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26 October 2008

My First National Conference!

Back to Chi-town! A few months ago I was elected as our residency programs rep to the national group Emergency Medicine Resident's Association. Which means I get to go to the national conference being held in Chicago this week!

I can't wait. I've heard a lot about these national conferences, and I signed up for some exciting lecture presentations several weeks ago. I plan to take my camera, so I should have a lot of shots to share.

I spent my intern year of surgery in Chicago, and I loved the town. What I have mostly been talking about to my friends is the food... yum. I probably gained about 20 lbs during the year I was in Chicago.

One place I have to mention is Garrett's Popcorn on Michigan Ave with a smaller store near Macy's (formerly Marshall Fields) on State. Mhmm... they pop the corn fresh in this huge tumbler then add the butteriest caramel or cheese topping. You can buy the mixed bag or splurge and get a bucket. They also have to die for caramel nut mixes including almonds, macadamia nuts or standard peanuts. So good.

Ok, with that I have to keep packing... will write more when I can... Cheers!

24 October 2008

Thoughts on Recent Road Trip with Mom

So it's early on Friday morning, and I have about 3 hours until the end of my shift. I've had only about 3 patients since midnight. A good time to catch up on my blogs... :)

So, I thought I would take this opportunity to write about my vacation last week. I spent the majority of the week in Laughlin, NV with my mom. For those of you not familiar with Laughlin, it's a small gambling town at the NV/CA/AZ junction right along the Colorado River, just across from Bullhead City, AZ. It's just to the north of Needles, CA. Vegas is about 90 minutes to the northwest.

We go there because it's got a nicer feel than the craziness of Vegas, and the machines seem to pay out better. I play the slots, so the most play for the least amount of money is always best. We did drive to Vegas at the end of our four days and ended up spending the night in Primm, NV aka Stateline. Three casinos are there, and a lot of people just stop there instead of driving the extra 40 miles into Vegas. Fun stuff.

I think the thing I've noticed most is that I am enjoying the long road trips with my mom. She and I didn't really get along until I went away to college. When I came back home, we definitely had a much better relationship. Then, when I left for medical school, I think our relationship really started. You can really get to know a lot about a person on a long road trip.

From where my mother lives in North Orange County in CA, it's about a 4 1/2 hour drive to Laughlin. Interstate 15 takes you through Victorville, to Barstow, then you make a right hand turn onto the start of I-40. If you went straight you'd hit Vegas and then eventually Salt Lake City. From Victorville north, it's all desert.

We've driven the road so many times, it seems as though we have standing jokes. Driving up to Cajon Pass from Rancho Cucamonga we talk about the urban legend that it's a good dumping ground for bodies. We've made the journey many times in the wee morning hours, and if we see a car pulled off to the side of the road, we joke that they're making a drop.

At the top of Cajon Pass is Victorville. We've stopped many times for breakfast at the Denny's around the 2nd exit, and there's the Roy Rogers' Museum just off the road. If we're headed to Reno/Tahoe, we'd pick up 395 just before hitting Victorville, but I will leave that path for another time. Just past Victorville is Apple Valley. There's a Denny's there with a big green dinosaur out front. We used to stop there when my grandmother was alive. That was our breakfast stop every time. We remember her as we pass.

There's a new town that popped up from the first 2 or 3 gas stations that used to line the highway called Lenwood. They built a factory outlet mall there, and we always joke that when we hit it big in Vegas/Laughlin/Stateline we're going to stop there and shop. We haven't yet, but perhaps one day we will.

Just a bit up the road is Barstow. The first exit past I-40 is Main Street where they have one of the world's busiest McDonald's. All of the buses heading to Vegas stop there, and there's a train depot there as well. Now they built a Tommy's Burger where we stop for fried egg sandwiches, burritos to die for, and occasionally a hamburger if we're traveling in the late afternoon. However, on this trip we made the turn onto I-40 and missed all this.

Calico is a preserved western mining town that highlights life in California in the late 1800's and early 1900's. They call it a Ghost Town, and they're famous for the Running with the Burros that occurs during Calico Days in October. We passed a lot of trailers hauling both donkeys and horses headed to the event. I think I was there when I was younger, but I really don't remember. I'd like to take my husband there one day, I think he'd really enjoy it.

Now, you hit open desert with not much until you hit Baker. Baker is famous for the World's Tallest Thermometer on which you can read the temp from the highway. It goes up as high as the 130's, and I've seen the temp actually in the 110's on some trips. There's a rest stop between Baker and Needles which we've stopped at tons of times. I remember a trip with my aunt and uncle where we got caught in a flash flood. One minute it was clear, then a few raindrops, then the heavens opened wide. Within a few minutes the rain formed small rivers all around. Then it stopped and the sun came back out. We had only been on the road for about 15 minutes and it was as though it had never rained at all.

You then head up a big hill toward Halloran Summit. If you ever read Stephen King's "The Shining" then you might remember one of the main characters, the cook I think, is named Halloran. King did a lot of traveling in this area, and I always wondered if he named his character after the summit. When you get to the top you come upon a green valley where the Colorado River runs. This is Needles.

I can't tell you much about it except it's on the border of California and Arizona. Here's where you make the left hand turn for the road to Laughlin. You pass the Ferret Farm, you go up and down the rolling road, you cross the border into NV and soon you're on the back part of Laughlin.

I have to go now, patients are starting to wake up and come in... it's 0530. More later!

21 October 2008

Back on Familiar Ground... Yeah!

Ok, so I started back in the Emergency Department at a new hospital, Suburban, which is in... wait for it... the suburbs of Buffalo. It's interesting because it sees a large volume of patients, but the, dare I say, class of patients we see is much different than at the other hospitals. Also, things work much more like a private community hospital in that we don't have a bajillion specialists and primary physicians to try to sort through when admitting a patient. Also, the nurses don't seem as sullen, fancy that...!

So, I was scoring about 80% in the admission department last night. Considering I saw about 10 patients, that's kind of high, but most of my patients weren't able to be sent home. They actually had real medical problems that they were, for the most part, too fiesty in attitude to complain about and it was only now that they were really sick that they decided to come in.

Also, although the waiting room was full when I came in, there didn't seem to be that fast paced pressure to "move the meat." Now, don't get me wrong, we did see and dispo patients expeditiously, but it just seemed I was more able to spend time talking to my patients and learning more about them than their presenting symptoms.

So they included:

- the "cougarette" on her second relationship now pregnant who came in concerned for some bleeding. Baby looked good, things looked good, she's the one that got to go home. And, I actually realized that OB did me some good in that vag exams, not so bad. Not that I want to do them EVERY day, but still, it was more tolerable.

- the newspaper man who's been having chest pain for a while, didn't want to come in because he has a sick wife at home and was more concerned about her. Now he's in the chest pain center and will have a stress test and some other tests since he hasn't been to see a doctor in a while. Admitted.

- the "ate some bad figs" stayed in the department for several hours until her tummy felt better. She was my other discharge last night.

- also saw some shortness of breath with high troponins, liver failure that was passed off in sign-out, recurrent abdominal pain, etc.

Have to run, another night shift tonight... we'll see what comes in!

11 October 2008

Ding, Ding, Ding...!

Alright, so the kids are fed and watered. The row of litter boxes are cleaned and ready. My bag is packed. And, there's a bag full of change weighing down the suitcase. If you're like me, you have a container of some sort where you toss your loose change at the end of the day. I've been doing this for the last couple of years, and I have collected quite a pile despite taking the mass with me in a container to use at the toll booths as I traveled cross country.

One of the things I did was sort through all the quarters looking for the state ones and especially for the ones from this year. I have the first two, hopefully I will get the Arizona one on this trip and then it's just Alaska and Hawaii. We started collecting them when they first came out, and it's hard to imagine that 10 years have passed. I love the designs and the stories behind how they are created. Click here for more information.

As I sorted through the pile, the oldest quarter I found was from 1965. That was before I was born, and I tried to imagine the new minted coin, going from pocket to pocket over the last 43 years. I wonder, which mint did it travel from? Did some teenager use it to buy a pop? Or a cup of coffee?
How many cash registers did it pass through? Was it used in a phone booth? An arcade game? Maybe it's been in a slot machine before! Now it's joining the others and traveling from NY to CA then on to Nevada where I'll turn it in to the cashier at the casino where it will be sorted, taken to a bank, and then continue onward... perhaps ending up in someone else's loose change container some day...

Ok, well now I must go to sleep and catch a quick nap before the taxi comes to get me in about 4 hours. I'll do most of my sleeping on the 4 hour flight cross country. This month was so boring, what with being in clinic all day and seeing the same thing day in and day out. Next month I will be back in the E.D. at a different hospital, and a new environment. I'm taking my camera with me, so I'll be ready for the next challenge. And, hopefully, I'll hear the ding, ding, ding of the slot machine. Coins don't fall any more, but they've reproduced the sound so it feels about the same... still, I miss the coins.

See you in a week!

09 October 2008

What's Old is New Again!

D from D's Designs personalized this one for me when I had my other blog, and I thought I would use it today to celebrate the fact that, THANKS TO LORI, I was able to transfer my archives from AOL to our new home.

So, if you're new to my blog and would like to find out how I got to where I am... you can read the original "Do They Have Squirrels in Buffalo?" blog. It details the journey from Minnesota to NY and the transition from surgery resident to emergency medicine resident.

My second blog is where I show off my creative side. As part of my endless need for diversion since I can't focus on any one thing for any length of time, hence the prior title of "I Don't Have ADHD... Oh, Look, a Squirrel," I decided to try my hand at scrapbooking. Also, I hadn't had a camera since I was in college and finally bought a small digital one. So, two hobbies, and now a place to vent, um, show them off... Also, the Blogger's Community Photo Challenges will now be placed here as well so as to keep this blog focused on my day to day. But if you would like to see some of the latest creations, they are now up at My Paper Cuts.

Ok, that's it for now. I will wrap up these last 3 weeks on my next entry before leaving for a week's vacation. Woohoo!! Glad things are getting back to normal... for the most part.

05 October 2008

BCPC - Change

Photo Challenge Website

When I think of change, I think of traveling. Moving. Following where the road takes me.

Which reminds me of Robert Frost:


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference.


03 October 2008

So Very Bored...

I think at some point in the past, I mentioned that I hate clinic. I went into Emergency Medicine because I have a short attention span and can't handle seeing the same thing over and over. ED medicine is kinda like a box of chocolates; you never know what you're gonna get. Anyway, this month I am on the hodge podge rotation: Ophthalmology, Radiology, and OMFS - dentistry.

For the most part, I spend the mornings looking at films, the later morning giving patients dental shots for anesthesia, and the afternoons looking into eyes. Eyes after eyes after eyes. I am going crazy. Go into the room. The attending looks, then I look, then it's time to check the vision for glasses... "does this look better or does this? is this clearer or this? worse or better?" AARRGGHH!!!

OK, on occasion I do get to see something interesting. And, the other morning in dental clinic I got to actually cut a good-sized fibroma out of someone's mouth. I also put a stitch in to control the bleeding. It felt so good to actually be doing something instead of standing up against the wall watching. I always stand "at attention" with my hands held behind my back or tucked into my pockets because I am the type of person who has to be doing something... anything, and it drives me nuts to not be able to get my hands in something. Sigh.

Anyway. I have the weekend off, then one more week to go. I'll be back home in California for the week spending some time with my mom. Then it's back to the E.D. for me. A new E.D. that is supposed to be faster paced and a whole new set of patients. We'll see how that goes... Till then, cheers!

02 October 2008

The First One

Ok, so here is my first post in the new blog site. For those of you that followed my blog on AOL, welcome! For any newcomers, let me get you up to date.

I am an emergency medicine resident who's traveled a long way from sunny So. Cal to Milwaukee for med school, to Chicago/Boston/Minneapolis as a surgery resident, then to Buffalo NY for emergency medicine. I recently got married (022208) and have three lovely cats: Winston, Sofie, and the newest Lacey.

This blog details the events as I make my way through another new city, in a new residency field, and the fact that I originally pondered, "Do They Have Squirrels in Buffalo?" Well, yes, they do! Just not in my neighborhood.
My comments may at times seem irreverent, but then so are a good majority of my patients. Sometimes you just need a place to vent... and this is my platform.

So, sit back, enjoy the ride as I continue through now my second year of residency (out of three), and as I try to maintain some creativity in my life with the occasional photograph. I welcome your comments always... I'm not just writing this for myself... :D