cause a problem again (until now) starts dripping like a sieve, but you have enough towels to sop it up and the landlord is conveniently already coming in the morning to tend to our other leak.

When you realize that all of this went down in one night and probably won’t again until the next storm where the wind and rain blow just right.  At least you hope so.  Preferably, you hope it never happens again.

When you realize a 330 in the morning all of these things happened and you slept through them because your husband is a superhero night-hawk.

Image from sprudge.com.

When, at 330 in the morning, you and your husband can laugh about the fact, that we have never had problems with our apartment except for a broken drawer until RIGHT NOW.

When, at 330 in the morning, you and your husband realize that although we need to clean up the mess and protect the place from further damage, we are not responsible to fix it because that, my friends, is the beauty of renting.  And with that, we high-fived our prolonged schooling and general lack of funds to own a house with its added responsibility.

Image from giphy.com.

When you see that it is kind of funny that I need to go drop off my signed lease sometime this week.

When you realize you have a home with heat that is mostly dry and things to protect and all of the things that many people don’t have.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Window

This week’s photo challenge with the Daily Post is called “Window.”

I have posted this picture in the past, but it is too cool (to me) to pass up for this topic.  Last year (and this year too, though I haven’t taken another picture), when it gets ridiculously cold outside and we have it warm inside the outside layer of window sweats and then freezes and forms fabulous ice patterns.photo

 

Top Ten Books On My Winter (2013/14) TBR List

It is top ten Tuesday again.  That means I get to link up with the folks over at the Broke and the Bookish for yet another list.

Given that it is getting close to winter, it is no surprise that it is time for the winter to be read (TBR) list.  It is kind of scary because I feel like I just wrote my Fall TBR list recently.

I feel accomplished because I actually read a few of the books on my Fall list.  So, I am taking the same approach and picking books that I think I actually will have access to and plan to read literally in the Winter, not just books I hope to read at some point.

  1. Allegiant by Veronica Roth.  I know the Child has this on her shelf.  I just need to have time to read and a chance to borrow it.  I have been pumped about reading it since I finished the first two books in the series this summer.e
  2. If I Live To Be 100 by Neenah Ellis.  This book is a series of interviews with centenatians.  So cool!  Patrick picked it up a while ago and I look forward to finally reading it!
  3. Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham.  This is another repeat from the Fall and another to be borrowed from the Child book.  I like Lauren Graham, so I have probably excessive hopes for the book.
  4. Looking For Alaska by John Green.  This is one of the last of his books I need to read, so it is on my Christmas list, but would also be easily acquired from a library.
  5. The World According To Bob by James Bowen.  Patrick read this months ago, so it is just staring at me on our shelf.  I loved his first book and I now have a cat, so I feel like I might just get it a little bit more.
  6. Game of Thrones series by George R.R. Martin.  We borrowed these from the Child’s husband and Patrick is already on the second book.  I am not sure if they are really my sort of books, but I do want to give them a try.
  7. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith.  Yes, still on my list.  That is all I need to say.
  8. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Powell. And again, still on my list…  Need to get on that.
  9. Mark Twain Anthology.  I got it for Christmas last year.  Patrick has it somewhere beside his side of the bed because he was going to read it.  I haven’t seen it in a while, but I do want to read it.
  10. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak.  The plot seems intriguing, I liked his previous writing and it is another carryover from the Fall.

I have more, but I am capping at 10 as per the instructions.

What are some books on your Winter TBR list?

Twisted Christmas

I missed the last few Twisted MixTapes, but this week, I am in.

Interestingly, it is called “Twisted Christmas” and is looking for a mix of Christmas songs.  I am generally one of those sorts of people who get annoyed by anything Christmas before the 15th of December, let alone the beginning of December, but this year I have become more festive and even have my tree up… So why not participate in this too?

I am really not a big fan of a lot of the Christmas favourites that are always on the radio.  I like the weird Christmas songs.  The less played or more bizarre are the tunes I tend to be drawn to. That being said, there are a few songs that I still love despite being popular.

“Come On Ring Those Bells.”  What a good song to get things started. .  Our church choir back home sings this song almost yearly and a few of the old dolls sing “them bells” instead of “those bells.”  It strikes me funnier than it probably should.   I actually wrote an entire blog post around this and other choir at Christmas adventures  a couple years ago.

“Joseph’s Lullaby” by MercyMe.  I like story songs and I like that this song takes a perspective that you don’t often get.  What was Joseph thinking when baby Jesus was born.  Plus, it is pretty!

“Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground)” by Chris Tomlin.  The first time I heard this was when I sang it with a few lovelies for a Christmas service a few years back.  It is so pretty and ah, the harmonies!

“Carol of the Bells” as sung by the Muppets.  The Muppets are key to this song being awesome to me.  This cracks me up every year!

“You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch.”  I adore the Dr. Seuss tale and particularly the animated version (I may sing with it and know most of it word for word).  The lyrics to this song are hilarious if you really listen to it!

What are some of your favourite Christmas tunes?  

Being a festive resident

‘Tis the season.

Both to be jolly and for Medical Mondays.

Bad segway?

Sorry.

But seriously, it is Medical Monday, which means a day for all blogs medical to link up and share the love.  Check out some fantastic blogs from other medically related people.

Why am I opening the post with a festive saying?

Well, today was my do everything Christmas that I can’t normally get done in my real life day.

For those of you who are new here, I am a second year Radiation Oncology resident married with a husband and a cat.  I, contrary to popular belief by some, do have friends both near and far.  I have a church and a small group and volunteer commitments.  I have parents and in-laws and all kinds of extended family.  I have an apartment that needs keeping.  I have a blog that would like to be written in.  I have a research project that needs to be finished.

As you can imagine, I, likely much like you, am very busy.  Very, very busy.

Over the years as a med student and now a resident, I learned that Christmas shopping, decorating and such is very, well, challenging when you work more often than not and try to have a life on the side.

First of all, I must say that residents in my neck of the woods are lucky.

We have six days of vacation either around Christmas or New Years.  It is a beautiful thing when you are from away and have people you want to see.  We were off last year for Christmas and will be again this year.

You would think that everyone fights to get Christmas off, but really, they don’t.  The thing is that the six days after Christmas are busy to work because everyone comes to hospital that was trying to avoid it during the earlier holidays.  Also, most families tend to be busier the week of Christmas.  So, you go home, you run around from place to place to place and then you get back and work like a crazy person.  I ended up defaulting to Christmas this year because I missed an email that said the holidays were first come first served.

That being said, it is wonderful to be home with family for the holidays.  I love it.  We have great families and traditions.

But also, besides the busyness of it all, we have NEVER had a Christmas on our own.  We always lived away and always have gone home for Christmas.  This will be our fifth Christmas  of doing that.

There is a piece of me that just wants to do our own thing.  To have our own traditions.

I mean, we have our own traditions.  It just isn’t the same as those we know who have always had their own space or time.  Odds are our traditions would be altered by beeps of pagers and me needing to go round, but  still, they would be our own traditions.

And we still have other traditions.  I always get to put my giant microbes on our tree (this year our tree is bigger).  Patrick always adds some sort of tacky ornament somewhere that kind of bothers me.  We read the Christmas story to each other before bed on Christmas Eve.

This year, I am sending out Christmas cards for the first time.  We have a tree that is full sized.

It is like we are become a real family while still going home for festivities as usual.

But, as I was saying, I am busy.  This month, I need to do a resident presentation, finish the statistical analysis for my research project and submit an abstract for presentation at a conference in the new year.  I work full time.  I cover call.  We are hosting the resident Christmas party (there are 4 of us, it really isn’t that big of a deal).

So, I did what is probably my best decision yet.  I used one of my vacation days to make a long weekend.

Patrick and I went home.  We got to celebrate my grandmother’s 81st Birthday.   I scoped out her new nursing home.  We got to see Patrick’s Mom in a Christmas musical.  We visited people.Mom Daigle Birthday 2013 016 Mom Daigle Birthday 2013 011

Then, we came back and today, I hammered out my Christmas shopping.

Literally, my Christmas shopping.

I am done it.  Patrick just needs to pick up Christmas presents for his Dad, Grandfather and Uncle.  I have everyone else covered.  Everyone else!

Now, I just have to wrap it.  Which I am going to get started on shortly.

The beautiful part is that I did the shopping on a Monday.  During the day.  Thus avoiding the horrors that are weekend and evening stores and still getting some excellent deals that tag on to the weekend sales.

Our Christmas cards are almost all written.  Just need stamps and the addresses for Patrick’s family (hint, hint).

Tonight, we put up our tree.  We inherited a tree from my parents (who inherited it from my Grandmother).  It is big and green.  These are both key features since I have never had a green tree until I was married and we have never had a full sized tree!IMG_1017

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I have gotten nothing useful done for work today.  But, I have accomplished lots of other important things.

Best day off choice ever.

Multitasking and scheduling are huge in surviving the adventure that is life combined with residency.  Days like this give glimmers of normalcy.   Sometimes they just need to be prioritized in.  I think it makes us better people.

Advent-ing

Today was our church’s Advent kick-off.

It was, much like the rest of our church, unique. It was a bring your entire family and decorate the place in entirety while listening to what one person described as typical “hipster folk Christmas tunes,” followed by cookies, hot chocolate and worship time.

Kids running everywhere, masses of creativity and lots of lights make for a good time. Especially with the reminders about the real reason for the season!

I was exhausted today for no good reason, but this was the rejuvenation I needed.

I even took some very poor quality photos of the adventure.

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Transports and T-Shirts

After a semi-frightening drive home from, well, home last night, I still lack proper energy to write a proper post.

I swear I will write about the wedding we attended in the midst of the blizzard that made the drive home the next day an adventure and such some other time.

I will share this humorous quote from Patrick just after aborting an attempted transport truck pass secondary to the lane being covered in snow and ice.

The pleasure I take in passing big trucks isn’t stronger than my will to live.

We always have a good time on road trips discussing hypotheticals, rocking out to good music and other random shenanigans.   Also, who can’t forget the epicness of my backseat driving (I am sure Patrick wanted to pop me an Ativan or ten last night)…

The fun road trip music combined with this episode of The Big Bang Theory made me decide I clearly need Raj’s shirt.  Or another similar accessory.  Life would be more fun if others could hear the sound track I feel needs to be playing outside of my head.

New Years On-Call… A Sort-of Pictoral Documentary

Well, Happy New Year!

I spent my New Years eve and the first part of the day in the hospital doing the delightful duty of Cardiology call.  While most people show pictures of parties… I will show pictures of my version of a party.

Yay... Start of yet another call shift.Goal... Look awake so I don't cry.

Yay… Start of yet another call shift.
Goal… Look awake so I don’t cry.

The day started off like any other day.  Rounding with the team and writing notes.  Oh, and some betting with one of our patients that we would find some sort of disease in his heart despite the patient swearing up and down we wouldn’t.   Later in the day, the cath was done and the patient was right.  Good thing we didn’t put down actual money.

I actually got to eat lunch at a decent hour despite having to run to a code blue that turned out to be nothing (thankfully!).  On the bright side, despite not going to the gym for months, I still fit in a bit of cardio.  My lunch  was left over spaghetti with chili-garlic thai sauce with a side of my ECG book.

Love the spork.  Not the ECGs.

Love the spork. Not the ECGs.

Post-lunch was more note writing and consulting and even a 30 minute cat-nap in my luxurious call room (again, luxurious is a relative term, but this room is decent except for its lack of window and proximity to a few loud fire doors that sound as if people are coming in to join you).

The best part is that they left an extra flannel blanket on the foot of the bed today!

The best part is that they left an extra flannel blanket on the foot of the bed today!

When official call-time started I grabbed a quick supper.  Instant “spicy noodles.”  They were surprisingly good.  I treated myself to my “fun” book The Circle series by Ted Dekker (which is also turning out to be surprisingly good).

First supper.

First supper.

But, as life on-call goes… Starting supper meant my pager went off and it was off to save lives, people (like on Grey’s Anatomy).  Realistically, people would be okay most of the time without my intervention.  Nurses are superstars.  And 1 in every 2 or 3 calls are legitimately urgent.  At least that is how it feels in my head sometimes.

While seeing someone on one unit, I was fortunate enough to catch some early evening fireworks with one of my favourite patients (yes, I am a terrible person and have favourites… Some people you just click better with) and a couple of the nurses.  They were pretty awesome fireworks.  We oohed and ahhed like stereotypical firework viewers.  So cliché.  So delightful.

Some of the lovely nurses on my main unit were ordering Chinese food for the festivity.  I joined in.  Who doesn’t like second supper on a potentially long night of call?

Second supper.

Second supper.

I was even more lucky to sneak my husband in (okay, not really sneak… The hospital is a public building) to share my Chinese food with me.  Kind of like fancy New Years eve dinner.  Except in the hospital cafeteria… With the mice.

The happy couple.

The happy couple.

I didn’t change into my evening attire until later in the evening.

Showing off the evening attire... Awkwardly.

Showing off the evening attire… Awkwardly.

By 11:30, I was feeling ready for bed and decided to attempt to call it a night.  Either that or I considered using my pager as a ball to drop at midnight… Preferably from a high, pager damaging height.

Pager... Hanging by the end of it's bungee cord safety string.

Pager… Hanging by the end of it’s bungee cord safety string.

But, at 11:45, I got called to deal with an emergency and rang in the new year sorting out vital signs and assessing someone.  On the bright side, they were okay and the staff on the unit were all wearing festive hats.

Amazingly, I got about 2.5 hours of sleep.

And then all heck broke loose.

Unrelenting chest pain, vomiting blood, agitated people and low blood pressure were all adventures on my list.

And thus, more cardio.

I realized at one point that sometimes I sing songs to myself when I do stuff… Like theme songs.  I was singing “The Final Countdown” while powerwalking to see someone acutely unwell and unstable.

I was thrilled to finally get to go home in the morning and crawl into my nice warm bed.  Kind of similarly to people who partied all night.

Okay... This picture is from when I crawled back out of bed.  I was too sleepy on the way in.

Okay… This picture is from when I crawled back out of bed. I was too sleepy on the way in.

Patrick made me a New Years eve traditional treat for lunch… Cheese sticks.  He ate his traditional one and I ate the rest.

Post-call lunch of champions.

Post-call lunch of champions… In bed.

So, there you go… New Years Eve in the hospital.

Tonight, we go to supper with some friends (okay, a friend and some people we have never met).  I hope I don’t fall asleep on them.

Whoo being festive.