Friday, December 23, 2011

PSA: Travel to other countries

If you are planning on traveling abroad, you may want to check the CDC Traveler's Health website in addition to talking to your doctor.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas times a comin', Christmas times a comin',,,

Despite it looking more like spring outside -- Christmas will be here in a few short days. I can not believe how quickly it has come. And how utterly unprepared I am. Although I have my tree up, there are still many things on my to-do list. We are sticking around the area this year (which makes it so fewer things have to get done in a timely fashion) and looking forward to celebrating with the K and L families!

Outside of Christmas preparations, I have been thinking about going on vacation these last couple days! Pete surprised me with a trip to the Dominican Republic (for Christmas)~ he gave me the tickets yesterday! I was shocked/surprised/happy! This is the 3rd Christmas gift he's given me since we have been married so I really was not expecting it!* I am looking forward to having time together, sand, sun, and relaxing for a week before starting the craziness that is med school! :)

I am also starting to get anxious about going ~ quite a bit of things to arrange before going: digging the warm weather clothes/shoes out of storage, getting anti-malarials (according to the CDC, the resort areas of the DR have high number of mosquitos that carry malaria), sunblock/aloe, bug spray, among other things... It should be a good escape for a few days! For those that have been ~ any advice?

*We don't usually exchange gifts. It works out just fine for the two of us...  Things we buy for each other do not make it to Christmas, we are not experts in each other's interests/hobbies, and we buy things as we need them rather than for a specific day.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

1 year later....

A year ago, I was in a bad car accident (click on it and it should link you to pictures, etc.). So much has changed in this last year, but I have so many things to be thankful for today.

1) I am thankful for having so many wonderful people in my life that showed a lot of love and support in the weeks following the car accident.
2) I am thankful that one of the bigger challenges on my horizon is Step 1 boards -- I just scheduled them yesterday for June 18th, 2012 at 11 AM. It's an 8 hour test that determines if I am able to continue onto my 3rd year and do rotations in the hospitals next year. It is also a test where the score matters for application to residency programs. To think a year ago, I was not certain that I would be able to continue on with school or if I would need to re-evaluate my future goals/aspirations. I'm sure I could have been happy doing something else, but I am thankful to be given the opportunity to continue with school and one day be able to help people as a physician.
3) I am thankful that Pete and I had the opportunity to really reflect on our life and make changes conducive to accomplishing these goals. We have since settled into a much more manageable routine between school, work and life. Pete was able to get his pilot's license -- a goal he has had for many years, but never had time to pursue. Life is what we make it.
4) I am also happy to have the chance to realize that I was spread to thin, and be able to make changes to make life more manageable. This accident made me realize that I don't need to attend every social function, or do everything along with being in school. It also made me realize that I did have the option to move out of the house that I loved, and did not need to make a homemade meal at least weekly. School is a big commitment, and it's much more enjoyable to attend when life is made simple. I think this probably applies to most situations.
5) I am thankful that I was put in the opportunity to accept help. This is something that I struggle with from time-to-time often finding things easier to do by myself (as I know the finished outcome once I am done), and stubborn enough to attempt. It's a humbling thing, but also makes you realize how much support you do have.

If you see a car in a ditch or an accident scene without EMS present, please report it to 911/the authorities. There is a good chance that they have not been notified, and the person(s) involved may not be capable of calling.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Catch-up with my life

So, as the semester is winding to a close... I figured I would post what we've been doing these last couple of weeks -- which have been a whirlwind.

Monday, November 21st -- I finished my heme-onc domain. This is one of the hardest domains (classes) that we have this year, so it felt like a minor victory to complete it well.

After packing and readying the car, we left for Minnesota on Wednesday -- with the driver (Pete) muttering as we were stuck in traffic in Chicago -- "look, there's no traffic back-up 1000 feet above us" or "if we would have flown, we would have been there by now". It certainly did not help that the weather that day was beautiful blue skies and well above freezing. Other than the usual Chicago delay, the ride there was nice and we made good time. It was fun to be able to visit family for a few hours before heading North Thursday morning for Thanksgiving at the Town Hall with the S**** family.

Thanksgiving at the Town Hall was very nice! Most of my cousins, all of my aunts/uncles and Grandma were there, with total attendance >100. It was so much fun to catch up with many people I have not seen in years, and meet my cousins little kids! I was really glad we were able to be there for this event, as this side of my family does not get together like this often and has only rented out the Town Hall a handful of times in the past (each time I remember quite fondly). I will have to post pictures once I figure out how to get them off of my phone.

After enjoying Thanksgiving, we went back to my parents home. My mom, sisters and I went Black Friday shopping early Friday morning -- making it to the Mall of America, and a few other stores. I was surprised that the MOA was not packed with people, but it was fun to visit this old stomping ground and get a few of the Friday deals (as well as a few things that we actually needed). Such a fun day! :)

Saturday was spent visiting a myriad of people -- my husbands family in the morning, and my aunt's and a few others at a wedding that evening. Sunday we left in the morning thinking that the weekend was fun and enjoyable, but passed by too quickly.

That brings us to this week... catching up with studies, laundry, house-work, decorating for Christmas, and the many other chores that come with spending time away.

We also were able to take a short flight this evening -- this was Pete's 1st time up with a passenger since getting his license. And I thought it was fun to sit in the front seat of the plane, and play a bit with the wheel. The setting sun is certainly beautiful at 3000 feet up, as are the street lamps reflecting off the brilliant white snow appearing like strands of pearls.

So what have you been doing? How was your Thanksgiving? I hope you were able to share the holiday with ones that you love, and had much laughter and good food. Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pete now has his Private Pilot's License

Pete is now a Private Pilot! Passed the check-ride on Saturday (that was the last hurdle)... now to find a plane! :) Otherwise, he's a pilot without wings, kinda like being a driver without a car. We are certainly looking forward to all the possibilities that having a pilot's license brings... like being able to go back home and visit without a 12 or so hour car ride, or making a day trips to places that might otherwise be weekend excursions. I am proud of him -- it is quite an accomplishment to get his license, especially with only 40 hrs of "behind-the-wheel"... most people who pass the checkride (kind of like the behind the wheel test for drivers ed) have ~60 hours of instruction/practice time. Although I have yet to go up with him solo -- I am looking forward to sitting in the frontseat and helping him navigate/watch the world pass by below!

Monday, November 7, 2011

What happened to fall?

This morning started out like any other, a cup of coffee with breakfast, a walk with Hondo, check the mail. However, somewhere in the midst of our morning tour around the block... I realized that the leaves were gone, the skies are grey (ominous for snow or other precipitation), and there is frost on my car windshield. What happened to the bright sunny days of fall made even more golden by light filtering through yellow leaves, crispness in the air, hay rides and apple cider?

One of the benefits to living in an area where seasons change, is the ability to watch in the spring as the land again comes to life -- trees growing buds first then leaves, little buds of flowers and other plants coming out of the earth; spring makes way for summer, and summer gives way to fall and with it crunchy warm-colored (tans, oranges, yellows, reds) leaves, fresh apples, and the slow retirement of plants and animals. And now, it seems fall is making room for winter's white blankets of frost and snow, glistening icicles, and little red berries that remain on the holly plants. 

And while I am starting to get anxious for winter's first snowfall -- the one where the world looks white, clean and pristine -- if only temporarily... I am missing the lovely golden days of fall. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


This is how Hondo looks most nights -- sleeping below my feet, within the space enclosed by the three walls of my desk. I think he figures its his job to keep his eye on me (horrible pun... I know).

Anyway, this is what he looks like now (one-eyed). We still think he's cute! :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Siding project - finished

So, here is the siding project -- finished! With this project done, it feels like most of the major projects are now complete (so that feels good)! :) We are down to a few more minor projects inside (like re-hanging trim in one of the bedrooms, a few paint touch-ups, etc.), and a few things we would like to do outside (like add on to the deck to make it wrap around to the side of the house). This place has certainly been a work in progress!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Photos of the house

Here are some photos of our house... not yet done, but I am excited to see the finished product!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

One more test to go before his pilot's license!

Last Wednesday, Pete took (and passed) the written exam to get his pilot's license and is now done with ground school! He needs some more hours (both instructed and solo) flying a plane, before he is eligible to take his check-ride and get his pilots license. But, he is now one step closer to being able to do that... and I am looking forward to when he get's his license so I can accompany him and sit up front in the plane! :)

House Projects

Our house has projects' still, and it's been a while since I had a post about them...

Although we have done quite a bit of work to the house, its not quite finished to our specifications, so we continue to do projects. (Returning there once I am done with school is still a consideration; we both love the house and its location.) This fall we are doing a bit to the exterior. The siding has been repaired (as its cement-Asbestos over traditional clapboard, some of the siding had chipped) and will be painted soon. I am excited, and will post photos once the painting is finished. 

We have chosen a grey-blue color for the siding; its a color that we've had in mind for a long time. This should make the white trim (and red doors) look fantastic. Our inspiration, in part, came from experience inside the house. Our first paint job was the living room; painting the living room brown really showcased the transom and trim. Since then, we have used deep colors which provide contrast for the white trim, and have really enjoyed the result. One of the colors (used in my office) was a blue-grey and we decided that when we get around to doing the exterior, this is the color that we want. 

Since that time, I have seen a few Greek Revivals painted colors other than all white (most of them in Boston), and have really liked the way that they look (the trim looks great). I am excited for our newest project to get done, because I am excited to see the result! :) 

Saturday, September 24, 2011

PSA: Vaccines are important

School takes up a quite a bit of time, and one of the things that we keep learning about are the importance of vaccines. So, I thought I would share. They help prevent infections, and complications of infections. For example, the chickenpox vaccine is now given in order to help prevent shingles later in life and other complications of chickenpox. The whooping cough vaccine (as part of dTP) is given to adults to prevent whooping cough in infants -- which is potentially fatal or could require prolonged hospitalization.  So vaccines are important (including the old ones)! :) Additionally, as long as people keep getting vaccinated -- hopefully we can prevent some of the "old" diseases from making a come back (ex. polio, measles, etc.). Unfortunately, some of these diseases (ex. measles, polio) may now be on the rise because of decreased immunization rates.

This past week, I was introduced to this song (The vaccine song): which I found funny/cute. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pics from Pete's flight

Here are some pics from Pete's solo flight ~ top one: the coast, bottom one: playing in the clouds!

He had a beautiful trip out, skies were blue and flying was smooth. However, the way back was bumpy!
After hearing of his trip, I am getting excited for when he does get his license in a few months -- it would be neat to accompany him when he goes flying on these longer trips, and check out the scenery from a few thousand feet! :)

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Pete flew to the coast and back today

Pete's flying lessons are progressing, and today he flew his first solo cross-country flight (i.e. >100 nautical miles)! He made it to the coast and had lunch in a little town there! Pictures will be posted later -- once the camera makes it inside! The goal is for him to have his private pilot's licence (PPL) by the end of October or beginning of November! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011


The day that changed America.

I can't believe that it has been 10 years already. I was just thinking about that, 10 years ago since I started my last 2nd year of college. I can't believe it has been that long.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard that America had been attacked -- I was going through the Physics building at U of MN when my friend G stopped and told me that the twin towers had been attacked in NYC, and people were suspecting Muslim terrorists. My friend G is an Arab-American, a non-practicing seik (a non-Muslim religious group), and he was worried about backlash on campus towards Arabs, Muslims, and others.

[By this time, I had a group of friends that I hung out with at school that were Muslim. I hung out with this group, in part because aside from being a very neat group of individuals -- the way that they practice their religion is not so different from the way that I practice my religion (no drinking, no dancing, conservative dress mostly, etc.), so I felt comfortable around them. Once I realized that the news was real, and America had indeed been attacked on its own soil... I worried about their safety (thankfully, nothing happened ever while I was in school).]

Anyway, at first I did not believe him, disbelief and shock tempered my reaction. However, I then went to join him and many others in the journalism building to watch the news. It was there I saw my friend, Thelma -- a NYC native who had dinner atop the Twin Towers not even a week prior to the attack. I know that she worried about people she knew that could be in those Towers and who perhaps perished on that day. Being around her, made it feel like I knew people and had a connection to the biggest city in the nation.

After I went home, I went to the neighbor's (to babysit for the evening so they could go to memorial services for those that died in the attack) The dad worked in finance, and his brother worked for the financial firm hit hardest by the attacks. Thankfully, his brother had stepped out to get a coffee just before the airplane hit the tower. However, the dad received many emails from those people trapped above where the plane hit and who said good-bye that day. Through their pain, I realized further that though I lived far away from NYC and Washington DC -- the effects of the loss of life on that day were not limited to the East Coast.

About 2 months after 9-11, I visited NYC for a debate tournament at Columbia University. I smelt the acrid air from the still smoldering buildings, and saw the bits of office trash still in the street. Walking around, I saw the memorials outside the firestations -- collections of candles and photographs, commemorating those firefighters that went into the buildings as many were rushing out and never made it back home. And, again it hit me -- America lost a lot that day.

I have since traveled, not back to NYC, but elsewhere. Reminders of 9-11 are seen in the increased airport security, things related to both the Iraqi War and Afganistan war in both located here and in other countries. Joining the armed services is no longer just a good way to get college paid for, it now involves actual risk and likely deployment. Things have certainly changed since that day. The day that the facade of our safety was shattered, and America was rallied to fight a nebulous enemy of terrorism at home and abroad.

Thinking of and remembering all those that lost their life that day or since in either war, and all of their friends/families/loved ones.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It feels crisp in the air

Yesterday, we headed over to Pete's mom and dad's for a Labor day picnic ~ it was fun to see family, and get out of the house for the afternoon! :)

But, you could not deny the slight crispness to the air... especially in light of the past many days where it has felt like summer. It is starting to feel like fall. A great time of year -- trips to the cider mill for cider and doughnuts, sweatshirt and flannel weather, some yard work (slitting and stacking wood, raking leaves), and a good time of year to be in school. I get excited by the change in seasons! :)

Update on the Hondo: he is pretty much back to normal. His stitches are out, and days that he is not wearing the cone (we take it off him, then he starts to scratch at the eye... so the cone gets put back on) -- he looks pretty much like he used to (well, except the one eye is stitched shut so it looks like he's perpetually winking).  He's gotten pretty good at figuring out that he has to turn his head to "eyeball" things, however when he runs into one of us on his left side... he will shriek, because he did not see us. His head is no longer tilty -- I think his eardrum must be healed, and the ear infection seems to be getting better (he will go to the vet this week to confirm). He has resumed all of his usual activities -- going on walks, playing tug-o-war with one of us, going up/down stairs... back to normal, and he seems happy! :)

Pete has taken to teasing the dog -- giving him treats on his left side, and then moving them when Hondo turns his head... and then putting them where he can see them. Hondo just plays along, happy to get something other than his dog food to eat (he is on a diet).

Have a good day!

Monday, August 29, 2011

I am now a Second Year (med student)

Second year starts today... I am looking forward to again being challenged by school (although, I am not so excited for the large exams this year -- including my first board exam in June). It looks to be an interesting.

Our first domain is neuro... 3 weeks, and about 700 pages of coursepack (with some additional chapters of required reading outside that). In addition to that, we will learn and be examined on our ability to perform a complete neuro exam on a patient. We also have unknown amounts of reading in ethics -- but know that in the next 3 weeks we are expected to produce 3 short 1-pg essays, and a paper on an encounter with a patient regarding advanced directives.

This will be my life this year -- new domain about every 3 weeks, plus some additional classes thrown in for good measure. Majority of our learning is supposed to be self-taught (but we will have lectures and small groups thrown in to keep us on track), and we are supposed to do a 1/2 hr study for boards each day. I am looking forward to it, but am also nervous. Should be a fun year!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Done with 1st year!

And the title says it all! :)

I took my last anatomy lab exam this morning (with any luck -- still don't know my final score) because I had missed it earlier in the year from my car accident. I am no longer one-exam-away-from-being-done-with-1st-year. I am now simply done with 1st year.

It feels incredible.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tilty-headed, one-eyed pug

Last night we awoke to the sound of our little dog in pain. 4 in the morning. Not good. His iris (the colored part of the eye) had ruptured (although of course we did not know that at the time). Pete ended up bringing him into the local emergency vet, and we now have a dog with one eye. He also has a head tilt from a burst eardrum due to an infection -- the eardrum should grow back, and with it... correct the head tilt. But, of course... he will remain a one-eyed pug.

Pete says, we now have a pirate dog, who should bark like, "Aaaarrrrf".
I say, not funny.
But, I would chuckle if this weren't true of my dog today.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reminders that I am a nerd

In honor of returning back to school today (to start studying for my last test of 1st year, then a 3 day break before 2nd year starts)... I thought I would post a top 10 list of sorts. All the little things that remind me each day how nerdy I am. And I have come to be okay with my inner nerd, so its all good. These are in no particular order.

10. I now wear glasses, legitimately. I used to buy frames from Claire's in high school and wear them because I wanted glasses. I prefer the type of glasses with visible frames, thankyouverym

9. I own more than my weight in text books, course packs, and school supplies.

8. Last year, I went through over 20 multi-colored permanent markers, 12 colored pencils, ~30 markers, a box of crayons, ~40 pens (multiple colors, mostly gel pens), ~20 highlighters, and ~10 pencils. Reading this, makes it sound kind of like I am in some sort of strange art class.
7. I do not get People or US Weekly. I get JAMA and Reader's Digest (second magazine, admittedly pretty normal).
6. I find it mildly anxiety provoking to be without computer access for a while -- i.e. no internet, email, etc. Strange, right? That's supposed to describe my dear husband! :)
5. I would prefer to read a novel or watch a movie with some fantasy or plausible sci fi element, rather than a pure romance novel or anything else. This means I like books like: Tuck Everlasting, the Harry Potter series, Twilight, etc. or anything by the author, John Darnton. I like them to be an escape from reality.
4. I enjoy a good debate. Debate is not the same as argument. I was on the debate team in college, and found the sport intellectually challenging, and fun.
3. For clothing, I am into what's comfortable. I will take the dog for a walk in yoga pants and a T. I go to school in hoodie and jeans. I wear dress pants and a sweater to church, because its too cold to comfortably wear skirts in the wintertime. I have no idea what's fashionable. I have no clue who the top designers are. I just know that my mood is directly correlated to my comfort, and if I am not comfortable... than I am less agreeable. So, I try to find clothes and shoes that I am comfortable wearing.
2. We own more than 4 working computers, 3 printers, and have boxes of spare computer supplies... for 2 people. Why you ask, because you never know when you might need a new fan, or extra mouse, etc. and 2 of the computers were upgraded for various reasons. (Eta... this was thinned down this past week to: 3 working computers, 1 printer, and 2 boxes of spare computer parts). (3 computers below -- also 3 bookshelves, though these are not by any means all of our books!)
1. Biggest reminder... I am in graduate school, and returned to get additional schooling after an extended break. It took me a while to admit, even to myself, that I really missed school and liked to learn in that environment. But, I do. So here I am.

And, so I am a nerd.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Today felt like 'Good-bye'

Today felt like a I was saying a long good-bye to our house, and the life that we lived there... Closing the chapter of years well spent under its roof...
Although we still own the house, it is now empty of most of our belongings. The picture is of the last box of stuff to leave the house destined for our apartment. We have no more knick knacks there. The walls have no decor, and are devoid even of a clock. It echos when you talk. I cleaned the rooms, and scrubbed the walls. I burnt the all of the paper meant to start fires in the winter in the hassa -- the remaining water in the tubes, gave a half-hearted gurgle. The few items in the house have a final location identified -- either long-term storage, remain with the house, or someone else's place. It felt good to get the house so cleaned out, but it also felt like I was saying good-bye to the place, cleaning it out for its final time... trying to remove the last bits of us so somebody else (hopefully) can move in and love it just as much.

It's not just that I loved the place, and that somehow its crayola colored walls had become home to me. Saying good-bye also meant that I was closing the door to a myriad of things I loved about the place: hosting overnight guests, having couples over, cooking in the kitchen in the fall/winter, hauling/splitting/stacking wood on crisp fall mornings, decorating for Christmas and the other winter Holidays, spending weekends curled up in front of the fire, watching the garden come to life in the spring (and always thinking that I would keep it weed free this year), and grilling out dinner on the deck in the summer. Although there are many things that I do love about apartment life, especially its ease... there are just some things about the house I will miss.

During our years at the house, we managed to accomplish quite a bit. Although, I think there will always be 'home projects', this place had its own special brand project... One thing I can't fault the house for, in the absence of school... it kept me busy. In our 4 years we:
-tore down the oldest barn in the county (because of a cracked beam) and a chicken coop
-put in a floor in the garage and automatic garage doors
-replaced ~20 windows (all windows) on 2 floors of the house because the ones that were there were single pane, were cracked and did not open
-put in a new wood floor in the living room because the one that was in there... had holes going into the basement (no joke)
-re-did many floors
-painted about every surface in the place
-re-wired the second floor
-put in a water softener... a good thing when your water would otherwise weigh almost as much as solid rusted iron
-chopped up lots of wood from downed trees
-seeded the horse pasture
-refinished the countertops
-added shelving to the pantry and bedroom closet
-gutted and put in a new bathroom
-installed a wood stove
-fixed some holes in the walls
-fixed the trim on the outside of the house, because bats were getting in (we have not had bats in our house in 2+ years)
-among may other projects.

So, I guess it's good bye to the house. It was a good place to live, and a great place to dream. I will miss my time there, but I know that in the future there will be other places to love, call home, make memories in, and dream about other future plans.

Eta: I had to clean it out like this now, because this is my only substantial break until I am done with school. And, if it were to sell or be rented out in the midst of a semester, I would not be able to help out with the move at that time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

My last summer (off) ... ever

Was a summer well spent?

I think so. However, I did not do anything fantastic or adventurous unlike my classmates; many are in the midst of doing research projects near and afar, attending medical conferences, or doing medical volunteer work abroad with some sightseeing of great places along the way.

Instead, with my 8 weeks of freedom I:
-Spent a week up North
-Spent a weekend on Lake Michigan, fishing, relaxing, and eating ice cream
-Attended the local fair and saw the rodeo/bull riding
-Spent a few weeks cleaning out our house and sorting through our belongings (ongoing)
-Will be spending 2.5 weeks in the anatomy lab starting 8/11/11, studying in order to take my last anatomy exam (with any luck)

Intermixed with these bigger projects and activities, I also saw family and friends.

**Note: I will end up with 3 days of freedom between the completion of my anatomy exam and orientation for school. But, somehow when I was registering my bike (yes, I have another one!), car, and shopping for some school supplies the other day... it was feeling like summer was almost over... feeling like I should be shopping for a few outfits to wear for the school year, thinking about pulling out a long sleeve shirt or two, and being on the look-out for red topped trees in another few weeks.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Reflections on my car accident (part 1 of 3)

It's been a bit over 6 months since my car accident, and I finally feel like I can write about the accident with some perspective. Perspective that only time brings.

Background (WARNING -- some people may not want to read):
I rolled a convertible off the interstate while going to class the last week of fall semester. I was found upside down, seatbelted in by a truck driver ~ the roof of the car lower than the level of the steering column. I do not know how long I was alone. I just know that this happened during rush hour in the morning, around 7:30, it took them about 45 min to get me out of the car and 15 to fly me to the hospital; I did not make it to the hospital until 10:30 AM. As it took them so long to get me out of my car, and my car was in such rough shape... I was airlifted to the hospital. At the time the rescue personnel arrived on scene, I did not know my name, where I was going, who I was, my occupation, or anything else about me with any certainty. By the time I arrived at the hospital, I still had not figured out the date.

At the accident scene... I remember being in a fog, and then in a lot of pain (my neck hurt), and finally when they cut my seatbelt off -- very, very cold. Colder than I have ever been in my entire life. When they got me out of the car, in the cold winter air, they cut my jacket off and clothes up (cut jeans above my knees, sweater and shirt above my elbows and in a straight line down to my abdomen) in order to ensure access to veins if needed. They finished cutting my clothes off when we got to the ER and replaced them with a hospital gown.

There are things I remember about the ER -- the absolute chaos when I came into the ER, followed by the absolute stillness once they determined that I was going to be okay. I remembered meeting some people who will have me as a student in the future, and seeing some familiar faces (from shadowing in the same ER earlier in the semester). As my husband was a few hundred miles away on business when he got the call about my accident, my father-in-law came to the ER, and in addition to being a comforting, familiar face; took instructions from the police officer investigating the crash, hospital personnel, etc. and reassured my husband about my status until Pete arrived -- things that I was not able to do in my concussed, confused state, and am so thankful that he was there.

I was released from the ER that afternoon, requiring only 6 stitches behind my ear... pretty banged up, and not quite sure if I was going to be able to continue with school, in part because I could not think straight at that time (a post concussion effect -- took a few days to resolve) and also feared that I had forgotten everything I learned fall semester just prior to all the final exams.

Thankfully, I have been able to continue with school. The effects of the accident have been nil, as far as I can tell... although I have decided not to participate in any contact sports/activities that have a higher likelihood of concussion (i.e. hockey, sledding, skiing, lacrosse, etc.) for the next year. And the academic effects have been almost moot ~ I do have to return to school early (August 11-22) to study and take the last exam in Anatomy, which I missed as a result of the accident.

Reflections on my car accident (part 2 of 3)

To be entirely honest, not a day goes by that I do not think about the car accident. Not all the time, just moments ~ like when I think about the house or the highway or sometimes during a quiet part of the day or when someone I have not seen in a while asks me directly about the accident. The accident changed our life in so many ways ~ mostly for the better, I think. I am a firm believer that "everything happens for a reason, though not always apparent at the time".

Although, I would never have asked to be in such a traumatic accident and if I had to do this year over again knowing what I know now... We would certainly make the choices we made after the accident in hopes of preventing it from ever have happening in the first place.

However, knowing Pete and I, I think we had to go through the accident and its aftermath in order to get to where we are now... our life is much simpler. More focused. We live with more intention and prioritize what we want to do, rather than trying to do everything that we feel we want to/need to do. That's not to say that we did not think about what we were doing last summer before I started school ~ because we did. We just chose to stay/keep life much the same for the wrong reasons.

There is much good that came out of the accident. Pete loves his new job. I was able to move out of our home in order to live near school (difficult to do when you become attached to a place). Hondo spends more time with me, and is able to on walks during the day. I was able to give myself an evening off during the week (Friday nights) ~ what a luxury ~ so nice to have a bit more time for myself or to spend with Pete. We got rid of all car payments. Pete became available to help me with household tasks (laundry/cooking/cleaning) during the week, and actually acquired enough free time to take up flying... something he has talked about doing for years.

So, all-in-all, the accident was not all bad but just served as a reminder of the fragility of life and that we are not always in control.

Reflections on my car accident (part 3 of 3)

Misc. lessons learned from the car accident:

1. I avoid telling people who have been in a bad car accident (and perhaps other near death experiences?)... "You are lucky to be alive.". Though true, and despite people's best intentions, this comment never sat well with me. It is an instantaneous reminder that this accident could have had really different outcomes, and made me feel somehow undeserving of how well I fared, like I won some sort of sick cosmic jackpot.

Instead of that comment, I found things like, "thinking of you" or "hope you feel better soon", or "there are easier ways to get out of taking exams", to be more supportive. On that note, I was really touched by all the people who called in the days following the accident, and it was really nice to have Pete around to screen my phone calls/take messages and allow me to rest. It was nice to know that people were thinking of me, without having to interact with everyone individually.

2. I have learned more about something called the bystander effect, and now look for drivers in the ditch/new accidents to report to 911. Despite my accident occurring during rush hour, nobody called to report my accident until the truck driver stopped and held my hand, and I do not know how long I was alone.

3. Having a chaplain call a family member with only bare-bones information (like, "your wife has been airlifted to the ER") and no other details can cause a lot of worry and anxiety for the family member on the receiving end of the phone call.

4. It's good to have a family member/friend come with, to get instructions from the people in the hospital (in addition to being a familiar face)... being in the ER/hospital is disconcerting enough (especially with a concussion)!

5. Time is an important resource in life. We have become more critical of how this resource is being consumed, because in the end that's what life is... time. And how we choose to spend it, is important. And, we may as well spend more of it doing things that we enjoy doing, rather than blindly spending it wastefully... so we have trimmed out things that we don't enjoy that much: most of the commute, cooking, cleaning beyond what's required for sanitation, etc.

And... I think that's all! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

He made it 3 times around the pattern... safely

That's... 3 takes offs and 3 landings. And LOVED it! :)

He came home wired, and excited, and happy. It's fun to see him that way! :)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Pete has his first solo flight today! :)

After 10 hours of instruction, Pete will be taking off and landing a plane by himself this afternoon. He has talked about this day since he started flying, as it's the day that each of the pilot's he's met remembers as the day they were hooked for life (or alternatively, the day some other students found out that flying is really not their thing)!

I think he will enjoy it, but I will be thinking of him the whole time he is up in the air... floating around free, doing his drills... but mostly, hoping he comes down safely! :)

Monday, July 18, 2011

U.P. ~ Summer Vacation 2011

This past week, Pete and I spent some time relaxing in the UP... the pics below are a few memories from our week off...

Campfire/Wiffleball on the beach with family...

Doing the scenic tour of the UP, including Eagle Harbor... Copper Harbor... Brockway Mountain... and a few other stops with my family...

Spending some time on the water... I noticed these trees from the water and they reminded me of something from a Dr.Seuss book... little tufts of branches at the top.

Outside of the above... we were able to spend quite a bit of time sauna/swimming at the camp where my mom & dad were staying, reading (I got through 8 novels... nothing with any remotely any educational value), and saw a few of our friends too. :) There is nothing quite like the U.P. summer ~ and we felt fortunate to be able to enjoy a whole week of it this year! :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Public service announcement (PSA) of sorts

Last week, I took Hondo to the vet for his annual check-up/shots and heartworm test. As I no longer live near my old vet, I went to a local vet teaching hospital and was taught a little bit about how to better care for my dog during the appointment. One of the things I learned, I thought I would share since it rather surprised me...

Prohibited foods for dogs:
Grapes, Raisins, Avocados, Onions, and Garlic.

If your dog is like mine, they sometimes get bits of table food from time-to-time... so, I appreciated them taking the time to go through this list with me. I was only able to say, "no chocolate?" when asked what foods my dog should not be eating.

Outside of that, I was given a few other pointers, that seem specific to a pug/breed with short face and lots of facial folds. I appreciated them telling me how to better care for my dog, because I do not recall anyone doing that in the past with me! :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Flying with Pete (during his lesson)

Yesterday I went flying with Pete during his lesson! :) We stayed about 1000-3000 feet off the ground the entire lesson -- doing 45degree angle turns, practicing recovering after stalling out the engine, taking off/landing, following lines on the ground and turning. It really is a different experience than riding in a commercial craft, or being in a car.
Ground appearing to come at us during a 45 degree turn! (All well controlled and in good fun!)
View of fields for most of the lesson ~ peaceful!

Friday, July 1, 2011

First day of Freedom!

Now to go collect pics of my planned day...
A poolside pic of some sort.
A cup of iced tea with lemon.
And a copy of some novel half finished... taking suggestions on such a novel! Preferably, something quick and easy to follow.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What does one year of med school curriculum look like?

Getting that I am almost done with the first year and am starting to study for finals/put away books and re-organize the bookshelf... I decided to weigh the material sitting on my bookshelf.

About ~140 lbs.

Note: This is just the text books, coursepacks... and does not count the many volumes of notes that were taken independent of this stack of books, or the stacks of notecards I use to memorize things. Also, does not include the clinical skills supplies or anatomy lab supplies.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

A few misc. updates on our life.

Pete really does have a new hobby. The other day he came home with a Student Pilot Certificate ~ he is officially registered with the FAA and is now working towards getting his pilots license. He has really been enjoying this hobby ~ coming home and telling me about how much he enjoys flying and the freedom it brings... and all about the new skills he is learning. At his lesson this past week, he was able to land the plane by himself. I was able to go up with him (along with a real pilot) about a week ago; it was fun to be in the air. It certainly is different than flying commercial! :)

I am almost done with my first year of school ~ looking forward to June 30th (my last exam), and a few weeks of freedom. Plan to spend a week up North, and no other definite plans yet. :)

Monday, May 30, 2011

If you can't laugh at yourself... who can you laugh at?

Sometimes, the day just does not go as planned.
Last week, I decided that I was going to bike to school -- its not too far to school, it was looking to be a nice day, and I had plenty of time before my morning class. And biking to school seems like a great way to get exercise & be green to the environment. So, I get on our bike only to realize that the tires were low. "No problem", I thought, "there is a gas station a few blocks away where I can fill the tires.". I arrive at the gas station and get the front tire filled no problem, but the back tire... well, when I was filling it and squeezed it to see if it was getting full... it popped. It did not just quietly pop, nope... it POPPED and TWANGED and the metal around the rim of tire came undone (see bottom picture), loud enough that the gas station attendant inside had to come out and check out what was going on. And my ear closest to the bike rang for a short time.
Seeing as I was only a short ways away from home (like 1/2-3/4 mile) and felt too silly to ask if I could leave the now useless bike there to pick-up with our truck in a few minutes... I decided to walk the bike home, only to realize that the explosion of the back tire caused the front tire frame to heat up in one spot and stick, so the wheel no longer rolled... this meant that I ended up carrying the bike home -- still with my backpack and helmet. I must have looked like a sight to those passing me on their way to work, I can only imagine thinking myself, "Doesn't she know she's supposed to ride and not carry that bike?".

My attempt at biking to school failed, but I did manage to get some exercise in that morning (and I did make it to my morning class on time...)! And the loss of the bike... it was no great loss; it was due to be replaced anyway because it had other problems.

Friday, May 20, 2011

I think I must have spring fever. You know that antsy feeling that seems to come when the seasons change and nicer weather appears? It seems to have come a bit late this year, perhaps owing to how busy I was with schoolwork last semester... I stopped noting the passing of days (only time until the next test). But, I do have it now. So, I am trying to find little activities to fill my time. Like going for more walks (Hondo likes that one), or cleaning up the apartment (its much cleaner than it has been at any other time than when we moved in), or re-arranging and thinning things... I guess my cupboards like that one.

In other news or what-have-you...
I have now completed 2 semesters and 1 week of a third semester of medical school. About a year ago, I had received my acceptance and was nervous/anxious/excited to start... worried that my seven year break in formal education would be too long. I will say this, returning to school was an adjustment in and of itself... but I think the life experience between my years of schooling has enriched my education. There have been many things I have learned in med school which I have been able to relate to things that I had seen/learned/experienced between undergrad and starting med school. It really has been fun to go back to school and learn, I am grateful to have had the experience and looking forward to starting next school year.

Between Spring semester and my current semester, I had a week break which I used to go to Minnesota. It was so fun to go home and spend time with family there. I was kept quite busy each day, and it was fun to see everyone there! While I was there I went to a cousin's wedding, services in the cities, out for appetizers; to Menahga to visit my Grandma (and thank you to the aunts, uncles, and cousins who also came and visited with my mom, dad, and me!); and was able to spend time at each of my sister's and sister-in-law's homes, as well as at my mom & dad's. It was nice to be able to go for a week and spend a little time at each place! Thank you very much to all! :) I will have to post pictures once I load them on my computer.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pete has a new hobby... maybe.

Since our life has become slower recently, Pete has decided he needs to do something to fill his evening time. House and yard projects are no longer an option. And spending time with me... not really an option either... most evenings I am shooing him away to study for my next exam. So, he has decided that he wants to work on getting his pilots license. Yesterday evening, he went up for the first time and was able to take the controls in the air. He had a good time, and came home all excited!

This pic is of him flying around:

Saturday, March 19, 2011

You never know where...

Since entering medical school, I have come to realize that the idea that most people are connected by as few as two degrees of separation (but as far as six degrees of separation) is probably true. Several of my classmates know people that I know (either through church, relatives, other people), and it kind of makes the world seem like a bit smaller of a place.

However, I never expected to meet a relative in medical school... While attending a lecture for an elective class, I started chatting with the person sitting next to me. Turns out, this person is a distant relation (second cousin once removed). As I come from a large family, meeting random people who are relatives is not that uncommon... I just had not expected to meet someone that I was related to in medical school!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Yes, we are nerds...

Happy Pi day!

In honor of Pi Day (3.14), we had a slice of pie at the local pie shop. As good an excuse as any to enjoy a slice of pie! :)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Spring Break

As of Friday a bit before noon, I have been off on spring break.

My highlights thus far...
-Catching up on sleep. I was only awake for 7 hours on Saturday, and I was not even sick! :)
-Making a trip to the planetarium near my home. Had never been to a planetarium. Really neat to see the night sky constellations pointed out, and learn about dark matter in outer space. Felt like a middle school field trip!
-Seeing the L* family. They made the trip out to visit us on Sunday and have dinner. It was nice to see them! :)
-Attending a recipe exchange party tonight. It was nice to be able to attend a social function on a week night, and get many great new recipes!

Aside from the above, I have also been resting and trying to get some errands done (taxes, oil changes, and the like). I gave myself a four day break from anything school related, and it felt great to relax!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Misc. Ramblings

About a week ago, a few of my friends and I met for coffee at a place near my new home. It felt so wonderful to have this type of companionship for an evening, we talked about lots of things and nothing until much past my bedtime... it was certainly a nice and welcome break from school.

This is the beginning of the most difficult week in Block I (first year of medical school). We have 3 exams in 5 days (1 down, 2 to go), one of those being a final exam in a difficult course. Because of this weeks intensity, we missed an out-of-town family wedding over the weekend. It would have been nice to go, but sometimes its not possible to make it to everything. I am really looking forward to Friday -- the last exam of the week, and beginning of spring break!

In other news, its nice and sunny today. Its about 40 degrees... I am really starting to get spring fever and looking forward to days that I can sit outside and study! :) Spring is on its way!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

2.5 weeks until spring break.

I need to keep that number in mind, because the next few weeks are going to be difficult in terms of school work load. During these next few weeks, I have 6 exams, 4 quizzes, 2 patient interviews, and 2 papers (following the 2 patient encounters).

2.5 weeks until spring break.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Pug in an Apartment

Pugs are called "Velcro Dogs". Ever since Pete left for China, Hondo (our pug) has been my shadow when ever I am at home; following me from room-to-room (so long as the rooms were on the same level), sitting under my desk when I studied, patiently waiting in the kitchen as I cooked for the inevitably dropped piece of vegetable or crumb. Don't get me wrong, he still likes Pete and is really happy to see him when he gets home. He just prefers me.

I did not think that he could be any more velcro-y (if that is a word). However, now that we are in the apartment, this is most certainly what he has become; putting his head on my textbooks when I sit on the couch and study, sitting by the bathroom door when I take a shower, and waking up and moving to another room if I happen to move. Sometimes, I find this very endearing... other times, it reminds me how much I study (and how little I move around throughout the day).

But, he is a good dog. I am reminded of this whenever we go for walks around the complex/town. Occasionally dogs, will come up and say "hi". Many bark (or yip). Some growl. Others look like they want to attack, and nearly choke themselves trying to get closer. He'll go say "hi" and sniff their nose, and then come sit down by my feet. It certainly makes it much easier to have a dog in an apartment complex, when he is generally well-behaved.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Snow Day!

First one in years!
Although school was canceled today due to snow, Hondo was still taken outside for his walk this morning. He enjoyed being outside; bounding through the cold,white stuff, making tunnels and occasionally eating the snow! This made me laugh and smile this morning. The sidewalks have not been shoveled, and we expect to get several more inches today. The snow was past his shoulders this morning, I wonder how much deeper it will get! :)

Friday, January 28, 2011

Intersting things learned so far in med school

Following an exam today (one of many this semester), I need to remind myself of all the cool things that I have learned so far in medical school:

-How to use an otoscope (the thing doctor's look in your eyes with), opthalmoscope (the thing doctor's look in your ear and nose with), stethascope, and blood pressure cuffs... I now even have one of each of these items! :)
-Licorice consumption can lead to low potassium in your blood (hypokalemia) and high blood pressure (hypertension)... this is not talking about twizzlers or cheap licorice candy, but more expensive brands of licorice and items that contain real licorice extract or the compound, glycerrhetinic acid.
-Fat from food flows through your lymph system (and not through your blood).
-Panda's can't taste umami, one of the five basic senses.
-The reason hydration packets contain salt and sugar.
-Mucus contains antibodies, and helps to fight (and prevent) infection.
-Something called an auscultatory gap -- where when you measure blood pressure, there can be a gap in sounds and can lead to an inaccurately low blood pressure reading.
-How a body adapts to different kinds of conditions -- bone becomes stronger or weaker depending on activity (and type of activity) level; your gut adapts to different diets to maximize food absorption; you immune system responds to different types of infections, etc. So interesting, and amazing!

Most days, I do really enjoy being in school again. I feel lucky to be able to learn so many interesting things. Of course, there are days that are stressful, or when I momentarily feel overwhelmed. But, most of the time... I don't realize how much time I actually put in, because it is enjoyable and contains at least one fascinating bit of trivia.

Like, did you know that you secrete growth hormone when you sleep?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sporting a new kind of "backpack"

Ever since my accident, I have had 3 main complaints: back pain, neck pain, and occasional dizziness when I look up. I had assumed that these would just go away on their own, and really was not doing much about any of these complaints (aside from taking the occasional few advil, and rest) until last Saturday. The back/neck pain got to the point that I could no longer concentrate on well, anything. So, in I went to Urgent Care.

Turns out, I do have a back/neck muscle injury from the accident. So, I was told to not use my backpack any more, as this will only make the injury worse. I am now sporting a new kind of backpack -- it's actually a black, carry-on rolling suitcase, and it works wonderfully. Seriously, this suitcase holds way more than that little backpack ever did. It rolls across campus with ease. And, I can easily pack both my lunch and coffee thermos inside without having to decide which books/course packs I do not need, or resorting to my usual alternative: carrying the back-pack on my back, lunch box around my shoulders (has a long, purse-like handle), and coffee thermos with my left hand.

Now, if only I could find a way to make the thing quiet (instead of going clickity-clack) as I walk across campus...

ETA: Also, because of this injury, I was introduced to another great thing... rice socks. Take a clean, old, long sock. Fill with long-grain rice (not minute rice). Tie the sock. Put in microwave for 1-2 minutes... Makes a great heating pad, and one of life's small pleasures.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

7 minutes

Now that school is in full swing, I am really enjoying the small things in life... like my new 7 minute commute. I now have an extra 10 hours a week to balance school, my life, etc. That's a whole extra day of studying that I get back. Hooray! Perhaps, I can use this time to get more sleep, spend a little more time with Pete, and go for a few more walks with the dog. It will be nice to have the choice regarding what I want to do with that time, instead of budgeting it weekly to commute to school.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Yes, it has been a while...

It has been a while since I last posted. I was not entirely sure what I should write. So, I would write something and then delete it, write something then delete it. Today, my goal is to write something and actually keep it up.

About a month ago, I was in a bad car wreck. Since that day, my life has entered another transition state. This near brush with death has reminded me of two things, 1) we are not 100% in control, and 2) gave some perspective on my priorities. Pete and I have since replaced the car, and I now live in an apartment much closer to school. Our home has been listed, hoping some other couple or person finds this house as charming, unique, and wonderful as we have these last few years. I will start spring semester on Monday, and feel fortunate that I was able to finish fall semester before break and will be able to continue with school.

Its odd moving away from your home as an adult. Down sizing and re-aligning your life. When school started, I really did not want to move away from this place -- comfortable surroundings, brightly colored walls, a cozy wood stove, and a lot of family/friends nearby. However, this accident has reminded me of my priorities -- right now, school is higher on the list than remaining at home. So, I needed to move closer to make more time for school and minimize some of the risk associated with driving long distances to/from school each day.

I do like my apartment. I can see myself being happy there. There is a wall painted a browny shade of orange. I like it. Colors make me happy, and so I am happy that all of the walls are not a bland palate of whites. It is also close to many things, and should be easier to take care of and maintain during school.

Hopefully, 2011 will be a less exciting year. I am looking forward to starting school again, and all the busy-ness that comes with each semester. Wishing you and yours a wonderful 2011!