Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Adventures in Moving

You would think you could take the misery out of moving when you pay someone else a good chunk of cash to do it for you. Not so much, it turns out. Our movers arrived at 9am (they were supposed to be there at 8). I took that as a bad omen along with the fact it took them about 20 minutes just to get the back of their truck opened up. When they finally did raise the door there was an obvious problem. There was already a house-load of stuff taking up 2/3 of the truck. There was clearly no way our ginormous bedroom set and overstuffed couches were going to fit in there. The friendly Bosnian movers looked at me and assured me with a smile "no problem, it will fit". They spent the next four hours stuffing and finagling and finally looking rather spent in the 90ยบ sun. Eventually Keith had to drive 30 minutes to the next town over to rent a U-Haul for rest of our stuff. (Incidentally, the U-Haul was big enough we could have fit everything in there and avoided the movers entirely, but then who would have lifted that ridiculous bedroom set?) It wasn't until 11pm that the truck arrived at our new house, and even with Keith and I working as hard as the poor movers, it wasn't until 3am that we finally got everything inside (along with half of Broken Bow's bug population taking advantage of the open door invite). I asked the movers if that was the worst job ever for them. They shook their heads and said, "Oh no, no. This is nothing." I don't know what kind of percentage of the payment they get, but I hope it's significant.

That was two days ago. We're still not even close to being done unpacking. But we have decided that our new house is most excellent. We love it! I painted the bathroom yesterday.

Maybe a little more cool-minty then I had planned, but it's o.k.

The fence guys put the posts up for our new doggie sanctuary today, and we took an evening stroll up to the pond where Lucy enjoyed a nice swim. Broken Bow definitely has puppy approval.

Here's us taking a break at Emily's Soda Fountain.

More pics forthcoming as we continue to explore Valspar's color palate.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Last 48 Hours

Tuesday was my last night on call at my current job. It was all going okay until 12:30 am when I got a call from the nursing station:

"This is Karen at the Hospital. I have a 58 year old woman here who stubbed her toe at 7 pm, and now she wants it looked at."

I rarely swear around my coworkers, but on this occasion it seemed called for. "You have got to be ***** kidding me." Why in the world didn't she come in during the day time?" I got dressed as slowly as possible in order to let myself cool off. I took care not to tidy my hair or rub the sleep from my eyes so that the patient would hopefully notice this was a human they were disturbing for their "emergency" -- a human who has to work a full day tomorrow. As it turned out, the patient was a very sweet lady whom I had met several times in clinic before. She has had the most terrible of luck and has suffered through both a bone marrow and a kidney transplant. The prednisone she has to take daily has thinned her bones to the point that she actually broke her ankle when she stubbed her toe. She was trying to tough it out at home, but the pain was too much. so she finally called a friend to bring her in. Maybe it could have waited until the morning, but I couldn't help but feel like a jerk for being angry at her.

The rest of the night and the next day went downhill from there. I saw one non-emergent emergency after another. Each time I finished seeing a patient I would lie down just long enough to think maybe I would get a few precious hours of sleep only to be awoken by another phone call. Eventually the sun came up, the puppies started stirring, and it was time for a new day. I faced my clinic without a badly needed shower, behind before I started, and still trying to catch up from last night's workload.

I started my clinic day with an elderly patient's son informing me that he didn't agree with my assessment and care of his mother's ankle fracture. I had shown him the x-rays, and because of his extensive carpentry experience he was certain that he knew how things should line up. He felt that the radiologist and I were both wrong in our assesment of the fracture and its healing progress. I tried my best to be empathic and to explain to him that the disagreement about the x-ray read was really moot, and it wasn't going to have any impact on her fracture healing or management. He told me that the more I talked the more he distrusted me, and what's more, he thinks I should have had her moving her ankle sooner. Moving her ankle sooner? Did he learn that through carpentry too? Outwardly I nodded and offered a referral for a second opinion. Inwardly I could not fathom how he ever got so confident with reading x-rays, here I thought you had to go to medical school for that.

I walked out of that patient's room to find one of my partners waiting for me to ask if I could see one of his patients for him. Today was his day off, and the family was very anxious for an appointment. Sure, no problem, I said. As it turns out the patient was quite complex. I spent over an hour with his wife and strongly opinionated daughter about his not one, but two cancers as we tried to come to an agreement about the best care plan for him. The family had been through a lot trying to get his bladder cancer worked up. They had waited over a month to see a specialist in town, only to have that specialist cancel his visit. They then found a specialist over 3 hours away. They packed up their confused, agitated and frail loved one and toted him all the way to Fort Collins. When they got there the doctor told them he would not see the patient because he had not received his records and CT scan reports from our clinic. They turned around and came home. I ended up hospitalizing the patient as much for the family's comfort as for the patient's, all the while knowing that I would later have to fight with the social worker and insurance company to justify the admission.

After finishing up with this patient I hurried to the next room where a heavy set man greeted me like this:

"I've been sitting here 30 minutes already. A man could be dead by now!"

He had walked into the clinic without an appointment because his back was hurting. He thought he may be having a heart attack. It turned out he just strained his lumbar spine. I carefully examined him and offered my opinion and advice for care. He huffed off, never thanking me.

Another patient left without a word before I ever got to see her. I had gotten terribly behind, and she was simply tired of waiting I guess. She came back over the lunch hour, and I saw her then instead of eating a proper lunch.

I went home tired. I fell asleep on the couch at 6pm and didn't wake up until 5:30 this morning.

I started today by seeing my Alzheimer's patient in the hospital. I had more information back from the various lab tests, and I was better able to treat him and to give the family a more accurate prognosis. The respiratory treatments and antibiotics we put him on had helped him breath more comfortably, and he was eating again. The family agreed to have him go to the nursing home with hospice care. They smiled and laughed and seemed so much more comfortable with everything. His wife thanked me over and over for being compassionate and for explaining everything to them so well. She had tears in her eyes when she told me she was so glad that she had met me. I did almost nothing except just listen.

I finished my clinic. It would be my last here in Wray. Some of my patients told me they were sorry to see me leave and they shook my hand and thanked me for their care. I went downtown for lunch and a lady stopped me to thank me for taking care of her neck and arm pain. The physical therapy was working. She felt like I listened to her better than anyone had before.

It doesn't take long in medicine to realize what a roller coaster ride it can be. There are too many days when people are ungrateful, frustrated, distrustful or simply a challenge because their diagnosis is elusive. When I do get thanks and praise, my initial reaction is to shake my head, because I know I am only doing what anyone in my position would do, and because I know how truly limited I am in most cases. At the same time though, I also force myself to soak it in, because those are the reactions that I need in order to feel like my work has meaning, and those are the reactions that I need to let me know that maybe now and then I do have a positive impact on people's lives. Those are the reactions that make the 12:30 am phone calls worth while.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Warning: this post is not intended for the emotionally immature, and the non-sappy among you should probably just skip it.

My dad told me this week that when he read my first blog post his initial reaction was that of protective concern that my new husband may be cruel or controlling, because why else would he cancel our t.v subscription without my input? And I completely agree! Kidding of course. I tend to give Keith a hard time a lot about this and that. In actuality he is a great husband. He doesn't know I think this. He only knows that I think he never takes the trash out or cleans the bathroom in a timely fashion, and that I wish we would synchronize our bedtimes to maximize cuddle time.

Today is not our monthiversary. Our monthiversary falls on the second of each month (marking our first date and our first kiss). We never celebrate our monthiversary, because we always forget. This despite it being on Keith's Google calender. The following is the kind of thing I would write about Keith on our monthiversary if I could ever remember it was coming.

One of the things that first attracted me to Keith is his rare intellect. You would be surprised how hard it is to find a really smart guy who isn't a total weirdo, and you'd be crazy to hold out for a smart, well-adjusted, cute, athletic AND nice guy, but that's what I've got. The thing that impresses me about his intellect isn't just that he is always up on current events, or that he knows who directed every film that was ever made, or that his knowledge of computers and gadgetry rivals Bill Gates. Those things do continually impress me, but it's his broad understanding about the world, its events and its people that I really admire. It is impossible to take him by surprise with news of some outlandish action by a government official, or some crazy bit of world politics, because it all seems to make sense to him.

Another thing I noticed right off was his hard work ethic and his eagerness to help his classmates. Keith always wants the people around him to be happy and comfortable. Unlike so many people in medicine, it is not hubris that drives him. He truly cares for his peers and patients.

Keith is a great basketball player, but when he plays against me he always plays just hard enough to make it fun and challenging, and he doesn't have the male ego issue going on if I do end up winning.

I don't think Keith realizes how much I look forward to 5 o'clock when he will be coming home, or how much I hate to have to sleep without him for even one night. He also may not know that on those occasions that I am upset at him, I am never able to sustain the anger because the second I look up into his sweet face and eyes, I can't help but see how truly kind he is, and then I get to thinking that maybe it's me that's a bit crazy for getting mad in the first place.

Keith gives me absolute freedom to live my life any way I choose. He'll let me be as active or as lazy as I want to be. He puts up with my protean moods and decisions without so much as an eye roll. He would support me working 80 hours a week or no hours a week. He let me get the most destructive dogs on the planet without a hint of dissent despite never really wanting a dog of his own. His concern is only that I am happy.

So, dad, you needn't worry. I am in the best of hands.

Nothing Better to Blog About

You know those annoying stay at home moms who have nothing better to talk about than every detail of their newborn's behavior because that's all they know and experience? Little Tommy's first smile, his burps and doo-doos, etc. Well it turns out I'm way worse than them. For some time I have been obsessed w/my pups stooling activities (quantity, frequency, consistency, and location). I'm always interested to see what little plastic or metal surprises might reemerge from their little intestines. ("Hey, that's where that milk cap went!") Today I was so impressed I had to snap this shot.

That's poo!

Okay, that's poo about two hours after the dogs consumed an entire bag of rice and a half bag of split peas. There are about six of these in my yard. It proves my theory that the dogs don't actually ever absorb anything they eat, which in turn explains their insatiability and my going broke on designer dog food.

Monday, June 11, 2007

For one of the first times in my life, I am actually ahead of the game.

Keith and I are roughly two weeks away from our big move from out of this tiny town and on to a similar tiny town. Those of you who know my propensity to procrastinate won't believe this, but we're already mostly packed.

Living like this is the downside of being prepared.

This photo actually illustrates another weakness of mine, which is my lack of patience. I'm trying to be good, but I couldn't resist the planters on sale at Crate and Barrel (I blame Kat for this, because I would never have stumbled upon C&B's outlet site without her blog). I also have a huge area rug and a hand painted drum table on the way (what sense does it make to move furniture in only to move it back out in order to place a rug under it?). Nevertheless, I am cutting myself off from internet shopping. Instead I'm focusing my time on virtually moving in:

Most of the stuff in this sketch, we don't even own yet, but it's going to look fantastic!

In more exciting news of preparation, we have booked are trips to Seattle and New Zealand!!! We'll be in Seattle July 3rd through July 25th. I think the trip to New Zealand may be the coolest vacation ever. I hope Keith agrees.

This is how we will be getting around. We're planning lots of mountain biking and hiking, so I hope the showers in these things are somewhat effective. We'll be hanging out with the kiwi-heads for almost five weeks before we have to start work on October 1st.

The puppies will be in good hands with Keith's dad. He can't say we didn't warn him!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Can someone please explain to me why Paris Hilton is famous?

I tend not to take interest in celebrity gossip, but thanks to my husband and podcasts of The Best Week Ever, my serene bubble of ignorance has been penetrated. When Paris Hilton kept showing up in the news I finally had to ask: "who is she and why is she famous?". To which Keith replied: "well... (insert thoughtful, chin-rubbing expression here)". The answer he eventually came up with was something along the lines that she is famous because she's super rich and she parties a lot. (Insert my ponderous furrowed brow here) "Uh huh..." I still didn't get it.

So now she's famous not only for the rich girl, show your drunken nakedness on Youtube stuff, but also because she's a criminal. This is where I start to get interested. Not the criminal part, lots of celebs are criminals and drug addicts, and what have you. It's the part about her serving FIVE days of her 45 day sentence that piqued my interest. Not only that, but she was in some special celebrity part of the jail for those five days. AND, she's finishing out her sentence in a mansion. Jail time in a mansion. I hate to break it to the courts, but I don't think that's punishment. Somehow I doubt your typical, average income drunk driver who breaks parole (twice) would ever get such a leniant sentence. (Jeffrey can correct me here if I'm wrong -- or at least he can in a year or two).

Okay, here's an idea. The California jails are overcrowded right? So how 'bout we send Paris home as planned, and to actually make it a punishment for her, we could send, say, 15-20 other inmates with her. Based on the way Paris interacts with her dog I think this would truly be severe punishment for everyone involved.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

How Real Life Differs From HGTV

But first, here are some pics from Elliott's graduation from the Air Force Acadamy.

We had a good time with the Gautreaux clan.

The Thunderbirds were impressive.

Congratulations Elliott!

Now onto our segment on home makeovers. Keith and I went to B.B. (that's how I'll be referring to it henceforth) this weekend. We wanted to get a jump start on moving in. The puppies loved the gigantic yard, and I loved all the trees and bushes which are just Northwesty enough to make me feel at home.

Our major undertaking this weekend was to paint the master bedroom. Finally, my chance to put all those hours of HGTV viewing into action! We did have a couple of issues with the taping process (takes a long time, paint pealed off with the tape), but overall things went well. We love the color of our new room, and it compliments our new duvet perfectly. (btw, we learned that it is actually easier to just skip the whole taping process since the paint would just wipe off the wood trim anyway, or apparently a simple denatured alcohol solution will remove paint from wood without damaging the finish if the paint is stubborn).

Not nearly as glamorous as HGTV either.