Thursday, May 24, 2018

What Residency Looks Like XXVI: Trees of Green, Skies of Blue


Sometimes your attending lets you out early, and even though it takes 45 minutes to drive home, there is still warm sunshine outside. So you and Dear Husband change into shorts to walk to the ice cream store to fortify yourselves for the descent into Frick Park to lie on the grass in the shade and study nephrology or read about Mozart.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What Residency Looks Like XXV: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day


Sometimes residency looks like a bit of sun on the sculpture garden at the hospice center in the middle of a rainy day, when your attending lets you out early, and you decide to spend the afternoon adopting a cat (pics when she gets brave enough to come out of the basement!).

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Sunday, May 20, 2018

You Can't Go Home Again


It's true what they say: you can't go home again. I recently flew back to where I did graduate and medical school after two years away, in order to visit old friends--at least, the ones who were still there. As it so happened, one of my dissertation advisors and our church's long-time choir director were retiring that weekend, so I was able to celebrate with them in person. It was bitter sweet to drive those gridded streets again. They were so familiar: I can remember listening to the radio while driving down that one on Saturday errands; this is the route I used to bike to the farmer's market; I always liked the Christmas lights on that house over there. Of course some things had changed: new apartment buildings that are depressing the rental market, for instance, and new restaurants, a few old buildings torn down. What hurt the most was that I spent a dozen formative years there, and it cannot be "home" again, because I needed to complete my training elsewhere. We knew that when we came, and yes, those years were sometimes difficult: more studying than socializing, far from family, regrets about opportunities missed, cancer. But the place was comfortable and nurturing, as evidenced by the number of meet-ups I tried to cram into a few short days.


I ate lunch with a friend at the new Broadway Food Hall; took a walk on the park path near our old house; patronized the Steak N Shake because the Krekel's hasn't opened yet; worked at the public library; ate outside downtown with friends; got breakfast at the farmer's market with Bible Study folks; tried a new Indian restaurant with an old union colleague; hung around with a church lady and her fur-children; caught up with old swing-dance partners; attended two retirement parties; ran into dear acquaintances on the street; worshipped twice on Sunday morning; and met up with former professors and still mentors. When Dear Husband and I moved away in 2016, I definitely felt as if I had grown tired of the physical landscape but was only just starting to get to know the human landscape. With any luck we will have knitted bonds that will stretch across the country with us as we move from one home to another.

Flower-like butterflies fill the air in the entranceway of the public library.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What Residency Looks Like XXIV: Simulated Patients

Sometimes residency involves simulated procedures. Over lunch today we had a lecture about removing foreign bodies from one of the ED fellows. Here I've just successfully dug a bead out of this spaghetti squash's "ear."

We in medicine apparently like to play with our food: I've sewn up pig feet a number of times, and I've injected a grape "bursa" hidden in a chicken breast "shoulder."

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

That's So Pittsburgh: Planting Community

Six months ago, Dear Husband and I joined dozens of volunteers with the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy and the Pittsburgh Redbud Project to plant trees on the North Shore. Last night I realized Saturday was Earth Day and that I could use part of my day off to plant native species in the new bioswale I've been watching them construct near my parking garage at work. A bioswale is basically a rain garden with storage tanks underneath. The idea is to capture rain water so that it nourishes plant life that cleans the air and protects critters rather than going into the city's drainage system. Pittsburgh's storm drains and sewer system run together such that after a particularly hard rain or large snow melt, the runoff causes the sewers to overflow into the three rivers. Gross.


A good crowd of all ages, including representatives from a couple local Target stores, quickly put a couple dozen hydrangeas and nine tail bushes into the fresh dirt. Then we wrestled a number of juvenile hornbeams and redbuds into the ground. Dave, Sue, Kristen, and I planted a redbud we named Emily (after the project director) at the foot of the hill. At the top of the hill, Wes and I eventually got another redbud into a muddy hole while I told him about the 16 new redbuds that beavers had gnawed off on the North Shore. Beavers and redbuds are both native to these parts, although hunting and pollution had killed off the original Pennsylvania beavers such that transplants were brought in from Wisconsin and Canada. Wes asked what beavers didn't like, and we settled on predators such as wolves, so I named the second tree Lobos to ward off any water rodents that might be lurking in the Hill District!

Friday, April 20, 2018

What Residency Looks Like XXIII: Clinical Pearls


I recently had the honor of presenting the pre-intervention survey results of my research group's project on medical education on social media. This was our title slide. You can find us on Facebook and Tumblr at Teaching Rounds, and on Instagram and Twitter at Med Ed Pittsburgh. More pics on Twitter @MedEdPGH.

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Monday, April 16, 2018

What Residency Looks Like XXII: The view from the top


Sometimes residency looks like interrupting the conversation in your team room on the twelfth floor of the hospital so everyone can take pictures of the beautiful hawk perched outside the window.

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