Sunday, October 15, 2017

What Residency Looks Like: Stress Relief


Sometimes residency looks like a bubble bath and a new German novel to soak away seven weeks of ICU: long days, longer nights, fumbled presentations to attendings, heart-felt conversations with families, children who don't get better, watching people die, and generally practicing beyond my knowledge. Yes, I learned a lot. But tonight I will let it digest subconsciously under the scent of a citrus coconut candle.

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Friday, October 13, 2017

Fall Tastes like Pumpkin and Apples


It's fall! Around here that means crisp apples, pumpkin cookies, hot cider, and Halloween decorations. Every year I bake 1-2 batches of pumpkin cookies from The Official Millbrook 1010/Greg 1010 Cookbook, compiled by my college "suities" E.F., C.M., and I. (One of three extant copies pictured at left.) The original recipe calls for icing, but I find them sweet enough. Instead, I add raisins. The texture is spongy and cake-like, and they taste particularly good warm, with hot apple cider from a local orchard. Here's how to make the cookies:

First, take out the butter! It never fails that I sift the dry ingredients and then pull rock-hard butter out of the fridge. Or worse, like today, discover that we are out of the creamy yellow stuff and have to send Dear Husband to the Co-op. He wants to bake Kirchenkuchen next week, so he was going to need some anyway. (Fall tastes like plums, pears, and cherry pie/cake to him.)

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Sift together 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tsp cinnamon (be generous!), 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp salt.

Cream 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar. Add 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg, and 1 can pumpkin, which DH sweetly bought for me without my asking, because he knew it was in season.

Mix wet and dry ingredients. Add raisins to taste. Drop on a cookie sheet with a spoon and bake for 15-20 minutes. You know the cookies are done when they are slightly tacky on top. Cool on a rack. They keep well in the refrigerator and can be frozen for later. Heat 10-15 seconds in the microwave before enjoying with the fall-themed beverage of your choice.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

What Residency Looks Like VI: W-w-w-white out!


In the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU, pronounced "pick you"), these are the tools of my trade as a resident:

  • A stethoscope and alcohol wipes with which to clean it between patients, although this was really only useful for consults in the emergency room, as each patient in the PICU has their own disposable yellow plastic stethoscope. Nobody cleans it between users.
  • Water bottle: hydration, hydration, hydration!
  • Keyboard = germ-infested portal to the electronic medical record. Since I started working in the hospital (and came down with gastroenteritis in my first month), I will not eat without washing my hands with soap and water. I touch as little of my food with my hands as possible, going to far as to eat snack mix with a spoon and my sandwich or chips out of the bag "like a horse" (according to my coworkers).
  • "Pickle phone" aka short-range wireless phone so I can always be reached no matter where I am in the hospital or unit (including, you know, ... the loo).
  • Rounding sheets onto which to copy overnight events, vital signs, ventilator settings, laboratory and imaging results, fluid balance, medications, consults to call, consultants' recommendations, something resembling a treatment plan, and a to-do list marked by open squares that I shade in like a bowling score card depending on how close to done the task is.
  • Pen, pencil, and white out for fixing mistakes before copying the sheet for the attending and for whiting out today's details so the sheet can be copied and used for several days if the basic information does not change. The resident's personal bottle of white out may be disappearing from the PICU, as the unit transitions to a computerized rounding sheet that requires three clicks and then *poof*. Or rather *print*. No more two hours scribing information that is often out of date by the time it is presented on rounds. Unfortunately, it's still in beta, and I have no more scheduled PICU rotations for the rest of residency.

If you also find tools and technology interesting, check out this post about bathrooms, this one on toadstools, or this one about everyday things in Germany.


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Saturday, September 30, 2017

What Residency Looks Like V: Sustenance II


Sometimes residency looks like the breakfast sandwiches your fellow or attending buys the team after an overnight shift so that you all will make to morning sign out without eating each other.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

That's So Pittsburgh: a metal reminder of bygone days


While walking back to our car in East Liberty after lunch on my day off, I looked down and noticed this bronze plaque set in the sidewalk. An object that dimly recalls the glory days of manufacturing in the Allegheny River Valley, it's from The Wadsworth Stone & Paving Company, Pittsburgh, PA. The name of the firm rises with the sun between two mountains. Other such markers are extant in the city: Father Pitt found one in Squirrel Hill, and kb412 found one on Mount Washington. According to a history by J. Richard Bowersox that I found online, the Wadsworth Company was incorporated in 1892, worked Kentucky rock from 1903 to 1917, and then was folded into the Kentucky Rock Asphalt Company. I hadn't realized that rock quarrying was a big industry in Kentucky in the early 20th century. The Pittsburgh City Photographer collection at the University of Pittsburgh has a photo of one of the local production sites in Larimer from 1911.

Know what else you can find in East Liberty? Motor Square Garden.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What Residency Looks Like IV: Sunshine

Sometimes residency looks like sunlight and shadows in the hospital healing garden. My attending likes to give her teams a break once a week, so I am AWL (absent with leave) from the ICU, enjoying fresh air and the giddy feeling of being outside in the middle of a work day.


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Thursday, September 7, 2017

What Residency Looks Like III: Bees and Flowers


Sometimes residency looks like an outdoor snack break in the middle of a computerized exam to clear your mind and process the death of one of your clinic patients.

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