Saturday, February 28, 2009

Keeping the Faith

So, yesterday was my final follow up with NeuroDoc. I feel terrible for the patients that came after me, because NeuroDoc really, really, really likes to give me advice about med school, careers in medicine, handling a marriage while being in medicine. I really appreciate all the advice he can give me, but when I walked out of there, I'd been in my appointment for over an hour, and there were people waiting when he got to me in the first place. I really do learn a lot from him though. One thing he has me working on is changing my dominant eye from my right to my left. He's pretty convinced, and I am too, that my eyes will stay the way they are for, if not forever, a very long time. That is to say, by the time I'm a third year medical student using ophthalmoscopes (to look in eyes) and otoscopes (noses and ears), my right eye will still be sub par, and the blind spot might keep me from seeing all there is to see. So I need to be able to look with my left. To me, this is like trying to write with my left hand. Not easy. So in order to do this, he recommends that I use a patch on my right eye for about a half hour or 20 minutes a day while I watch tv. This way my brain will start to pick up on the fact that it's my left eye it needs to get the most info from, rather that my right eye like it's used to. I also need to practice, practice, practice. It's not just the lack of vision that makes this little maneuver difficult. When you get used to holding an instrument in a certain way it's really hard to switch your technique. But, I'm lucky to have J, Mugs, and the big guy to practice on. I'm confident that by the time my neuro block rolls around in June I'll be much better at it.

After my NeuroDoc appointment, I had to get the registration renewed on my car. And by had to, I mean that I was on the last day of my grace period and really had no choice. Being the last day of the month it was incredibly busy. I waited in line, pretty happily since it was a nice day, and a Friday to boot, and everyone else seemed pretty cheery. But the very second I got to the head of the line, was called over, and sat in the chair, the computer system went down and no one was going anywhere until it came back up. I have to say I was impressed with the patience of these people. At first, there were of course those jerks who walked out and slammed the door. The woman I was sitting across from was dismayed about that, as anyone who is in the door by closing time is going to be helped, regardless of how many hours of overtime they had to put in. But then, everyone got really happy. Everyone knew they had to be there, and the employees had to be there, and that everyone was doing the best they could. The security guards came by with little lollipops for the kiddies in line, and everyone was just pretty collegial about the whole ordeal. And the computers stayed down for 45 minutes. It gave me back a little of the faith in humanity that shopping at Walmart on a Sunday often takes away. Overall, I left there pretty happy, amazing for a trip to motor vehicle hell.

The weekend thus far has not been productive. I studied a bit this morning, but then gave up when the dogs would not stop playing around and making a TON of noise. So I went to the gym for an hour and then got the grocery shopping done. By the time that I was home, J was almost home (work on a Saturday, yuk, it's like looking into my future). Did I get lots done since he was home to watch the dogs? Nope, did all the ironing. Eh. I figure, it's probably my last weekend to get to all the stuff that really needs to get done around the house, to plan for VACATION (!) and for my MOM and SISTER'S TRIP! After this weekend, not much other than boards is going to occupy my time. Yes, I feel that I can get a decent score if I took it right now, but there's nothing wrong with working a little harder. After all, on Friday I found out that the average board score of the interviewed applicant for an anesthesia position in residency (not from CO), is 255. That's 35 points over the national average, and hence 35 points over my practice score. I'm not saying it's completely impossible. But damn near. Good thing I'm expanding my career differential to include ob.

Overall, though, things are good in LG land. School as I know it is over in 2, count'em 2 weeks, and I'm so ready to keep moving forward!

Also, I made the coolest find for our San Francisco trip! Pretty much the first thing I want to do when we get to the city is drop our bags off at the hotel and go to the Ferry Building to the Farmer's Market. It is a year round farmer's market that is just awesome. Well, it's always been awesome for me. Last time we went J picked up EHEC O157:H7, a form of E. coli that causes really bad enterocolitis. He was lucky in that he didn't have any kidney issues with it, but he was so miserable. So, I figure - number 1, I'm really lucky because more often than not my overactive immune system is an annoyance to me, but it might protect me from all these crazy pathoogens, and number 2, maybe J developed some immunity from the toxins that make this E. coli strain so dangerous. In any case, we will be sure to make a trip into the actual Ferry Building for - wait for it - Salumi Cones! Oh. My. God. It's like a Sno-cone full of my favorite salami goodness!

I am so excited I can hardly stand it sometimes. Wow I love that city!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

It's all gravy...

So last night J and I found ourselves in great company of my friends LG and DG. We were all out at Red Square Euro Bistro to participate in Denver Restaurant Week. For those not from the area, restaurant week is the week (or this year...2) when some of the most upscale, fancy-pants restaurants in the metro area create a prix fixe menu for two people for only $52.80. It's wonderful. The Red Square's schtick is an infused vodka bar. It took the four of us a while to decide on one to try, but we settle on a carafe (yes, a carafe) of the fig infused vodka. It was truly the baby bear of vodka. Not too sweet, not too strong. Just right. In fact, I felt a little like I was sipping on the liquid verson of a fig newton. First course was great. I decided to be adventurous and try the house pate with red onion jam. I'm really sad I didn't take a picture of it. It was delicious. I should not be surprised I like this paste of liver as I am a big fan of mystery meats of the world. The red onion jam was really tasty and was the perfect complement to the extreme creaminess of the pate. Overall I was really pleased, and I even got everyone at the table to try it. Everyone agreed it wasn't so scary after all. For mains I got the pan seared salmon with a saffron risotto and J ordered the pepper encrusted NY strip. J's steak was huge. And very tasty. I also loved the salmon. It was perfectly cooked, not over done, and the risotto was tasty, though I had a hard time picking out the flavor of saffron, so I was a little disappointed with that. J's steak came with a mixture of cannelini beans, green beans, and tomato which was a great complement to the pepperiness of the steak. The dessert course was really good too. I had a shortcake with fresh fruit and a cream cheese-honey drizzle. It was a perfect light way to end the meal. J had a much more decadent chocolate dessert that was very good, but a bit on the sweet side to me. All in all, though, I loved this place. The ambiance was beautiful and I could just see us sitting out on the porch in the summer sipping on some more delicious infused vodkas and people watching at Writer's Square. Good times. I did manage to take a few pictures:

The entire bottom panel was all vodkas. Wow.

Liquid fig newtons...

It's a good thing that dinner took us 3 hours because soon that, turned into this:

My salmon was so pretty

And J's steak was huge!

My dessert was also pretty and tasty. I walked away feeling more full than I have in recent memory!

Overall, we had a great time and a great meal!

We took the light rail home and J's dad picked us up at the station to bring us back home to see the monsters. I had taken them on a walk earlier so they would hopefully sleep while we were away. They seemed pretty awake to me!

It has been so warm here that we even got to sleep with the window open! It was so nice to get some fresh air in this house!

I also got the results of my practice USMLE last night. The score was exactly what I could hope at this point. Although I would be slightly disappointed if that was the score I pulled in April, it would be totally acceptable and I am quite certain I'd get the residency I'd want with it. So pretty much, from here on out, it's all gravy.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I love Food

So, I think it's only fitting during Denver Restaurant Week that I should wax philosophical about my love of all things gastronomical. I love food. And I don't mean in that sad Kashi-esque commercial way (we eat only the most natural ingredients...). No, I've tried my "all natural" "vegetarian" lifestyle, and I say bunk. I LOVE food. I love looking at a recipe for something that (when I'm really honest) I've never even heard of, and deciding, what the hell? And in it goes. More often than not, it's awesome. I love butter. And when I really want a fry up, I love butter WITH olive oil...less smoke that way. Even better, I love my fried fish, chicken, even veg, with a deliciously bitter beer that is dark enough to be opaque and awesome enough to get a double take. I love food. I love beer. I love wine. I love the whole dining experience. I may never be as thin as a supermodel. In fact, I would rather train for a marathon for the rest of my life than give up the foods that I love. I love preparing food and drink and ambiance for friends, family, and anyone else who wants to stumble along. I love reading about food, learning about food, watching other people make food. I love food.

I know that so many people who venture into medicine feel that medicine is the one true love in their lives. I respect that. But I must say that, other than J, food is it for me. I'm not yet sure how to meld my love of food with my love of medicine, and if I can do it to make a buck, be sure that I will. But if not, you can be equally sure that on every day off; every day post-call, I will not be sleeping away on the couch. No sir. I will be raking over the latest cook book I've gotten from the library. I'll be checking out and (thanks B.H!) and finding new ways to make these mine. Someday when we have kids, I hope I can pass this one love on and that no matter what we all have going on in our lives, food (and great drink to accompany!) will bring us all together. I just love food.

Tomorrow night we are heading out with my friend LG from med school to sample the wares of Red Door Euro Bistro in Larimer Square. Stay tuned for our delicious adventure. Next week we'll also be headed out with friends to Chef Kevin Taylor's at the Opera House. So much delicious food, so little time. Especially with studying for boards. But as I'm totally tired of blogging, thinking, dreading, obsessing about this, it'll be all about the food for quite some time. And the drink. Did I mention Red Door has a vodka bar full of delicious infused vodka? I will take as many pictures as I can remember. J and I are getting a ride to the light rail, and there are no required classes on Thursday morning, so it should be a great time had by all. As it's also the Top Chef finale, it should be an adventure of epicurious proportions. Have sweet, sour, or savory dreams. I know I will.

Monday, February 23, 2009


So, it's been a really long 2 weeks. Four exams, 12 days. It seems like such a trivial thing to be concerned about, I know other people have real problems, but such is the stress of my life. On the one hand it's such a relief to have those over. On the other hand, the exam on Friday, well...that exam!

So Friday was an exam where a standardized patient is assessing our ability to perform a physical exam and take a medical history. That part was not so bad. We knew exactly what exam we'd be performing and pretty much if you aren't completely mute you'll be alright with the history. Then we had to write a SOAP (subjective, objective, assessment, plan) note. This is where the trouble started. I think mine was way too narrative and I really ran short on time toward the end. After the SOAP note we had to give an oral presentation of the patient to a fake attending, also a standardized patient. I felt like my presentation was a bit on the rushed/disorganized side. We won't get our results from that one for about a week I think. Worst case scenario I have to re-write my SOAP note, which might actually be a good thing since we'll have to do these third year, and I feel utterly unprepared. If all goes well then a week from Friday I'll have a review of the assessment with a real doctor to just go over what I did well/need to improve upon.

The exam this morning didn't feel as great as I'd hope. Big surprise. The last 4 exams I've taken have felt like I've done poorly, but they've all turned out alright. Hopefully this one will too. I should find out in a few hours.

Also this week I should get the results of my practice boards exam. I am anxious to find out how I did so I can tailor my studies to do as well as I feel I need to. But I'd rather not find out today. I just feel too stressed out to deal with it today. I think it's just the let down of the exams being over but not having many scores.

I know these are trivial things, but in med school it seems like they take over your whole life. I think I will take the dogs for a nice, long walk and clean the house a bit to destress.

On the plus side, though, it's Denver Restaurant week! Wednesday we're heading to Red Door Euro Bistro with a friend from med school. I'm pretty pumped about it! I will take pictures, so at least there will be a fun post to read rather than all this gloom and doom. I'm sure once I'm organized and get my score things will be on the up and up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Foodie Stuff

Well, in honor of Top Chef night, I like to make something a little more labor intensive than our usual fare. Tonight was my attempt at persuading J to like fish. It's funny because he knows he wants to like fish because it's so good for you, but he is convinced it keeps him less full than other food and he just has some sort of aversion to it. So tonight's offering was tilapia. It's a pretty mild fish and doesn't leave the house smelling fishy, so I think it was a winner. The recipe is my own design, so hopefully you'll like it.

First, I made the red pepper sauce. I sliced up about 3 bell peppers, today it happened to be 2 reds and 1 orange, and sauteed them in a little bit of olive oil until they were soft. After they softened up a bit (lot) I took them off the heat, out of the pan and let them cool a while. When they were cool I added them and one seeded chipotle chili in adobo sauce with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. I pureed this and let it be until the other components were done.

After I had the sauce done (and J was on his way home), I drizzled a bit of olive oil, kosher salt and ground pepper over the brussel sprouts and threw 'em in a 400 degree oven for about a half hour, till they looked overcooked but were actually carmelized and delicious!

Next came the cauliflower puree. I took one head of cauliflower and cut it up into pieces, then boiled it in milk with salt and pepper and a little bit of garlic powder. It really only took a few minutes for the cauliflower to be fork tender, and then I took the cauliflower out with a slotted spoon and pureed this in the food processor, adding some of the milk it was cooked in to make sure it was smooth.

The fish was the last to go since tilapia cooks pretty quickly. I sauteed it in a little olive oil dressed only with salt and pepper. I sauteed on each side probably for about 4-5 minutes tops. The fish had a nice crust to it, but was flaky when we took a fork to it.

To plate it all up, I laid out a bed of the cauliflower puree, laid the fish on top and dressed it with the red pepper sauce. The brussel sprouts were on the side. It was really tasty, and even J liked it! We had about 10 times as much red pepper sauce as we needed, so this weekend we are going to use it as a spicy pasta sauce with rotini and grilled chicken.

On Valentines Day I tried out my baking skills on an incredibly rich devils food cake. The cake and frosting were so rich I decided to add strawberries for some contrast and it was a good addition. I think it turned out very pretty too!

Oh yeah, and it fed J and I twice, and his entire family. I think I maybe should stick with cupcakes.

Happy Top Chef night!

Holy Crap!

Wow, so seven weeks eh? Where does the time go? This week is completely ridiculous for me, I had an exam yesterday, another on Friday, and then one on Monday. So, I'm keeping busy. I left the exam yesterday 100% certain I'd done poorly, only to find out that I am a much better guesser (yet again) than I give myself credit for. Luckily, though, when I got home from the exam I was still feeling like a failure, so instead of taking it easy I got all caught up from last week and got organized for this next round of exams. So, for the first time ever, I was not completely worthless after an exam. This is good because I don't really have time for that just yet. That'll come in 7 weeks! Anyone from around D-town who has ideas about what I should do on a Wednesday night after the most grueling exam of my life....please leave a comment! And if you want to accompany me to said locale, even better! The exam starts at 8 and overall we have 8 hours to complete it, including break time. I would like to tell you that I am a very thorough test taker who always takes all the time allotted to make sure I didn't make stupid mistakes, but this is simply not the case. I am an incredibly fast test taker. I am the speed racer of test takers. For better or worse, the longer I stick around in an exam, the more right answers I change to wrong ones. So, I will likely be done a bit early, but not too early. I'm already starting to formulate a plan in my head of how this test taking should go. We have a total of one hour of break time and 7-one-hour sessions of test time. I've never been one to enjoy lunch breaks. During the MCAT it only served to make me anxious for the upcoming sections. I think my strategy will be to take a break, probably about 15 minutes, after ever 2 sections, with a longer break after the 6th section to collect my wits before the final leg. We'll see how it goes.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about OB/GYN yet again. I spent a long time at my preceptor's office today talking about the field, what I think about it, would I want to do it, etc. I'd probably have to change the name of the blog to obstetric medic, but let's not put the cart before the horse. OB is my first clerkship of 3rd year. It's a bummer in some ways, but I actually requested it. I figured I actually know a tiny amount about that field and so I won't look like a complete moron, and at the time I requested it, I didn't have any desire to do it. I don't really think that's true anymore, but it is one of the more dreaded clerkships so it will be good to get it over with I guess. Ultimately when I decided while I was talking with Dr. B was that I will just have to try it out during 3rd year and decide for myself.

Well, I'm off to do some practice questions. I can't completely neglect the boards studying with all these other exams on the horizon. Plus, it's the one thing I can do while I watch Top Chef.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Med Updates and Other Tasty Treats

So, went to Doc Neuro yesterday to get the scoop on my latest MRI. This MRI didn't take nearly as long; the last one was 2 hours and I couldn't move my head, all the while wearing this:

This time I just had to wear the little face cage of mri gear, so that wasn't so bad. The only bummer is that, since I needed contrast, a doc had to be on the premesis, and she was called away on an emergency right before they gave it to me; so I got an extra 20 minutes of hanging out, again not moving my head. But at least he pulled me out of the machine.

Since I'm a medical student, and have spent a fair amount of time thus far looking at MRI's, I was pretty excited to have a CD of the images to look at on my own. I wanted to see if I could pick out any problems. Imagine my surprise when I saw something that looks like this (not my mri, found on google images):

Now, mine looks more like a well circumscribed circle, but you get the drift. No one likes to see a big lump on one side of their brain. So obviously for two days I was freaking out and googling everything I could think of that might be back there. When we went to Doc Neuro yesterday and he said everything looked great I was totally confused; how does a giant brain tumor look great?! Well, turns out it's something called an arachnoid cyst, and was found only because I had an mri. It won't ever cause any problems, just an "anomaly of development." I always new my head developed abnormally.

Anyway, the rest of the news at the doc was similarly good. It seems that the hand issues my be an adverse reaction to the drug I was prescribed for my optic neuritis. Hopefully within a few days of not taking it, the hands will get much better. The only unfortunate thing is that it appears I may not get my complete vision back in my right eye. I may be stuck with a blue hole in my vision for good. It's a rare but unfortunate complication of optic neuritis. But, other than that, all should be good!

Last weekend we had J's parents over for dinner, so I decided to make some dessert. I made these tasty red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting. They are so delicious!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Few Pics

So I did take a few pics of the dogs in the last few months, just not many! Some of my favorites are from New Years, when I tried to give both dogs a celebratory beer. Rocky is pretty used to this tradition. In fact, I give him beer whenever I can find a reason! So he pretty much attacked the bowl and drank it as fast as he could. But when I set the bowl of beer down for Mugs, he freaked out and backed away. He was really scared of the beer! Rocky took it upon himself to rid Mugs of the threat though!

As you can see, I tried to give the Mugs a taste for it, but no dice. He has been giving my beers a sniff a lot, so there is hope. Afterall, we can't have a non-beer lover in this household. Just wouldn't fit in.

Hope all is well!

Wishing for warm climates

I can't believe that little test is less than two months away! You know what that means...two months from tomorrow I'll be on a plane headed to San Francisco! Wahoo! This morning, to make myself happy, I'm watching all the pictures we took the last time we went. I love to look at these pictures because both J and I looked SO happy. It was probably the best trip we've ever taken together. So, to get excited, motivated and happy I'm watching the pictures and listening to some of my favorite music. And drinking lots of coffee. Over the weekend I spent a lot of time listening to pathology lectures for board review and watching these pictures yet again. I've been so distracted with my health lately that I feel like it's been really helpful to watch this and get my mind focused back on why I'm doing this.

On this trip, rather than take a bus tour up to wine country we are renting a car and spending a night up there. I found a really good "winter" deal at a hotel/brewery and I'm really looking forward to heading up. I think on the way up we'll stop in Sonoma, then hit up the northern wineries via the VINE shuttle system, then the next day on our way down we'll go through Napa. If anyone has been and has some favorite spots, send'em my way!

One of my classmates is every bit as countdown-happy as I am and sent out this link, It counts down the time to the end of our last final. Which happens to be my birthday! Wahoo! It's coming fast, I can hardly wait!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Looking foward to it!

So, as everyone knows I am so pumped to get to San Francisco after boards. One of the days we are there we are planning to visit the anchor steam brewing company. It's a small, fun microbrew, just like we like'em. The big deal is that their tour is A)free!, and B)so busy you have to make reservations....a month in advance. So today I called 'em up and made reservations for Monday, April 13th! I am so pumped. Our trip is shaping up and it's fun to have a reward for this goal that is so huge!

Also a bonus, today I was able to get out and take a walk with the boys. I've been fairly immobile and tired lately, so getting out of the house and soaking up some Colorado sun was fantastic. It did wonders for my mood and it's gotten me ready to spend the afternoon studying for boards. I know I can do this. I've been pretty distracted, but anything I put my mind to I know I can get there. Just need to get my will power behind it as much as my good intentions!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

You know it's bad

When you turn on House Hunters and you've seen the episode

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Wow, has it been almost a week already? Well, another test is over and I have to say I feel like a crazy good guesser! The test went much better than I initially thought after leaving school and the rest of the day was nice and relaxing. Who schedules an 8am exam after the Superbowl anyway?!

The exam next week is not a real exam for credit. Actually it's a practice USMLE that the school makes us all take. It's supposed to be pretty predictive of your ultimate score, but I can't help but think our scores should actually increase seeing as we still have a lot of time to study. Though that time is slipping away a lot faster than expected!!!

On the home front, lots of exciting stuff. The first is the worst, though. It seems that whatever immune process took it upon itself to attack my eye, has elected to do so to the muscles of my arms/hands as well. So, needless to say, I'm back in the care of my trusted neuro guy and I'll keep you all updated. When I know, you'll know, as they say. It's been a bit more than an annoyance but less than an emergency so while it's stressing me out, I don't want it to stress anyone else out. Rest assured that I am really doing fine, albeit annoyed, and hey, it's the perfect reason to get out of microbiology lab. What could be better!? The thought of all my classmates elbow deep in MRSA while I sit in front of the fireplace reading notes and watching lecture does tend to make me forget any discomfort I might be having.

Less appointment. Ugh. Yes, I know I've fallen off the floss wagon. I swear I will get back on it...just don't make me bleed!

I'm also super pumped up for Denver Restaurant week! It's Feb 21-27th (or 28th, I forget) and J and I are going with a friend of mine from med school to this cute Euro-bistro in Larimer Square. Double super bonus...they have a crazy cool vodka bar that has tons of different types of infused vodkas. Since my buddy is rustling up a date, the vodka should rid us of that awkward "getting to know you" period! We'll probably just go once, but it's definitely something to look forward to. For those who aren't familiar, Denver Restaurant Week is when a bunch of (usually) expensive restaurants put together special menus, usually 3 courses, for two people for $52.80. I'm really looking forward to it! Extra super exam that week!

Valentine's is also coming. Not overly exciting, but who DOESN"T want a heart shaped pizza from Papa Murphy's?

Probably the most exciting thing for me right now, though, is the fact that January is over. I think I may have mentioned how much I hate winter, and even though that little rodent sees his shadow every damn year I can't help but feel relieved when bitterly boring January reaches its end. It feels like spring must be coming soon, even if it really isn't.

Well, I think that's about it for now. Still no pix of the Mugs, I know. I'll get the camera out one of these days so you can all see his cuteness. Hope all is well!