Monday, March 28, 2011

Update from Navajo Nation

Well my well of emotions for which I felt the need to chronicle publicly has apparently dried up for awhile. Once you stop blogging, it is hard to restart.

Clinical rotations have been awesome and time consuming. I get the pleasure of paying to go to work every day and then additionally have the responsibility of coming home and studying at night. It is sort of sucked my additional resources to want to blog at all.

Since I last wrote I have spent 6 weeks in heart/vascular surgery, peds, hospice, family practice, internal med/women's hormone replacement, psych emergency, and now a regular emergency room. I am truly a different person than when I start this whole thing 1.5 years ago. I have gotten used to seeing and smelling the gross, can look at blood without blinking a eye, and see the true ugly and awesomeness of humanity.

My rotation in surgery was an exhausting 14 hour days of pure standing at attention in the OR. I rounded on patients at 5:45 am 7 days a week, many whom were in the ICU and hooked up to 10 different machines and fighting for their lives. We did open heart CABG, endovascular surgery, amputations of legs/feet, skin grafting, and the occasional open abdominal surgery. Very tough rotation mentally and physically.

My rotation in a psychiatric ER was amazing, I actually loved it. I spent 12 hours a day talking to psychotic, manic, drug and alcohol intoxicated patients who told me the stories of their lives...some real and some completely delusional. Lots of schizophrenia, lots of hallucinations and delusions, lots of people who screwed up their lives with drugs, drugs, and more drugs. Most of the patients were homeless, many were brought in involuntary by the police and were pissed off, and some were just scared and didn't understand why the voices in their head tell them to hurt people. I thrived.

I am currently living in the Navajo Nation capital of Fort Defiance, AZ (near Window Rock) working in the Indian Hospital's emergency room. It is an incredible learning experience both in the ER and in the culture of Navajo. I have become friends with some Navajo who work with me in the ER who have taken me to some amazing ruins and on some awesome hikes, to a traditional sweat lodge ceremony, and cooked me some delicious fry bread. It is a beautiful part of the state (about 5 hours NE of Phx) and one that I have never explored before. It is rural, I don't have internet or phone data plan and many of our patients live without indoor plumbing. I have spent as much time as possible outdoors exploring the amazing rocks and mesas all at 7K feet elevation.

Here are some pics all within a close distance to the hospital.

The famous "Window Rock" for which the town is named.

Canyon de Chelly - beautiful place where Navajo people live among old ruins of another era.

Traditional Navajo homestead who still lives in they canyon.
You can see their outhouse to the left.

Exploring the rocks behind the hospital. We found a "belly button".
Overlooking the hospital and housing below in distance.
Till next time I get the motivation. Next rotation is endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic back in Scottsdale. I am ready to get back to my normal world of internet, my couch, my husband and sea level breathing.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cramming Two Months Into One Post

Hmmm. Well that was some blog hiatus, like 2 months. I tried to write several times, but no words would flow from my soul to my fingers. I think that happens sometimes. I won't allow myself to beat myself up over it. I don't have the energy.

Things have dramatically changed in here the hot land of bees and havalinas. First, I finished all my classes, took my end of year exam and began the wonderful world of clinical rotations. More on that later. I then took my week break, went to a wedding in Mass, hiked and biked in Vermont, Connecticut, and Maine, ate a ton of seafood, see kayaked to islands in Acadia National Park and tried to relax before flying home to the panic that comes with setting foot in an actual medical clinic and having to pretend to be confident and knowledgeable.

Pathetically, I have no camera right now that works worth a damn. I bought a waterproof digital disposable camera but unfortunately, it was a complete waste of money and my computer engineering background isn't sufficient to figure out how to make the damn thing work on my computer.

Back to my present, I am currently working in an OBGYN women's health clinic. It is a pretty stellar opening rotation in my opinion. I get a good mixture of clinical hours talking to tons of pregnant ladies and doing yearly women's health exams, mixed with a lot of deliveries and c-section surgical procedures. I have now had my hands in a lot of interesting places. Last week, I hand dissected out the placenta from a uterus, sewed up my first alive human body, and saw my first surgical "oh shit" moment (it was not from me). I pretty much love being in surgery.

In other news, it is hot out. Like really hot. But I have been staying cool by many trips to the lake where I am trying to master the art of wake boarding. I have been biking a lot, although I am a giant heat weeny and seem to melt apart when it hits 95. I have been doing some canyoneering and water fall jumping, which only required one extreme canyon rescue when my friend ripped her knee about in the middle of a deep canyon and we had to literally find a bailout route up a canyon wall and carry her out. It was not pleasant, but luckily 4 PAs were on hand for medical opinions and to be generally useless. This coming July 4th weekend, we are going backingpacking to Aravaipa, which is crystal clear slot canyon in SE AZ requiring a permit to enter. Pretty pumped about it.

I have two more weeks at the women's health clinic before heading for a 6 week rotation doing heart surgery. Hopefully I will post more frequently. Have I mentioned I love my life right now?

Some pics from the last 2 months:


Hiking Flat Iron in Superstition Mountains

Backpacking Trip to Superstition Mts

Can you beat this view? I think not.

Here I ponder life, or something like that.

Don't ask, I have no idea.

Wakeboarding at Saguaro Lake

View of Four Peaks from the Lake. Remember this epic?

See the lil mountain goat watching us? We also saw a bald eagle.

Thats all for now folks.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

One year is nearly enough, is forever.

My blog is slowly turning yellow and dying, much like the house plants that I can't seem to keep alive. I am fighting the good fight and will occasionally water them too much, but really I just don't seem to have time or energy for blogging or watering.

I think that this thing I am doing, while being one of the best things I have ever done, has filled me up and sucked me dry. I waited all year for the inevitable collapse that all the previous students warned us about during orientation "you will break down at least once crying..." but it hasn't happened in that way. I think that for me anyhow, I just get stretched further and further until anything that isn't part of the goal, that strays off the path, seems like too much effort to do.

My classroom schooling if coming to a quick crazy conclusion. In less than 3 weeks I will be done with school and ready to start my clinical rotations. My first 6 weeks will be spend at the Phoenix Heart Hospital for a cardiac surgical rotation. Not joking. There is a part of me that is totally freaking out right now and feel that I can't possibly be ready to do this. But there is another part of them that feels like I have been in an impossible endurance training schedule for the past year and that the real event is finally coming up.

Excitement. Fear. I don't even know where the line is drawn between to them. Every day I do things that one year ago I wouldn't have dreamed of doing. I feel the same yet I am different. I see the world through a different lens than I did one year ago. I am pumped to actually get my hands dirty, be in an OR, stitch a patient, help someone, but at the same time, the responsibility of that is very humbling. Someone has to be your first, but you just hope your hands don't shake so bad that you can't do it.

Now that I am almost done with the classroom, hindsight has it looking pretty relaxed, low stress, low responsibility. Funny because that wasn't the case at all for most of it, but now that my testing will be on the spot in front of patients, doctors, nurses, and other students, the paper exams are looking more stress free every day.

I will try to occasionally pop in here, if only to retain a small piece of my soul from my previous life, when I was hated my job enough to make this drastic change and forever changed my path in life.

Monday, March 8, 2010

College Spring Break Rocks

What's up cyberworld?

Is it crappy weather where you live? I know, that is why I didn't visit you over spring break and took a mini tour-a-az instead.

I am back in school after a fantastic week off in which I did fun fun things all within a couple of hours of my house. Did I mention that I love Arizona?

Firstly, I played in a hat ultimate frisbee tournament and my team won which was a lovely way to kick off my week of fun. I haven't really talked about my jenk knee for awhile, and while it is still jenk, I am now about 2 years post-op on my 2nd ACL so it is still improving which is great. I still don't have cartilage since it doesn't magically grow back, but I can get away with sporadic running without too much pain as long as I don't do it very often. Frisbee was fun and I miss team sports, but I out of shape for running/cutting type of activities.

Following my return to the gridiron of fake Phoenix straw/grass, the hub and I made it up to Sedona for some sun filled MTB riding and camping along the Oak Creek. Sedona is known for their energy vortexes and crystal wierdo shops, but really it has killer riding and hiking to go along with the ridiculous jewelry shops. Getting out on bikes is the way to go. Much more miles covered therefore much more cool stuff seen.

Totally ugly Sedona. Um jk, this was along Templeton Trail to Cathedral Rock.

Can you find me? Look how tiny I am. Look at the white line 2/3 of the way up slightly right of center. Click on pic for larger view.

Next up on the agenda was a trip I have wanted to do since I moved to Arizona and made a "things to do" list on the back of my "crap I wanna buy" list. Still haven't received my cleaner robot yet either. We headed to SE Arizona for a tour of weird towns, and let me tell you, there are some wierd ones. Our first stop after lunch at the Benson Cafe was Kartchner Caverns.

Kartchner Cavern is really truly amazing. It is a guided tour of a totally living limestone cave that was only discovered in the late 70s and kept a secret until the 90s before the land was sold from the private owners to the state and developed into a state park. They spend 30 million perserving the cave before openeing it up to the public. It is still home to a yearly bat migration and has ever changing architecture due to constant water flow. You have to descend through 4 environmental chambers before entering the cave to keep the humidity at 99% inside. They have discovered a lot of new organisms in the cave never before seen and they say 75% of the cave has never been touched by a human being. The history behind it was very very cool and local adventurers just like you and I are the ones who discovered it, cataloged it, and in the end preserved it all in secret (it took 14 years before they told people about it). It is full of amazing formations (stalagmite/stalactite/columns/bacon strips/stuff I don't remember the name of). No pics were allowed but I stole some off the internet. It was trippy and impossible to experience off photos anyway.

Kubla Khan, the largest column found in Arizona is 5 stories high.

Aformentioned bacon drapery was everywhere.

You could hear running water everywhere and if you shined a flashlight on these
they would illuminate since they are still actively growing.

After leaving Kartchner we drove through the famous Tombstone (lame and totally touristy) and then went on to camp just outside of Bisbee (which was much cooler with a old western artsy vibe). We drank beers with some locals and they told us about life in Bisbee. It is near the border and I found it interesting that they all travel to Mexico for dental and medical procedures that are too expensive in the US. Go US healthcare! :(

The next stop was Chiracahua National Monument in SE Arizona. This is a range of mountains are around 10k feet high and was nicely snow capped. We decided to hike a little lower on the mountain and did the 8.4 mile Heart of Rocks Trail at around 7800ft. It was really beautiful with a lot of weird rock formations, several 1000 ton balancing rocks and gorgeous views. We saw only 2 people the whole time and even ran into some snow at the top of the hike. Overall, I really enjoyed this area and would like to return to hike to the top in the summer sometime.

Some pics of the hike:

Trees, real trees!, with tree smell!

Balancing Rock: 1000 tons and 22 feet diameter.

This one is called Camel's Head for obvious reasons.
Tom is falling in this picture which makes me laugh.

Hudu Valley... very cool.

Along the Heart of Rocks Trail.

After leaving Chiracahua, we returned to Phoenix to unpack and repack for one final adventure, kayaking the Colorado River for 2 days. I will save that for the next post, but it was super awesome complete with hot springs, hot waterfalls, hot steam caves, hot pools and just a lot of hotness. And water. And wine.

Friday, February 19, 2010


Hola from the library on a Friday night. This weekend will be spent right here in this lovely wooden cubicle with my 4 giant binders full of the material still to be learned for next week's 6 thats right SIX finals. I am about to finish what has been my most difficult academic 10 weeks of my life and it can't come any sooner. But through it all, I gotta say:
"I feel so lucky to be where I right where I am."
Lately, outside of the obvious stress that I occasionally subcumb to, I have felt more and more extreme-delirious-giddy happiness that will literally well up out of my being as I think about my life from last year to this. I just celebrated my 29th birthday two days ago, and so naturally I took a moment to appreciate the obvious differences that have occurred since last February 18th till this one.
Lets enumerate:
Usually I am financially responsible to a fault, but for the first time, I made a huge emotional non financially sound decision, quit my job and have wracked up lots of paper IOUs. DO NOT REGRET. I now live on way way less sleep and way way more coffee and drive way way more than I ever have in the past. Whereas in the past, staying home and relaxing on Friday night was not something high on my agenda, now it is part of my "getting crazy and not studying" rebellion. But these physical changes can't begin to compare to the emotional changes I have felt inside. I feel such a passion for the career that I am going to embark on that it scares me. I am still like a new born babe full of sunshine and flowers. I know it will be hard and I know there is a lot of BS in medicine and the system we have set up in this country, but screw it I don't care.
I am damn excited to get out there. Clinical rotations start in 3 months...think of the cool stories I will have then!!
Dang they flashed the lights...the library is kicking me out. How rude.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

What day is it?

So in the middle of a manic extreme study weekend but I had to pop in to tell about this dude at the library.

I go to the library at around 10:00 am on today (Saturday). I pack a snack, lunch, and lots of liquids cause I planned to shut this bitch down at 6 pm tonight (which I did).

Pick a table by a plug so I can listen to my tunes all day long with the necessary charging on my iphone (did I mention I got one and I LUVLUVLUV it :). In purusing my fellow library mates, I spot a weirdly dressed dude playing Solitare on his laptop with a half full 2-Liter of Coke and a... wait for it... full gallon of milk sitting beside him on the table. I shit you not, in just over 7 hours, I saw this guy consume both fully all while playing Solitare.

Disturbing while strangely impressive? Ubetchya.

Okay back to my extreme Saturday night studying session while consuming a delicious Blue Moon. I have an exam on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday AM (scheduled before school at 7am so as not to interfere with our 8 hours of class, those aholes) this coming week and am having to dig deep deep deep to not "lose it".

PS, I have totally developed a somewhat painful study injury. First time in my life, I have developed chronic back pain from freaking sitting at a table, classroom, cubicle in library for way to many hours. Biking even hurts it :( boohoo.

Four more weeks till these 9 classes and 27 tests of Q3 are done...may the delirium pass quickly.

Monday, January 11, 2010

January's Post (probs the only one)

Checking in on a rare off night from studying. I just plain don't feel like doing any mostly because I got 2.5 hours of sleep last night and I can't comprehend new knowledge right about now.

This quarter is killing me slowly, one sleepless night at a time.

But on a higher note, my brain feels like it is all starting to come together in a weird medical sort of way where I am doing really really good in school even as the heat gets continually turned up. The biggest problem is with multiple exams a week, my mornings all start in the 4 to 5:00 am range since our tests are at 7 with an hour commute. I am just freaking tired and way over caffeinated.

We are starting to talk about clinical rotations which start in June and frankly, it scares the crap out of me. How will I be ready to walk into a real medical site and make real medical decisions? Last May, I sat in a cube doing computer shiz...this is just going so fast. Watched House tonight and I think I am officially on par with script writing for medical dramas as I knew all the "words comin outa their mouths".

Rode my bike tonight...on a real mountain...still getting better at climbing and it was breathtaking. Did I mention it is sunny and 65 here? Don't hate, I spent 30 hours this weekend in a library. Brain-quad excitation pathways must be a go...cause my muscle workouts have nothing on my brain workouts.

My new opinion? You can learn ANYTHING in one year if you can learn medicine in one year. Stop slacking you 4 year engineering degrees.

Also, my husband, sweet heart that he is sensed that I might be "loosing my mind" what with the studying all weekend and lack of sleep and brought me some pink roses home. I will keep him.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

The Grinch

Am I still a word yes. Back to school for 3 weeks now and we are just getting in some last minute tests before a short holiday break. The holidays won't be quite like normal due to having some major exams the day we return to school on Jan. 4th. Bah humbug.

My Thanksgiving break was awesome and I was very sad to see it end, but I did have a great trip out East, did some fun biking and overall just decompressed a lot. It feels so long ago already.

It hasn't taken me long to recompress however, as this quarter is going to be my hardest to date for sure.

I am currently taking Pharmacology 2, Physiology 2, Microbiology, EKG, Clinical Medicine Labs, Clinical Medicine 2, Women's Health, Preparation for Clinical Practice, and a dumb InterProgram Core Medicine class. Each of these classes have multiple exams except for the last one so I am a little busy to say the least.

Winter in was 75 and sunny this weekend. I know I know, I should miss winter...but I don't so there you have it. I got out for a 1.5 hr ride and it was LOVELY. Due to the weather and the studying, I haven't really found my Christmas cheer yet. Maybe when I ship off to Ohio on Tuesday I will find it in the 2 inches of snow. I have exactly one night to purchase all and I mean ALL of my Christmas presents for my family after my last exam on Monday before flying out on Tuesday.

I am soooo screwed.

Happy Holiday!!!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Soooooo happy.

Finals are done. Seven finals in 6 days...brutal. I am still delirious but 'oh so happy'.

Heading off to grab a brew and listen to some live music.

Hopefully my brain muscle will get a break and my body muscle can take over for two weeks. I am going to ride till I puke will be awesome.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


I can almost taste the dirt and sweat that is awaiting my return to fun outdoor activities following finals this week.

Five days, six tests...let's do this thing. This Friday can't come soon enough.

I promise to post at least one outdoor action shot, maybe even some blood if I get lucky enough to fall off my bike :)