Friday, December 02, 2011

It's official, I don't know anything

Look, I try to be pretty honest with myself.

I like to think that, sure, I'm not cool.  But I'm not actively uncool.  Right?  And while I don't know what it is like to be a tweenager, I have some idea, some point of reference.

But this morning I was reminded that I just don't know anything.

Our oldest gets up early so she has time to practice her clarinet before leaving for school.  The plan is, up at 5:45, practice for 15 minutes (four times a week, to get the required 60 in), then come upstairs and get ready for school.

So this morning, she comes stumbling out of her room at about 5:51.  Heads downstairs.  I hear the clarinet doing some scales at about 5:57.  At 6:03 she is upstairs.  So I casually throw out a simple question.

"How long did you practice?"

"Fifteen minutes."

"But you weren't downstairs for 15 minutes."

"It was 15 minutes, I have a timer!"

"Um, you haven't even been out of your room for 15 minutes.  It is therefore impossible to have practiced for 15 minutes.  I have been awake the entire time and know exactly how long you have been up.  It isn't possible for you to have practiced for 15 minutes."


But no admission that I may have, just on the off chance, been right.  Gosh I love being a moron.

Monday, July 18, 2011

So close, and yet so far

This won't be the first time I have mentioned how crazy residency can be.  And it certainly isn't meant as a complaint about the residency process.  As it is, it isn't to terribly bad, and there is a good chance it is just going to get worse in the coming years, all in an effort to make it "better".  But that is an entirely different blog article.

One aspect of residency that can really be painful is the vacation aspect.  We get 15 days of vacation a year.  I mean, I'm glad I get any days at all, seriously.  However, when you only have three weeks, and your family lives 2000+ miles away, it is amazing how fast those days are gobbled up just trying to be part of the family.

Take last year, for instance.  We had one trip back to Utah planned in October to run the Layton Marathon with my father.  That was an awesome trip.  However, between two other trips for weddings, *poof* there went my three weeks.

This often translates into not doing much around here where we are.  In fact, in the past, we have only really had one family vacation where we went and did something up here in New England, and that was back in the summer of 2008 (and one other brief trip to Maine for our anniversary a couple of years ago, but that was just Lis and I).  So that means that, despite only being 6 1/2 hours away from Palmyra, we have never been to the Hill Cumorah Pageant.

Don't they revoke your temple recommend for that?

We knew this was our last summer here in New England.  We determined we simply had to go to New York before we left.  So finally this past week we made it.  We went to Palmyra, then over to Niagara Falls and home by way of Lake Champlain and Burlington.

All in all it was a great trip, and something I am very glad we were able to do.  It is just sad that some of these things can be so close geographically, yet so far away due to time constraints.  More articles will be forthcoming about the trip.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'm that kid. . .

Disclaimer: This is not a pity post.  I'm not asking for, nor looking for your pity.  In fact, I don't want it.  I don't need it.  Please take it elsewhere.  This is simply an observation, some thoughts, and acceptance on my part.

I started running for real on Thanksgiving Day, 2009.  I had done some running before that.  My father used to get me up at 5 in the morning when I was in Junior High to go jogging with him.  I did some running in medical school.  But then I sort of stopped.  Something changed that November morning and I went and ran about 5 miles, a new record distance for me.

Since that time I have continued to run, though with varying degrees of success at different times.  Last year was great up until the marathon in October.  Then I sort of slipped, was really tired (ya know, residency will do that to you) and didn't do great.  But we signed up for a half-marathon and I had some motivation again.  It was great to remember again just how good it feels to go out and move across the earth.

Our half-marathon was this past Saturday.  My wife and her friend did really great.  They were faster than me by far (no surprise), and even faster than they thought they would be.  I was super excited she did so well.  But I honestly had some difficulty with her congratulating me and being proud for me as well.  I mean, she ran it well and fast.  I just ran it.  Then the metaphor hit me.  I realized what kind of runner I am.

I'm sure we all know that one kid on the sports team.  Pick your sport, it doesn't really matter.  Let's go with basketball for sake of this blog, since I like basketball the most.  But there is always that one kid on the team.  He enjoys playing, but is just not good.  He scores occasionally, but will never make the winning basket.  He has a few assists, but more often than not either gets picked off or just throws it away when trying to pass.  And he dribbles off his own foot as often as he does the floor.

His mommy and daddy are proud of him because he is "there".  He's playing his hardest, despite the fact that, frankly, he sucks.  In fact, the team would be better off if he wasn't there, but no one has the heart to tell him that.  He just doesn't realize how bad he is, and that he is never going to be good at basketball.  Everyone just cheers because they are decent people and sort of feel sorry for him.  Fortunately for him, he just hears the cheers, and doesn't care.

I'm that kid. 

I'll go out and run.  I'll do okay, but I will never win a race, never win my age division, and will just constantly "finish" whatever race I enter.  And as I cross that finish line, there will be people cheering for me.  The only problem is, unlike that kid on the basketball court, blissfully ignorant, I know I'm that kid.  I know that, without mincing words, I kind of suck.

But I have accepted that.  So I will just continue to run, even though I kind of suck at it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Would you like fries with that?

I love my job.  Really.  I promise I do. 

Some days, though, I just don't feel up to it.  Today is one of those days.  I'm not sure why I feel that way.  It could just be pre-call weekend depression setting in (it's a real thing, I swear!), maybe it is because I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by having to deal with our new EMR this weekend, having been gone since the "go live" date.  Maybe it is just because I don't feel that I performed as well as I would have liked in the OR today.

Whatever it is, there are some days when I just really wish the toughest thing I had to deal with at work was asking the tough question, "Would you like fries with that?"

Oh that it were only so simple.  But just some days.  Just days like today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why do we have. . .

Dinner can be a great time of the day.  As my parents taught me, and as we have tried to do in our own family, dinner is a specific time in which other things do not intrude.  Cell phones are kept put away, everybody sits down together, and we try to talk to each other.

I do feel it is an important time.

Sometimes, this also leads to some funny, funny moments.  Such as tonight.

We were sitting there, having dinner, when Alex asked a simple question.  We were having a finger food meal.  No utensils necessary.  But we had forks, just in case.  Suddenly Alex turned to us all and asked "We do we even have forks?"

Elissa's explanation was very thorough.  "Well, sometimes when we eat, we swallow some extra air down into our stomachs.  This builds up, then eventually needs to be released.  When it does, it comes out as a burp."

The look on Alex's face was priceless.  Confusion, mixed with amusement as he looked fixedly at the fork.

That was when I pointed out that he had asked why we had forks, not burps.  Awesome.

Dusting myself off

This last week I had to write something.

It wasn't something long.  It wasn't something creative.  I fact, it was just pretty dry regurgitation of some number crunching.  You know, a few p values, a little M&M (Materials and Methods).  Yeah, I had to write and abstract.

It was hard.  Really hard.  Fortunately, it turned out well and I was able to submit it.  But it was a moment of realization.

I realized that, just as with anything else in life, if you don't do something, if you get out of practice, it becomes tough when the heat is on.  Something which had previously been pretty easy for me, writing, was suddenly really tough.  Now, some of that was due to the nature of the project, the need to be technical, precise and concise (after all, I do tend to be verbose). 

But a lot was due to the simple fact I haven't been writing anything with regularity.  I hope to rectify that. 

Friday, June 04, 2010

And a "New Moon" rises

"You have not idea how tight I'm bound." - Jacob Black

"I have to go." - Bella Swan

There is a beauty to those quotes up there.  They perfectly encapsulate the acting range of the stars of the hit New Moon.  Some may have seen that I posted on Monday night that my wife and I were going to watch New Moon.  We did.  It was amazing.

What was most amazing was just how constipated all the actors were.  I mean, really. Bella frequently clutched her abdomen as if she was in agony, as waves of bowel spasms racked her poor tortured body.  Anyone who knows will tell you that our emotional well being and our physical well being are intimately tied together.  I really feel bad for Edward, Jacob and Bella.  Even after Jacob admits to being "tightly bound" he doesn't seem to get any relief.  One would think that wolves keep things moving through.  I suppose not.

Then you have vampires.  I get that they are backed up.  All that iron and no roughage, it just isn't good for you.  So Edward has an excuse for the fact that his only facial expression is one of severe constipation.  I can sympathize.  Let me just say, when I was taking the narcs for my kidney stone, I reached a point when the back-upedness was worse than the stone.  TMI, probably, but there you go.

While watching the movie, I just hit a point though when I ran out of steam.  I did well through the first 2/3, making wise cracks for just about everything.  But I couldn't keep it up.  The constant rictus of agony on the faces of the principals in the movie got to me.  No one could act like that all the time and not have some serious bowel issues.

My Rx for Eclipse?  Metamucil with Miralax chasers.  Maybe they will actually look human then.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

It's called a "butt swirly"

On an almost daily basis, we are reminded just how different boys are from girls.  Our oldest two are beautiful girls, and raising them has certainly led to some interesting moments.  But nothing compares to what our oldest son has come up with.

A week or so ago I was explaining to the children what a number of childhood torture techniques were.  You know, the classics: wet willie, Indian burn, purple nurple, dead arm, mule bite, swirly.  Along with each name, I had to explain, in some detail, what the technique involved.

Tonight, Alex was getting ready for his shower.  We heard him yelling something from the bathroom.  Not mad or upset, just yelling.  I went in to the bathroom to see what was going on.  There he was, stark raving naked, sitting on the toilet.  Only, he wasn't really sitting on the toilet.  He was sitting IN the toilet.  The toilet seat was up and he had his hind end fully in the water.

What was he yelling?  "Butt swirly, butt swirly, butt swirly!"

He looked at me, completely serious as he tried to reach behind him to flush the toilet "I'm just trying to give myself a butt swirly, to wash the poop right down the toilet!"

Seriously?  Seriously.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Coffee must hate cups

I have a theory.  Here it is.  Brace yourself, cause this is big.

Coffee hates cups.

Seriously.  I believe it can't stand the thought of being confined into this small cardboard/plastic/metal/ceramic container.  Like Freddy Mercury, coffee just wants "to break free".

I mean, why else would it be spilled more than any other beverage I have ever seen?

While I don't imbibe alcohol, I have been to concerts and sporting events at which alcohol was being freely sold and consumed.  Sure, there were some spills.  But nothing like freaking coffee.  And heck, at least those people had the excuse that they may have been a few drinks in and were carrying their beverages amidst large crowds.

No, I don't drink coffee either, so I may not fully understand this phenomenon.  I am, however, surrounded by regular coffee drinkers.  Like every day, many times a day.  Such is medicine, right?  Every day I see someone with fresh coffee stains on their white coat.  Every day I see spilled coffee in puddles on the floor, or stains on the carpet.  I see my colleagues reaching for the paper towel to wipe the coffee off their hands before it gets on their clothes.

I am a water drinker.  Sometimes I will also have a glass of milk.  But I don't usually spill those beverages on me.  Sure, everyone has the rare spill, but nothing like I see with coffee.  Is it because it is hot?  Is it a secret coffee drinker only sign?  Is a ritualistic?  Does it make the coffee taste better?

There has to be some explanation, because otherwise, I just don't get it.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The price of experience

Plane ticket from SLC to NC: $250
Medical degree from private medical school: $Lots
Live experience from those four years: Priceless

I had an interesting discussion with a physician in clinic a bit ago.  He is a very intelligent, very well respected physician here, and he and I have discussed our families before.  He was talking about convincing his college age children to choose state schools over private institutions.

His main talking point was financial.  And he brings up a very good point.  My wife and I both went to a state university, graduated with (in my opinion at least) great educations, and with absolutely no educational debt.  That last part was a huge blessing.

When it came time for medical school, I had a similar choice.  I could have stayed close to home and gone to the University of Utah.  It is a good medical school and the tuition certainly would have been less.  The competing option was Duke.  After some serious reflection, discussion and prayer, we chose Duke.

Due to that choice, I have, to be quite honest, sizable educational debt.  That debt would have been much less had we chosen otherwise.  And my education would have been comparable (no matter what the Dukies may say).

But the experience would not have been the same.

Of course, I am just guessing.  Perhaps I am rationalizing to ease the pain of the student loans.  This I know: had we stayed at the University of Utah, we would have relied heavily on family.  I love our families.  They are wonderful.  But I think that, as a family, we are stronger than we would have been because we have been without them.

In North Carolina, our church group became our family.  We had to build strong friendships and learn to rely on ourselves and our friends, rather than being able to run to family.  That growth is something I just don't think you can put a price tag on.

Ultimately, I also don't think I would be where I am at this time.  I had very different plans when I started medical school as to what I wanted to do professionally.  The change really was due to people I met at Duke.  You just can't discount that.

In the end, money is just that: money.  But experience, well, that you can take with you.