29 March 2010

new place, new strategies

although i've not used this blog as a vehicle to update the world on my every move, here's an update: henry and i moved to a new apt 2 weeks ago and we absolutely love it. we're not entirely unpacked yet, but it's a lot newer, cleaner, and well... everything's more level. it's true.

we've done a few new things that we're proud of since we've been here that have enriched our lives and/or saved us money.

1. putting up bird feeders. this is more strictly an "enriching our lives" endeavor (but quite honestly, it's not very costly. only $3.96/each for bird feeders and ~$7 for a 15lb. bag of bird seed at Home Depot). we put the two bird feeders up on friday and within a few hours we had a variety of birds already munching. our cats have been glued to the windows, too.

2. combing the publix ads. henry and i are self-proclaimed couponers, anyways, but before the two weekly shopping trips we've taken since living at the new apartment, we've sat down with the weekly publix ad and circled/made a list of the specific things on sale we would get. we also went through coupons. we usually spend ~$100/week for groceries before coupons. these past two weeks, our bills have come up to ~$60, with a bold "you saved ~$40" declared at the bottom of the receipt. MONEY. literally.

3. living cable-less. when we moved, henry made the bold suggestion that we drop our cable tv. *gasp* as an avid watcher of food network, HGTV, and discovery channel (just to name a few), i was a little resistant at first. i came around, though. the fact is, henry and i don't really watch much tv. neither of us follow any shows regularly. we figured if there are any shows we want to watch, there's always hulu.com. and, on top of that, we bought an HD antenna (~$30 from Walmart) with which we can pick up all of the local networks (CBS, ABC, NBC, etc) through the free digital HD signals over the airwaves. so march madness? yup, we get that for free on CBS. in HD. huzzah. and honestly, i don't really miss cable. in fact, i'm watching "APT Create" right now, APT's version of an HGTV/food network hybrid. it's lower budget, but it's totally up my alley... and guys? it's FREE. (anybody backpacking in europe ever get the rick steves books? right now i'm watching "rick steves europe: venice." it's awesome. it's like an awesomer version of samantha brown's "passport to europe" from the travel channel.)

moving to the new apartment has given henry and i the opportunity to reevaluate the way we do a number of things in our daily lives - it's funny how moving every single thing you own and having to find new places for each of them will do that. the experience of doing something like dropping cable has been a huge encouragement to find other ways to save and re-shuffle our budget. here's hoping we'll continue this 'spring-cleaning' of sorts. cheers!

25 March 2010


psychiatry. where to begin? today was the last day of my 4 weeks on this rotation. the schedule is great. the patients are challenging. it's definitely not boring.

psychiatry is one of those fields where you collect an excess of wonderful dinner party stories. i'm serious. i probably collected enough over 4 weeks to last me a lifetime.

why? the presentation of acute mental illness is usually completely socially unacceptable, but somehow humorous at the same time. patients are paranoid, suspicious, bizarre, withdrawn, talk to themselves, injure themselves, pace, stare, younameit. they make other people uncomfortable. as someone in the community, this may be all you would ever see. as someone who treats them in the hospital, these patients open up to us. they tell us their beliefs. many believe others are after them. some believe they have special powers. some see codes. still others have even more bizarre beliefs. some see and hear things we cannot. the list of symptoms goes on.

here's one example of many. while on service, i daily interviewed a patient who was very ill. she was brought in by the police because she was found wandering the streets confused. she smeared her bodily fluids at every opportunity (on anyone, anything). she did not answer questions appropriately or know where she was. every morning the nurses gave report that she was constantly naked. she was sexually inappropriate with other patients. she endorsed hearing voices. she saw bright things on the wall. she told us that she had a gift from god. she could open doors that were locked. she could hurt people if she wanted to. on one particular occasion when i was interviewing her, she was looking out the window at construction workers on a nearby roof. "you see them?" she asked me, staring blankly. "i can make them fall off the roof if i want." over the course of her stay she has gotten better - she really has. but it was both troubling and entertaining to talk with her each day. you never quite knew what to expect.

will i be a psychiatrist? nope. i'm glad for the experience. the stories will stay with me for a lifetime.

01 March 2010

hem/onc jesus

so for my last week of pediatrics (last week), i was on inpatient hematology/oncology (for non-medical people, this is the blood diseases/cancer service). it was actually really interesting and fun. our kids were sick, but many were getting better. my attending was fabulous. he was a recent transplant from st. jude in memphis ("the mecca", our fellow liked to call it), and he made a huge production of teaching me every second he had available. he'd pull up powerpoints from "the mecca" and the fellow would roll her eyes (then secretly smile). he'd call to me from across the ward - "are you ready?" - and take me into patient rooms. he would teach these poor sweet overwhelmed families how to calculate absolute neutrophil counts. it might have been a little overboard, but it was awesome. i ate it up.

the hem/onc ward itself was pretty much like any other floor in the hospital. slightly different equipment, etc, but more or less the same. on one particular day, however, i was sitting at the computer in the unit looking at labs and glanced over at my hand holding the mouse to see jesus staring up at me. no, i was no hallucinating. it was jesus.
this is the best approximation of him my google search results could find.

i kept one eye on 4inch plastic jesus while i finished my computer business, then i left the nurse's station. i actually didn't think much about it that day.

the next day i came in, i looked for jesus. in fact, he was lying face down near some phone books. oye! i didn't mess with him, but that seemed sort of weird.

the next day when i came in, jesus was up on the top of the counter of the nurse's station next to a chart, situated in such a way that just his little face was looking out over the patient's chart and his body was obscured.

i found this entire thing very odd. my first thought was: "oh, this is the hem/onc floor -> kids with cancer ->prayers needed -> jesus can watch over them." but then my second thought was: "they sure treat 4in plastic jesus pretty crappy if they're hoping for him to watch over people." and then my third thought was: "this is the only children's hospital in the state, nay, the region and i imagine it's a pretty culturally diverse place, so where's the 4in plastic buddha and muhammad and mother mary, etc." ... and at some point i stopped thinking and just enjoyed the irony of the situation: a 4in plastic jesus was getting tossed around a nursing unit where we miraculously cure children of cancer daily.