Tuesday, September 26, 2006

free association

So, I'm all giddy. Thanks to the lovely Bihari of Iowadrift, I've been tagged with (for? by?) a meme. I don't even know what that means, but I suddenly feel like the popular kids asked me to sit at their lunch table. Hee hee.

And without further ado:

London: My first trip with my husband, then only a shadow of a glimpse of a possiblity. After finishing up our Peace Corps service, we went on separate trips: he, backpacking alone through Europe, I, to Morocco with friends and then to Ireland with (already) ex-boyfriend. In seedy internet cafes in Marakesh and Fez, then Dublin and Galway, M and I kept emailing each other, finally making plans to meet. But where? We actually decided on Paris, where (after abandoning surly ex in Cork) we met and, you know, drank a lot of wine. Then we decided to go to London. Really, just because we could. Europe is so cool like that! It was December. It was cold and dreary and the sun set around 3:30 in the afternoon. We didn't know where to go (because of the dearth of things to do in London...) and we really had no money, having spent it all on the grimy hostel run by the rather authoritarian Romanian couple. So after balking at spending $20 to see a crappy American movie, we found a pub, drank a pint or four and talked and talked and talked. We were, I realize now, hammering out the future. Drunken, smelling of smoke, I knew I'd found the bloke fer me.

Martini: This is another tale of romance (minus the belligerant gypsies). When M asked me to marry him, he devised this elaborate and very sophisicated night out. First, dinner at the Watergate. Then a short stroll to the Kennedy center where M happened to have tickets to the symphony waiting (he believes, and I allow it, that I am much more cultured than I really am). Afterwards, we went to a fancy schmancy bar. I was underdressed, despite my attempts to the contrary. Anyway, I felt that under these circumstances I should forgo my typical beer or shiraz so I went out on a limb and asked for a martini. I believe the skinny, black-attired, heavily- made-up cocktail waitress asked me what I'd like it made with. Umm...vodka? She saw immediately that I was a complete rube and ran out to fill up a glass with rubbing alcohol before dropping an olive in it. She brought it and I sipped it, feeling ever so chic, but growing ever more sick to my stomach. Well, eventually, the glow settled in and I realized that I WAS one of the beautiful people after all. We slipped out of the bar and to a small hotel. The rest is, as I've heard it said, history.

Pheasant: Not a hunter myself, I'm always fascinated by those stuffed beasts in museums. Grisly, yet oddly endearing, their glass eyes gleam and I want to reach out and stroke their fur. And, yet, not. The pheasants I recall, however, live in black and white, in the photographs I remember hanging in my Grandma June's hall. Pictures of my dad and his dad and his brother and sister, grinning with guns and dead birds. Very uncharacteristic of the dad that I've always known, though he keeps a certain familiarity with firearms. Colorado is a flaming red state, you know.

Suede: I think I remember ruining a pair of shoes. Sodden, almost slimy, after a trudge through the slush. Other than that, I've got nothing.

And, as, I gather, the thing to do is pass these things on, I tag my dear Ukemochi...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Have been away so long, I'm looking for reasons not to blog. So easily un-rutted. Anyway, finished up ICU. Long hard slog. Emotionally draining, even on the periphery as I was. On my very last day, "Frank" died. He'd been in ICU for a couple months, a fixture in the corner room my whole rotation. I took care of him one day when the resident was off. It turned out to be his last really good day. We "talked" a little bit about the sudoku puzzles he was doing to pass the time. He was connected to the ventilator via a trach and so couldn't actually verbalize but he was very good at mouthing words. We dropped by for a visit every morning on rounds, but as it became clear medical science had nothing more to offer Frank, the visits became more and more perfunctory until the attending just stopped going into the room at all. He was on "comfort care." A morphine drip. His brother's came in every day and talked to him for hours. He had his 25th birthday party with a few balloons and streamers. The nurses came and sang "Happy Birthday. There was a small cake he couldn't eat.
On that last day, I was sitting at the nurses station just staring off into space and happened to look at the telemetry monitors. I noticed that Frank's heart was beating really fast. And I thought to myself. This is it. He's dying. For reasons I'm still not sure of, I walked right into his room and pulled on gloves, ready to help. But there was thankfully nothing to do. He was a "no code" and so as his heart began to beat erratically and then fail, there was nothing to administer or attend to. Just to be with him. Touch his leg, his arm as he struggled to resist the body's betrayal. One his brothers was there, but didn't know what to do. "Talk to him," said the nurse. "Let him know that you're here." She rubbed his brow and said, "You're a beautiful man. Go to that beautiful place." The other nurse placed her palm over his eyes, but the lids wouldn't shut. He kept staring, and breathing, and breathing, and then nothing. The attending, Dr. S., materialized behind me and said, "Listen for a heart beat." Sucking tears into my throat, I unlooped my stethescope and listened hard. There is a lot of white noise between a body and the ears, but nothing resembling the living heart. Everyone crying, the nurses backed away and left his brother at the body's side. Dr. S offered to call his mother. He declined. I walked out to the nurses station, to the chaos, where six people were industriously scribbling notes and making phone calls and unaware that a life had ended 20 feet away. One of the interns arrived at just that moment from the coffee shop downstairs. "Thanks," I said, when she handed me my coffee. "I really could use this."
Rest in peace, Frank.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

avocados are falling from my neighbor's tree

So I'm at home today with the little virus shedder. He's doing much better, though still a bit cranky. He's asleep now, undrugged, thank you very much -- though the temptation to misuse that bottle of tylenol with codeine has whispered in my ear a few times, I'll admit. I'm eating a hummus and avocado sandwich and trying not to obsess about residency applications. I've discovered a dangerous website where you can log in and check if a particular program has downloaded your file, in all its mundane detail. I checked idly last night and discovered that two of them HAD! Now I want to know when the others will! And will they want to interview me? And when? And what should I wear? Gah!! I can't stand the suspense!
Because I am a completely paranoid nerd, I'm also concerned that they'll be counting the number of times I log onto said site and then inform the residency programs that I really am an obsessive compulsive git with no life. That could work in my favor, come to think of it. Maybe I'll just check once more...

Monday, September 04, 2006

coxsackie, heh heh

When the blisters erupted on his tongue, I thought to myself, I know what this is. And now I understand why he's been refusing to eat, suck on a binkie or sleep without a real-live nipple in his mouth. Poor baby has a coxsackie virus infection -- and hand, foot, mouth disease. It's not dangerous, just painful and awful if it happens to you or your small one! Oh, and it's contagious, so despite the fact that I'm 98% sure he contracted it at daycare, I'm going to do the responsible thing and keep him home until the blisters disappear. Also because the doctor at the urgent care said to.... She also gave us a prescription for tylenol with codeine which we trotted right out to fill and then gave to poor enfant terrible at the earliest possible opportunity. It seemed to have the unfortunate effect of actually increasing his energy level, but perhaps it was merely relieving his pain, allowing him to cavort around the room on his butt and bent leg, like the crazed 12 month-old mendicant he most resembles.
Anyway, M's taking tomorrow off and I'm taking the next day or two off. I'm looking forward to it, honestly. The ICU, while fine and full of learning opportunities, freaks me out. Sick, sick patients on machines! Families utterly devastated and blaming doctors and people being defensive. Much talk of "denial." Patients dying left, right and center. But not before being "coded," i.e. shot up with all kinds of heart-stimulating drugs and shocked, and CPR'd and augh! I do not have it in me to be an "intensivist," of this I am sure. I am also thinking I have made the correct decision to pursue family practice. Oh, the happy clinic, with the endless office visits of the worried well. Bring it on! I love psycho-social issues! I love knee pain that's been bothering you for 6 months or so. Whew. I am so not hard-core.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

the best of times, the worst of...oh hell, you know how it is.

Gabriel's sick, crying and nursing like a fiendish fiend. I am tired, ready to cry and my boobies hurt. And that's the story today. But on the plus side: I have the weekend off, again! and I finished my residency application. Tomorrow we are going on a hike (really, tomorrow we'll argue about where to go and how to get there, then the baby will cry all the way in the backseat, we'll forget sunscreen/food for the baby/a map, I'll feel horribly guilty and take it out on my spouse). I'm stumping for a pre-hike breakfast at my favorite diner in the whole world. I will be successful, I can just feel it.