Monday, June 30, 2008

But they don't tell you were you can get one...

So here's a classic North Carolina moment. Darn it, I got my plates too late.

It reminds me of, right after I graduated, my little, Midwestern, very conservative, Lutheran liberal arts college started building a new library on an endowment from the Christopher family (Pampered Chef, I think). It's now called the Christopher Center for Library and Information Resources. But it's original name was the Christopher Library for Information and Technology. What's especially funny about that is that they operated under that name until right before it opened, when our school paper refused to print the acronym. Oops.

Have I also mentioned that, early last century, my college was up for sale. The two highest bidders? The Lutheran Church and the KKK.

Dude, the Lutherans were conservative enough. Can you imagine?


So last night was my last State Hospital call EVER. I'm DONE. One more milestone down. I have seven intern calls left, five of which are short calls. Hooray, hooray. Last night wasn't too bad (obviously, from the length of my post). I think I only had three or four admissions, and the floors were pretty quiet. Not that this kept me from tossing and turning when I was in bed, but, whatever. Likely never gonna sleep in that silly bed again.

It's a weird feeling, that when I leave on Wednesday, I'll likely never go back to State Hospital, ever. I know I've said that before (and before that), but this time, I probably mean it. New State Hospital should be open before the damn medical board affords me my permanent license and I get moonlighting privileges. I'm going to miss it. A little. Probably not that much. Which is funny, because when I left there and was about to rotate on service at Big Hospital, I was all, oh, I don't want to leave, I like things the way they are there, I know how it works, everyone says things are so much harder at BH, I don't know what to do over I got over it. I mean, there are some aspects of life at BH that I don't like as much, but on the whole, I'm glad to be spending the rest of my residency there.

So anyhow. I left today and killed some time at Borders, perusing magazines I didn't want to buy (three crappy knitting mags and this month's Cosmo. I ended up buying Southern Living and Psychology Today) and sipping a barista-recommended Mocha Raspberry Kiss (very tasty, the nice gay man was correct. And he gave me extra whip. I so need a gay boyfriend. Not to mention, also, perhaps a straight one). Then I went and saw my shrink, then came home and have been hanging out with the pups. Sparrow's on call, so Maxine's over with us. I had cute puppy pictures to show you, but alas, Blogger wouldn't cooperate. So, maybe tomorrow. The ladies and I have had a long afternoon, but a pleasant one.

I think it's time for us to go to bed...

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday, Sunday

So, here I am again...I'm sitting in the little intern office on the women's unit at State Hospital, waiting for my suicidal drunk guy to come in from the local ER. It's stormy and windy and Maggie was not pleased as I frenetically packed up my stuff. I kept having to stop and snuggle the big, wide-eyed, thunderstorm-averse pup. Fortunately, Sparrow came to rescue her and take her over to stay with them right as I was leaving.

I took the Ruthie approach to packing for call and brought a little bag of random things-crackers, dried fruit, an apple, peanut butter, carrots, I don't know what the hell I threw in there. Ruthie usually brings a large grocery bag of randomness whenever she's on call. Consequently, our office here at State Hospital looks like some sort of organic food bomb exploded in it. Followed by a big paperwork bomb. We should really clean this place up, you know?

I've also adopted her habit of not wearing scrubs on call, but rather, comfy clothes. Not, like, flannel pants, but not my "business casual" finest, either. Things in which I can sleep (ha) but still be seen in public. She's an ex-surgeon as well, and makes the very good point that we spent enough time in scrubs in our former life, and, let's face it - scrubs just aren't that comfortable. Plus, both of us are reasonably curvy women, and scrubs are usually cut for men. Who? Aren't curvy. It makes a difference.

I think she's been a bad influence on me...

So it's my last call at State Hospital. From now on, if I'm on call here, I'll be moonlighting, which means they have to pay me handsomely. But it also means that I have to get re-fingerprinted and get new letters of reference (from people who've known me at least ten years. What? I mean, I have plenty of people who've known me for that long, but do they really care what my best friend the lawyer or my grade-school friend the Spanish teacher think about my ability to practice medicine?? The NC Medical Board is weird) and stand on my head while drinking water or some such nonsense. And after I do all that, then I have to wait six months for them to decide if I'm worthy of the privilege of having a permanent medical license. Which, knowing the issues I had with them at the beginning of the year, probably means that I'll have to go sing the entire score of Die Fledermaus at a meeting of the general assembly or something. In German, while patting my head and rubbing my stomach.

Oh, but how I could use the money. To quote Mike, I am just broke as a joke right now. Or alternatively, to use my aunt's phrase, po'. As in, so poor I can't even afford an "r". But, in time, these things will come. By which I mean in time for me to start paying off my med school loans. Remember when doctors used to drive $100,000 cars and every psychiatrist had a house in the Hamptons?

Ah, well. Clearly, I'm not in this for the money, and let's face it, I'm not living in a box, or bunking with my patients in the South Wilmington Street Shelter.

It's interesting, actually...I had lunch with one of my med students today that I worked with earlier in the year. She's going into OB, silly girl (says the one spending her Sunday night in a state mental institution wearing mismatched socks and listening to opera on YouTube...), and wanted some advice. So we had a very nice brunch, and of course I came home and spent the rest of the afternoon playing the "what if?" game.

If I'd stayed at the Emerald Palace...I'd have graduated probably last week, instead of still being an intern for another month. I'd probably have moved back to Chicago for fellowship, or maybe gone somewhere else. I suspect that I might not actually be doing high-risk obstetrics, but possibly minimally invasive gynecology, which is the direction to which I was starting to lean by the time I left. Which is nice, because that's a shorter, if non-accredited, fellowship. I...okay, you know what? Realistically, if I'd stayed there, I'd be dead by now. Or some very different, hardened, torn-down, bitter version of myself that in no way resembles the person I want to be. So let's just take that option off the table right now.

The issue for "what if," I guess, is more what if I'd stayed in OB/GYN? I do miss it from time to time. I miss the procedural nature of things, the adrenaline rush of delivery. I miss the sweet moments as a family is forged. The pulling undertow of fate as lives are changed in an instant. I miss the excitement of the OR. I miss feeling dexterous and that moment of alignment as the counterintuitive movements of laparoscopy suddenly make sense. I miss the comforting repetition of scrubbing, those contemplative moments gazing over the scrub sink through the windows into the OR, mentally prepping for a case. I miss the give of a uterine sound as the internal os concedes and dilates, and the instrument slides in to hit its mark. I miss the solid bite of suturing a uterus, the snap of a hemostat, the rhythm of an imbricating stitch. I miss the satisfaction of the cervix popping into view on the first try. I miss the flow of clinic and the smell of Chlor-prep (although there are a lot of other smells I don't miss from my job, let me tell you).

I love my job, my work, now, in so many ways. And I think it's where I'm supposed to be. I think I can be more useful, my work more meaningful, from this side of things. But occasionally, it saddens me that I had to leave all those things behind. What saddens me more is how I feel like something I loved was stolen from me, with all that happened up north. But, a door never closes without another one opening. And I really do love what I do.

Speaking of which, I have to go admit someone. So maybe I'd better go do what I do...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Dog days

We're tired.

Mags and I had a full day.

I woke up at some ungodly hour of the (weekend) morning went to Lowes and FINALLY returned the blinds that I bought that were an inch too short (I measured. I did. Honest!!). So now I finally have blinds in the living room.

As you can see, progress is being made, since the background for all my pictures is becoming less and less full of boxes. I think I'm actually to the point where tomorrow I may have to clean the living room. It's exciting, actually.

We're still working on the dog door, although I think Mags is finally getting the hang of it. She actually took herself out when I got home tonight. Earlier today, though, I'd shoved her out the little flap and busied myself unpacking until she decided she was ready to come in, which, she's been pretty good about coming in when she's ready, it's the out she's had trouble with. So I'm unpacking and I hear nails clicking on the hardwood, and then crunching in the kitchen. And I called out a semi-aware "Hi baby!"....and then I hear more clicking, and I look up and realize my dog is standing in the doorway to the office. And there's still crunching going on. And as all this is starting to click into place, she goes into the kitchen and there's a little bit of growling. At which point I've come to my senses again enough to yell...


And Little Bit comes strolling into the living room, just pleased as pie, all, "you called?" I laughed my butt off. Apparently Sparrow had let her into my dog run when she saw Maggie, and Maxine promptly came in to see what was on the menu.

They really do crack me up.

Today was not all work, though. Hung out with Sparrow for a while, had dinner with Penguinshrink in town. Food was decent, service was awful, company was lovely. Tomorrow I'm going to have brunch at this reasonably chi-chi place down the way with one of my med students from Neuro. She says she wants to pick my brain about something (I'm guessing residency-related). I think she'd better bring a spoon....

Friday, June 27, 2008


Oy, what a day.

It was a very long, very frustrating, but strangely, very good day over here. Kind of a weird combination.

And there were several notable events.

My four year old Jeep Liberty hit 100,000 miles just as I got to work this morning.

I had, I think, 118K on my last Jeep when I traded it. I'm hoping for a few more years out of this one. I finally pay it off in May. Go, Jeep, go!

Have I mentioned that my Jeep's name is Kate? I usually name my cars after the patron saint of the day that I buy them (which resulted in my Geo being named Phanourios, and the old Jeep being named Vasili. I don't actually remember the Aztek's given name...which didn't really matter, because we called it many other names...). My whole family does it that way. But I didn't name the Jeep. My best friend did, during its inaugural voyage to Red Robin. Because, well, there's a lot of Kates in my world besides me. She thought it was funny. I agreed. And so she's Kate.


I met the new interns today!! We had lunch with them during their orientation at State Hospital. They had the same good ol' Southern food they had last year, which, wow, was so good. They looked like a great herd of deer in some very large headlights, much as I imagine we did last year around this time. And of course, we're still talking with immediacy about "when we move to the new state hospital", much like we did last year around this time. I'm sayin'...but regardless, they seem like a nice bunch.

I'd commented to Ruthie the other day, when we were looking over their face sheets, about how several of them seemed to be somewhat analogous to residents already in program. There was a girl much like Sparrow and a guy a lot like Fang, who were friends of theirs, respectively, from medical school. There's one guy who had a major in divinity and one of our almost-third years actually went to seminary for a while before choosing medicine. There's a girl who strongly resembles Benny in conduct, appearance, and background. Ruthie and I couldn't find ourselves, though.

Today, I met me.

She's only an analogue, of course, there are several notable differences. Like her husband and four year old child. Like the fact that she's older than I am and was a practicing specialist for a while. Like the fact that she's tiny and I'm rather the opposite of tiny. In fact, she's probably one of the latter ones on the list that I would've identified to be my analogue. But listening to her talk today? Oh, so totally. Last year, I was the one going on and on about what it was like to be on call and how you changed throughout the first year and trying to be helpful but worrying that I just sounded like a know-it-all. Trying to adapt my thinking from a very different specialty. Feeling really, really out of place with a bunch of recent med school grads. Being so anxious about that I was borderline manic.

I hope she has as good a year as I've had.

I also came to an appreciation of the NC Mental Health system today, after spending five hours on the phone trying to transfer my New York manic to a hospital (any hospital that seemed appropriate) in the empire state. Got rejected by every one of them that I called, except of course for the state hospital, who wouldn't answer their phones!! Not even the admissions office! Oy, what a pain in the ass. Although I did speak with some very nice people up north, who gave me a good briefing in the differences between our system and theirs. Still, frustrating. But the BEST part was that I got to talk to my very good friend Buie, who like never ever answers the phone when I call her (AHEM).

I was sitting there, right, thinking, what the hell do I do with this woman? We'd all kind of decided that she'd probably do better if we got her home. Her psychiatrist apparently doesn't work on Fridays. And I'm like, come on, Kate. You transfer people all the time. How do I make this happen? And it suddenly occurs to me, I know someone in the NY Mental Health system! I mean, someone who works there (I also know a couple of people who don't, but still qualify for the earlier statement). So I call Buie up at work, and she actually answers! And then I called her again, and she answered AGAIN! Wow, it was great to talk to her. And she had really helpful suggestions. Even if they didn't actually pan out. But, helpful nonetheless.

So then, I'm on my way out, and my patient who's been really psychotic stops me to chat. And we did just that - had a very nice chat. I mean, it was about sort of psychotic stuff, but, she was enthusiastic and buoyant and just very pleasant to talk to. It was nice.

And THEN I stopped at the State Farmers Market, which is right next door (literally) to State Hospital. I went in with my $20 in box money, and walked out with all of the following for $15:

I spent the last five on a fresh-squeezed lemonade (so good down here) and the ensuant tip for the lemonade squeezer.

I made a salad to go with my dinner of leftover garlic pasta:

Wow. There is nothing like a fresh-ripe tomato, straight off the vine and still warm and heavy from the summer heat. So good. For dessert I had fresh strawberries (bought at the Whole Foods earlier in the week) and those blueberries on poundcake (also from WF). Them's some good blueberries, right there. He told me they were picked this morning, which I'm not sure I believe, because there was a moldy one in the container, but wow, so tasty.

I then sat down for my daily blog perusal and just laughed my ass off at today's Daily Coyote picture:

which is of course plagiarized directly from Shreve's blog right exactly here, and is titled, aptly, "Why Ranchers Hate Coyotes."

This amused me primarily because Maggie also has a little sheep toy which I bought for her when she started working at the yarn shop with me, because, you know, wool. I never thought about it like that, though. She does love her sheeps (she has two - one is tiny and hot pink).

AND she used the dog door all by herself today, without prompting. Now, admittedly, it was thundering outside and she used it to come in, but, whatever. Progress is progress.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

'Cause I love this, too

Look at this! My friend's friend came by tonight and took a bunch of my boxes.

She took a few more out of the shed, too. Whew, it's so nice to be rid of them. And then she actually paid me for them. The girl just offered me money!

He he. Sucker. Easiest Most satisfying $20 I ever made.

Thumbs up, thumbs down

Happy Thursday.

First, let me give you the thumbs down. I tried the new Blended Lemonade Beverage at Starbucks this morning. I am a big Frappucino fan, in general (my total favorite? Dulce de Leche. I think that was limited time only. Caramel comes in a close second. And the new, also limited edition, Mint Mocha Chip, well, I haven't had one this year, but three years ago when they were out - back when I had just started drinking coffee - they rocked), and I thought, wow. What a lovely, summery idea.

Eh. Wasn't impressed. In fact, I wasn't even impressed enough to take a second sip. Well, oh well.

Secondly, I HAVE ANTS. I'm displeased. I went into the kitchen earlier and there they were, stupid little sugar ants scurrying around. They all seem to be coming from the window over my sink. But my aunt (ha!) told me this thing she'd read about using cinnamon to repel ants. So I tried it. So far a couple have managed to break through the line (hence the arrow) but in general it seems to be holding the little fuckers at bay. If it works, I'm going to go get a cheap bottle of cinnamon at the Food Lion or something (as opposed to the organic stuff I just dumped all over the sill) and fill my window well with it.

Damn stupid ants.

Third, the NC State Mental Hospitals are in the news again. Fortunately it isn't State Hospital this time (although apparently it was last week), but one of the other ones. It's heartbreaking. And disgusting. We're all a little outraged at SH.

Also, my dad's in the hospital again (hi Dad). Actually, he may not be any longer by the time this gets posted. It's nothing major. He does this once a year or so, and they caught it while it was still "a little pneumonia". This is why you shouldn't smoke, kids. He sounds good and he's feeling better and they're probably going to throw him out this afternoon, but still, not the best email to come home to, I have to admit. The pneumonia gets a thumbs-down, but of course, my dad certainly falls under the Things I Love list.

Here's five other things that, this week, I totally love...

1. LAST NIGHT WAS MY LAST 30 HOUR CALL EVER, EVER, IN MY WHOLE LIFE!!! You have no idea what this means to an ex-obstetrician. And what a beautiful call it was, too. I didn't admit anyone after 4pm. (I KNOW!) I had three seclusion-restraint calls, and I always sleep horribly at the hospital (If it isn't "Will this stupid pager stop beeping for five bloody seconds!" it's "why hasn't my pager gone off in so long?"), but I had the potential for almost a full night of sleep. Now, it's not my last in-house call, ever - that's currently July 2, 2009, although that could change if I end up doing second year call all next July - but I have six short (16 hour) calls left and other than that, my calls are all 24 hours. The beauty of those is that when your shift is over, you're done. Never again do I have to slog through the day's work after being on call for 24 hours. Never. Ever. Again.

2. While I was at the hospital yesterday, Maggie miraculously got a doggie door!

The handyman came to install it, and fortunately Sparrow, who's on vacation this week, was around to let him in and tell him where it went and whatnot. And Maxine even showed her how to use it. Maggie's not too thrilled with the idea of pushing through the plastic, yet (as you can tell) but she'll get it. And once she does I know she's going to like the idea of going outside anytime she wants. But it's cut through the back wall of the house (I know. I don't know why) and so it stands about 3 feet off the ground. So he built this lovely platform and a very nice ramp to walk up to it. Maggie? Refuses to use the ramp. She just leaps up and down from the platform.

Even though she's six, and technically a senior.

Love that dog.

3. On the way home, I discovered that my very favorite snooty-patootie grocery store, where I always used to shop and was sad that I had to leave when I moved out of Cary, is opening up around the corner from my new house. Oh, if only they'd put a Char-Gill next door to it like the one in Cary (where every Sunday, I used to go buy groceries and then I'd go next door and get a hamburger combo, with mustard and onions, and a cheeseburger, plain. Guess who the cheeseburger was for), life would be completely as it should.

4. This week at the Whole Foods (the one here is massive, and expanding) I discovered a local salsa from the makers of Bone Suckin' Barbecue Sauce, oddly enough called Bone Suckin' Salsa. I don't know how authentic it is, but wow, I think it's the best salsa I've ever had out of a jar. And look, it even comes with a handy recipe on the side:

Now, that's something you couldn't have come up with on your own.

Seriously, though, you should check out the website. It's a nice little company, and they have great products. Plus, there's even a Bone Suckin' Song, now. What psychiatrist could not love a song about barbecue with the refrain, "We're talkin' serious, we're not delirious"?

5. The nap that I'm about to go take. There is seriously nothing better in the whole wide world than a post-call nap. Unless it's a post-call nap all buried under the blankets, curled up with a warm puppy.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's like Lent

Dudes! I'm down to the last 40 days of internship. I'm thinking of giving something up for the occasion. Except, I've already given up free time and sleep...

I'm on call at State Hospital tonight. I was lamenting earlier that I didn't have my camera when I drove over to the adolescent building to put some kid in restraints. The grounds are quite lovely this time of year, and everything is in full bloom. This really is an amazing place, full of history and stories and lives and souls. Although, as I commented to the PA on our unit earlier, when the patient we just started on clozaril (clozaril = big gun antipsychotic) was lying on the floor naked in the middle of the hall and wailing at the top of her lungs in Spanish, this place feels more and more like a "state hospital" every day.

I've got this one patient I admitted yesterday, she's driving me crazy. She apparently was manic and decided it would be a good idea to drive from Manhattan to Florida. And as always happens (you'd be surprised at how many crazy people decide this is a good idea), she broke down in North Carolina. I don't know why they all crash land here. Apparently it's a good halfway point - they can make it through Virginia, but not quite to South Carolina. So she gets lost, starts feeling physically ill, and so what is the logical conclusion to this? She gets out of her car and lays down on the side of the highway.

.....really? That seemed like the best thing to do?

So now she's my problem. Because she got taken to a crappy private hospital where they made five medication switches in seven days, and then her insurance ran out, so they sent her here. And she of course has started refusing to take medications because they're "too strong, too strong!" So I pull her to the side today, and I was like, what gives? And she goes on and on, in full Fran Drescher voice, about how I'm too inexperienced and I don't know my medications and I'm trying to kill her and I'm trying to drug her out I asked very private things about her yesterday and now I'm going to do her like this and she won't take the medication I tried to start because she read about that and it's poison - POISON - and she has a medical background too, you know.

And I'm like, lady, if I wanted to drug you out, you'd be unconscious right now. But now that you mention it, maybe we should give that a try. And two, there's a big difference between being a nurses' aide and being, I don't know, a DOCTOR. What I said out loud was, okay, well, here's the deal. I'm willing to work with you, but, if you continue to refuse your medications, well, the difference between us and ol' Bipolar Hill Hospital (it's an inside joke) is that I can make you take them. WITH A NEEDLE. Don't think I won't. We finally came to an agreement but I so just wanted to duct tape her mouth shut. We'll see if she actually takes anything tonight...

Ohhhh. If she starts with me tomorrow I'm going to kick her in the shins.

I did, however, admit an amazing lady today. She's faced so much adversity I can't even stand it. And she's been working her Twelve Steps for ten years now. She's articulate and insightful and is here because she just got overwhelmed by a life that would overwhelm the strongest of people. She's a breath of fresh air in this place, let me tell you. She's going to be an amazing sponsor some day. I think she's really going to do great things.

She appreciated that I knew about the steps and "the rooms" and could understand phrases like "life on life's terms" and "let go and let God". I didn't tell her that I think the Twelve Steps are...well...I think they're kind of crap.

Okay, that's a giant overstatement - I fully and wholeheartedly support AA and NA and encourage my patients to go and to keep going until they find the right home group. I think it has a lot of solid concepts and the community support from others who've been where you are is invaluable.

I'll tell you one group I can't stand, though, is Overeaters Anonymous. Every OA meeting I've ever been to was like a setup for a hard core eating disorder. Food, weight, numbers, food, weight, numbers. Restrict, banish, eliminate. Seriously, no, that only makes it worse.

I'll tell you a secret. When I hit the end of my rope in NH and had to just let go, my own eating disorder was totally out of control (I've mentioned on here before that I have bulimia). That's the thing about addiction, and eating disorders (bulimia more so than anorexia), and the like - they're not healthy, but they're wicked strong coping mechanisms, and that's why we keep them. The eating disorder is a HUGE repository for anxiety, stress, trauma issues, self-loathing, all of those things. It's a vast, vast hole you can keep pouring your angst into. It was the strongest coping mechanism I had, and I was under so much stress then that even it was starting to fail to compensate. I don't want to know what comes next.

But by the time I got back to Chicago, I was so off-kilter, and I knew that I couldn't just dive back into another residency without making some serious changes in myself. So the program in which I sought help was Twelve Step based, because they treated addiction as well (honestly? Lots of people like to lump addiction and eating disorders together. But when you get right down to it, it's like apples and lug nuts). That's where I learned about the Steps, and that's where I started to feel like they had some serious flaws.

A, so not helpful for eating disorders, let me just say that. The Eight Steps to ANAD? Much better. Particularly Step Two - "Recognize that 'food' and 'weight' are not the real issues, but that other underlying problems in our lives have led to our obsessions with food, eating, and weight."

I cannot tell you the number of times that I scrawled "FOOD AND WEIGHT ARE NOT THE REAL ISSUES!" across the white board when we got off track in our ANAD meetings. Because it really is the whole point.

But B, I think the Steps and the Program are sort of flawed in general. Which, nothing's perfect. But I dislike how, the moment you slip, even a little, you're back to square one. It's a nice idea, but relapse is a part of recovery. You have to accept that and anticipate it, not pretend that it doesn't exist. Because it's going to happen, and the point is to have mechanisms in place to pull out of that nosedive faster every time. To get the point, not to just avoid.

The other thing I couldn't handle was the concept of powerlessness. I had SO much trouble with my First Step (which is the only one I had to do, thankfully), because I couldn't give over to that idea that I was powerless over my disease (some would say that's sort of the point, but, nonetheless). Because wasn't that the very point of being where I was? To gain power over it?

The bulimia, for me, came out of being powerless. It's such a complex entity I can't even begin to explain all the layers to it, but the original point was to distort myself, to become unappealing, in the hopes that it would stop my molester. I was 11 when it began (even though I wasn't diagnosed until my third year of medical school), just starting into puberty, my body was changing, becoming more womanly. This heralded a number of potential disasters. So I fell into this thing, this disease, that accomplished so many of my goals. I was fat and thus disgusting and unattractive, so even if I couldn't keep my perp at bay, at least I could keep other men at a distance to avoid retraumatizing myself (that's about half the reason I'm not a puker, because my other compensatory mechanisms aren't nearly as efficient). It made me look as bad on the outside (or closer to it, at least) as I felt on the inside. It reinforced my negative self image. It was a self-mutilating behavior, in essence. And it helped me strengthen my superpowers of dissociation, it functioned as a place to store all my anxiety, it did all the right things, even if it wasn't so healthy for me. The whole point was taking back some semblance of control over my own body and my own psyche.

Now, of course, where it got me was almost two decades (so far) of being at war with my body and self-loathing and self-punishment and etc, etc. Although, you know, it wasn't the ED that did that. The ED was a symptom of that. But it certainly reinforced things.

So this concept of powerlessness was lost on me. And truthfully, it still is. I'm not powerless over my disease. Neither is my patient. She was telling me about how she found a bottle of gin in her daughter's room last week. She picked it up, she was tempted, but she walked away from it. Because she knew it wasn't the answer, that giving up her ten years of sobriety wasn't worth seconds, minutes, or even hours of gratification. That's a powerful woman, right there. There's nothing powerless about that act. I mean, I understand the concept, you know, but I think the application's all wrong.

And how do you get anywhere if you can't take the first step?

Was that more than you all wanted to know about me?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

"If you're not outraged...'re not paying attention."
~ Author Unknown

This'll piss you off:

Wow. Wow.

I don't care who you are, or what your politics, or if you did or didn't want to see HRC in the White House, the fact that they can compile a montage like this is just disgusting.

Monday, June 23, 2008

"Alright, and what else is new?"

I had a very long day at State Hospital. Although I was actually busy today, which was a nice change, although I concede a lot of it was busy work and fussing and logistical crap. Whatever. Hopefully tomorrow will be a reasonably early day, because Wednesday is my last full 30 hour call at SH. Possibly (I think it is) the last one ever in my life, actually. Hooray! I'm on call again on Sunday night, but that doesn't start until 8pm.

Anyway, I'm at the end of this long, long day and waaaay down at the other end of the hall (the women's unit is very loooooooong), one of Ruthie's patients is arguing with her. And she screams, "Fuck you!" and storms down the hallway to her room, loudly slamming the door behind her. I continue walking down the hall and grab Ruthie by the arm (she's one of my good friends and one of my cellmates office mates next year) and start harassing her about, dude, Ruthie, what kind of doctor are you, patients all slamming doors up in here? And she rolls her eyes and says, "Right. And I'm going to hell."

I said, "Haven't we already established this?" Ruthie and I have had multiple conversations about how, not only is she a heathen and a sinner, she has failed to accept Jesus Christ into her heart as her personal savior (as I think I've mentioned previously, Ruthie's Jewish).

She says, "Well that's what I told her! I said, 'alright, and what else is new'? Ugh!"

I assured her we'd have a good time.

Maybe she can be a third for Claudia and my standing Canasta game on Tuesdays in Hell. Or perhaps PenguinShrink and Chef will have us over, for pork, I assume, on a Friday during Lent. Peng has often commented on how they're already looking at a nice condo with a view of the River Styx.

Seriously, if we went to hell every time our patients told us we were going there, we'd already be in hell right now (or maybe that's the point of intern year. Nah, I think that's more like purgatory).

Oh, speaking of the afterlife, did everyone know that George Carlin died? I'm a little sad. And I wonder if Jesus will, in fact, serve him pork chops tonight.


It was just a long damn day today. Mondays usually are, but today, man. My patients were extra cranky, two of the men got in a big, table flinging, chair throwing, drag-out of a fight up in the mall (we have this thing called the psychosocial rehab mall, which is just a wing where patients go to groups and classes and such. It isn't an actual like a shopping mall or anything. But it confuses a lot of new folks. The first time I heard this I was like, you're taking them where??). I stood there and looked puffed up and large and immobile. On the unit we call this "show of force." It's basically an intimidation tactic where we display our presence to the patient in hopes of getting them to back down and comply with what we want them to do, and usually involves several large black men and me standing there looking severe. Occasionally, it's just a numbers thing - i.e., we pack as many staff members as we can find into as large a posse as possible to overwhelm them with our sheer numbers. Most of the time it works, actually, and we avoid having to lay hands on the patients and physically restrain them or whatnot. But truth be told? If that guy had so much as blinked twice in my direction you would've been amazed at how fast my fat ass was across the room and diving behind the upended table for cover.

I had one patient who was trying to tell me that her mother had schizoaffective disorder, which is something we diagnose when someone has both schizophrenia and a mood (affective) disorder, like depression or bipolar. But she told me that her mother was schizodefective.

Um...I know she may have seemed that way to you, but...

But, when I came home, I had gas! And in a good way, not because we went for Indian food yesterday. It actually smells a little more strongly that I'd like by the fireplace, which is a gas log and has a pilot light, so I'm trying to air the place out a little and keep telling myself it's just because the gas hasn't been on in so long. We'll see. I'm going to go see my shrink in a few minutes. so we'll close up and see how bad the smell is when I get back.

Oh, and Maxine came over when I got home, because Sparrow's flown off to the mountains. She and Maggie are still being all jealous and competitive. But they occasionally unite forces to protect the house from errant squirrels or falling leaves and cars and such.


PS, I'm back now, and it smells less like gas in here. I guess we'll see what it's like in the morning. Oh, and my shrink made what had to be one of the shrinky comments of all time. We were talking about how I get in my own way - everyone does. It's therapy, resistance is expected - and I was saying that part of the reason I think this is true for me is because of my intellect, and thus my ability to intellectualize the crap out of anything and everything. I framed this as, "On occasion I'm just too smart for my own well-being." And what I assume (hope) she was trying to say was, your intelligence is just fine the way it is.

What she said was, "Kate, you're not too smart."

I laughed really, really hard. Fortunately, so did she.

Sunday, June 22, 2008


Last time I saw my God daughter (she's six), she told me this exact story:

"This summer we went to Mexico and we flew in a big plane and we sat in the back and I sat near the window and I kept asking my mommy, 'Are we in Mexico yet? Are we in Mexico yet? Are we in Mexico yet?' And then my mommy got a headache."

My aunt and uncle came over today. And then I got a headache.

I don't think the two are more than coincidentally related, though, frankly.

(It's a random cartoon I found on the internet while doing an image search for "headache". It really amused me. The only credit I could find was that it was filed under "Ben is a dork." I don't know what that means. God, I love the internet.)

You know those days where you wake up and think, okay. I have a plan today. I'm going to do this and this and this, and it's going to be fabulous. And then the dog vomits on your bed and the light fixture explodes and you end up washing ranch dressing off the ranch dressing. You know those days? Today was one of those days.

Oh, it seemed like such a nice day when I woke up at 6:30. Which is a ridiculous hour to be up on a weekend day, but, whatever. Mags and I lounged in bed and watched an early morning prelude to the SVU Marathon on USA today (God, I love USA, aka the all-Law-And-Order network). And I thought, okay, up, shower, go to Starbucks to work, come back, unpack a little, have lunch with the fam, come back, make some espresso, unpack again, go to the new intern thing, come back again, go to bed. What a lovely day, right?


I went into the bathroom, and the light made this weird hissing sound. And I thought, oh, the bulb's about to burn out, whatever. And then all of a sudden, the leftmost socket (the only one with a functional bulb in it) EXPLODES in a loud, popping, shower of sparks. I ducked. And then I made sure nothing was on fire (note to self: She who lives in an old house made entirely of wood should really buy a damn fire extinguisher! Anyhow...). And then I put new bulbs in it and flipped the switch. That socket's blown, but the other two still work. When I go back to Lowes to replace the blinds I bought that are an inch too short, I'll get a new fixture. Because if I wait for the handyman to fix it, it'll never get done. ::sigh::

And then I went to Starbucks, and managed to finish all the outstanding Child discharge summaries I had (I still have a couple from the adolescents, but I'm less worried about those because I really want my attending from Child to like me. Not that I don't want the other one to, but I really liked her, and so I want her to think I'm like the best resident ever, right, so she'll take me under her wing and turn me into a really good C&A psychiatrist and vote for me for a fellowship at Baby Blue. Okay, no, that's all secondary. I thought she was cool and so I want her to think I'm cool, too. It's so...well....adolescent....). And dropped my tea. But I only spilled a little. So then I went to Target and bought a $14 rice cooker (because my $40 one always burned the rice) and some groceries. And spent a lot of time standing in the aisles going, now...what the hell was it that I wanted here? And, um...where was I going again?

It was the first of many times I would ask myself today, what the hell is wrong with me??

I came home. I swore a lot and tried to find a place for the groceries (have we talked about my lack of cabinet/counter space?). I unpacked more of the kitchen. I had to stop several times and go into the other room before I started crying about not knowing where the hell to put the glass bowls or not being able to remember the word for "toaster oven" or being a big spaz and dropping things. So I went into my room and the dog hops on the bed and is all smooches and snuggles and rub my belly until, without warning, she yaks all over the blanket.


Fortunately, I was able to locate the OxyClean with minimal swearing and fuss. And I rinsed the blanket out in the bathtub because my uncle hadn't actually come over to hook up the washer/dryer yet. Frack.

So they showed up, with tools and a milk pitcher and air filters for the furnace (because my aunt says to me yesterday, "Have you checked the air filter? If you tell me what size it is, we can pick one up for you on our way" And then I sent her a long email saying EW EW EW EW THAT'S THE GROSSEST THING IN EXISTENCE, EW! No WONDER the place still smelled like cats!). We changed the gross filter of disgustingness and went to lunch at an Indian place in Durham. And then we came back, and my uncle and I spent WAY too much time trying to figure out my new espresso machine.

The Starbucks here had a tent sale last weekend, to clear out their old model coffee makers and make room for the new ones. My $50 Target espresso maker didn't survive the move, so I thought, you know what? This is going to be my congrats-on-surviving-intern-year-AGAIN present to myself. So I bought the Sirena, which was originally $600, marked down to $199, and then got the 20% tent sale discount PLUS the manager's additional 10% employee discount (because he knows me. Because I went to that Starbucks every single morning that I lived down the street). Wow, what a deal! And it's so nifty! And it's made by BMW! WOW! I have the BMW of espresso machines, cool!

Leave it to BMW to turn espresso into a ridiculously complicated process.

Now, part of it was, again, I kept dropping things, and I was just generally like, "what?", and my aunt kept coming in and saying "Where do you want this? Where do you want this? Where do you want this?" and I kept getting all overwhelmed and confused trying to make espresso AND arrange the kitchen. And after we finally figured it out and made some damn good espresso (what do you know? The $600 machine really DOES make a better cup of coffee than the $50 one!), then we hung pictures and moved the TV (because the one in my bedroom chose today to die, ps. Not that I didn't buy it, oh, my first year of medical school, and not like I didn't buy it off the clearance rack, but, nevertheless...) and then my neighbor came over to complain that my empty water bottles outside waiting to be picked up were over the property line (no, really! Way to meet the new neighbor, huh? She didn't even bring cookies!). And then my aunt and uncle left and Maxine came over and she and Maggie sniped at each other a lot (jealous, jealous puppies over here). And I tried to do the dishes and make a salad for tomorrow and discovered one of the neat little single-serving cups of ranch dressing I'd bought this morning had mysteriously exploded all over the refrigerator and the other little cups of ranch dressing (which then became part of the dishwashing extravaganza) and nearly wound up in tears again and for the five hundred eighty fourth time thought, Jesus, Mary, and Steve, what the hell is WRONG WITH ME?!

And then I went...

Wait....what's today's date?



And somewhere in that mess of dropping things and verging on tears and stuff exploding, my catamenial migraine hit. That's what all the clumsiness was about (I have no idea why things kept exploding).

You know, most days out of the month I really like being a woman. And most of the time I don't even mind the monthly ritual of sloughing and end up humming Ani DiFranco's well-stated and empowering Blood in the Boardroom, with it's lines like "I bleed to renew life every time it's cut down" and "Men have all the money, they have the implements of death, but I can make life you know. I can make breath". But every now and then I revert back to the real meaning of what I'm commonly heard to say, "I think God took all the souls that couldn't handle being women and made them men."

Which really means, sometimes? Being a woman totally sucks. Bleh.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Let's get drunk and forget what we did

No, there wasn't another night of moonshine-fueled debauchery. I was thinking about this day last year (you know how I'm all about the anniversary reactions) and went back and read this post from same.

In which, of course I recounted the song playing on my CD player when I arrived at the Chair's house was this one. Which, honestly, I've sort of considered to be the theme song of my intern year (which is better than the theme song of my last residency, the chorus of which is, "Get back, muhfucka, you don't know me like that!"), with its references to being "faded, a little grey from every time that you've been hurt," that "the rain just ain't enough when you're this dry," never fitting in your own skin, wearing out shoes that someone else should be wearing now, etc, etc. It's all about letting go and giving up an identity that doesn't fit anymore, letting people in, connecting and being available to receive what people will give you.

It's interesting...when I first moved here, I had this gospel station as one of my radio presets (there are a lot of gospel stations here in the buckle of the Bible Belt) because I liked this morning show they had. I don't remember her name, the host, but she was positive and upbeat and didn't smack you over the head with ol' time Religion. And she was talking to her co-host (okay, sidekick) one morning when I was listening, during the time that I was still without license and bumming around with my anxiety brewing, and she said to him, "You're going to have a blessed day, I can feel it." And his response to her has stuck with me. He said,

"I believe it, I receive it!"

Hmm. Fairly Secret-esque, and those who had the misfortune of hearing my tirade about how I think The Secret is crap (okay, not crap, but intuitive, and more what I think is that the hype and commercialism around it is exploitative and aimed at a particularly vulnerable population) will tell you how much I buy into THAT. Except, I think he captured (for free, and in six words) the real point of what that whole thing is trying to say. But I also think that point is important. I think it's probably the key to getting anywhere in life, and I think it's something that often impedes us. Because being open to receive something, even a positive something, makes us vulnerable. Change makes us vulnerable. But the only constant in life is change, so, your choices are limited. You can waste a lot of energy resisting, or channel that into opening up and receiving - events, people, things, whatever.

Not that I've been the best at this this year. But hey, I'm human and flawed, and sometimes being able to accept things is all about receiving them at the right speed. There are still plenty of things to which I haven't been able to open myself, because even though I want them, and they may present themselves, it's still too threatening, too frightening, too vulnerable to do so. But that's why life is an ongoing journey, not a destination.

Wow. Could I throw a few more cliches in there? It's true, though, is the thing. Anyway, I think my point was, that stuck with me, and it's something I need to keep working on as I look towards revisiting this post next year.

I also commented that had I chosen my CDs differently, this could well have been the song playing when I pulled up (my favorite line in which is the title of today's post). Which, frankly, would've set a whole different tone for the year.

(I swear to God, I remember every single minute of Porkfest. For the record.)

I can't believe it's been a year since this whole adventure started. Tomorrow night is the resident thing for the new interns at the same place we had ours. It was a nice night. I played pool with Benny and PenguinShrink and Chef, got lei'd by the curly-haired chief (that was how they identified who the members of the new class were - we got plastic flower lei's to wear. It was helpful), spent a while talking to Mike, met a few of the upperclassmen I still consider to be some of my better friends in the program. And most importantly, discovered that the rest of my classmates were scared out of their skin, too, if for slightly different reasons than I was. But, we were all in the same boat.

I also spent a good deal of time talking to D, who left our program the day after I got my license. Just didn't show up to work one day. He was older, had been practicing in another specialty for 20-some years. I thought maybe he was dead, because he didn't come to work, wasn't answering his pager, wasn't answering his phone, and that everyone should stop being so mad at him until we were certain he hadn't just keeled over in the shower that morning. But ultimately the higher-ups confirmed that he was, indeed, still breathing, and in time we hired Ruthie and Faye in his place. So, ultimately it worked out okay. But no one in our class ever heard from him again. Which was sad, because I liked him, and his partner, too.

It really scared me when he left, I'll be honest. Because I identified with him. I mean, I didn't have a spouse and two mortgages and five kids, but he and I - and Comrade, who's of course still with us - were outsiders. We hadn't just come out of medical school, we'd been in a whole different part of medicine and chose to come to psychiatry. For us, I thought, it was a decision of a different magnitude. One of my friends told me recently that he chose psychiatry because, out of everything he tried in med school, it seemed to suck the least (I mean, I guess when you get right down to it, that's really why you choose anything, but usually, it's not that conscious a factor). But to make a switch from a whole other specialty, right, you do it for different reasons. It's a bigger leap. Something. But whatever happened, he didn't make it. And of course, since I came in to the program unable to see things turning out much differently than they had before, this fact scared the crap out of me. I mean, at that point I was still operating on the conditioning of the Emerald Palace and assuming that they were right and I was a really, really bad doctor. D was a good one. He'd been practicing for a long time. So, in my irrational state, if he couldn't handle it, that really didn't bode well for me.

It ended up having nothing to do with me. Because, of course, we're two different people, with different skills, neuroses, demands, and strengths. Which, logically, I knew, but since when have I been ruled by my logical mind?


I guess it'll be interesting to see the next generation tomorrow night and see what they think, who they've connected with, and what they're ready to receive.

Meanwhile, this year, today was a fairly full day. I got up, went to Starbucks and worked on some very delinquent discharge summaries (still not done), came home, unpacked a bunch of the kitchen. I discovered that the gas isn't on in my house, because the stove didn't work. I mused to the woman at the gas company (they're coming on Monday) about how ridiculous it was that I'd lived here a week and was just figuring out that the stove didn't work. I hung out with Sparrow while the handyman swapped our refrigerators (long story). I fell out of her hammock (it was funny). I found all the pieces to my water cooler and got that working for the first time in about a month (there was an algae incident a few weeks before the move, but it's clean now). I laid on my bed with my sweet sleeping puppy and watched as the sun broke through a beautiful summer squall. Oh, and I made a couple of acquisitions:

On the right is my snazzy new, double-insulated, looks just like the cup I get every morning, stylish Starbucks tumbler that I broke down and bought this morning for all the above reasons. On the left are some hydrangeas in a mason jar that Sparrow brought over for Mags and me, because she thought we needed them.

She was right.

I believe it, I receive it. It's gonna be a good year.

Friday, June 20, 2008

But who's counting?

65 minutes until the moonlighter comes. At least, she called me at 4:30 and said, hey, fyi, I'm an 8:00 moonlighter, not a 5:00 moonlighter - as I mentioned, they get paid handsomely for their time here, so a lot of the moonlighters, particularly the senior ones who make more money and have fewer clinical responsibilities at Big Hospital, tend to show up for their shifts as soon as they're done with their day at Big Hospital (or, you know, an hour after that, by the time they drive here). I appreciate her letting me know, though. Otherwise you spend roughly the hour of 4:30 to 5:30 waiting for the pager to go off, wondering, are they going to come early? Are they here yet? Are they just in traffic but still coming early? Which then leads to a 3 hour post-big-disappointment depression when you realize, no, they're not going to be here until 8...

It's not that I don't want to work. It's that...okay, it's that I'm a little tired of intern hours.

Not to mention today -

Okay, that's just spooky.

I was about to type "-has been a little slow. Okay, more along the lines of painfully boring," and the pager goes off. With someone for me to see in admissions.


Oh! But at least it's something for me to do!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Love (mi vida loca) Thursday

Ahhh, call was wacky. Only two more overnights left at State Hospital. I'm on call again tomorrow night, but it's only until 8pm (or until the moonlighter gets there, if she comes early, which, for the kind of money they make, I'd get there sooner!).

So, when someone comes in, their reason for coming to the hospital is what we call their Chief Complaint. Like, if you're coming in because you have chest pain, your chief complaint would be chest pain. Or if you're hearing voices...well, you know what, it's not all that complicated. But in the psych world, we tend to make a habit of using the patient's own words against them as their CC. It's reasonably diagnostic. I tend to write down the first thing that comes out of the patient's mouth when I say, "so why are you here tonight?". Unless, of course, the second or third thing is funnier. Psych patients? Tend to be funny people. Here's a sampling of last night's chief complaints...

"Get me the fuck out of here, 'cause I ain't stayin'."

"Can I get a lawyer?"

"This is all a misunderstanding." (Oh, believe me, it always is)

"(Patient is Spanish-speaking only, but per the translator, what she turned out to be speaking was not Spanish, but gibberish.)" (Sometimes you have to paraphrase for them. And wow, that lady was so, so sick. I kept waking up with this sick knot in my stomach hoping she wasn't dead and wondering if they would call me if she did keel over.)

And my personal favorite, courtesy of this absolutely adorable autistic adolescent boy, who walked into my interview room covered in graham cracker crumbs. Apparently, earlier in the day he'd attacked his parents and several police officers. Anyway, when I asked him what had happened yesterday, he said:


He had some volume control issues. But God, was he cute. And so excited that he got to stay up until 1am.

My actual favorite of the evening was this sweet blonde girl about my age, with these wicked cool tattoos (there was a lot of cool ink that came through my office last night, including one girl who had her boyfriend's name in Arabic tattooed in three inch letters across the instep of her foot. It was really quite beautiful. But always, always a bad idea to get a boyfriend's name inked on, even if no one else can read it), who presented voluntarily to State Hospital, something that happens on occasion. She looked at me through her tear-filled, shimmering blue eyes and said, "I'm here because I need help. I waited too long to come in."

I know, sister. I know.

Man, though, the bats were in a-flyin' last night.

But I was walking out this morning, and it was a gorgeous Southern summer day, and there was this huge magnolia bloom just high up enough that I couldn't pick it (the grounds at SH are amazing, y'all. Some day I'll post pictures). And I thought about my night, and my patients, and even though I was so totally exhausted, and it had some really tenuous moments, I just found myself thinking, you know what? I love my life. I love what I do. This is good. Crazy, but good.

(If I could just manage to find myself a love life, then I'd totally be lovin' life.)

So then...I'm on my way home, and I find myself behind one of those livestock trucks. You know, the ones, usually carrying cows, or big ol' pigs. Except I'm looking at this one, and it was full of piglets.

Oh, my gosh, they were SO CUTE. They were all little snouts and floppy pink ears and tiny feet and they kept climbing over each other to stick their little noses out the holes and sniff the air like little puppies. And they were all squealing and adorable, and I tried to convince myself they were headed for long, happy Bocephus-like farm lives full of slop and sun and mud instead of, well, you know. But don't you know I pulled in behind that truck for a full ten miles, watching the piglets. And noticed that all the cars next to me kept pulling up and then pacing to the piglet truck for a while.

It was so random.

Much like everything else in my life.

So then I got home and I went and got the pooch next door, and Mags and Maxine and I spent some time outside being lazy and enjoying the weather. I Furminated the heck out of both girls, until they'd had enough of me and my silly Furminator. But we stayed out a while and they played in the sun and the grass. It was, again, so cute.

See the pretty hydrangea in the background? That's actually Sparrow's house. Our little cottages are separated by a very nicely landscaped lawn and a little stone patio. Each pooch has their own dog run behind our respective houses. Mags should be getting her doggie door this weekend, actually. Hopefully Maxine will show her how to use it, because I think my girl, who has been occasionally penned in using strands of yarn, might have a little bit of trouble with this push-through-the-door-in-the-wall concept.

She clearly had a good time today.

Maxine was happy to be out with us, too.

Those are my feet. I loved this.

I think she did, too.

He. They're funny together.

So then I cleared out for a while, because the cleaning ladies my landlord had hired were FINALLY coming to attack the filth that Kyle left.

They did a fine job. They missed a couple of obvious things, like, the cobwebs in the fireplace, and they did some peculiar stuff...

Notice that's my hair gel, not the hand soap. The hand soap was up on a shelf...

Whatever. At least the house smells like Lemon Pledge now instead of cats. But it REALLY smells like Lemon Pledge - the window they left open for ventilation didn't actually have a screen in it, but instead still had the storm window down. ::sigh::

It's definitely been amusing watching Maggie slide all over the polished floors tonight (you know, beyond her usual issues with hardwood). And I think this is probably the last time my bed will ever be made in this house...

But they DID fold both the toilet paper AND the paper towels into cute little points. (This is actually a recreation, just for you, Barb. The original one got lost in an urgent dog-feet-full-of-wet-floor-polish incident).

So while the cleaners were here, I went and bought blinds and saw my shrink and then went to the Whole Foods, where I purchased an extraordinarily disorganized collection of food (I should know better than to shop post-call). Whereupon I promptly got home and discovered I was ordering pizza for dinner, because you know what? I was waiting for the kitchen to be un-disgustified before I unpacked it. So I have nary a clue where the pots and pans are...or the plates...or the silverware, for that matter.

Oy, there's a lot to do this weekend....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

How they rolled, old school

My dad's been scanning all his old 35mm slides into digital pictures. He sent me this one because it's got his legendary old dog Jack (famed in song and story) in the background.

This was, what, around 1940? Love the knobby-kneed, vintage-bike, no leash law nostalgia of it all. Also love the striped socks, Dad. And how cute is Jack?

What I loved most about this picture is how it was titled "The 70th Street Gang." There you have it, folks. My pops the OG and his beeyotches, rollin up in they whipz old school. He and the blonde wuz dogged by the po'po, word.

My dad, back in his 'banger days. Even whiter than I am, which is hard to do right at this very moment.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Finally! I have internet at the new place!!! Ahh....all is right with the world now.

Not that it matters, because I'm on call again tomorrow night. So I really have to wait until Thursday to enjoy it.

The cable guy was supposed to be here after 5; he showed up at 8:30. I'm sensing a theme, here...

Monday, June 16, 2008

A few words of advice...

It was a rough call night. I'm just leaving State Hospital now (not bad, but I'm doubting my ability to drag myself out of bed later to go to Starbucks and post. We'll see). So I thought I'd share a few insights from my evening about how not to get let out of a state psychiatric facility. Remember that I'm limiting the list to prime examples heard since 8pm last night.

Five things to say that will guarantee you a longer admission:

5. "I want to see my doctor. Gonna punch him out."
4. "Just wait. [Insert pretty much anyone here, but especially a mental health provider] is going to be sorry s/he messed with me."
3. "Oh. I lost count of how many pills I took because I was drunk."
2. "I'm not talking to you." (Then...who exactly are you talking to?)

And, it should go without saying...

1. "Look at my butt!"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Boxes, Pork, and other double entendres

And so I'm back at Starbucks. I got home from PorkFest at about 3am, drugged the heck out of my recently-sobered-up ass around 4 when I went to bed (because I'm on overnight call tonight, so sleeping in would actually be a huge plus), still woke up at 8:30. Damn it. And honestly? A little hungover this morning. I never get hungover. I'm also never nearly as much of a lightweight as I was last night, although, let me tell you, I was apparently quite amusing...I think it was a combination of not having really eaten all day and being pretty dehydrated from a day of fussing around the house. Oh, and possibly the shot of moonshine (no chaser - Claud, you would've been so proud).

So earlier in the day. my Aunt and I hit the place pretty hard. What we unfortunately didn't do was unpack a single damn box. But we restored a necessary order and organization. You remember the wall to wall boxes in the living room and the inaccessible office? It's better.

The front room actually has furniture in it.

You can make it all the way into the office now. Like, if you need to hook up the cable, or perhaps install a dog door.

I think I neglected to upload the corner that's piled three deep and six high with boxes of books, but, whatever....

We piled all the kitchen stuff on the dining room table, because there's no room for it to happen in the kitchen, but at least you can find the dining room furniture.

The dog continues to find places to hide, though. Can you find Waldo Maggie?

(PS - how much do I love that fireplace?)

Oh my gosh, we went over and Maggie met Sparrow's dog this morning, too. Maxine (the dog) is this tiny little bundle of adorableness. And I'm not an overwhelming fan of tiny dogs, but she's just awesome, and wow, the portability of her is a lot of fun. She and Mags seemed to do okay. Maggie might stay with them tonight while I'm on call, we'll see.

Bedroom's still tiny, but, nicely functional. Still needs screens so I can open the damn windows at night.

The Gardenias are in bloom, though. Aren't they lovely? Notice how I'm not showing you the fancy vase they're in, which Starbucks cup...

So after a long day of rearranging what the movers left, I finally showered and put on whatever clothes I could actually locate without looking too grungy, and headed off to Mike's for PorkFest 2008.

Which was a big hit.

Around 40 people showed up, I think, and there was a wide assortment of pork-related dishes.

(Note the centerpiece. He.)

Everyone brought some take on cooked pig. There were pigs in a blanket, pigs' feet, pork tenderloin, collards with fatback, several salad-with-bacon variations, Mike's (in)famous South Georgia Super Bowl dip (still not sure what's in the stuff, but I could mainline it), Mac and Cheese with bacon (i.e., "Fancy Mac 'n' Cheese"), prosciutto with melon, some sort of potato casserole, etc, etc, etc, and a LOT of high quality barbecue.

The overflowing table.

And of course, there were the desserts. I picked up some chocolate bars with bacon in them (actually not bad), and these local cupcakes that still use lard frosting (orgasmic), and the absolute best was Mike's take on the classic Elvis sandwich, which was peanut butter, bananas, Nutella, and...well...bacon, then pan-fried like a grilled cheese. Actually quite, quite good. One of the third years and his girlfriend (who I adore, but hey, she's a chemist) made this awesome cake for one of the fourth years who just graduated and part of the point of this party was to bid him farewell.

It was red velvet cake inside.

Very reminiscent of Steel Magnolias and the scene with Tom Skerrit and Shirley MacLaine and the groom's cake. Ain't nothin' like a good piece of ass.

Hmm. That was an unintentional segue...

I don't know exactly how Mike's window got broken, but we have several very amusing pictures of him trying to fix it...

Overall a good time was had by all. Or at least by most. Sometime after all the kids went home, the moonshine (S'cuse me, corn whiskey) came out, and wow, I haven't been that drunk in a while. Which was a collective problem. Mostly for PenguinShrink, who was on call last night, when we got the brilliant idea to prank call the Crisis Pager.

Oh, poor thing. I'm not sure how exactly I got to be the one doing the calling, but we identified ourselves to the operator as Lola Manlove (which is a surprisingly common last name around here, which we'd been talking about earlier). And she gets on the line and we're all screaming - at one point Mike had the phone and was talking about how his wife wouldn't have sex with him anymore and was she commitable - no, really, folks, we get calls like this - and the whole crowd is yelling, and my pre-assigned part at this point was to stay in the background and yell "Hell, no, I ain't touchin' that itty-bitty thing anymore, you bastard!" Until Mike couldn't keep his composure any longer and handed me the phone, and of course I'm in hysterics and poor Peng was like, "Ma'am, you have to slow down, I can't understand you. You're going to have to calm down, ma'am." Which was when I finally caught my breath and was like "no, no, it's Kate." And there was this pause....and she was like...."Kate, are you drunk?" To which I could only answer..."Yes. A lot." There was another pause, and she says, "Mike has a couch, right?"

I assured her that I could contract for safety for the evening. Meanwhile Mike's in the background yelling "go ahead, try it, commit me!!"

Oh, my God, I can't even tell you how funny we thought we were.

We eventually passed around the phone and hopefully amused both her (note to self...need to call her today....) and the second year she was on call with.

This is the sort of debauchery that happens when you get a bunch of drunken psychiatrists together, my friends.

And fret not, I stayed put until I was good and sobered up, which turned out to be interesting in whole other ways, because I ended up meeting a very different set of Mike's friends (er, his friends' friends?) including one who promises he can do wonders for my hair. I'm so going after this guy because, a, he was such a gentleman and didn't even comment on the length of my roots, and two, Matthew, you know I've always got your back and am looking to find more of the Gays for you. Plus, what sane straight woman passes up a good gay hairdresser? Anyway.

So I'm caffeinated and fed now and feeling a little better. Planning on more or less taking the day off, since I have to be at State Hospital at 8 tonight for overnight call. Maybe there will be a more successful nap involved in my day. And possibly another trip to Target. Back to my routine...I love it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Timing is everything

Maybe Karma isn't as mad at me as I thought (or, maybe my Karma is finally catching up with me?). So I'm sitting here in the Starbucks in the town where I now live (yay!) and it occurs to me how well the timing of the things around this move have been pretty fortuitous, on the whole. Like, Maggie breaks her foot two days before we move to a house with no stairs. Starbucks introduces free wireless internet as a perk of registering your Starbucks card three days before the big long break in my internet access.

The move went...well, in the end, I'm in my new place, and I love it. Well, I think I do. Because I'm pretty sure it's there somewhere under all the boxes.

Things started out...inauspiciously. I was the second move of the day, which the guy who did the estimate assured me meant that they six man crew and large truck would show up between 12 and 1. Which was veryimportant, because I was supposed to present the Distinguished Teacher Award from the PGY-1 Class (or something like that) at Graduation last night, which started at 7. I told him I had to be there by 6. He said it might be a close shave for 6, but, it'd be fine.

They came at 5.

But, after a semi-frantic phone call and an afternoon of "Shit, they're still not here!" text messages, Mike (who's so my hero right now) stepped up and fixed it (he either took my place or found another intern to do it). Which is really lucky, because the movers didn't leave the new place until after 9.

But they were a good bunch of guys and man, they were hard workers. And because they came so late, they actually brought a crew of nine people, and three more came to the old place and picked up the three things that went to storage. The were a little disorganized...i.e., I KNOW I have way too much stuff for my new place, but, um, here's what the doorway to the office (which is actually the larger bedroom) looked like when they left:

Yeah, not getting in there. The whole front room was also a wall of boxes. With one little gimpy puppy trapped on the couch. Can you find her?

Here's a close up.

Don't worry, that big stain is from the water glass she knocked over.

But on the whole, I'd definitely recommend them, although I'd suggest being the first move of the day if you can. But they were very nice, very good, quite professional (also rather fun guys)and generally good to work with. Oh, not to mention cheap. So if you live in the Triangle, TROSA's the way to go. I would definitely use them again, except, I'M NEVER, EVER MOVING AGAIN. They also do lawn care, contracting, framing, eBay sales, have a furniture thrift shop, and sell Christmas trees seasonally. If I find the front room before December, we'll have a TROSA Christmas tree this year.

Unfortunately, after they left we had sort of a rough time. I couldn't find my bedsheets. Or my pillows. Or my sanity Maggie's food dishes. Or a bath towel with which to take a shower. Plus, there were no screens in my bedroom, the landlord didn't actually manage to get the place cleaned before we moved in, the washer/dryer hookup is wrong, Kyle (the old tenant) took all the light bulbs when he left (such a prick) and I couldn't find more than two bulbs of my own, the shower drain was full of hair, etc, etc, etc.

So Mags and I got in the car, went for a drive, purchased some bottled water from McDonald's (I drank 2 liters of water in about 30 minutes. I did a lot of sweating yesterday, y'all), and called my parents and had a little meltdown.

My poor mother. I hung up on her. I was hysterical and sobbing and tired and she kept saying exactly the wrong thing because there was no right thing to say, which I finally told her, I just needed to have my little temper tantrum and then I'd be fine.

Which I was. It was okay. I came home. I found some sheets, if not the ones I was looking for. I found a pillow, if not the ones I was looking for. I threw it at my dog, who was lying on the bed looking forlorn. Here's what she did with it:

She's so cute.

And ultimately I cleared a path into the office, and found soap and a towel to take the best shower of my whole life, and put a light bulb up in the kitchen, and finally went to bed. And then I decided (since I'd turned the air on, because I have no screens in the bedroom) that I wanted my comforter, which I knew was in the cedar chest. And I had trouble opening it...couldn't figure out why, until I finally got the latch to pop, and poof! There were my pillows, crammed in on top and smelling sweetly of cedar.

Things definitely looked better in the light of day. So I cleared a spot big enough in the front room for Maggie's crate,

(Such a good girl, my girl.)

and headed off here. And now I'm going to the Home Depot and Whole Foods and Target. And my aunt's coming back over and we're going to try to make a dent before I take my pork-themed desserts over to Mike's for his Porkfest blowout tonight (Kate - sure you can't make it??). And I have a little time to work tomorrow before I'm on call tomorrow night. So we'll see how it goes. But regardless, we're home!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Away we go!

It's Moving Day!

That's actually an old picture, from when we moved to NH from Chicago. But I still just love it.

Still have a bunch of packing to do, but we're the second move of the day, so I think I'll make it.

Mags chewed her toe raw last night (as in, there was blood on the sheets this morning), but she seems to be walking better so far today. Maybe that thing really IS a sesamoid bone, and she's got something stuck up in her paw we just haven't seen yet. We'll see how it goes.

I'll try to post again later if there's time before I have to pack up the router and modem. Otherwise, you'll be hearing from me via Starbucks the next few days....keep your fingers crossed for us, everyone!! Here we go (again)!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Love (my sweet gimpy dog) Thursday

Initially, I had a very different Love Thursday post planned. That may have to wait for tomorrow...or actually, Tuesday, because my internet access may be spotty between now and then (frakkin' stupid Time Warner can't install it until Tuesday...).

Because my poor sweet puppy dog broke her foot at Day Care yesterday.

I'm not sure how, actually. The vet says she usually sees that kind of break when someone steps on the dog's paw or they get it caught in a door or something. The day care swears they "reviewed the tapes" (what?) and assured me that nothing like that could possibly have happened.

Right. Because I remember every single time I've stepped on the dog and she's been fine.

Maggie has a bad habit, actually, of being underfoot. She's not that small a dog, either, but she likes to be right on your heels to show how obedient she is. And, in fact, the one thing I'm so very going to miss about this place after we move TOMORROW (ahem), she and I have this ritual of racing down the stairs in the morning, her trying desperately not to get ahead of me but wanting to just bolt down them. It's very sweet and quite funny and although I've almost tripped over her about 83,000 times, I've never once stepped on her.

My girl. She's such a character.

So anyway, she was totally fine when I dropped her off on Tuesday morning before call. Yesterday, when I picked her up, she was moving a little slowly. And she kept licking her paw when we got home. So, like I said, I assumed her paw pad was burned or something. And then this morning she wouldn't bear weight on it at all. Wouldn't get off the bed, wouldn't walk any farther than absolutely necessary, didn't even want to go outside. So I took her to the vet (here's my day - pager goes off and wakes me up just before 8am. Talked to my friend in FL for an hour. Went upstairs, got dressed, carried the dog down the stairs, picked her up again, put her in the car, went to Starbucks. My aunt came at 10:30-ish. Mike came to claim his share of the donated bounty about 11. Went to the vet at noon. Donation folks came about 2:20, roughly ten minutes after Mags and I got home from the vet. They quite literally took a full truck worth of donated crap out of here. My aunt and I worked like fiends. Went and got Marble Slab - similar to, albeit better than, Cold Stone - for dinner. She left around 9. Bernie and hubby showed up shortly thereafter for their bounty. They finally left just before 10, with only one of the two book cases they intended to take tied to the roof of their car - they're coming back for the other one sometime later in the weekend, couldn't fit two - but they also took Ming's new carpet scrubber with them to drop off at his house. It's been a long damn day. Anyhow...) and the vet said, hmm, she's sure acting like it's broken. So a couple hundred dollars later (we do have vet insurance, mind you), she comes back, points out this thing on Maggie's x-ray that could be a bone chip. Says, it's really fine, don't worry too much about it, give her these anti-inflamatories, with food, for the next two weeks, and try to ice it twice a day for the next few days.

Ice it? Ice my dog's foot? I gave her the "are you absolutely certain that you're serious?" look I've learned from Mags.

She was a good vet, though. Put up with me and all my armchair doctoring very well. Had an intelligent conversation with me when I said, "are you sure that isn't a sesamoid bone?" And she didn't even laugh at me when we had the following exchange

Me: Do you think that could be a sesamoid bone?
Dr. Vet: Well, you know, I thought of that too, but I don't remember there typically being any sesamoid bones over the DIP...[insert boring - if brilliant, ahem - medical dialogue here between veterinarian and psychiatrist who thinks she can apply her meager knowledge of human anatomy to dog feet]
Me: Hmm. Well, I agree, that seems more likely to be a bone chip. And it would be a weird place for a sesamoid bone. Although, you know *I* have these sesamoid bones in my ankles that are in a weird....[trails off as silly human doctor remembers that she and her dog, are not, in fact, genetically related]...yeah, I know that made no sense. Nevermind. I'm sorry, I'm really tired...

Dude. I so would've laughed at me. Laughed right out loud.

Especially after she brought my dog back in. They gave the pooch a shot of poochie demerol or something for the pain before they took the x-rays.

She was so totally stoned. Like, Jimmy Buffet, Jerry Garcia, pass-me-the-cheetos stoned.

Oh my God, it was hysterical. That's her at the vet. Note the high quality Treo photography.

She didn't sober up for a long, long while.

She really was gonked. It was, of course, the cutest thing ever.

She's doing better, though. I got her evening pill into her without any trouble whatsoever. She's getting the three-legged-shuffle down without much trouble at all now (we had this three-legged cat who used to live across the street from us in NH who loved to torment Maggie, who, of course, loves cats. That little bastard would taunt her and taunt her until she finally took off after him, and then, BAM! he was off like a shot. And remember, Maggie's part Greyhound, she's quick on her feet. But she actually ran into the back of their car one day when Tripod dove underneath it and she couldn't stop in time. I kissed her nose and rubbed her belly when she walked back, all dejected, despite the fact that I was rolling in the grass with tears streaming down my face I was laughing so hard. Anyway, I like to think she learned a little something from him). And she gets twice daily peanut butter and wet food (because she has to eat with the pills so they don't upset her little tummy, and she typically free eats her dry food at some point throughout the day whenever she gets around to it), and she got a new dog bed, and some fancy treats, and I have to carry my 45lb dog up and down the stairs (her timing's actually great, since we're moving to a ranch house tomorrow) and she's being all babied and I won't let her jump onto anything and you know she's going to be totally, totally spoiled.

Seriously. It's very possible I shouldn't ever be allowed to have children. She just broke her toe, for Pete's sake.

Sweet gimpy little girl. How I love her.