A long New Years themed questionnaire

It is a few days after 2015 has started, but I have never been one to celebrate festivities conventionally (Okay, actually I did stay up until after midnight, saw fireworks as the clock struck twelve, toasted the new year (with sparkling apple juice) and kissed my husband… That is pretty darn stereotypical, I must say). I saw this 2014 in review questionnaire (one of many) done by a few of the lovely bloggers I follow and I decided to play along. Warning: it is long-winded and reflective.

YOUR 2014

What one event, big or small, are you going to tell your grandchildren about?

Tough one… Seeing Wicked on Broadway. Getting to see/hear “The Creature” for the first times.

If you had to describe your 2014 in 3 words, what would they be?

Emotional, blessed and nauseated.

What new things did you discover about yourself?

I learned that I am capable of depths of emotion on both ends of the spectrum (joy and sorrow) at levels that I previously was unsure were possible. I also learned that taking time to do the things I enjoy or spend time with the people I love is something that I too often put off, so I am gratefuly that I am now starting to do that more.

What single achievement are you most proud of?

Does being in the middle of growing a human count? I’m mostly serious. But, if we are going with tangible obvious things, it would be having completed my research project and presenting it at a national conference (although we are still editing it for publication… Ugh.).

What was the best news you received?

That “The Creature” continues to be growing and healthy. After a long wait for a baby and especially after losing Elim and knowing how many others wait and pray for well little ones, I can’t help but be so grateful.

What was your favourite place that you visited in 2014?

New York. Hands down. Best early 5th anniversary and partly free trip ever! I got to see musicals, Body World and eat a lot.

Which of your personal qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?

My high-baseline optimism.

Who was your number one go-to person that you could always rely on?

Patrick, obviously.

Which new skills did you learn?

I apparently got pretty good at microscopy according to my Pathology evaluation.

My countouring skills are getting better. Bring on the head and neck cases!

I am getting better at transrectal ultrasound (I know, valuable life skills here, boys and girls) and inserting needles for prostate brachytherapy. Cervical brachytherapy seems to be a bit of a slower go for me, but it seems like whenever I’m on, the cases wind up being super complicated, so I get stuck not doing much.

Today, I have realized I have also become pretty stealthy at putting on Jeter’s harness.

What, or who, are you most thankful for?

I am most thankful for the many friends and family, particularly our extended church family God has stuck in our lives. They have loved us through a lot this year and keep putting my focus back on what really matters (sometimes with some laughs and healthy distraction on the way).

If someone wrote a book about your life in 2014, what kind of genre would it be? A comedy, love story, drama, film noir or something else?

A dramedy? I think that might be a genre.

What was the most important lesson you learnt in 2014?

It is not my story, it is God’s story.

Which mental block(s) did you overcome?

The perception or belief that I’m not “good enough.” Its an ongoing struggle, but grace is the gift that keeps on giving.

14.What 5 people did you most enjoy spending time with?

This is challenging, there are many people with whom I enjoy spending time. I’m going to say C&C, A&P, K and M from our old small group (I know, that is 6). We got to have some special quality time with them for the first time in a few years and it was really enjoyable, meaningful quality time, even if it was brief. That doesn’t downplay the time we spent with many other very important people in our lives, it was just some of the most special time.

What was your biggest break-through moment career-wise?

When I started realizing that I could answer questions intelligently in teaching sessions and during my treatment planning exams and that I totally couldn’t have done that last year. I didn’t notice at first, but looking back, I can see how much I am learning.

How did your relationship to your family evolve?

I find myself more attached and concerned for my family and extended family as I get older. Probably because I keep learning how fragile life is and how important those people are.

What book or movie affected your life in a profound way?

The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe. I don’t know if profound is the exact word I would use, but it made me think about my relationships with family, with patients and how I share my love of reading with certain people. It made me want to check out more books and to actually discuss them (instead of reading being a solitary activity).

What was your favourite compliment that you received this year?

It wasn’t a compliment. It was the most heartfelt hug and simply “thank you” from a patient’s husband.

What little things did you most enjoy during your day-to-day life?

I love coming home to Jeter who immediately “flops” and expects me to give him a good rub as soon as I walk in the door. I also love the time Patrick and I have when we do our individual Bible reading, pray and just cuddle and talk about our days before I go to sleep at night.

What cool things did you create this year?

I’m not that creative. Probably a knitted mug cozie (and then I lost the mug it fit on).

What was your most common mental state this year (e.g. excited, curious, stressed)?

I’m a resident, so stressed.

Was there anything you did for the very first time in your life this year?

I ran for 20 minutes straight. Brachytherapy insertions. I played Munchkin, Gloom, Love Letter, and several other games. I saw Wicked.

What was your favourite moment spent with your friends?

I’m torn between kayaking with L, C, Child and D in the summer or playing games and having a BBQ with C&C, A&P and K this summer.

What major goal did you lay the foundations for?

I’m continuing to be a resident, so a suppose that is working towards my major goal of one day having a real job as a staff physician.

I would one day like to run 5k straight. I know for many people that does not seem like a big deal, but I am NOT an athlete by any means. Before I got pregnant and super sick, I was up to somewhere between 1.5 and 2km without a walk break and didn’t need too crazy long for a break. But now, I went for my first run again last week and I can barely run for 3 minutes without starting to get hot and out of breath (it has been about 12 weeks). I know that I can’t push myself excessively now, but I want to at least maintain (or improve) my fitness, so that after baby gets here, I can keep moving in that direction.

Which worries turned out to be completely unnecessary?

Patrick always tells me worrying won’t make me taller. And he is always right. So, all of them.

What experience would you love to do all over again?

New York. The time we spent with our old small group friends. Our cabin adventure with most of the BIFFs.

What was the best gift you received?

I’m going materialistic on this one. Mr. Holland’s Opus, which was a surprise from Patrick who remembered me mentioning it was one of my all-time favourite movies, so when he stumbled upon it, he bought it and watched it with me.

How did your overall outlook on life evolve?

That is a deep question. I think I’m getting better at seeing how grace really plays out in our world and in our lives in all kinds of ways that are sometimes more challenging to see.

What was the biggest problem you solved?

I fixed our broken drawer. I know it sounds trivial, but Jeter broke that bloody drawer trying to get to the treats a couple years ago and I finally fixed it! Maybe not the biggest “problem” but definitely the best fix.

What was the funniest moment of your year, one that still makes it hard not to burst out laughing when you think about it?

When we were in New York, there was a voice on one of the subway trains that said “Please stand clear of the closing doors” who just sounded so happy while saying it (and also like a CBC sports personality). Patrick thought it was hilarious and would mock it and get even more excited if it was the voice on the train we were on. After getting back, we would still periodically announce “please stand clear of the closing doors” in that voice and crack up. Then, we noticed the elevator they are replacing in our building has a small automated sign that says that exact phrase. We lost our minds laughing at that.

What idea turned out to be the best decision ever?

Choosing to work Christmas Eve, so that we would have Christmas day to ourselves and more time to spend with family/friends at home over the New Years half of the break. We got to rest and relax, enjoy our alone time and our time with people (and even saw almost everyone we wanted to) and it was the best break we’ve had in some time.

What one thing would you do differently and why?

I would have accepted more help from people. I’m often reluctant to admit that I need help, but there were points this year where I was so sad or so sick that I probably should have taken people up on offers of breaks or a hand with things around the house or at work than I should have. I realize now that the past few months would have been a bit better had I maybe taken another couple of sick days or evenings to myself.

What do you deserve a pat on the back for?

I finished my off-service rotations in one piece and made it through the first difficult 6 months of core Rad Onc in one piece (half of which I spent drowsy and barfy) with people somehow thinking I am keen and have a good attitude.

What activities made you lose track of time?

Board games with our lovely gamey friends. I can lose hours playing good games with good people. Also, as always, reading. And I will admit, because I am a big dork, clinic prep and contouring are huge time sucks for me and often lead to me losing track of time.

What did you think about more than anything else?

Having children and not having children. I know it is so cliché for someone in my age and stage, but this was a seriously consuming issue for me this year in both the good and bad.

What topics did you most enjoy learning about?

I love my job and my field, so I enjoy learning most about oncology and everything that goes with it from how people (on both sides of the desk) cope with cancer and live with it, to how it works to the technical side of treatments. I have also been really excited to be learning more about God this past year.

What new habits did you cultivate?

I was doing decently at going to the gym before the morning sickness took me out. Hopefully, I can get back to that. Patrick and I have been doing better with prayer together. I have also been trying to be more intentional with being “social.” I’m not saying I am a social butterfly, but I am trying to have meaningful (or at least some) conversation with people more often in situations where I would otherwise have tried to hide out.

What advice would you give your early-2014 self if you could)?

I don’t know. I’m not always a good advice heeder. I would probably remind myself to be patient and know that tough stuff is good for growing and learning and that worry isn’t going to make me taller (even though Patrick did tell me that).

Did any parts of your self or your life do a complete 180 this year?

Not especially. My caffeine intake is probably a quarter of what it was previously, but that is the fault of mind-numbing nausea.

What or who had the biggest positive impact on your life this year?

Getting back to some important things. Like playing music again. Seeing and staying in touch with people who have been important in my life. Most importantly, seeing the thread of grace that God has woven in our lives.

YOUR 2015

What do you want the overarching theme for your 2015 to be?


What do you want to see, discover, explore?

I’m excited to do my Med Ed elective and improve/develop my teaching skills. I can’t wait to meet “The Creature” and figure out all that good stuff that comes with parenting. I am always happy to go on adventures anywhere, even if it is just close to home for the next while.

Who do you want to spend more time with in 2015?

Our families/extended family. We see them more now than we did our first few years of marriage, and I want to keep that up. Plus, their presence is going to be super important as “the Creature” grows up.

What skills do you want to learn, improve or master?

I need to learn how to be a parent at some point. As I said before, I want to work on my teaching and I just plain want to keep working on my clinical knowledge and skills. I always can improve on how well I love my husband and others. Plus, I want to be more fit, you know, the whole running thing, as I mentioned. If I could finally learn to play guitar, that would be great, but probably kind of a lofty goal given everything else.

Which personal quality do you want to develop or strengthen?

I’m not sure exactly how to word it, but I want to continue to work on my time spent with others. I want to be more open to people and more loving towards them and less afraid of interactions.

What do you want your everyday life to be like?

I just want to find joy in the mundane. Because that is what life is made up of, those ordinary moments that add together to make up our days.

Which habits do you want to change, cultivate or get rid of?

I want to keep working on our prayer time and devotions as a couple. I also want to get back to/get better at being more active.

What do you want to achieve career-wise?

I really want to pass physics and radiobiology this year (lofty dreams), so that I can just sit in on them when I come back from mat leave without feeling the pressure to have to write the exams and pass them with a toddler in the house. Doing adequately well on my other in-training exams would be great too. I also want to finish all of my rotations up to the start of maternity leave, so that I only have one 4 week block left of third year when I get back.

How do you want to remember the year 2015 when you look back on it 10/20/50 years from now?

I hope I remember it as a good year, but really, it is just a drop in the bucket.

What is your number one goal for 2015?

Read 67 books. Just kidding. That is a goal, though. I guess it is just to love and serve well.

Trip En Revue

We’re baaaaaaccckkk.

Yes, Patrick and I have returned in one piece from our adventures in New York.  While we were gone, Jeter played countless games of “greased up pig” with the Child and D.  It appears he also kept the thieves away.

Our trip was awesome.

It was just the break we needed.

Sure, giant city stresses me out.  And yes all the lights, chaos and noise intermittently made me want to flap, but overall, it was awesome.  And not just because we got to watch “Full House” almost every night in our hotel room.

We packed a ton into the four and a bit days we were in the city.  A ton.  It helps that we bought tickets in advance for shows and got a New York pass, which saved us $100 alone.

We saw two musicals… Wicked and Aladdin.  Both were awesome, although Wicked was my favourite.IMG_4941

We went on a boat tour around the islands.  It was cold.  I insisted on staying outside until my hands went numb.  Literally.  I didn’t get warm for hours.IMG_4663

We went to 5 different museums (if you count Yankee stadium tours as a museum of sorts).  My favourite was that I finally got to see Body Works after trying to see it at least three other times and just missing it (the guilt of dragging Patrick to see Body Works was the reason we then ended up both going on the Yankee stadium tour where I was a way worse sport than he was).IMG_4729

We went to Top of The Rock at night, which was beautiful.IMG_4780

We wandered around Central Park.IMG_4841 IMG_4877

We wandered around DUMBO (which, in case you wanted to know is totally where I want to live if I have to live in New York).  The book stores were enough to keep me there, but coffee shops, restaurants and proximity to the water also helped.IMG_4995 IMG_4998

We ate Italian  in Little Italy and the same night got bubble tea and wandered the markets (mmm… fresh produce) in Chinatown. We had New York pizza legitimately.  We went to a gourmet cookie shop and had whoopee pies.  There was sushi and coffee and several American chains that fascinate us both.  Mmm… Food.IMG_5026

Just writing about it makes me feel tired.

Good trip.


Hooray, it is going away on vacation day!

It is going away on vacation day.


Image from giphy.com.

Yes, internet world, Patrick and I are disappearing for our first trip to New York City.

Okay, I drove through part of it once in a minivan with a rooftop carrier on our way to a conference in Washington, but this is my first legitimate time.

But seriously, this has been one of our must-see places since before we got married.  And, thanks to a little air travel mishap, we are flying there for free!  We are seeing plays and going to museums and taking subways (I LOVE subways) and eating tons of food.

I will not be working on research or presentations or reading work books or studying.

As a result, this page will likely be post free for the week, but I will probably then be quite irritating in telling you everything you didn’t need or want to know about the trip.  Sorry internet world.

For those of you who are internet stalkers and now think you are going to come rob us, don’t.  Jeter is home and he bites.  And he has replacement minions.  Plus, we pretty much only have books and a TV.  Not worth the effort of breaking into our secure building.  And if you do manage to pull it off, I am actually kind of impressed that you figured out where we live and how to get in without getting caught.  Just saying.

For those of you who have been to New York and have recommendations of things to do or places to see, let me know, I will still be checking comments.

Last Call… Neuro (not EtOH) Edition

Tonight is my last night of Neurology call.

I am a happy girl.

I am going to be a sleepy girl.

I was already in to admit a stroke.  I know I have a direct admission coming at some point later tonight.  And odds are something else will go down in the next 10 hours.

Exciting parts of tonight were plentiful thus far, though.

I correctly identified a giant brainstem stroke based on exam findings and confirmed it with finding the lesion on the MRI.

Not all strokes are obvious like this. Image from neurology.org.

In correctly identifying the giant brainstem stroke, I managed to actually elicit a few findings on neurologic exam I don’t often get to see like  clonus, unilateral hyperreflexia (complete with 4+reflexes) and an up going babinski reflex (translation: signs of upper motor neuron lesions aka something higher level than peripheral nerves).

Image from meded.ucsd.edu.

Patrick kept supper for me in the microwave.  I got to garnish it with the deliciousness that is Siracha sauce that has become my favourite grocery purchase this week.

*Kind of Spoiler Alert*: Sheldon and Amy on The Big Bang Theory tonight.  So awkward (to the point that they make me feel better about my own level of awkward).  So cute (in a way that I don’t find nauseating).

This was not the episode I am talking about, but I do love these dance moves. Image from fanpop.com.

As much as it sucks that I know I am guaranteed to have to go back in sometime in the next couple hours, I also know that this call is much better than in-house call.  Also, I will likely be in hospital doing this next admission that I will get to be post-call tomorrow and possibly get paid for a full night of work.    The issue is that I will probably also be too sleepy to enjoy most of the day because of my post-call-ish-ness.  I can always hope otherwise, though.  I am getting better at being post-call.  If there is such a thing.

I feel like I could do better than this… Some days. Image from doccartoon.blogspot.com.

Plus, I am looking forward to tomorrow night when I finally get to redeem my Christmas present from Patrick by going to a dinner theatre that is a parody called “The Big Twang Theory.”

Good things.  Good things.

I will need this reminder a bit later tonight when I am sleepier and crankier.

Church tourism… Hillsong

While on our across the ocean adventure, Patrick and I decided to be church tourists.  One of our lovely friends told us there was a Hillsong Church in London.

Now, for those of you who don’t know… Hillsong is originally a church in Australia (I think) from which much of popular worship music was written (particularly some of the very mainstream repetitive stuff).  They now have church plants all over the world.  And said church plants are supposed to be sound and Biblically based.

So, we went to the church plant in London.  It was huge.  Four services per Sunday translated into a couple languages per service.  The worship team was as big as our church choir back home… But a million times better.   The services are held in a theatre.  Like a theatre that has big name plays.  And came complete with a sound/lights show.

I was a bit nervous to be honest.  I don’t have the best preconceptions about really huge churches or the notion of a church “chain.”  I feel like Hillsong is some sort of Christian brand name.  So, the fact that I was sold on it because of a name made me feel a touch uneasy.

We really enjoyed the service.  You could sense God’s presence and the teaching (a guest speaker from Miami) was fantastic.  Plus, despite the hugeness of it all, we were greeted at the door and actually had a conversation with someone.  That doesn’t always happen even in the smallest of places.

I was impressed with how the place was run.  There was transparency that lacks in some other large organizations (more on that some other time).  They break down where the offering goes by percentages each week.

There was also a sense of community… Which seemed crazy, given we were at the smallest service (930am).  They have a million small groups all over the city and a more casual worship/prayer time elsewhere Wednesday nights.  There were still church community events.

I was still overwhelmed by the lights and the sound and the many, many people.  But, it wasn’t what I thought a mega church would be like.  I didn’t feel brainwashed or like I walked into a cult (I know I shouldn’t feel that way, but that was the stereotype stuck in my head).  There was still a sense of community.  Even if people had to line up down the street for the next service and those leaving were chauffeured through a back exit so the next people could come in.  And despite the tourists taking pictures throughout the service (I found that really distracting… I can’t imagine having that all the time, though I guess you would adjust).

Maybe all mega churches aren’t all that bad.  In fact, maybe if the name draws people in and then they wind up with community that is of the quality I perceived, then they are a good thing.  Just something new to me.

Just keep swimming

Just keep swimming. Just keeeeeeeeep swimming…  -Dory in Finding Nemo

Image via Wikia

This has become my new motto.  One, I love Dory… She is priceless.  Her enthusiasm is what we all should have.  Her memory loss… Well, that is an issue.  But nonetheless, I know I need to adopt this attitude.  No matter what, keep swimming.

It seems that I was fairly certain that once the Match and CaRMS were over with I would have more time to have a life and that things might slow down… I was so wrong.  So.  Wrong.

**Cue rant about how busy I am… Instead of doing something about all of the things I am complaining I am busy about.**

Since matching, I received a stack (the size of a small novel) of paperwork to be filled out for the school and the hospital and all of the professional organizations I need to join and become involved in.  I swam my way through what I could and sent off what is urgent and have set aside those that aren’t due until the end of April/beginning of May.

I realized that we don’t know where we will live.  We considered buying but are going to take a year or so to get to know the area and save for a down payment.  So, we need to find a rental property.  We need to have a home address.  And I need it for most of that paperwork…  Ugh.  At least (as I said, I can hoard it until it is closer to its due date).  We booked tickets to go to the city for a weekend in mid-April with a goal to get an apartment or condo or townhouse to rent.  Ugh.  At least prospects look decent from the skim we have made.

With the moving comes the finding a moving company, packing and all of the paperwork that goes with moving.  Fortunately, I feel I can put that off until we have an address to move to.  Thank goodness.

In addition to all of this blissful paperwork, I got a return for service contract to my home province.  It isn’t a good one because our home province has no money, but nonetheless it increases the chance that we might go back.  And it gives us extra funds to start up in our new home.  It also meant more paperwork.  Good paperwork.  It is all good paperwork.

We have to finish planning our Europe trip.  I know, how ridiculous is it to whine about planning a Europe trip.  It is fast approaching and we need to book hotels and EurRail passes and all that good stuff.

Plus hair cuts, doctors appointments, errands, eating, the gym, the spouse… Those important things.  Oh, and school… One more rotation to go, then back to the classroom.

Then, there is studying for the LMCC…  My big licensing exam.  That apparently everyone is already studying for.  Except me.  Okay, I have started but really only because I have succumbed to peer pressure.  I am sure I will write a more detailed and informative post than this, but for now… Ugh.  That is my sole sentiment.  I should be doing practice exams or reading or whatever.

So, as my ranting and time-wasting illustrates, I am feeling a touch on the swamped and overwhelmed side.  So, “just keep swimming,” seems a good thing to say.  I know it will be over before I know it and I am not wishing the time away.  If I keep diligently working through it (and not playing computer chess or reading too, too many blogs), things will get done.

I must note, that not being able to drink non-tap water things makes studying in coffee shops (my favorite locale other than my construction-infested home) a challenge.  A cookie and water do not seem as good with coffee wafting in the air.

To motivate productiveness, here are a few choice songs for your (and my) listening pleasure…

“Just Keep Swimming” by Dory in Finding Nemo.  I already explained my reasoning to this and Dory is my favourite!

“We Are Young” by Fun.  A new favourite of mine.  You can really belt along with it and I find if I can belt, I can do tasks.

“SOS” by ABBA.  I know, old and redone by Mama Mia, where, I confess I discovered I loved it.  But, it is ridiculously upbeat, so it can get me moving.

By a glassy sea

Today on the walk home from work, I heard a song that really struck me.  It was beautiful and meaningful in both melody and lyrics.  It is the song Holy (Wedding Day) by one of my new favorite bands, The City Harmonic.  First of all, it sings about the marriage of Christ and the Church.  A huge concept that sometimes boggles my mind.  The song describes a wedding by a glassy sea.  It builds on itself and becomes more powerful as it carries on.  Listen!



The ocean is something that has been important to me throughout my life.  I have always lived near the ocean.  Its something I can’t imagine being away from.  It is so big, so life-giving.  There is an astute possibility that I may have to move away from the ocean for residency.  That kind of makes me anxious.  The ocean is my favorite part of nature.

Here are some lovely ocean images I have been fortunate enough to capture over the years!

Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

Ocean-made caves

Found along the Cabot Trail

Fundy Trail

Beach along the Cabot Trail

Living on the edge

Can't get more east than this.




Sun set

On another note, there is going to be a Les Miserables movie (I am really distractable tonight… Likely due to the hours I spent staring in a microscope today).  Patrick was just reading about the cast.  Apparently Taylor Swift is in it.  Good for her.  Hopefully that will draw in some of those who would otherwise not see it.  Because it is an awesome book, and an even better musical, so everyone should see it, clearly.  And because I say so.  I am quite excited.  Makes me want to re-read the book.  And re-listen to the soundtrack from the musical.  And possibly resurrect the recording we did of our high school doing the show.  Okay, maybe not the last one.  Oh boy.