Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Meme a little meme with me

I was tagged, sort of indirectly, by Barb for this. And since I have the WHOLE DAY OFF tomorrow (in the middle of the week! Not even post call! A whole day!), I thought I'd indulge. (For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a meme, click here, or if you want to know the actual sociological definition of meme, click here).

Things I'm Passionate About:
1. The people who are close to me
2. My dog
(and the rest, in no particular order)
3. Music
4. Justness and fairness
5. Language, words, and communication
6. Beauty, meaning, and analogy
7. Knitting
8. Access to quality mental health care (and being able to provide same)

Things I Want To Do Before I Die:
1. Get through my intern year and manage the lingering effects of the last one
2. Develop actual self esteem
3. Learn to paint for real
4. Have a healthy, useful relationship with a good man
5. Communicate to those close to me exactly how much they mean to me (never gonna happen. There aren't words for this. But I'd like to come close)
6. Become a really, really good psychiatrist and have a productive career
7. Be able to give voice to those who had theirs taken in those ways I lost mine
8. Live long, and well

Things That I Say Often:
1. Is alls I'm saying
2. This is Dr. Kate, returning a page? (Okay, I use my last name)
3. Dude (typically a conjugate - as in "Dude, whatever" or "Dude, seriously!!")
4. Shhhhhhhhit!
5. You know what I'm saying.
6. Are you fucking kidding me? (Hey, my vocabulary is a capacious lexicon. Which is why it's okay that I swear like a sailor)
7. Are we there yet?
8. Hmm. And when have you felt like that before?

Books I've Read Recently (Or Am Reading):
Currently have my nose in...
1. Travels With Charley In Search of America, John Steinbeck (So far, a good read)
2. Bones to Ashes, Kathy Reichs (Ditto, although I've been told it isn't quite up to par with her older stuff. Which, considering how much Break No Bones annoyed me the first time I read it, dude. Fatal Voyage and Bare Bones are still my favorite Temperance Brennan novels)
3. Clinical Neurology for Psychiatrists, David Kaufman (yawn)
Recently finished...
4. The Book of Lost Things, John Connelly (A good read. The ending's kind of predictable, but the language, imagery, and allegory are fantastic)
5. Walking in Circles Before Lying Down, Merrill Markoe (Cute. Fluffy. Quick)
6. Big Big Love, Hanne Blank (Excellent. Purports to be about sex although it really isn't, and a wonderful book for anyone with body image issues)
7. Bitter is the New Black, Jennifer Lancaster (Funny, if kind of shallow. And made me homesick)
8. Bright Lights, Big Ass, Jennifer Lancaster (Hysterical. Funnier than Bitter. Jen's blog is also an amusing read)

Songs I Can Listen To Over and Over:
(in no particular order, and not especially my eight favorite songs of all time)
1. Get Back!, Ludacris (LOVE him. It's inexplicable)
2. Watch Me Shine, Joanna Pacitti
3. As Cool As I Am, Dar Williams
4. One Girl Revolution, Superchick
5. Blood in the Boardroom, Ani DiFranco
6. Break Away, Rascal Flatts (There are several RF songs that fit here, actually)
7. Time, Sarah McLachlan (Ditto. And this one, oddly enough, a song that will always remind me of Baltimore)
8. Judas, FHOD (The Flying Hamsters of Doom. Seriously. Coolest band ever. Why? Because my cousin plays bass, and they're actually really good, not like most people's bands-their-cousin-is-in)

What Attracts Me To My Friends:
1. Sense of humor
2. Common interests
3. Disparate interest
4. Compassion
5. Honesty
6. Genuineness
7. Common neuroses (let's be honest, here)
8. Something more diaphanous and ineffable

Things That I Learned (in the) Last Year:
(Okay, I'm taking a liberty and expanding this to the past three years)
1. I can teach knitting. Who knew?
2. Stability is fleeting and unreliable
3. Denial is a crappy defense mechanism
4. People will declare themselves, if you give them the chance
5. Who the "mentally ill" really are
6. The only way out is through
7. Where the cafeteria is at the hospital (Hey, the can't all be life lessons, can they?)
8. Exactly what I'm made of (okay, maybe I'm still learning this...)

Consider yourself tagged. Go!

Monday, October 22, 2007


I? Am so, so tired.

I started Neurology today. It's okay. My team seems nice enough. We had a really busy day.

So I was supposed to have this nice, get-acquainted sort of day, right? We didn't have a psych intern on the Neurology service last month. I'm on call tomorrow, which makes me pre-call today, which, when combined with the fact that I'm not following someone else should have meant that I didn't have any patients to see. Right?

Err, maybe not...

Allegedly, there's pretty much always an anesthesia intern on the service as well. And the one who left was supposed to sign out his patients to the one who was incoming. All good, right?


No anesthesia intern showed up today.


It turns out there is no anesthesia intern this month, but there's a Physical Med and Rehab guy, who isn't showing up until tomorrow. So suddenly I went from this nice, casual day of having no patients to follow, helping out, getting oriented and maybe even leaving a little early so I could go replace the tuning fork and reflex hammer I can't find (at least I bought a penlight yesterday), to suddenly having six patients I knew nothing about to round on. Using a computer system I don't know. In a hospital system I don't know. On a service about which I know nothing (although, as my best friend points out, who really does know anything useful about neurology?).

I made it through, got things done, even discharged one. And spent an inordinate amount of time on the phone with the help desk. And although I didn't exactly get out early, I made it home in time to take Maggie to the boarder (I have to take her tonight, because I have to leave home tomorrow about an hour before they open. And she'll be there until 5 on Wednesday because I won't get home in time to pick her up during the morning pickup hours. I'm working on a dog sitter...).

Stressed. Me. OUT, today did.

I guess we'll see how call goes tomorrow. I'm told their call isn't too bad. I'll believe it when I see it...

...only 252 more days, 4 hours, and 5 minutes....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Coolest. Friends. Ever.

So, as per usual, I was on call last night. Shocking, I know (this every fourth night thing is getting a little weary, and I still have 257 days to go, according to the little countermajig. Which translates into roughly 65-70 more calls, and oh my GOD, that was a number I never should've crunched). And it wasn't too bad a night - the lady who was in the unit with DTs and detoxing off of methadone, street opiates, cocaine, xanax, and who knows what else did not actually have a seizure, nor did she achieve her goals of chewing through her restraints or biting her nurse. The kid who keeps sticking foreign objects in his dialysis port (he now has a staple - like, you know, the kind that holds paper together - in his lung, permanently) managed to not stick anything else in there last night. I was on with one of my favorite moonlighters. And I even got my flu shot yesterday. Why people needed to call me at 2am to clarify orders that weren't going to be carried out for another 6 or 7 hours is totally beyond me, but, all in all, it wasn't a bad night. And I only have one more State Hospital medicine call left (Saturday) until January. Huzzah.

So I got home around noon, picked up a disappointing burger at the Cook Out down the street, and came home and tried to nap. But there was banging outside. My damn pager went off (not it, people, not it!). And then the doorbell rang, at like, 2:30. And I thought, who the hell...?

And I thought about just ignoring it, but then I decided that it might be maintenance and they might be coming in if I didn't answer, and I was not in the mood to have my apartment invaded, so I got up, threw on my bathrobe, and trudged downstairs to say, no thank you, whatever you're selling, I don't want to buy any.

But I opened the door, and I found this package. And I opened it, and it was one of the best pieces of mail I've ever, ever, ever received. Look what was inside:

These, along with a card from my knitting buddies back in Chicago (Sarah and Lorna, and Joy, Valerie, Cindy, and Heather, who don't have blogs for me to link to). There are six of them, and six pieces, so I'm guessing that everybody made one. The patterns are apparently from a Leisure Arts book of bath and spa sets, and the yarn is Lily Sugar and Cream, in a colorway that will go very nicely with my upstairs bathroom. So awesome!!

What's also amusing is that in my drowsy stupor, the first things I saw when I opened the tissue were the bath mitt and the two hand towels, which looked like one really long piece of cloth, and the gathered up top of the soap bag. And I thought, huh. This is really cool, but why did they make me a hat, mittens, and scarf set out of cotton?

And then I got it.

And then I got a little sniffly.

So now I'm all ready for a day of fabulous spa-like self pampering (all I need is, um, a day). I love them! And I really like the little lace detail. So cool! THANKS SO MUCH, Y'ALL!!!

Plus, if you saw the comments from the last post, I also got notification today from Amanda that Sarah had entered me in her contest, and I won! It's an embarrassment of riches today, really...and I appreciate each and every bit more than I can ever tell any of you.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

It's my birthday (and I'll rant if I want to)

So, following in Sarah's lead (although sadly, I don't have the tiara), happy birthday to me.

It's my very first 29th birthday, in case you were wondering.

And thanks to all for the lovely cards and phone calls and emails. I miss each and every one of you (and a few who didn't even bother to acknowledge the day, a-HEM. See what you get for your birthdays...).

My one aunt sent me a card wishing me a man this year. I think she was kidding (although, as long as I get to pick him out - or there's a gift receipt so I can return him - I'm actually cool with that. Frankly, could be the best gift yet).

So how am I celebrating? Well, I've spent an awful lot of time on the phone. And I may order pizza for dinner (there was some talk of going out, but, well, I haven't heard anything, and it's after 6, and I slept through lunch, so...). Oh, and I was on call last night. Which was fan-freaking-tastic. And I slept for two hours. And lost the ability to use my typical line, "oh, and it's not even my birthday!" when people called me up and said they had a patient for me to see.

Eh, it's a corny line. It's not such a big loss.

But I did come home and take a big fat post-call nap (seriously, there's nothing better than the post-call nap, when you're really tired and your bed is so comfy and ohh...) with the dog. Who was so glad to see me this morning, even if she did cry all the way home from the day care/kennel place. Aww.

Actually, the birthday part of being on call last night wasn't so bad. The people in Screening and Admissions (intake, basically) had dinner for me, which was so incredibly nice that I almost cried (but, I'm a big girl). The woman who runs the place and who actually coordinated dinner was all upset that she didn't get to actually cook, but wow, that Stouffer's makes a darn good lasagna. And then there was apple pie, with ice cream.

Which I ate out of a styrofoam cup. Apparently, pie-in-a-cup is "such a hospital thing", or at least this is what I'm told. I say, ??? Seemed like a darn good (and darn portable) idea to me.

It was very nice. And I took some back for the med unit nurses (and the RT, whom I dragged in on his day off), and they were all very excited. I mean, there was pie in a cup, for Pete's sake! And that particular group tends to take pretty good care of me. It was nice, in spite of the scary episode with the kid that ensued and the train wreck admission at 3am.

I have to say, as much as I miss everyone back home (which is a LOT), I do rather like it here.

So, just prior to this dinner episode, though, Dr. Asshole struck again. One of our nurses is pregnant - the one I made the hat for - like, seven-ish months. So, she has a fair amount of baby hanging off the front of her, right? So, right before he leaves, she was giving him crap about how he was going to be a nerd and go home and read journal articles instead of going out to dinner with the group from work that was going out last night. It was totally jovial, not, like, an actual attack on his character or anything. And he points to himself and says, "Um, let's see...cardiologist...and, what are you again?" Which he then recanted (given our reaction) to "Well, not a cardiologist." And we all were a little incredulous, and she gives him a little lip back, and so he points to his scrawny-ass, never eats anything (well, okay, he only eats carbs, and meat, on Fridays. Like he's some sort of Atkins Anti-Catholic or something. And this is all rumor because it's not like we ever see him actually eat), not-especially-attractive abdomen and says, "Or, okay, um, six pack and what? One pack?"

We were all just a bit floored that he'd actually just said that to, well, anyone (asshole), but particularly to a. pregnant. woman. I mean, really though. I was a little dumbfounded.

He's actually pretty lucky he didn't say that to me, to be quite honest.

So then we spent the next half hour or better talking about what an asshole he was. And I spent the rest of the evening saying "Well, but if you were a cardiologist..." every time something went a little bit awry down there.

Oh, and PS, um, you're not a cardiologist any more than I am right now, buddy. Being accepted for a fellowship does not equate to actually having completed that fellowship. And what's so special about cardiology, anyway? It's not particularly elite, and to invoke a bit of a cliche, it's not exactly neurosurgery.


This really bothers me, in case you haven't figured that out yet.

One. More. Week. And fortunately, my two remaining calls are with two of the attendings I actually sort of like. Although, one of the nurses told me a really disappointing story about one of them last night, which involved a guy dying because of her poor management.

Not that we don't all make judgement calls that turn out to be less than ideal through the retrospectoscope, but, like he said, there's safety in the mediocrity there. And, you know, it's just sort of disheartening to hear that someone you thought was one of the only really competent docs around there made such a bonehead move.

And, I still don't really know where I'm going after next weekend, because, natch, I'm the swing resident again. So if our colleague comes back from sick leave, or if our second new resident gets approved by the state medical board (ha), before next Monday, I'll be on Neurology. And if not, I'll be on (shudder) Child Psychiatry. Um, you know, I know that I'm actually quite flexible, but, I'd sort of like to know WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON. Sometimes I actually sort of like a little structure. It's, you know, kind of comforting....

Ah, whatever. The bigger point is, one more freakin' week on the medical unit.

Oh, and, it's my birthday! I should get me something....

Monday, October 08, 2007

Proof of actual knitting (and crochet)

Did you all really think I'd given up the yarn? Now, come on.

In truth, I haven't had all that much time to knit. And I diverged a little into crochet...because, you know, it's fast...

Some time ago my classmate and partner in crime PenguinShrink (or as I am sometimes wont to call her, Wet Armadillo Girl, given her propensity to say things like "50 lashes with a wet armadillo." She's from Texas, what can you say) and I made the very silly commitment to hand craft thank you gifts for all of the donors who gave money for the intern retreat. We were told there are usually about 7 or 8 donors, and that this year they'd had more trouble recruiting people to donate because the retreat, um, wasn't well attended last year (again, I tell you, it's a weekend off, at a beach house, all expenses paid. What's the conflict??).

There were 15 donors.

We had a lot of fiber work to do...

Penguin's a much more accomplished crocheter than I (you should see the blanket on their bed!), so she tackled the more complicated items, for the higher-amount donors - i.e., a moebius scarf and shawl, a very cool ribbed newsboy hat, etc. This is my contribution:

What you see here, from left to right, are three scarves at the top - in Encore (from my stash), Red Heart (I know, but, dude, it was cheap) and Malabrigo Chunky (also from the stash, and, for the program director). The left two are just some combination or another of sc-dc rows; the one on the right is the infamous Potato Chip Scarf, or at least my crocheted version.

Down in front (here's a close-up):

are two washcloths in Bernat Organic Cotton (the pink - and can I say, $3 for 84 y and AMAZING. Seriously, I'm in love) and the old standby Sugar 'n' Cream, which is also what that square thing is made of (it's a washcloth-bag thing that you put your soap right into, whatever the hell that's called, and it has a bar of soap in it, in a box, which is why it's square). Then that little thing next to the washcloths is a coffee cup cozy in the custom-dyed Lorna's Laces that Sarah sent, for one of the State Hospital attendings who, well, drinks a lot of coffee. In truth, it started out as a sock, but, I didn't like the way it was turning out, decided I needed to do a slip-stitch pattern of some sort, blah, blah, but I didn't frog it, so I just ribbed a few rows, bound off, and *poof*, instant java cozy (incidentally, I made one of those for my uncle, for Christmas, and he raved about the silly thing). Anyway, next to that are two gift bags, one knit, one crocheted, out of the Encore again (which were going to be filled with chocolates), and then finally, also for chocolate-filling, is a little bowl on the end there made out of some icky Paton's Canadiana that was in the stash, don't ask me why (the color actually turns out sort of cool, but blech, it feels so..acrylic). And there you have it.

Then, the past few days, I've been working on a little baby beanie (not to be confused with a Beanie Baby) for one of the nurses at work, who's having a shower tomorrow.

Here's Maggie, modeling the hat with all the enthusiasm Sarah's Worfy (PS - happy birthday, Sarah!) usually shows as well....

And, perhaps a better view, on the couch:

It's made out of RYC Cashsoft, a machine-washable merino-cashmere-microfiber blend, and possibly my all-time-favorite baby yarn.

So that's what's off the needles/hook these days. I need to start something else...I've got a couple of socks going that just aren't calling to me these days....any suggestions?


So, I came home this morning, after a wretched, wretched call, and found this in my inbox, again from Barb.

I cannot tell you how well this sums up my call. And currently, my job. Or how much this song will be in my head over the next two weeks (okay, year).

Plus, I, just, I howled.

I think this is going to replace my old on-call song in my head from back in my OB days (although, how can you possibly replace the lyrics, "It's like hey, l'il stupid, don't make me lose it!" Although....I's the second bridge that was usually running through my head...)

Friday, October 05, 2007

Another must-see

Barb sent me this today. It's a Dove ad, part of their Campaign for Real Beauty. It speaks volumes....and frankly, that overwhelming torrent of judgemental messages they portray so well, is kind of how I feel most days....

The next post will include fiberwork, I swear it. But this seemed important enough to preempt that, so...

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

At least it wasn't the couch

So I'm on call again. As always. What else is new?

Sunday was my last call, and OH. MY. GOD. did it suck. Sucked like a Hoover in a hurricane. Tonight, tonight's going a little better. It helps that my "moonlighter" (we typically have a moonlighter on from 5-11 with us, who is usually a medicine fellow of some sort - mostly GI - or sometimes one of the Locum Tenens types. They're useful to us, but really, their moonlighting function is for the attending, so they can go home at 5 and only come in if there's a serious crisis) is one of the most competent attendings we have and also one of the more delightful people in the department. She's very cool about just handling whatever needs to be handled. It's nice.

And, guess what. I got to sew. I did! On a person again. Ohhhhh, it was wicked cool.

It actually started our evening with quite a bang. Shortly after 5 (when everything switches over to the "on call" folk and everyone else goes home), they called a medical stat (think of a code blue, but a little less dire than that) on the medium-security forensics unit. And, much like a code, when you hear that, you move. And if you aren't one of the ones moving, you get out of the way. So I take off running (I do run pretty fast for a fat girl) and when I get up to F-Med (and someone finally lets us in behind all the security doors) there's just blood everywhere. I mean, everywhere. Apparently one of the patients got out of control, decked a staff member so badly we had to send him to the real hospital, and knocked this other patient across the back of the head with a chair, opening up about a 6 cm-long gash. And between the two of them, they bled all over everything like a couple of stuck pigs (the assailant, by the way, had nary a scratch on him, ended up in four-point hard leathers and bought himself a ticket over to the maximum security side).

I have mentioned that forensics is my specialty of choice, right?

So I got to sew his head up. Ohhhh, I do miss the sewing. It took me the first suture or two to get my groove back (it has been over two years, you know), but it's like falling off a bike. I was telling him, as I was stitching, about the last head I sewed up, which was on Halloween 2004. The guy was very intoxicated and both his girlfriends happened to show up to his costume party, and in the process of trying to keep them separated, he cracked his head on the bar lamp and wound up in my ER, dressed like Paris Hilton, with two big gashes and me sewing on his head. This guy, tonight? Apparently tried to murder his mother, was found incompetent to stand trial, and then just wound up on the wrong side of that chair. He was so much more pleasant and cooperative than the last fellow whose head I stitched.

After I dressed his wound, I sent him back up to his floor with an order for tylenol, and told him that next time, he really should duck.