Saturday, April 15, 2017

Quarterly Update

No matter how much I attempt to convince myself I have time for all the things I want to do in life, the truth is with my chaotic schedule there are not enough hours in the day and no matter how hard headed I am, I'm not capable of being super woman. Eventually things have to give and so often they are the same things: working out, cooking, sleep, time with friends, studying, cleaning, blogging, me time, and did I mention sleep? Leaving time for clinical hours and administrative work, the occasional dinner and drinks, 5 hours a night of sleep, and a few hours a week to maintain a relationship with a very patient and understanding man.
For me reality is life revolves around a stethoscope and vital signs. Perhaps I am a workaholic by the force of the culture and perhaps I'm a workaholic because medicine is my calling. In the end the reasons don't matter, at this point I live and breath medicine and my friends do the same. The perfect example: Once a week, a month, or every couple of months I get together with two of my favorite people to play strategy board games. Call it a guilty pleasure. When you put together 2 emergency medicine residents and a surgery resident (or 3 workaholics) it is hard to find a good time to get together. After cancelling multiple game nights and trying to figure out how to get together we finally decided on playing together while one of us was on call. The threat of being called away mid-game only adds to the fun surely and that is precisely what happened. Right in the middle of the game something more important came up(work) and the game had to come to an end. But no big deal for 3 workaholics, a few pictures of the board so we can easily start where we left off next time and we were back to what we live and breath.
Over the last several months, I have accomplished a great deal of feats. I spent a month in the Surgical ICU complete with 24 hour calls(more like 26 hour calls). It is a place where Emergency Medicine residents go to learn what they are made of. When you have been awake for 20 hours, 3 people are trying to die, traumas are hitting the ER, and you are left to your own devices you either panic or go through a great deal of growth. While panic seemed like a very attractive option, I chose the latter, strapped on the tennis shoes, put trust in my nursing staff, and figured it out. On the other side of the trenches comes some clinical confidence and the realization of the fragility of life. I watched young patients who ended up with life altering or life ending injuries while enjoying the things in life they love struggle in the unit and it was impossible not to sit back for a moment and wonder if I should be more careful, take less risks. This was a question that was brought up more than once between me and my co-residents for the month and we always came back to the same conclusion. While being more careful could possibly keep us from ending up in the SICU, life was unpredictable and not worth living if not lived fully. The cost for happiness is risk and sometimes pain(of the emotional and physical kind).
Since finishing up in the SICU, I have studied and taken my one test of the year, spent a month in the ER, helped to start a wellness committee for our residency, taken on new recruitment responsibilities, saved a life or two, and started this month in the medical ICU. I have just a couple weeks left before I return to the ER basically permanently and just over a year left before I finish up residency. So in the little free time I do have I have started to look for my first post residency job, wherever that is going to be.
It is certainly true that I spend probably 85% of my life working or sleeping the last many months, but I have managed to fit in some pretty wonderful things in that other 15% of my time.
In the beginning of January I went out on what I promised would be my last first date in Little Rock. Knowing I would be leaving the area in what will be almost no time and that I had, had terrible luck in the dating department it seemed like a good time to stop dating. I went into that first date with an "I don't give a damn how this goes" attitude. Perhaps that is why we had such a good time, but after a crazy few months I couldn't remember the last time I laughed that much in such a short period of time. Over the last several years I have done some short non-official dating, nothing super serious. It is fair to say as things started to progress I was a little nervous and afraid. Bless him for being so patient with me. All of me. My fears, my career, the fact I'm a terrible morning person(understatement), my need for independence, that some weeks make up and looking presentable aren't part of the allot time. Quite honestly this story deserves its own blog post and one day I'll write it. But with my track record who knows when that will come. For now I will say this, I have a type and not a great one. You can ask my sister and grandpa all about it. After some less than positive experiences, I was hoping to break my pattern and I think maybe I did just that. It takes a very special person to be accepting of this crazy life I live and all the things that come along with dating me, but somehow he acts as if it is nothing and loves me despite my chaos and quirks. There is something about having a relationship where we share decisions, help each other out, and expect nothing that seems to just work.  So that couple of hours I have to spare a couple nights a week are filled with laughter, stories, and plenty of sarcasm.
Outside of dating, I had some vacation time in March. I went home for a few days and was there to see my sweet niece, Merideth, turn 5. FIVE! I simply still in disbelief. When the hell did that happen? She has turned into the sweetest little girl with just the slightest attitude and so many entertaining things to say. Her parents deserve a pat on the back for creating and raising such an awesome little girl. She had a little Moana party. If you haven't seen the movie, see it. Adorable. She is starting to become independent and wants to spend more time with her friends than her aunt. As sad as that makes me, the time was bound to come and she still has a little time for me. I then made it over to see my other sweet niece and nephew. For those who don't know, Aurora is my 2 year old niece who kind of despise me. This trip was really no different, however I did get a single kiss and I have photographic proof she got close to me on her own accord.(I'm sure the birthday gift had nothing to do with it) My sweet little nephew is getting so big so fast, but I managed to steal some snuggle time with him. Hopefully he is a bigger fan of me than his sister is. My mom and I set the date for when she will be coming to spend the weekend with me in Arkansas this coming June. I can't wait to have a little mother-daughter time.
After returning to little rock for a few hours I jumped into the car with 2 of my best friends and headed south towards Austin. The reoccurring question I get is where I will go from here and the short answer is I don't know. However I have made some process and went from narrowing it from someone warm on earth to a few select cities: Austin, Nashville, Kansas City, and the Carolinas. However, I had never been to Austin before so having a few days off at the same time as my friends seemed like the perfect time to do some exploring. This also deserves its own post and I promise to write it, one day. Let's just say we had an incredible time and Austin is an amazing city. I can't wait for my next road trip with the best travel partners. Nashville here we come(eventually).
So one could say that I have been a little busy. I have quit being jealous of the people who seem to have figured it out and are able to do it all. Quite frankly they are either aliens or they let different things give. Instead I have started to work on giving myself some grace for not being super woman. The laundry will still be there, I still have my 20 minutes of me time in the car, and the internet doesn't shut down blogs just because it takes you 3 months to write a blog post.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Where I Stand

Over the last year, I have pulled farther and farther away from social media and from other people, as we as a society have become more and more disconnected by politics and hate. This is not where I will express my political beliefs and certainly not where I wish to debate who's right and who's wrong. What I do want to do is state where I stand as a person who is watching society unravel. 

To all my friends, acquaintances, and people I don't yet know: I stand with you. No matter your religion, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, education level, or economic status, I stand with you and if you are being persecuted I will stand up for you. 

To the world: The last twelve months we have abandoned hope, unity, and community to take up hate/fear and pushed people toward conformity. Without our help, this world has enough pain and suffering. Our only chance at peace in our community and in this world is more love and human connection. So please for the sake of our world, the next time you find yourself at the ready to add judgement, intolerance, or more suffering to an already damaged society take a step back, take a deep breath, and for just a moment consider the other side, the other person's situation, and their pain/trials. Empathy, especially with those you don't agree with, always leads to more human connection and love. Divided we accomplish nothing and hate wins. 

In the end, we all are struggling through this painful and beautiful thing we call life together. As for me, I chose love, acceptance, and connection. I strive everyday to try to make even the smallest positive impact on the people I come in contact with. This journey isn't so ugly if we walk it together. 

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Christmas Magic

This year would be a Christmas full of new traditions. Since the last time I was home spending Christmas day with mom, so many things have changed and with them our traditions. I'll admit that changing how I have done Christmas with that part of my family has had it challenges for me. Some things remained unchanged. We still put on our Christmas pajamas and made what seems like a trillion Christmas cookies(peanut butter with kisses are my favorite if you are wondering). I got the joy of getting ready and not leaving the house to go out into the cold this year. I haven't been home for a Thanksgiving in probably 4 years and so my mom made a huge Christmas/Thanksgiving lunch to help make up for it. 
My new nephew was born in November and I got the opportunity to meet him for the first time. He is a precious little thing and loves his nap time. Aurora turned 2 at the end of December and still is not a fan of me. I managed to bribe her out of letting me hold her for about 10 seconds for a picture before she started squirming to get away. 
My grandma joined us for cookie baking and gift opening. It was busy, chaotic day, but I think everyone got things they wanted and enjoyed their day.
Throughout the rest of my week home, I got to bounce around and spend time with my family. My dad is taking some time off of work and so we got to enjoy afternoons together. Chatting about current events and getting into heated debates. (sometimes I wonder where I came from.) It's nice to see him more relaxed and enjoying life a little bit. He has even joined snapchat which has turned out to be extremely entertaining. My evenings were often spent having discussions with my grandparent's by the fireplace.
My mom and I worked on getting me my new phone and got a moment to sit down and have a glass of wine together. Mid-week, I got in the car and started my trek towards Emporia for a sleepover with Merideth. It was a packed full day. I got my hair trimmed up, we snuck in a movie at the theatre(Passengers), and made a big dinner together. I have a real love for space movie. I find them quite beautiful and entertaining. I'm always sad to say my goodbyes, but on Friday morning we had to do just that, but of course we had a little fun first.
The end of my trip home was devoted to celebrating the love and success of my cousin Sheldon. Against all odds, he has grown to be an incredible man who married the love of his life on New Years Eve. I couldn't think of a better way to bring in the new year than celebrating with these people and my family. I remember my mom saying she would be leaving early around 9:30, but it turns out I was the first one to leave around 1am. It was incredible to have everyone there together and we had such a great time. There was lots of dancing and laughing. The venue was beautiful not the mention the bride. My grandma is most definitely still young at heart. One of our favorite parts of the night was discovering the photo booth. It became a family frenzy as we started taking pictures together. Oh I love these people. 
Even though I didn't make it into bed until a little after 1, I managed to get on the road back towards the south by 6 in the morning. Headed back home is always such a weird feeling. I am so ready to be back in my own space and sleep in my bed, but I feel incredibly sad that it is over. 
I came home to game night, laundry, and lots of rest to get ready to start my Surgical ICU month. One that has so far challenged me more than I could have imagined. After several weeks of struggling through the days, it feels good to remember how great life is and who I am. Sometimes Christmas is just magic.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Adventure of a Midwest girl gone Southern

Christmas is by far one of my favorite times of the year, but as I have gotten older it has been harder and harder to spend any time with my family when it rolls around. This year, I was blessed with opportunity to go home for Christmas! My trip home would be a 2 part trip. First I would go home for 3 days to have Christmas with my father's family and return to Little Rock to take the the last part of my licensing exam to then return back home for a week long stretch. This is all about the first part of the trip.

For weeks, my sister Jamie and I had been counting down the days until we were able to get together for Christmas. I had had a very trying many weeks/months and there is something about hugging your family that helps with all of that. We planned to spend Friday night as a sister's night before doing Christmas on Saturday morning. I had initially planned on arriving mid-evening on Friday, but after realizing my sister would arrive late afternoon, I decided to surprise everyone and leave earlier. At 9 am, I packed up my car with gifts, a weekend bag, and a few on the road snacks. Over the years, I have come not to like fast-food very well and so instead of stopping I always pack snacks instead. It was a beautiful 52 degrees in Little Rock as I left my little apartment in the south towards colder weather. Midwest weather.
I started my trek north daydreaming about arriving to my grandparents. The look on my sweet nieces face as she first saw me and my first hug with my sister. Everyone's surprise of me arriving earlier than planned. With daydreams and my radio blasting, I had a blissful 6 hour drive towards home and this is where the phone calls start. First my mom calling me to let me know a storm was coming in and to be safe. Followed by father telling me the highway coming into our hometown had been closed down due to ice and accidents and to turn around and find a motel for the night. Turn around? Really? I'm 30 minutes from home. I'm determined to make it there. Tonight!
It is hard to argue with anyone who says I'm a bit hard headed. I'd like to call it determined instead. So I continue on, certain I will be able to make it home. This is not my first rodeo. I remember driving home on Christmas Eve one year in a blizzard with 8 inches of snow on the ground, I can handle this. But the further I got north the slower the traffic and the more it was obvious the highway was not only getting unsafe, but likely would not reopen. The pit of my stomach felt heavy and I was hit by a great wave of disappointment as I made the decision to turn around. At this point in my drive, I had had absolutely no issues, but my sister had made it to town and it had taken her hours to go a very short distance. I pulled off on the exit of a small no where town. Made a left turn to turn around and half way across the bridge, it happened. I hit ice. This has happened to me two other times in my life and turned out completely okay, because I knew what to do. I was a midwest girl who had driven in the elements often. But it turns out, I have been gone too long. Instead of doing the things I know to do, I panicked only remembering don't hit your brakes.
Sliding across into the other side of the road, picking up speed, it felt like forever though I'm sure it was mere seconds. The helpless feeling is very uncomfortable especially for someone who likes to fix things. My car slid until it hit the curb where it came to a quick stop. I remember being thankful as I sit there on the overpass that my car didn't hit with enough force to flip over the bridge. I got out of the car and slowly made my way to the front of my car to check out the damage and saw...nothing. I couldn't believe there was no damage at all. Getting back in the car, still feeling a bit shaky, I started driving ahead to try to make it to the motel. It is here that my whole car starts shaking. So much for that no damage bit. I pulled back over and get out again looking more closely this time. Realizing the damage was of the tire/rim. I had hit my bad news threshold. I wanted to be home by now after waiting weeks, but instead I was trying to make it to a motel, it was freezing(I despise the cold), and I have now gotten into an accident. I call my dad in tears, send him pictures of the wheel, and he books me the closest place to stay which is about 5 miles from me and with some faith I make it.
I remember sitting on the motel bed with my coat on for a couple hours waiting for the room to warm up and starving. I hadn't really eaten much all day and now I was stranded with no food. The tears had stopped but the sadness was very present. My sister sent me a request to facetime and for a few minutes we talked and laughed. She also hadn't made it to grandma's, but was safe for the night. The night hadn't turned out the way we had hoped, but everyone was safe. That's all we both could really ask for and we promised we would see each other tomorrow.
In the morning, I started to doubt that would really happen. I woke up to see the highway was still closed, the temperature was frigid, and the roads were still dangerous. Not to mention they were now calling for some snow to start early afternoon. My car was not safe to drive anywhere far and certainly not in this weather. I was at the mercy of other for help. I had started trying to decide if I should go pay for another night in this room when my mom called. "Jim is on his way with the trailer to bring your car back." My first though was concern they wouldn't make it safely and they should probably stay put, but Jim assured me he would see me when he got there. To say I was grateful is an understatement.

Jim and Colton(my mom's significant other and his son) showed up with salt and a plan. I had the very hard job of sitting in the heated truck as they maneuvered my car onto the trailer. I'm not great at being saved, at being the damsel in distress. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for people who help me in moments where I can't help myself that I can't even begin to express in words. Some feelings have no words that will do it justice.
We had no difficulties getting back and they had a vehicle waiting for me so I could rush off to my grandparent's to start Christmas. There is a deep seated tradition on how Christmas runs at my grandparent's that I hope never ends. In the morning, we get up together to open stockings, followed by breakfast, followed by sitting in a circle opening gifts one by one, and then lunch/cards/chatting/playing. I arrived right around 1pm on Saturday afternoon and snuck in through the basement door. As I opened the door at the top of the stairs, I saw my sweet niece looking out the sliding glass door waiting for me to appear. I feel incredibly lucky to be "Aunt KATIE" to this little girl. Quietly sneaking up behind her, I tickled her side and she turned out giving a great big smile and the excited "Aunt Katie" as she throws herself into my arms. I will be sad the day that she is too big to be picked up, which is likely approaching quickly.

The morning had not started without me. It had been frozen in time waiting for me to arrive. We opened our stockings together and then had quiche and biscuits and gravy at 1:30 in the afternoon. It felt like it went incredibly too fast. We played cards and shared lots of laughs. My sister got me a couple of different books fitted perfectly for the wandering soul that I am. Saturday night my brother left everyone with the bombshell that he was moving to Phoenix, tomorrow.  I know that we all hope he will find what he is looking for in the warm sun and we will all miss him a great deal.
By Monday, I had started to panic a bit. My exam was in Little Rock on Tuesday morning and I was currently stuck 500 miles away, but by noon I got the confirmation from Jim that the rim was fixed and I could get on the road.
My journey home was uneventful, thankfully. Tuesday morning came and I felt okay when I left the exam. It is a two day exam and I took the second part on Thursday.
Wednesday was my fun day back in Little Rock. With a bunch of help, I prepared Friendsgiving/Christmas Dinner for my family away from my family. It was hectic, but so much fun and the food this year was completely incredible. We totally outdid ourselves. I am completely thankful to being having this residency adventure with an awesome group of people.

My mini trip home brought the realization that this midwest girl has gone a little Southern. I like the warm weather and don't love the snow. I had forgotten how to drive in snow/ice and what 0 degrees felt like. And if I spend enough time around people with true southern accents, I'll pick one up too, temporarily. But it doesn't take very long for that midwest girl to come out once I get home and I'm still much more likely to wear jeans and a t-shirt to a football game than a dress or flip flops instead of heels. Some things never change.
Tomorrow look for part 2 of my journey home.