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September 29, 2006

Sixth Month Stats

Toes (again)

Truly, we hate to usurp Joel’s scintillating and adult-style prose, but we’ve got stats that we simply cannot keep to ourselves!

Weight: 15 pounds, 4 ounces
Length: 26 inches

Sixth months have come and gone since Adelaide’s birth, and we’ve a catalog of achievements to boast about, including, but not limited to …

grasping for and smacking loved objects (i.e., toys, Nine),
eating lots of bananas,
chewing on whatever comes hand (including fancy new-found appendages like ears and toes),
rolling, spinning, and scooting around on the floor,
being afraid of local, well-meaning old ladies who quickly interpret a slapdash smile as an invitation to touch or hold,
and shrieking.

September 20, 2006

We Are Hunters of Big Game

My classmates and I are like big game hunters: a great deal of our time is spent questing for the rare, the beautiful, and the dangerous things beyond the friendly confines of civilization. Rather than track, kill, and mount elephants and cape buffalo, however, we pursue "procedures."

Allow me to drain the metaphor of all of its power via plodding explanation. A big whack of our grade (and thus, our worth as future doctors and, indeed, our intrinsic value as human beings) is extrapolated from our entries into the Student Patient Experiences Database (SPED), a clumsy and user-nasty computer program into which we log everything we do with patients. We accumulate most of our patient experiences in the clinic, taking history of their various illnesses and complaints, jotting down notes, and going out into the clinic hallway to Present the Case to our attending doctor.

But SPED also gathers our entries on procedures, which means everything that we actually do to patients other than take their histories. Suturing a laceration, delivering a baby, interpreting an X-ray, or performing abdominal surgery are all procedures. But not all procedures are equal. We are expected to gather a wide variety of procedures, and it is assumed (though no one has told us this) that some procedures carry more weight than others. With this in mind, I made my metaphor.


Obtaining a Pap smear is like catching a medium-sized fish. Suturing up a laceration is like bagging a duck. A surgery to remove the gall bladder or appendix (which around here seems like the first step in the therapy for any patient with abdominal pain) equates to getting a deer, and taking out a thyroid is like taking out a tiger. There are some surgeries which are almost never done in Yankton, SD. Patients tend to drive to Sioux Falls or even Omaha to have them done. But, once or twice a year, a patient will have heart surgery or an abdominal aneurysm repaired, which, if we were to assist on the procedure, would be something like capturing a live Sasquatch.

If all of this seems like a mental game, then you're getting the point. There is a great deal about the third year of medical school that is unpleasant (60-70 hours per week spent away from my family), terrifying (doing something for the first, second, or sometimes third time), or just aggravating (not having convenient multiple-choice options to choose from), so it helps to have a little game to play.

The metaphor deepens and becomes more satisfying when I think more about big game hunters. They aren't hunting animals for food, and while the animals are frequently dangerous, they're not trying to make the Serengeti plain a safer place. Similarly, the actions of medical students are usually pointless. We are the least important people in the hospital/clinic. On the rare occasions that I actually help in patient care, I like to slowly raise both of my fists in the air while declaiming "I… am useful!" The rest of the time I'm trying to see and do as much as possible without getting in anyone's way.

Largely, big game hunters are out in the wilderness gathering experiences. Then, they go back to civilization and tell stories about their experiences. So we students regail each other with stories about the Pap Smear of the Patient With Two Cervixes. Or the Twin Delivery that Took a Long Time. And we'll listen to each other with rapt expressions, "Man, they let you put in a chest tube?! You've got all the luck!" while in our secret inner self we know that if we were the ones staring down the barrel of a chest tube, if it was us taking careful aim at a White Rhino, our hands would shake and our hearts would pound.

September 18, 2006

Sixth Month Birthday Surprise

Tonight's supper for Joel and me consisted of roasted lemon-and-rosemary chicken, risotto, melange of peas, and an imaginative, unhurried conversation about all of Joel's externship possiblities for his fourth year of medical school. While we chattered on about visiting strange and exotic places (like Minnesota), before we realized that Adelaide had blissfully napped the supper hour away. What a clever moment for our little daughter to choose to afford is an opportunity to remember what it was like for our relationship before we two became we three, as today is Adelaide's sixth month-old birthday.

Sixth months have come and gone ... It seems like years since we've known Adelaide. In fact, we can't really recall not knowing her. It's still difficult to describe the joy and pain of helping Adelaide into the world, and to find words that best capture our daily nuturing of her triumphs and limitations.

But, together tonight we all tried something new ... Something a little dangerous ... Bananas. Mashed to soup and delivered on a crooked finger, nothing was easier or more enjoyable.


September 12, 2006

Toothy Diva


Adelaide has found some fabulous, top-of-the-line accessories in the past few weeks, namely a Fun Fur child-sized scarf I knitted a couple of years ago and a pair of central incisors!

September 9, 2006

Up To Par

Perhaps many of you out there in Toadsland will be surprised to hear that Joel has found a new hobby in spite of his wacky in-hospital call schedule, his mindful assisting of this delivery or that surgery, his daily sixty minute commute from home to hospital, and the required evening entertaining of his charming, trick-a-day daughter and his stay-at-home wife.

Joel is learning to golf.

A new pursuit!

Since our paths first crossed on a stage nearly ten years ago, I have known Joel to be an aficionado of varied avocations. At first, there were all those Little Games – as we observers called them – a descriptor of both the pieces of play and a diminutive nickname meant to capture the silly intricacies and excessive details of war gaming.

Joel’s love affair with soccer (and a short stint playing rugby in the Pacific Northwest) resulted in injuries and surgeries, but his passion for running really fast with or at a ball is now seen in a paternal fantasy that Adelaide, too, will sacrifice her knees cleverly kicking a black and white ball to and fro, while her proud Papa stands poised near the goal line offering pointers and praise.

Shortly after we moved to Oregon, Joel brought home a box filled with a hydrometer, crown caps, a bench capper, several ounces of raw cascade hops, and various bottles, buckets, tubes, and vessels. So, we became brewers of our own beer, thanks to an enterprising shopkeeper, a used copy of The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing, and Joel’s eager enthusiasm to make a giant, steamy mess in the kitchen.

And then, there are the countless fantasy sports teams of which Joel claims membership. Basketball, baseball, football – there are fantasy teams for every season of the year for armchair managers. This football season alone Joel plans to manage no fewer than four imaginary teams, racking up points for kicking, passing, defending, and scoring, all in an effort to oust other members of the pretend league and declare himself Champion and Best Overall Fantasy Football Player of the Year.

But, golf?

Perhaps his attempt is an effort to play-along with his fellow medical student sandbox buddies. Or perhaps he plays because golf traditionally seems to be the sport of retired doctors. Or perhaps because he’d just like to try something new. Whatever the reason, Joel has taken to whacking a small, glaringly white ball long green distances with a thin, shiny stick.

D offers Joel some of his best tips.

Under the tutelage of my father, Joel has passed our summer family gatherings with a Bud Light (eew) in hand, touring the scores of golf courses in the St. Cloud area with a hodgepodge of my relations. He even managed to score his own set of clubs and golf bag thanks to the generosity of my parents (My dad’s been looking for a son to golf with for years … At first we thought Erin would be his long-lost acquiescent, but then she discovered Boys and Volleyball and Boys).

So, my spouse is currently espoused with notions of the perfect putt, the loft of the chip shot, the heft of the 9 iron, the sound of the drive, the sweep of the fairway, and the glory of a Birdie.

But, like any beginner, he spends a lot of his time on the course shouting “Fore!”

Adelaide and I watch our novice from a careful distance.