Archive | August, 2012

yes…just yes

30 Aug

Love how Sissy Spacek surprised President O…love how he’s still just a little starstruck.  I miss Charlottesville.



waffles with wanda…on wednesdays

29 Aug

It’s Wednesday, so it’s appropriate to finally post a little something about the best site director on the planet.  Of course, it will not do her justice.

Did you know the term “doctor” meant “teacher”?  I might have posted something about that before.  The emphasis and dedication some doctors place on education, even at an academic institution, is mind-blowing.  It takes a special kind of love of medicine, love of learning, love of sharing…not to mention the organization and efficiency to set aside time strictly for the students…and patience, so much patience.  We, medical students, are insufferable.

Yet among the mass of brilliant physicians not only willing but eager to teach and work to improve our education, Wanda takes the cake.  She is an Ob/Gyn who serves as the site director to the hospital where I did my clerkship.  Rumor has it that she is so beloved that she is perpetually booked up to the brim, a patient of hers has to either move cross country (though plenty still commute) or die in order for her to take another patient (but this is a rumor).

So it’s surreal and surprising that she dedicates Wednesday mornings (the full mornings) to the 6-7 students at her hospital.  We start with waffles in the cafeteria, then we move up to a reading room just off the original surgical amphitheater in the oldest hospital in the country to discuss cases, alternate topic presentations, and receive regular coaching and encouragement from Wanda, literally the sweetest physician you’ll ever meet.

Can you believe I studied here?

If you meet her, you will instantly love her.  Not only is she wickedly brilliant and as fierce an advocate for her patients as they come, who receives the utmost respect from patients, colleagues, and students, she is also adorable.  Have I ever described a physician as “adorable” before?  When she speaks of the Labor & Delivery floor or the NICU, even though L&D is not really her area of focus, she’ll say things like, “There’s nothing better than an infant.”  In reference to my pregnancy: “Oh, to be pregnant!  It’s like having a little friend with you all the time!”  Adorable, right?

I want to be her one day.  Until then, would she consider adopting me?

le belly

25 Aug

Shortly after we found out we were pregnant, John sent me this sweet card detailing his excitement over what would happen over the next several months and of prospect of raising a kid together:

I’m not sure my belly’s quite so exaggerated yet but, with my recently acquired outie belly button, I’m well on my way.


At our recent prenatal, the midwife performed Leopold’s maneuvers (an abdominal exam to determine the position and size of the fetus), then looked at my weight tracking.  “Well, your weight is exactly where it should be.  How big were each of you when you were born?”  I was 8 pounds, 3 ounces.  John was well over nine pounds.  “I think you have a very long baby in there.  Don’t worry, you’re tall and you have big feet, you can handle it.”  Some (additional?) good news is that the baby’s vertex (head down, ideal for delivery); hopefully she’ll stay that way so that I might be able to deliver vaginally this giant of a child I’m growing.


our kind of warrior weekend

24 Aug

So, it began two weeks ago today.  I took my Ob/Gyn shelf exam.  Then John picked me up for a prenatal check-up, at which it was revealed that I do not, in fact, have gestational diabetes three weeks after I enjoyed my glucola cocktail–hence my excuse to carb-load guilt-free that entire glorious weekend.  Then I got to watch one of our closest friends receive his white coat, a kind of official induction into medical school, and celebrate with him and his family before passing out on our couch, feet propped high on our wall.  That was Friday.

On Saturday morning, we drove to Virginia.  First, we met Ellie, daughter of Nick and Amy:

Next up was my first opportunity to meet Jonathan, son of Lauren and Glen, nearly six months old!  (John has known him for months, and I’ve been green with envy.)  And this was also my chance to pick Lauren’s brain about the whole unmedicated childbirth thing…oh, and motherhood.  You would think after finishing Ob I would feel slightly less clueless than before.  I do not; not one bit.  Which is why I am SO thankful for good friends who did this thing first and are open and generous enough to share their experiences.

Then we scooted off to a baby shower hosted by the yayas and the Westcotts.  I don’t think I’m really a shower type of girl.  I identify with Miranda from Sex and the City, who specifically requested fried chicken and absolutely no baby games.  My girlfriends are the best.  They gave me a gathering of some of the women most special to me, with lots of soulful foods (I did not see a single crustless sandwich), optional baby games, gifts with which to help make our daughter at home in her new world, and a few choice “baby Jesus” jokes.

(I’m not sure why we turned out blue and luminescent.)

Finally, we got to be witnesses to Erica and Dan’s engagement!  Okay, I might actually be crying as I re-watch their engagement video–tears of course interrupted by a lot of laugher due to all all the side commentary by Dan, Zach, and John, my husband’s uninhibited, uncontrollable laughter, and Erica’s reactions and responses at every stop on the path to proposal.

Seriously, you want to watch this documentation: 

The following morning, we ate three brunches, drove back to Philly, took a cat nap (John told me I was worthless to him that tired), then stayed up until 3am cleaning out our guest/child’s room, which we’ve been using as storage space for all the things we didn’t want to unpack/deal with for the last year and change.

Five hours later I started orientation for Pediatrics.  John spent the day constructing a crib, taking multiple trips to salvation army, and making our a apartment less of a death trap for an infant.  Could not have possibly imagined it better.

tricksy kiddies

22 Aug

There’s a bizarre-o disease called idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP)–a.k.a. an abnormally low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) of unknown origin (idiopathic) that causes, among other things, red-purple splotches on skin (purpura).  For some reason, when it occurs in young children, it often resolves itself readily, and interventions are seldom required.  Still, it’s somewhat terrifying to send a kid home with a soft helmet and instructions to try not to run into anything, who has a platelet count of 2 (I’m not exaggerating), when the normal count should be 150,000-450,000.

We’ve had a number of otherwise healthy kids with ITP during my brief time on the pediatric hematology service.  I was examining/playing with one of them today and, as I was placing him back into his crib, the edge of my stethoscope got caught on his shift sleeve, and he banged the back of his head on the railing.  He cried for about a second before he realized that he wasn’t hurt–this was the type of bump that most infants/toddlers experience probably multiple times a week/day without any problem.  But this kid can’t quite clot correctly with a negligible platelet count.  So, though I tried to remain calm and cool (yeah right) on the outside, I was thinking to myself, Oh God, this kid is going to develop of huge hematoma on the back of his head…forget that!  He’s going to BLEED INTO HIS BRAIN!  Oh my god oh my god oh my god!!!

I carefully examined between his hair and around his neckline for any signs of bruising, told the mother I would check in with them soon and asked her to let us know if she noticed any bruising, and asked his nurse to do the same.  I felt somewhat reassured that the mother, who was as loving and doting as they come, was unconcerned, and her son truly did seem completely fine.

A half hour later, his nurse soberly approached me, “Can you come take a look at K’s head?  The bruise seems to be expanding quite quickly.”  I must have turned white as a ghost as I rushed to his room.  His mom, holding her giggling bruise-free son, met me at the door, unable to contain her laugher, at which point the nurse cracked as well, “I’m so sorry…it was just so easy!”

So I haven’t killed any children in my first two weeks of Peds.

letters at lunch

9 Aug

I cannot study while I eat–I don’t know, it’s just how I’m wired.  So, when not able to enjoy a meal across the table from or on the grass with people I at least sort of like, I normally retreat to comforting books (Harry Potter) or the internet.

Just now, over my chicken caesar salad, I caught wind of “Dear Hypothetically Gay Son.”  I am hooked.  And this is why I’m posting the day before my shelf exam (please wish me luck!).  In my mind, this letter is the best; it conveys an abundant supply of support while still admitting to surprise and ignorance.  I’d really like to be this type of parent.

Also, I have renewed confidence that my current dancing ineptitude will be enough to get me through at least the first couple years of our daughter’s life.

terms of endearment

7 Aug

There’s a fabulous gynecologic oncologist who we each get to work with for a week on Ob/Gyn.  He gives us nicknames, things like “Junior” or “Goose.”  Guess mine?

So…he was teasing me last week for being “like 43 weeks pregnant” as I struggled to squeeze between the table and the robot in the OR.  With no clever retort in mind (early days lead to a slow sense of humor), I think I said something along the lines of, “Hey, I’m only 29 weeks and change here!”  “29 WEEKS?!!  What have you been packing, FATSO?”  (I can’t be offended because I figure that he would never call me that if it was true…right?  RIGHT?)

He also loves to do things like introduce me to a patient and quickly explain without prompting, “And, no, she’s not really pregnant, so don’t make a thing about it, <through side mouth> she’s really sensitive about it…”  The horrified looks in response!  I guess when you cure people’s cancer, you can get away with being just a little “endearingly” inappropriate.

Lessons from oncology (not to get all preachy):

  1. If you can, please get your gardasil.  Even if you’re not going to have sex for decades…like many vaccines, it actually is more effective if you get your doses younger.
  2. Seriously, pap smears, a pain in the ass, granted…but the combination of pap smear screening and HPV testing reduces a woman’s risk of dying of cervical cancer by 90%.  What other cancer screen does that?
  3. If you’re over 35 and experience abnormal vaginal bleeding (whether a drop or a bucket), please see a doctor.  Endometrial cancer is one of the few malignancies that actually flies its own red flag before it’s not too late to do something about it.

and about summer reading…blog awards

6 Aug

Blogging is a funny thing.  It’s a little like a journal left open on a picnic table…something that should be private and intimate but that I carelessly made available to anyone.  I’m terrible at journaling.  I’ve never kept one for longer than six weeks, tops.  It’s the public nature of the blog keeps me honest.  Even though I’ve been light on posting for stretches of time, I’m still here, after what will be two years in just a week.  That’s pretty successful for me.

Yet it still surprises me that people actually read this blog, and I’m always tickled pick when I get a new subscriber or receive a comment–for the record, I love your comments, thank you!  If I don’t respond in a timely fashion, I apologize.  And then there are statistics, which I try to ignore at all costs because I do not want blogging to be about that.  But at the end of the year, when analytics informs me that there is a solid population in Singapore, for example, that checks in here daily…come on…Singapore, that’s pretty rad!

So you can imagine how floored I was to have made this list, included among other med student/doctor bloggers that I admire for their clever writing, natural honesty, and fresh take on life and the profession.  My goal (maybe post-delivery) is to check out all of blogs listed on Plans side column (not to mention her recommended books).  Especially during “maternity leave,” I think I’m really going to love tapping into newly discovered med school experiences.

summer read: the road back

6 Aug

Remember this kid?  Well, this book just came out about him.


I have been horrible about reading for pleasure, but John and I both quickly devoured this book.  It reads like a novel, it’s hard to believe it’s nonfiction, and about one of my classmates no less.  If you’re seeking immediate inspiration with a happy ending, if you’re looking for confirmation that passion and dedication can defeat adversity, pick up this book immediately!

(On a side note, this book was also a bit of trip to read because most of it takes place in Charlottesville, where Matt & Emily (and John & I) went to college, and the surrounding areas.  With the exception of Joyce’s Ulysses (which critics say you could use as a permanent blueprint of Dublin should you ever need to rebuild it from nothing), I’ve never felt so transported into the setting of a book.)

too many study questions

5 Aug

When I read “she has good dating criteria” in the question stem and for, like, a solid minute I have to really think to myself, Hold on a sec, what does her dating life have to do with potential fetal abnormalities?  Are we referring to “high risk behaviors” in a subtle way?  And how can “dating criteria” be confirmed with first trimester ultrasound?…oh man, I clearly need to reboot.

What’s even more sad is that I’ve reached a state in which this is actually comical.  And I thought I was well-balanced.