Saturday, February 9, 2013

What I Should Remember

So I'm a resident.  Residency is tough.  It's called residency because in the Old Days, training physicians, much like old school apprentices, mostly lived in the hospital.  "Resident Physicians."  While arguments can be made that in that time residents learned more than we ever could, over time patients started demanding their physicians to be alert and awake.  People started to worry about whether it was safe for doctors to work a bzillion hours a week and still be alert enough to perform surgery in the wee hours of the morning.  There's a lot of debate about this these days, and there are valid points on each side, but ultimately we have moved to a system where residents can work no more than 80 hours a week, averaged over a 4 week time span.  For some people, this will seem like it's not too bad, and for others like their own personal hell.

Regardless of how you feel about the hours, it's a stressful time.  It's a time of learning to do surgery (for those of us like me that are in a surgical subspecialty) on living, breathing people.  And do it under pressure.  This can amplify what the hours feel like, and make for a particular breed of exhaustion.

But that being said, I like my job.  When I pull a baby (emergently) out of an abdomen during a cesarean section, I feel like Superman.  It's an incredible privilege to be given that responsibility.  Likewise, when I help someone get through labor without medication, when they start to think they can't, I am allowed to be there for someone at a time of incredible vulnerability.  It's a huge honor.  I have been there for women when they find out they have cancer.  I have been there when the cancer is completely resected and they are, for all intents and purposes, cured.  I have been there when they find out they cannot be cured. All of it is part of my job and I'm grateful to have the opportunity.

And job aside, I get to come home and be a mom, and a wife.  I have a family who, ever so gracefully, tolerates and makes possible the hours and stress that make this possible for me.  A lot of people ask all the time, "how do you do this residency thing and be a mom?"  I say - how could I not?!  In medicine it's so easy to say, "I'll start doing xxx when med school is over.  Or maybe when residency is over, or maybe when fellowship is over..."  But I get to come home, every day, and get back to the "real life" that I decided not to wait for.  It gives me something to look forward to every day, and reminds me why I ever decided to do this at all.

Residency is certainly hard.  In my frustrated moments I want to blame absolutely everything that goes wrong on residency.  But some days, I need to remember all those things that made this, and continue to make it, what I want to do.  Am I (sometimes) overworked?  Yes.  Per hour, am I (somewhat) underpaid?  Sure.  But am I (100%) glad I did this.  When I'm being honest, I am.  And sometimes I just need to remember that.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


We had our yearly in service exam on Saturday.  As I was leaving the test I was walking behind an elderly couple.  This is what I heard:
Nice Lady:  Is it really 2:30 already?  How did it get to be so late?!
Adorable man:  I don't know, there was this beautiful woman I was with who kept stopping in all the shops....

Made my day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A long, long time

Well, it's been almost 2 years!  No big deal.

A lot has happened since I've been here last.  We moved to Minnesota, I started residency, I considered leaving residency (for emergency medicine), and I decided to stay in my OB Gyn residency.  Overall, it's been a big 2 years.

For now, though, let's just jump to the present.   Kendall has us wrapped around her little fingers.  She's walking and talking and constantly cracking us up.  She's gorgeous and perfect, and she reminds me everyday of why I ever wanted to be a mother.  I know this is what every parent feels, but it still shocks me every day.

I love what I do.  I love obstetrics.  I only want to do obstetrics, and will probably try to do maternal fetal medicine to that end.  We love Minnesota (shocking, yes?) and we love the life we're building here.

Overall, it's been a really great 2 years.  Bumps, yes.  Long hours, yes.  Constant inadequacy, of course.  All I can say is I've learned so much, and have met such amazing people to help me become a better physician.

I'll try to update more frequently than biennially, and will hopefully update you on when we'll be making visits back to Colorado or other parts of the country.  Just letting you all know we're still alive!

Thursday, May 19, 2011


So, it's been a long time since I've blogged in any way, shape, or form. Today is a huge day. I finished medical school today! Graduation is actually next Friday, but all requirements are finished as of this afternoon at about 2:15. I am now certified to save someone by shocking them. It's a big responsibility, and a huge burden at the same time. I'm excited to take on that mantle, but so scared to screw it up. I know that as I transition to an intern, resident, and ultimately an attending, that I will probably lose my perspective on what it is that truly drew me to my field, and medicine in general. To this end, I think tonight is the apropos time to write about what, at this moment in time, draws me to my profession.

As an OB/Gyn, I will be a surgeon. I love the OR. I love the dance that is scrubbing and gowning up. I love the routine of a specific cycle of washing one's hands, the feeling that you'll never be so clean in your life. The feeling of being gowned by such seasoned staff who know how to touch anything and keep it sterile. The twirling of your body as the gown is tied in place, like a ballerina in pirouette. The learned ability to maintain sterility while being allowed the privelege of reaching inside someone. The trust required to allow you to heal someone from the inside out. The ability to find the best path to follow surgically, and knowledge that after closing, and withdrawal of anesthesia, the patient will feel better than before.

I also love being an OB. To bring life into the world. To face so many complications and stare back at them, ready to take them on. To protect the most vulnerable form of life in our world, while protecting those that would bring them into it. To care for mothers who are scared, unsure, excited, nervous, etc, about bringing a new child into the world is a privelege and excitement beyond mention. To help those who are not ready; and to comfort those who are in the throws of loss is a task that very few take, and fewer attain proficiency in.

I will learn courge, in the face of fear and possibly of certain death. I will learn true empathy in measures unknown to me as a medical student. I will learn to bring someone back from the brink of death and manage their new, complicated life. I will learn to be a friend and advisor who does not, can not, flinch from difficult decisions.

I will also learn to seek help. Help from friends and family when things go poorly. Help from mentors and superiors when I don't know what to do. Help from the depths of myself when I am not sure where my conscience wants me to go. No man is an island, and neither is this woman.

I will also learn to go home. To go home and greet my family as if no baby has died today; as if no mother had complications. I will learn to love every moment of my happy life for what it is; a gift that as easily as not could be blinked out of existance.

I am not a particularly faithful person. But I know that in this life we are guided. I know, that despite the choices presented, I was not randomly assigned this path in life. I believe it is my purpose to do this good; to help those whom I am trained to help, and to ask little in return.

I remember when I was in college and dating someone who was clearly not my match (as J obviously is!). I told him that merely graduating and making money was not enough, that I wanted to make a contribution. He asked, "a contribution to what..."

I want to do something greater than myself; to help so many that I might not otherwise ever know. I want my contribution to be to those who need me. A person who needs an empathetic ear; a teenager so afraid of her parents she feels she has nowhere else to go; a family that desperately wants to expand and share their love.

My life can only get better in this practice of medicine. It's been such a long road, with so much more to come, but I know that in the end what I do will make a difference to so many people; starting with me.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

And we're....moving!

That was a bit of a shock to us! We didn't really even consider the possibility. But, in the realm of, when one door closes, another opens...we're headed to the Mayo Clinic. This is definitely a good thing! I will no doubt get exceptional training there and in the end, I will be able to do anything I want. The only down side is having to move. We've really grown to love Colorado, and I never relish the thought of moving. Blech. We're trying to get all of our things out of the house now, and we plan to rent it out for the time being since the market is so-so at best.

It's been a whirlwind for sure, but now we have a few months to gather our wits about us before the really hard stuff begins. There are days when my panic of moving definitely gives way to the panic of actually being responsible for patients. Scary stuff. The first time I tell the scrub tech "knife to me" is going to make my mouth dry and my heart pound, but I'm starting to feel like it's time to move toward that. And in some ways, even look forward to it!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011


Well, tomorrow is the big day! I felt like I would be freaking out a lot more than I am. I guess it can be chalked up to feeling like I've already wasted too much good anxiety on this! I'm hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst, which has substantially improved since Monday. On Monday I found out that I would be matching into OB/Gyn. This means that I will, come hell or high water, be beginning an OB/Gyn residency come late June. Now just to find out where!

I can't help but feel like Match Day is in a lot of ways a bigger deal than Graduation. After match day all the pieces come together. I know that my class is all bracing themselves right now. Tomorrow is a huge day, and I know that it's totally possible it might be an awful one. I'm cautiously optimistic, secure in the knowledge that in 4 years I WILL be able to practice Ob on my own.

I'm sure I'll be posting on facebook at about 11:01. Stay tuned!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Awake again

Well, once again the house is completely quiet and here I am awake. I'm watching the world's trashiest tv (You're Cut Off on VH1), and staring at the computer wondering why on earth I can't sleep. Of course, I know why, but thinking about that will only make the insomnia worse!

I really do wish I didn't have class in the morning, if so, I would be able to just take a benadryl and get some zzz's. However, I do not want to have the "hangover effect" in the morning, so I'll just make due with whatever sleep I'm able to grab on my own.

The peanut is doing great these days. Getting to look more and more like a "kid" and not a "baby" every day. She is the ultimate distraction and makes every day a little brighter!

Here's hoping you all are getting the zz's you need, and that you have sweet dreams when you do!