The world of medicine is like a bubble. A lot of people THINK they know what goes on there, but unless you're down in the trenches it's unlikely you do. So here is my semi-anonymous blog, here to tell you what really goes on in the life of a medical resident.

Friday, May 30, 2008


So since I have to disappear for 15 minutes midway through my workday, it's pretty much common knowledge at work that I'm breastfeeding. Hell, it's not like I'm doing it with a preschooler... my kid isn't even 6 months old yet. But possibly because my kid looks older (95th percentile in both weight and length, for God's sake!) I still get the occasional raised eyebrow. But no one says anything at work. It's not like I'm taking a lunch break (God forbid!) or something equally decadent. I'm hooking myself up to a machine to be milked like livestock. 

Coming back from a recent pumping 'break' (thank God no one was using the urodynamic testing room!) the surgeon I was working with wasted no time in getting back to pimping me. Keep in mind this is the same man who tested my medical knowledge with such meaningful questions as 'how many times did my hand touch the suture needle?' and ' which hand do I use to hold the scissors?'. 

Him: "Here's a question for you... how long is breastfeeding recommended in Scandinavia?"

Me: "Well, the WHO recommends 2 years..."

Him: "I'm not asking about WHO, I'm asking about Scandinavia."

Me: "I have no idea."

Him: "Six weeks, at the most. There are high levels of toxins in women's breastmilk there, so breastfeeding is viewed as unhealthy. Interesting, isn't it?"

Me: "Whatever."

I was not about to justify the fact that I breastfeed my son to this bonehead. 

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Creeping Towards the Finish Line...

I'm starting to feel like residency might actually end some day.

To put this in perspective, this realization is probably panic-driven. There are 3 months and 14 days left until my emergency medicine board exams. And yes, I'm counting. And as old as it makes me sound, nothing makes you more aware of the passage of time like watching a child grow up. The Bean is moving forward at a dizzying pace (figuratively speaking-- not crawling yet, thank God!)... he's sitting, reaching, grasping, rolling, and has just cut his first tooth. It's all going so fast. 

If I hadn't taken maternity leave, I'd be one 4-week rotation away from the end of my residency training. I'm watching my co-residents go on to bigger and better things-- accepting fellowships, staff positions-- I can't help but feel envious. Two of the residents in my year have accepted staff positions at the hospital where we've been training. So as of July 1st although they won't be allowed to supervise me directly, they'll be my staff. 

I can't believe I still have 6 months to go. It feels like forever. 

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Things that Will Someday Manage to Kill Off the Human Race*:

10. Band saws, table saws... pretty much any kind of saw that plugs in to the wall. I'll stick to the kind that work on human power, thanks.
9. Throwing gas on a campfire because it's dying out.
8. Backyard trampolines-- because kids don't have enough ways of injuring themselves already?
7. Working on high structures without appropriate safety equipment-- unless you can fly, not a great idea.
6. Inserting large objects into body cavities that I'm fairly certain God intended to make "exit-only"
5. Anything that involves building a ramp
4. Riding bikes without helmets... why make a potentially minor injury a potentially major one?
3. ATV's/Snowmobiles (depending on the season, but the injuries are interchangable)
2. Motorcycles, regardless of helmet use
1. Not wearing seatbelts. Seriously... I can't believe that people still get in a car and don't buckle up immediately. Are they stupid, or just have a wicked death wish?

And yes... every single one of these is based on at LEAST one case I've seen this week. Welcome back to medicine.

* (or, possibly, just the stupid people)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Back to Work

The time has come. Just a few days shy of the Bean hitting the 5 month mark, I am going back to work. Where did 6 months go? Now I'm starting to regret being off for nearly a month before I gave birth. I guess in hindsight it's easy to forget how brutal those last few weeks were-- working on my feet, sleepless nights spent trying to get comfortable, heartburn that made me vomit, hip pain that made walking near impossible... oh right, THAT is why I went off work at 37 weeks. And it's not like I had any control over the fact that he was nearly two weeks late. But now I'm wishing that I had that extra month with him. The weather is getting nicer, he's getting more and more fun by the day, and I know damn well that keeping up breastfeeding after I head back is going to be more than a little challenging as I came to realize during my ATLS weekend

Not all of me is dreading it. I'm quite comfortable leaving Bean in the care of his very competent father. We won't have to start thinking about daycare for quite some time. We have a posse of very willing babysitters (my inlaws) living 90 minutes away who are more than happy to fill in when conflicts arise. Since Mr. Couz will still be working part-time when I go back, they are a Godsend. 

My first rotation back is ortho/plastics outpatient clinics. Lots of fractures, lots of minor procedures. I'd better bone up on my MSK anatomy this weekend so that I don't look like too much of a tool.

I've missed work. So much of my identity is tied up in my job that I've really started to feel at loose ends as I've emerged from my post-birth haze. I've missed the challenges of the emergency room, and feel myself falling behind my colleagues when it comes to my knowledge. Even more odd is the fact that thanks to the delay of my maternity leave, I won't be finishing my residency until December. The emergency department where I'm training has already committed to hire two of my co-residents. Technically, they'll be my staff after July 1st. Weird. I just feel like my life stopped and everyone else's went on, and now I'm running to catch up.

Even weirder will be trying to explain to the testosterone-y world of orthopedic surgeons that I need to disappear at lunchtime to spend some quality time with a breast pump. Heh. That will be fun. 

Time for a gratuitous Bean shot: