Friday, December 18, 2015

A Blessed, Home-sick, Midwest Girl

It is astonishing to think I moved 500 miles south 6 months ago and I am close to being half way done with my intern year. I am somehow even busier in residency or maybe I just need more sleep these days, but I never seem to have any time to just lay around, blog, watch TV, work out, make dinner. I am certain my lack of time has something to do with me being blessed with some of the best friends anyone could have. I prefer to spend my down time with my family away from my family. Whether that means wine nights, watching football, catching OUAT with Heather, having dinner/breakfast, or just using my extra couple of minutes to send a couple of "what's going on in your life" texts. These are the people who keep me going everyday and listen to even the most repetitive or minuscule details of my life. They are who I tell my heart-wrenching work stories to and who I share this experience with every day. Without them I wouldn't be able to do what I do. My gratitude to have them in my life grows daily, especially during this holiday season.
My life completely changed last summer and I am just starting to get perspective on exactly how much is different about my life and who I am. I have been living life moment to moment, not truly realizing how much time had really passed already. The arrival of the holiday season struck me hard as I copied down my November schedule. I had known how likely it was I would be spending this holiday season away from my family as I submitted my rank list last winter and I was certain I would be spending it in Little Rock as I packed away all my Christmas decor into a storage unit last May. Yet somehow, the true weight of that realization didn't really settle in until November showed up as my next moment. I felt my first pangs of home-sickness during those 2 minutes I scribbled down my November work schedule. As November came to an end, my home-sickness weighed on me heavily and I was counting down the days until I would be able to go home for a 2.5 day Christmas vacation.
I am incredibly blessed to have a family who love me and support my career/dreams year after year without any complaints. I have missed countless get-togethers, birthday parties, weddings, and holidays over the years, but this would be the first time I would be gone for Thanksgiving and Christmas. This year's Christmas in the Balogh and Harris households were rescheduled for 2 weeks before December 25th to allow me to be "home for Christmas." And being home for Christmas was such a wonderful thing.  The home cooked meals, the family jokes and laughter, the games, the chatting were all rejuvenating.
One of the hardest parts about being so far away is not being able to watch my beautiful nieces grow into the Little Humans they are becoming. Merideth is old enough that she knows who I am, where I live, what I do with my life, and how much I love her. Aurora is still so small and during the 6 months I've been away, I have become a stranger to her. It took her some time to warm up and not cry every time I held her, but we slowly got there before I had to start that 7 hour trek back to Little Rock.
While 72 hours may not seem like an incredibly long time, it was long enough for me to recharge and get some of that perspective on what about me and my life has changed and what never will. I have a whole new set of skills, I'm a little more of a sailor, my wine consumption is a little higher, and I'm surrounding by people who complete get me. I've learned to say no, to not worry about what the outside world thinks, and the power of deep breaths and venting. But I am always going to be that midwest girl at heart who will wear jeans and jerseys to sports events and takes turns letting cars leave from the parking lot. I'll always be a little awkward at first and then somehow talk too much. I'll always have those rebellious moments where I want to do something drastic like take a trip alone to Europe, dye my hair red, or sky dive. But what that 72 hours really did was enlighten me how blessed I truly am in every aspect of my life. Blessed with a supportive/loving family, a family away from my family, life-long friends I've made through the years, a career I enjoy showing up for every day, the ability to help people in some of their most vulnerable times, and an abundance of dreams and goals.

(Side note: I know its been months since I have blogged and I have gotten to do so much: concerts, friendsgiving, lots of new work experiences, Christmas, becoming a VIB at sephora, decorating a new apartment, decorating for Christmas, working on that gym thing, hiking, being spoiled by friends, watching the first half of this season of OUAT, collecting random meme, trying local restaurants, attending the apple cider party, planning an epic trip this spring. I hope to get to sit down this week and write a couple posts to at least hit the highlights.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Socially Acceptable Habits, Learning Curves, and Other Stuff

As I went through my email this morning, I was surprised to realize it was August. I changed rotations on Monday and so I knew it was August, but I suddenly realized we are 2/3 of the way through summertime. It seems impossible that I moved to Little Rock almost 8 weeks ago. I've already finished my first month(didn't kill anyone) and I'm off to the next big thing which for me is a month of Anesthesia and ultrasound. I spend my mornings in the OR placing endotracheal tubes(breathing tubes) and then dabble with the ultrasound in the ER all afternoon. I am both excited and nervous about this month. I never got to do any intubations or ultrasounding during medical school, so all of these skills are brand new territory for me with steep learning curves. Intubations, I hear, are pretty easy once you really get a handle for them. Day one, I watched several being placed and then stuck around to try some myself. I was pretty excited when I successfully placed 2 endotracheal tubes in a row and called it a day. I was very hopeful that I was simply a natural and all the worrying I had done about trying to learn this skill had been silly. Today however, I missed my first 2 tubes and realized maybe I was just lucky the first 2 times or maybe today was an off day. Either way, there is definitely a learning curve and I can't wait to be really good at it. I try to remind myself regularly that I am still learning and so it is okay to miss one. A couple weeks from now, I probably won't even have to think about it.
Today was my first day of ultrasound. We are lucky enough to have a great ultrasound director and I got a nice overview of expectations, the ultrasound machines, and then got to try my hand at a couple scans. This will likely be the much harder of the 2 skills to learn, but I am looking forward to it. Ultrasound is such a great tool in the ER and a strong ultrasound curriculum was one of the things I was looking for when I applied to residency.

As I have gotten immersed into the world of residency and Emergency Medicine, I have noticed some small changes in my habits and I have to be very careful to avoid socially unacceptable habits. For example, texting or calling someone at 2am is generally frowned upon even if it feels very natural to you. A lot of times when I get settled down for an evening and think about catching up with a friend, I'll start a text and then look up at the clock to see it is well past the acceptable hour of text time. Unless they are ER resident. I text them whenever, I figure there is a decent chance they are awake anyway. Another example is keeping med talk away from the dinner table. There are so few things that truly gross me out at this point in my career that I have to remind myself most people don't want to hear about an impressive open fracture while eating their spaghetti.

The Other Stuff
My sister, brother-in-law, and 3 year old niece drove a mere 7 hours to come down and explore Little Rock for my sister's birthday making them my first set of visitors. I think the drive was more than they were expecting, because I got texts like "where the hell did you move" and "this is taking forever." But somehow the trip finally ended and they arrived late afternoon on Friday. It is hard to believe that so much time has passed since I've seen them and they were a welcomed sight. I was excited to show them the new city I lived in and we had a great weekend. We stuck to strict local restaurants and doing things you can't do anywhere else. We checked out the farmer's market, the big dam bridge, the trolley cars, Clinton Museum, and drove around to see some of the other big landmarks around the city. I'm pretty sure Merideth's favorite part was actually going to the pool on Sunday. Mommy got to be the good mermaid and Daddy was the bad barnacle. I was mostly the one to carry her around the pool as she tried to save Mommy. Our visit came to an end on Sunday afternoon as they packed up to head back to Kansas. But with any luck they will be back in the spring as they pass through and we head for the beach. This was a weekend of firsts for little miss Mer. Her first vacation, first time in a different state(and first time in Arkansas), first time on a trolley car, first road trip. We will be expanding that list of firsts when we get her down to the beach.

In less than 2 weeks, I will be packing my bag and headed back to Missouri to visit my family. I am certain it will be a fast and furious few days while I'm there, but I am excited to see everyone. This may be the last time I get to go home for more than just a day or 2 for several months and so I plan to take full advantage.
Before the arrival of my sister's family on Friday, I spent my Thursday hiking with Shae at Petit Jean State Park. Hiking has become one of my absolute favorite things to do. I find being outside and being around water to be very relaxing and enjoyable. We hiked down to the waterfall and it was absolutely beautiful. The hike up was a bit more strenuous, but totally worth it. I can't wait to go back that direction and hike some of their other trails. Shae and I have decided to try to hike all of the state parks in Arkansas over the next 3 years by trying to go at least once a month. There are probably a few parks we will go to more than once, but Arkansas has 52 state parks for us to cover so we definitely have plenty of trails to explore.(Small side note: took Mer up to Pinnacle Mountain this weekend and I'm pretty sure I have a little hiker in the making.)

I have so many experiences that I want to have over the next 3 years while also working on becoming the best possible EM physician I can be. I plan do so a lot of traveling starting here in the states and plenty of hiking. Once I really start to get a solid study plan going for my in-service exam, I think I am going to try to learn some Spanish. So between learning new skills, studying, hiking, traveling, spending time with friends, keeping up with family, learning a new language, and keeping up with my own well-being(sleep, making dinner, working out) I should have my hands full for quite awhile.

Bonus Pictures
Sunset from where I walk some nights

Thursday, July 30, 2015

So This is Intern Year

On March 20th surrounded by some of the people I love the most, I opened my Match envelop and was thrilled to find that I had matched at my top choice in Little Rock, Arkansas. The weeks that followed went by fast and furious as I prepared for my upcoming move. To say I was a little nervous about the big change would probably be a bit of an understatement. I had spent my entire life living in Missouri and never being more than a hour away from my family. Everything was about to change in my life all at once. I was leaving behind my family, friends, everything I knew, and starting a brand new exciting career with a lot more responsibilities. 
So 6 weeks ago on a Friday morning, I started my journey towards Little Rock with my 2 sets of parents and on Saturday morning the 5 of us spent a very hot, sweaty hour carrying in all of my worldly possessions(I later found that I had managed to leave all of my skillets at my old place and that we had brought down and carried in an entire box of trash). The afternoon was spent putting together my bed/chairs and getting things unpacked. On Saturday night, my mom and Jim took me to dinner and we ended the night with some wine and crown royal in my new home. I don't think it really sank in that I was truly about to start over until they left that night and I was sipping wine alone in my new apartment. 
I spent my very last day before starting Residency doing what any fun, exciting 25 year old would do: laying on the couch binge watching movies. 
The next 2 weeks were both wonderful and awful all at the same time. You know how orientation is just mind-numbing, well imagine doing basically the same orientation everyday for a week followed by computer training on 3 different systems. Dull just doesn't seem to begin to explain those days. My only saving grace was spending it with the other 9 Emergency Medicine interns and our ongoing group text. My intern class is made up of a group of funny, laid back, and unique people who are going to make this next 3 years so much easier and a ton of fun. 
I spent those evenings going to some of the local bars and restaurants, hiking, and meeting new people. And while I had only been here 2 weeks when orientation had ended, I already knew that I was going to have some incredible friends here and I had made the right choice. 

July 1st
As the attending I worked with that day so called it D day(which he followed up with: it doesn't really get better until D day+50). July 1st is the day where all across the country, interns in every specialty are starting their new careers and will for the first time introduce themselves to patients as Dr. I was lucky enough to be schedule in the Emergency Department for my first month and so on July 1st I put on my black scrubs and dove in. I was definitely a bit nervous and to say that I was awkward seems pretty accurate. Most new situations and meeting new people makes me awkward. My first patient was one of the most complicated patients I have seen so far. Walking in blind, I started my training with a patient who would need a great deal of care and eventually ICU. I was pushed to make my own decisions and for that I am very grateful. I suppose you could call it a sink or swim kind of environment with a lot of back up and help anytime you have a question. I couldn't think of a better type of learning for me. I think that first day I only saw 5 patients in the 10 hours I was there. But I survived and managed not to kill anyone. 

The rest of the month has been a whirlwind. I see a lot more patients every shift now and I have gotten use to 10 hour shifts being more like 11-12 hour shifts. When I started this month, I didn't dare peak my head into a room of a new patient who obviously was very sick and now I am more brave. I'm a little better with ultrasound, though I still have a long way to go. I've done a couple of procedures, but still have a ton to try. But everyday, I make progress. I learn more and more. All of the attendings are helpful, but challenge me to look it up, make a decision, give it a go. The upper year residents have been a true blessing. Even though they are extremely busy all the time and I ask them questions continuously, they never seem to mind. 
Sometimes as cheesy as it sounds, I think the stars align and the universe places you exactly where you are meant to be. I absolutely love it here and I am certain that not only will I get incredible training over the next 3 years, but I will also have the opportunity to help make changes to the system and better the healthcare here. With great new friends, an incredible start to my training, and a wonderful new apartment, I feel happier and more alive than I have felt in a very long time. I'm finally where I want to be and I have a feeling it will only get better from here. 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

New Life, New Home

After a wonderful, crazy 7 years in Kansas City, I packed my bags and moved to Little Rock last week. I would say the very first thing we noticed as we climbed the stairs to my 3rd floor apartment was how much more humid it was here. Temperature wise it is very similar, but the humidity here is much higher. I spent my first night exploring the general area with my dad and step-mom. We discovered a little Mexican restaurant and found the closest grocery stores and gas stations. The following morning my mom and Jim arrived with the trailer full of my things. Between the 5 of us we were able to carry everything up in about 45 very sweaty minutes. I am beyond blessed to have so much help moving and getting set up. I had all of my big things put together and placed by Saturday afternoon and only a couple of boxes left to unpack when we called it a day later in the afternoon. I spent the evening driving around looking for dinner with my mom and Jim and we rounded the night off with some talking and wine.
I was sad to see them leave that night and the reality of starting over really sunk in. I spend my Sunday mostly laying around instead of doing the unpacking I should have been doing. Honestly, I was exhausted. All the real fun started Monday morning with the excitement of computer training followed by 4 days of typical orientation.
The best part about being here so far are the people. There are 10 of us starting EM residency and we all seem to get along really well already. We have a running group text which makes me giggle out loud in the middle of orientation. One of my biggest fears about moving here was not having the same social support that I had in Kansas City. I was leaving my friends and family behind starting from scratch and I'm not always the best at meeting new people, but so far things are going really well.
I've done a lot of eating and socializing. Today, I hiked for the first time in 2015. We hiked up Pinnacle Mountain and it is definitely one of those hikes where at the top you feel(and look) like you really accomplished something. It was more of a mix between rock climbing and hiking. The view was gorgeous(completely worth it) and I had great company. There is supposed to be a lot of hiking around this area and I'm excited to check out the other trails/parks. 
I have so many things to look forward to in the immediate future and I can't wait to get started come July. I am very happy I took this leap of faith to come here and don't have any regrets. I feel like I am right where I belong(how cheesy does that sound?).

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Graduation Party

I often say that I am very blessed and my graduation party is a great example of how true this is. My party was a joint effort by so many different people(especially my parents) and I am truly grateful for everyone's hard work and efforts to make it a special day for me. I owe a very special thank you to my sister Jamie who put together all the decorations to highlight my years in medical school. The decorations were incredible. I also owe a thank you to Jim Hoover for allowing me to have my party at his home.
I unfortunately was pretty sick throughout most of my party, but I was very excited to see everyone who came to celebrate my big event with me. The support I have received over the last few weeks has been overwhelming and heart warming. I cannot possibly express how much it meant to me that everyone gave up their Saturday evening on a cold May Saturday to celebrate with me. I wish I had more time and energy to get around to really talk to each and everyone who was there. It meant the world to me that you were all there.