Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Happier Times

Thank you for the kind words and support re: the previous post. As I have been told in conversations with others about my experience, death is an inevitable part of life. And it is the duty of loved ones to provide the fanfare that I felt was lacking in my observation of a stranger's death. However, I am still struck by how fleeting and fragile life is. It would seem that if everyone had such an understanding then maybe life would be appreciated a little more and maybe the world would be better off. Who knows? But I am alive, and I am glad, and I am onto happier times.

Today I found a small slice of heaven in a nearby town famous for its large Amish population. Raul and I are enjoying the rare treat of vacation, and we took a trip today to this town for lunch (excellent!) and to see the sights. Raul is really a good sport - this town is also known as a quilters' paradise, and he volunteered in advance to accompany me to my fill of yardage shops. I found a yarn corner in one of these shops, and in this corner, there were some drop spindles and wool roving for handspinning wool. OK, so I read the blogs of several people that produce handspun yarn and maybe I have watched some online tutorials about how to spin yarn with a drop spindle, secretly hoping that one day, I would own my own spindle and spin my own yarn. Well, today was that day, people! When I expressed an interest in the drop spindle to the store clerk, a chain of events was initiated that resulted in my getting a private lesson in handspinning! Yes, I am making yarn! Very exciting, and here is a picture of me spinning at home and one of the roving and the spindle:

There is another project that I cannot seem to get out of my head lately. It is a quilt. Specifically, this quilt:

It is from Joelle Hoverson's Last Minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts. Isn't it beautiful? I have yet to start quilting, but I think I may have to start so I can make this quilt! The author has a fabric store in NYC that sells the fabric to make the color wheel.

Any suggestions for any other time-consuming hobbies that I can obsess about?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

So, I wrote the post below before rounds (where we go around and talk about the overnight course and current plan for every patient in the unit.) During rounds a patient coded - her heart rate was very slow and she eventually became asystolic (no heart beat.) Chest compressions were started when she did not respond to external pacing or medications. She continued to have no pulse, and she was pronounced dead. This was my first code and my first time seeing someone die. It was nothing like I thought it would be - there was all this excitement during the code. "I'm giving 1mg atropine!" "I'm pacing her at 160!" "1 mg epi now!" Then the chest compressions start. It goes on like this for minutes or hours, and if the patient does not improve, then everything stops, and it is quiet. And the patient looks exactly the same dead as they did a few moments ago when they were alive. The anti-climax is heartbreaking. It would seem that the end of life should be heralded by some sort of something. But there is nothing, and we must continue on with our rounds because the patient in the next room is doing poorly.

That was my morning. I spent the bulk of the day watching the autopsy of my patient that had died the previous night. It is very unsettling to see an autopsy performed on someone that you had seen alive less than 12 hours earlier. As with everything, death stops life for some, but for the rest of us, it continues on. Strange. I wonder if you ever get used to it.


Greetings from the interview trail! We are just starting out - Raul and I have had about two interviews each. I have interviewed here and at the University of Michigan, and next week, we are off to St. Louis. So far, so good. The program here is strong, and there are many perks - the low cost of living, the lack of overnight call for psych residents (hallelujah!), and everyone here, for the most part, is very nice. Michigan was great too - they have a very strong program with a good amount of training in general medicine, and they have some very exciting research projects that I could participate in. Exciting (and slightly stressful) times! I will be happy when the match comes in March and all this is settled.

I am finishing up 4 weeks in the Medical Intensive Care Unit (MICU). It has been pretty intense. Lots of long hours and very sick patients. One of my patients died last night. I am not cut out to be an intensivist - I prefer those interactions with patients that don't cause huge catecholamine releases. And, generally speaking, I like to know that my patients are going to be alive when I come in the next morning.

On the knitting front, I have been busy. Raul's birthday sweater is nearly finished. And good thing because he turns 30 on November 20th!!!
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