Monday, October 5, 2015

This child and his sensitive skin

It all started out as a little papule on his left buttocks. In the middle of a busy week of relatives visiting and make-up clinic days, what started out as a small papule morphed into something worse. Zo has had exceedingly sensitive skin since he was 1 years old. Hyperkeratotic plaques behind his knees that sprout up in the span of 2 days if he isn’t slathered in a thick mixture of shea butter and petroleum jelly twice a day. Diffusely itchy maculopapular rashes if we miss his nightly dose of cetirizine. That type of sensitive skin.

I thought I had things under control. But I didn’t.

Monday - I see a little papule on his left buttocks. I put on a thin layer of triamcinolone 0.025% on it. Later that night, I see a few more papules. I put him in the bathtub and then put on more triamcinolone and begin our twice a day ritual for exacerbations.

Tuesday - I see more papules. He is itchy. Is that a ring? Nahhh, I’ll just step up the emollients.

Wednesday - I return home and notice him scratching. How was swimming? His response, “it was fun” as he continues to scratch. Bathtime. Is that a 2 centimeter scaling ring-lesion?!? Oh goodness! He’s got tinea!!! I don’t have time to get clotrimazole and I forget to text my hubby what medicine to get from the pharmacy.

Thursday - satellite lesions. After clinic I run to the local CVS and wait in line for 15 minutes to purchase clotrimazole and by the time I arrive home he's asleep. That peaceful sleep where you know not to interrupt them or all hell will break loose so I let him sleep as I fret about his tinea outbreak.

Friday morning - we begin twice a day clotrimazole use.

Weekend - more lesions. Lower back, posterior and anterior thigh. Areas I won't mention for fear of him one day reading this. But seriously who knew tinea could spread so quickly and that toddlers can get jock itch! Major fail!!! Quick consult to my doctor friends with pictures of all of the lesions minus his groin. Definitely tinea. Definitely spreading; it’s all of the summer camp fun and splash park play dates. Primary care friend KJ says just go ahead and suck it up and put him on griseofulvin too, it’s already too out of hand and you'll stop it before it spreads to his scalp.

And just like that, I have written my first prescription for my son. Too ashamed and time-pressed to bring him in to my new clinic for tinea corporis. I knew the liquid wouldn’t go well as he is now 16 kilograms and our last go round with amoxicillin ended in us making daily smoothies. Based on my calculations, he could do one-half of a 500mg tablet daily - and after all of the pill swallowing for kids I observed due to an awesome program one of my co-residents did, I knew what to do.

Tuesday - I took him to the pharmacy to get him excited about his new medicine to help with his itchy parts. He shook the bottle to a nice beat and did a happy dance. We got home and I cut the pill. Hubby says “shouldn’t you crush this, it’s huge.” I say “nawww, we’ve got this.” Equipped with 1 tablespoon of honey and half of the pill, I say, “okay, you’ve got to swallow this without crunching it up.” Zo smiles, says okay and then hubby offers him some extra water and then VOILA!!! My almost four-year-old swallowed his first pill!!! Proud doctor-mommy moment in the midst of a crazy week.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Last day of September

September is National Suicide Awareness month. With this last day of the month, I want to bring awareness to this heartbreaking issue.

You might be thinking: how does this relate to Mothers in Medicine? Unfortunately, it's a topic that has impacted me.

Most of you will remember Superstorm Sandy, right? Well, not only did it destroy billions of dollars in destroyed lives, too. My cousin (we'll call him Bill) was living in NYC, had 2 kids and a wife, had a couple of businesses that seemed to be going well. Then the storm hit--Bill lost several properties and his car to the flooding. His wife left him, and she took the kids. He was despondent. Little did I know at the time that Bill was also abusing alcohol. He even tried to get help from a counselor.

Bill moved in with my aunt and uncle, living in their basement, until he could get back on his feet. One day my uncle came home from work to find that his son, my cousin, had committed suicide. My dad went to be with the family and had to identify the body in the morgue. Bill's suicide was the most devastating event in our family's recent history.

Since Bill's death, his parents have struggled with all the stages of grief, as one can imagine. Now three years hence his mother is ravaged with anxiety. It's hard for me to conceive of anything more tragic than losing your child.  And losing them to suicide: a potentially preventable cause. Well, that's the kicker.

As a mother and a doctor, I think it's in my nature to be concerned about the welfare of others. I mean, that's part of those jobs, right? But since Bill's death, I really try to listen *intently* to the answer when I ask someone, "How are you doing?" I try to read the body language. But despite our best efforts as mothers, doctors, friends, etc. I am sure we miss the subtle hints of people who feel they are on the precipice, without hope to carry on. When I see people I know or patients I see with depression, I am insistent that they get treated. I impress upon our housestaff the importance of treating depression, for it affects a person's self-management of their other comorbid conditions.

So to our community of mothers in medicine: we must try to reach out to others, lend an empathetic ear, connect people with medications, counseling, other treatments for depression. Let us work to prevent losing more of our children, our loved ones, our colleagues, our neighbors to suicide.

Monday, September 28, 2015

MiM Mail: Looking for a part-time pediatrics residency partner

I am a mother of soon to be three boys in search of a part-time residency in Pediatrics. I am willing to live anywhere in the continental United States to make part-time possible. I read encouraging comments from mothers on your blog who did part-time or know someone who did. I was also encouraged by an article I read from the AAP on part-time and how open programs are to it. It listed benefits of mental health, productivity and job satisfaction. However, I seem unable to find a program amenable to it. I applied to all of the programs that advertise having part-time/shared positions. I've been offered a few interviews but when I ask about part-time, I don't get very encouraging replies.

One woman wrote that she similarly got denied until she found a partner willing to split time with her. I am looking for such a person and would love it if we could find each other. My dream is to be a doctor but I do not feel the sacrifice of three solid years of working horrific hours is fair to my family. I hope there is another person out there seeking the same and we can help each other fulfill our dreams and personal goals in this way by sharing a position. If you would like to discuss further, please send an email with your contact information to

Thanks in advance,

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tackling My To-Do List

I have always been a maker of to-do lists.  Ever since childhood, I enjoyed making to-do lists and checking of completed tasks.  But somewhere between residency and motherhood, my to-do lists got out of control. 

As an intern, I had a clipboard with a to-do list that a) ridiculously long and b) my life (i.e. if I lost the list, my life as an intern might end). 

Motherhood (which began when I was a third year resident) brought a whole new set of to-dos.  My home to-do list started to rival my work to-do list.  In the ten years I’ve been a working mother, my to-do list has become a monster that I lives a life of its own and now controls me more than me controlling it.

Some bad things were happening.  First, I would look at my list and feel a sense of panic.  Second, I felt totally unaccomplished because I could never actually get through my list or even make a dent in it. Third, I was always late because I was always trying to eek one more task into my day.

A few months ago, I decided to reevaluate my to-do list process.  I had read lots of productivity books (in fact, I’m a bit of a productivity book junkie). I had tried making a four-quartered square to prioritize tasks. I had tried to dedicate time to finish tasks at the end of the week.  But nothing was working. 

Here’s what I did.  I made a list of the domains of my work and life and created one monthly goal in each domain.  For example, I have an ongoing list of things I have to work on in my apartment. Instead of keeping an enormous anxiety-provoking list of a million tasks, I pick a room of the month and focus on it. 

My work involves a lot of writing, teaching, and administrative tasks.  In each of these domains I created one monthly, practical goal.  In the writing domain, my goal is to prepare a final version of a research paper and to start a draft of a new manuscript.  Nothing more, nothing less. 

After I set monthly goals, I create daily to-do lists that contained about five to six tasks.  These tasks work off the monthly goals (e.g. finish my MIM post) and a few other things that are more routine (e.g. clean my office desk) or just come up (e.g. buy last minute party favors for my son’s birthday).

The shorter list is a huge change from my previous lists. It takes a lot of effort to keep it short. With the barrage of emails every day, it’s very tempting to add one more task. But the vast majority of these tasks don’t need to be done today and instead can be done in a few days when I have an emptier list with more room.  The key habit it to write down the task on another day’s list so that I don’t stress out about forgetting it.

My to-do list experiment has been really insightful.  A few expected things that came up:
  1. My stress level dropped.
  2.  I feel a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.
  3. I’m much more connected with my kids and husband (i.e. when I get home and I am not trying to get 80 more things done and actually focus on my family).
  4.  I’m on time (ok, not always but more frequently).
These were all things that I expected and was pleasantly surprised that they came true but something unexpected came up.

I became much more productive.  I did not expect this.  I thought that with a shorter list, I would get less done. What I found was that with a shorter list, I actually got more done.  I especially got things done that I had been dreading or putting off for months. 

In the course of three months of my experiment I finished three manuscripts, started drafts on three more, wrote five blog posts, and cleaned out my kitchen cabinets (this task had been on my to-do list for two years). I also watched several movies with my family and did not pull out my laptop to-do work during them (this is unheard of for me).  

As mothers in medicine, we are expected to-do an almost superhuman number of things in our lives.  Ladies – let’s take back our sanity and tackle our to-do lists!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Boss lady

I have a confession. When I was initially asked whether I wanted to take over my division as chief, I wasn't 100% enthused. It's not how I envisioned my future.  Medical education is my passion. I hoped for a future career in education administration (more on that to come), not clinical administration. But, I was able to be convinced that this could be an okay move for me temporarily. I would still be able to do everything I enjoyed (research, teaching, patient care) and still in the running for any higher level education positions that might come up.

It has turned out to be a great move for me from a professional development standpoint. It has helped develop me as a leader. I didn't anticipate the amount of reward I would receive from leading a group of physicians, mentoring them, and supporting them in their career pursuits. I love getting to set the tone for the group and to encourage a working environment of support and, yes, balance.  I'm proud to have created the environment I would have wanted.

Eleven years ago, I sat in my then-chief of medicine's office along with my then-boss (both men) and told them I was pregnant. I only had been working there for a year. I knew I needed to let them know to plan for the next academic year's schedule. Their faces dropped. There was absolutely zero joy. I could almost hear their mental calculations of how they would account for the weeks of my absence in that awkward silence. The first words spoken were, "How long is that these days, 6 weeks?" My heart dropped. "Actually, I would like to take 12 weeks."  Please know that I like and respect both of these men and still do, but their reactions left me feeling like a burden.

I remember telling some acquaintances about what happened and how sad I felt afterwards. One woman who directed a nonprofit said, "Oh honey, if I was your boss and you told me that news, I would have hugged you and asked how I could help." That struck me. Because, that reaction would have been so wonderful. Could it have actually been like that? I've kept what she said close to me all of these years and have tried to channel that sentiment when I've been the boss hearing that same news.

Last week, I met with one of my junior faculty who just returned from her maternity leave. We talked about her transition back to work, their childcare arrangements, and where she stood in terms of identifying academic areas of interest. At the end, she told me that she felt entirely supported throughout her entire pregnancy and maternity leave and that she wanted to thank me for that.

There are plenty of headaches associated with my job, but they seem so insignificant compared to the parts that are so good - the opportunity to make things better for the women (and men) who follow me.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Analyzing My Kid

Genmedmom here.

Our pediatrician had noticed something was up with our son at eighteen months. We were in complete denial until he was two years old. At that point, it just got too ridiculous. He couldn't say a word, only scream and bang his head on the floor... We finally made some phone calls.

Once we got connected with Early Intervention, we started to see and understand. Kudos to the very talented staff who gently- but firmly- suggested a possible diagnosis, and recommended a developmental evaluation.

Months later, we knew for sure. (I wrote about this: So Our Son Is Autistic, And It's Going To Be OK.)

Now, he's five, and he's doing great. Yeah, there's issues, but who's kid doesn't have issues? In his case, he's difficult to understand, but we are so very thankful that he's verbal. Toilet training is an ongoing frustration, but we know he'll get there. He's in a co-taught Kindergarten classroom and he loves his special ed teacher; he's got speech and behavioral therapy and OT, he and his little sister are best friends, and he's a happy kid.

We think he's fascinating, because his mind works so differently from ours. Hubby and I, we're both avid readers and writers. Though he's a sports broadcaster and I'm a doctor, we're both required to be advanced communicators: he describes and dissects sports action for the audience, and I translate medical information for my patients.

But our son is like, a little mechanical engineer. Hubby and I, we struggle with Ikea furniture assembly instructions. Hubby couldn't figure out how to install those little plastic cupboard door locks. I've had a car for three years and I can't remember how to open the hood, I have to look it up in the guide every time. Our son is such a different creature from us, in many cool ways.

He's absorbed by maps: He loves the maps app on our phones, and he studies the weather radar maps and draws out the storm patterns. Below, he's studying a map of Boston. We had to stand there for a long time. I can't even explain how many drawings of maps he'd done... Maps and highways, cars on highways. He talks while he's drawing: "Here's a map of Boston, and here's the cars going out of Boston on the highway, this is Route 93..."

He draws alot of complicated pictures, many moving parts. Below there's a picture he drew during a time of some upheaval in his little life: he was about to start at his new school, with a new teacher. The man in the middle is saying "Help" and "What should I do?" and chaos is erupting around him. He draws what he's feeling, what he's imagining.

He draws, I'd guess, probably between twenty and fifty pictures a day. Many of these, he will assemble into "books": he staples them together and then "reads" them to us. He's able to recite the same storylines over and over, even with his books that he made over six months ago. He seems to have a photographic memory.

He loves to take photos, in that he likes to study a subject by taking a gazillion photos and then examining them. Below, our big fat lazy cat; and then, me cooking. Studies of our home life...

I know that every parent is absolutely taken with their child. Of course. We're in love with this kid, like any parent is in love with their kid.

But, we're also trying to figure him out. We're still learning how his mind works, and just now beginning to truly engage with him. It's really accurate, the autism symbol: the puzzle piece. He's our little puzzle.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

MiM Mail: Maternity leave policies during medical school

Hi Mothers in Medicine,

I am a medical student, a mother, and I am working with a team at my university to further develop its policies on maternity leave and flexibility for mothers in the medical program. Currently women have to withdraw from the year and repeat it the following year, or are allowed only a few weeks off after the baby is born. Surely this can be improved! Part of my role in this initiative is to research the policies that other medical institutions have in regards to this issue. If you went to a medical school that had a great policy in regards to taking time off, being flexible etc would you mind leaving the university information and possibly a contact in a comment on this post?

Many thanks,

*Anyone is also free to send your contact information to be forwarded if you don't feel comfortable leaving it in a comment.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Help

One of the downsides of having kids that are a little bit further apart in age, is that it may very well require separate drop offs and pick ups. I'm lucky in that I can pick both kids up at the same place, but they need to be dropped off at two separate places.

You know what's really fun to do in the middle of the winter, when it's -2 degrees out? Having to pack two children into a car, race to one school, where I have a 10 minute window between when the school opens and when my daughter will be tardy, then race to a daycare to drop off child number two. And then finally get to go to work and embark on a long day, which practically feels like a relief at that point.

My husband was supposed to drop one kid off and I was supposed to drop the other one off. But it seemed like at least a couple of times a month, he couldn't bring either of them in, and the stress of doing the double drop off meant that I would sleep horribly the night before, which would make the whole thing that much harder. It resulted in more than one fight.

Finally, a few weeks ago I decided it was enough. I was going to hire somebody to drop one of the kids off in the morning.

So I did. We have a woman who comes in an hour before school starts, who tidies up our apartment, gets both kids ready, and then drives my older daughter to school.  (In case you're wondering, the school bus does not stop anywhere convenient.)

It feels decadent to have this woman come. After all, I am right there. Why can't I get my own kids ready for school? Why can't I drop them off?  Why can't I tidy up my own apartment?  Why am I throwing money away on things I could do myself?

Yet she's sort of a lifesaver.  So I'm just going to try to enjoy it and not let myself feel guilty.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A day in the life of X-ray vision...

Disclaimer  #1: most days aren't like the one I'll be talking about but few are as noteworthy as the past couple days that I feel compelled to share.

Disclaimer #2: most days really aren't that bad and as my little C has adjusted to pre-school and I've been somewhat juggling this whole residency, husband on the east coast doing fellowship and raising a daughter and our toy poodle (did I mention I also am crazy enough to add a dog into the mix?-- but of course, the dog did happen before the baby so I am not that crazy right?) okay. I have my good days and my bad days.

But I think I may have just experienced the worst one yet!

I'm from California so please forgive me when I complain about the weather for those who experience much worse! But we have been experiencing the hottest summer ever! I've lived in California all my life and I've lived in the city where I'm doing residency since 2003! (Yes, I am one of those people that has done undergraduate, medical school and residency all at the same institution!)

The past couple days my little C has not been sleeping well due to the heat. We don't have central AC at our place but we do have a portable one but due to the usually pretty awesome weather we are used to experiencing we do not need to use it very often. However, we've been experiencing weather in the triple digits with unusual humidity so it's been a very uncomfortable situation.

So bad actually that I moved us all out to the living room where the portable AC is located and the 3 of us, me, little C and our toy poodle have been "camping." On top of this, my little C is in the midst of potty training. She's been doing a great job with #1 but #2 not so much. She has a huge fear of pooping on the toilet but she's been holding it in until she comes home from school and I put her in a pull-up. After 4 days of not pooping, I was very worried. I spent all evening yesterday trying to get her to poop---ranging from pear juice, green smoothies and grapes and finally, she did it! I was feeling pretty great until then my dog P decided to go diarrhea everywhere. I still don't know the cause of the diarrhea but either way, pretty darn gross!

It seemed like she was done after we took her outside and let her do her business some more so we went back in. I gave little C a bath. I gave P a bath. And then as I'm giving myself a shower, of course with both of them staring at me, P decided to go diarrhea again! I run out of the shower, clean up the mess and P.

As I'm putting little C to bed, I touch my hair and notice that there is still shampoo in my hair. Great. I fall asleep too tired to notice. But of course, I wake up intermittently all night worried about P making another accident. I thought I was smart by keeping her in a secluded area so if she did make a mistake, I would be able to find it.

I wake up and I find P on our couch. She escaped. I search the house frantically but luckily, I found only 1 small mistake. As I clean that up, of course, little C wakes up and I have to get her ready for school and get myself ready for work as well.

We're also potty training so I put her on potty and she goes! yay! (minor victories...) I make her breakfast of grilled cheese. She screams and yells she wants bagels. Usually I comply but this morning, I just couldn't. Lo and behold, she eventually finished the grilled cheese.

I give P another bath to wash her up and notice that the hair around her butt area keeps getting soiled when she goes diarrhea so I said screw it, I'm just going to cut it off. I find a pair of scissors and while little C stares at me, I start trimming my dog's butt hair. I sat there and could not believe what I was doing. As I disinfected the scissors, I cut myself in the process. Great!

We're about to leave and I decided to get rid of P's dog food. Great again. I notice that the heat has made the ants find refuge in P's dog food. I find a trail of ants. I panic and then of course, I had to kill the army of ants in P's food.

Okay at this point, I am just super late. I'm done. Oh shoot, I notice that little C is still in pull-ups. I try to get her in underwear but then all hell breaks loose. She just started wearing underwear all day at school. She loses it and refuses to wear underwear. I'm about to lose it too. I let her wear pull-ups.

We finally make it out of the house but oh no, we forgot blue doggy (she has to bring to him to school!). I run upstairs and grab blue doggy and we finally make it to school. I tell her teacher about the pull-up situation and her teacher says that's fine. I yell thank you and run out the door.

I finally made it to the hospital. I park. I lose it. I cry and laugh at the same time in my car. I wished someone could have filmed us this morning. The meaning of a chicken running with his head cut off has a whole new meaning.

I calm down. I walk in. I open up my work list. I check my e-mail. My attending has sent back edits on my abstract. I submit it. I start dictating my studies.

If only anyone else knew about the morning I just had...

I felt compelled to share this day in particularly because in the light of social media, people see snippets into our lives not the full picture. I get asked constantly how I balance it all and make it look so easy. I wanted to share the truth. It is not easy. I'm a hot mess majority of the time. But that's life. That's motherhood. That's residency. It's the life I choose and I wouldn't have it any other way! (most of the time anyways! I did have my moments of doubt this morning)

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

How I Studied For The Boards...

Genmedmom here.

I saw Mommabee's September 1 post asking for practical advice about how to study for the boards, and I felt compelled to post the link to an article I wrote on this very topic! This was written for the New England Journal of Medicine Knowledge+ blog as a humorous, but essentially accurate personal account: I Studied For The Internal Medicine Boards On The Stairmaster

Saturday, September 5, 2015


This blog is about mothers in medicine, but most centrally it is about mothers.  I considered many times over the past few weeks telling KC that I was going to resign from writing.  But, I would stop myself because I so love this community of women.  I felt I didn't have much to give.  I'm drowning a bit right now.  To catch you up, I've started a new, amazing, super supportive fellowship.  I feel like I have my life back after 7 years of residency servitude.  I've passed the first part of my boards.  I have some exciting job prospects that may be materializing soon.  My daughter is in a wonderful school and thriving, and my husband just landed his dream job.  I get to hang out with my siblings on a regular basis.  I'm writing grants with my baby sis (so amazing).  But most importantly, and most poignantly, my mom has treatment resistant aggressive metastatic breast cancer.  On the bright side I get to see her nearly everyday, her doctors are my colleagues and we have far from exhausted every option.  But on the other side - I feel like I am drowning.

My mind is constantly thinking about my mom.  I constantly fight to push some medical knowledge out of my head while using other parts of my medical knowledge to help.  I feel quite ineffective at this.  I strive to bring her grandbaby to her side every day because my baby girl is a beacon of joy in the midst of this.  To busy myself I cook and clean and organize - thankful for my siblings and my dad as we all share these tasks together.  I yearn to just lay in bed and talk to my mom for hours, but I am so unstill.

At work I try to bury my constant thoughts so that I can excel, so that they see me as an asset.  Most days it seems to work okay, other days - like the day we realized it had spread to the liver on therapy - its hard for me to stand.

There is a centrality of mothers in a childs life.  This is the beauty of this blog and certain groups on facebook.  We realize that we have two awesomely important jobs.  Well now my mind is on the one who was so central in my life and how I can't envision a life without her.

So, I don't have lots of MiM specific insight or questions.  Just that this blog is about mothers.  So, I thought I'd talk about mine.

My mom quit her Economics PhD program when I was a baby.  My dad had to travel for work, so she chose her family.  She was a stay at home mom until I was about 12.  Then she started doing economics work for the state and selling real-estate.  It wasn't until I had my own child that I realize that she must never have slept or ate when we were little!  3 active kids in a million activities and she essentially worked two jobs.  Despite that she seemed just as present then as when she stayed at home.  She has always found a way to always make us feel that she is right there.  I never really had teenage angst with my mom.  She has always been my best friend and my cheerleader.  She never made me feel like I was anything short of the best and she is crazy proud of any and everything we do.  She told so many of her physicians that I was a surgeon that I'm pretty sure they flagged her chart.  She rescued me from my post partum depression.  She is the one who made it okay for me to get help.  She taught me that I could do anything, that I could be fierce and accomplished and made me feel like I deserve it.

So now, I can't bear the thought that my sweet baby girl (who wants to do everything with grandma) might forget her.  If I'm ever blessed to have another child I can't bear the thought of that child never meeting her.  My siblings are younger, they have weddings and pregnancies in future that she will likely never see.  I always thought that choosing oncology as a career was my calling, because with cancer people have time to prepare, unlike the immediate finality of trauma for example.  But, now that we're in the middle of this "time to prepare," I can tell you it sucks.  It is hard to make the most of it/treasure every minute/make happy laughing videos and everything you see on Hallmark movies.  My mom is tired and worn down from chemo right now.  She needs rest and pain medication - not a montage.  What we really want is the time before this all started.

Thats all for now.  Make life count.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

When is enough, enough?

Much of the past few years, I have regretted decisions I've made... The decision to stay in medical school, the decision to... Well, mostly that.  I knew about a week into medical school it wasn't for me.  I looked into PA school, and transferring to dental school, but was too afraid to make any moves.  So I kept on with the flow, and eight years later I am a fellow.  I have thought about the decision not to quit many times, and have wished I could go back and shake myself and do what I was so afraid of doing:  disappoint my parents, not become a doctor, do something different, not become a doctor, disappoint my parents.  I was young and living alone and terrified, and if my parents were more supportive I maybe would have quit, but that's no excuse and I have absolutely no doubt that I definitely should have, because here I am on a random weekend night, still regretting my decision not to take action then.

What makes me really think about this again, you ask?  No, I don't drive myself crazy on a daily basis; but as I mentioned, I'm now in fellowship and I don't like it.  The field isn't what I thought, the program isn't what I thought, and really, I just don't need it!  Since I've matched and committed to the year, I'm willing to complete the year (to be a responsible adult, but really so on my resume I don't have to say I quit fellowship after two months).  But I don't want to stay for next year (it's a two year fellowship.)  My husband supports me no matter what I decide, but he says, "But it's only one more year!  Then you can be board certified in another field and be even more marketable!" True, true.

My big hesitation again with quitting after this year is:  I'm still afraid to disappoint my parents.  And boy will they be disappointed if I end up practicing just psychiatry.  Eight years later, and that young, scared girl hasn't grown up much.

I wish I could have quit then, and I want to quit now.  When is enough regrets, enough?  When can I just make decisions for me, and not for others?  When can I do what I want?  When can I just be happy with my job?

Disclaimer:  This post is not meant to discourage anyone looking to go into medicine.  Just like some people like chocolate and some vanilla, everyone's desires are different.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Attention all gunners

I met with my small group tutor today who leads our case-based learning sessions. I knew she was going to say I need to take more risks during our sessions and throw my ideas out there even if I'm not totally sure they are correct. I am admittedly suffering from some form of imposter syndrome; given my finance background I sometimes feel inadequate among my gunner science major peers who have spent years in the lab. I know I just need to get over it and I'm making a conscious effort to do so. My tutor did bring up a good point though, that now is the time to get all these insecurities and hesitations out of the way before the clinical years, residency and so on and so forth. She mentioned that she's seen many students, especially quieter females, miss out on various opportunities because of this. I think I'm a true ambivert; extroverted in most social situations, but especially introverted in academic settings when I feel like I don't know every single thing I need to know. And while I don't think I'll ever be that person who loves to contribute anything and everything even if not particularly relevant, I definitely do not want to lose out on opportunities because of it.

I know medicine is about being comfortable with some uncertainty because it's impossible to know it all. And I realize some of this will come with time, but all you lovely aggressive types, please share your ways. And those who had to work at it, how did you eventually get there?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

What in the world?!?

I was supposed to be much farther along in my studying goals and there are 6 weeks until my pediatric boards and every week I realize how much further off track I am.

I thought my schedule was “made for” studying. Four-day work week with Fridays off. And then my clinic closed for 2 days and I’m making up those days on my off days because I don’t have enough comp time yet.

And then the fancy, super detailed Google calendar study plans that I worked so hard on are being utterly obliterated. The first 2 weeks I was solid, but that was when my patient load was only at 50%. Then when I got up to 75% things got real. And now that I have a full patient load there is literally not enough time in the day to sleep, eat, see patients, work on notes, call patients back, read consult notes, spend at least a few hours with my family, and finish the notes that I didn’t get done earlier in the day.

I hadn’t even realized I had gotten to the 6 week mark until one of my study partners mentioned it. What in the world?!? She said “it’s time to go to PICU hours?” And she’s totally right. Something has to give and I don’t have $2,265 nor the time to retake these Peds boards. My husband is super supportive and tells me to take the time that I need but after so many years of missing out on tons of family related activities it just breaks my heart to be at this coffee shop doing Med Study questions on a beautiful Sunday morning while my family is at the park but hey - it’s going down!!! (well right after I write this pity-party of a blog post)

I’ve got this, right?!? I just remember how grumpy I was during the PICU because of the sleep deprivation. At least I don’t have to calculate TPN (total parenteral nutrition) or ventilator settings.

Alright ladies - I need your support. Your encouragement. What did you do? (I scratched that because I have all of the resources I plan on using and don't really want general info about how you studied cuz' we all study differently and I know me - I'm all about practice questions). How did you do it? How did you balance it? Did you study as much as you'd planned? Did you get up at 5am? When did you do your notes? When did you study?

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The End of Summer

When I was a little girl, the last few weeks of the summer were filled with mixed emotions. It was still summer vacation but I knew that fall and school were looming around the corner.

In some ways, I feel like that little girl except now I am a mother and instead of summer vacation, I feel like I am in the summer of motherhood. And like that little girl, I don't want summer to end.

Summer has felt like the best season of motherhood. Sure, the spring of motherhood was spectacular. I experienced motherly love for the first time and the miraculous growth of my babies to become toddlers. There were so many delectable moments: first smiles, first steps, bear hugs. There were so many moments when I wished I could freeze time and capture the delight, innocence, and charm of my babies.

But like springtime, with it cold days intertwined with perfect days, mothering babies and toddler was exhausting and difficult, at times. There were sleepless nights, fussy eaters, double strollers, and truly terrible twos.

The summer of motherhood is exactly what you’d expect – it is relaxed and calmer and truly amazing. My sons are now ten, eight, and six, and I have experienced so much joy at these ages that I wish I could make time stand still.

Life is easier. My children dress themselves, brush their teeth by themselves, and read themselves to sleep. This summer involved no strollers, no separation anxiety, and no fear of pools and beaches. Instead it involved a myriad of camps where my sons learned, grew, and had fun. This summer included two kid-free weeks when my boys were with my parents and a myriad of weekend adventures.

I watched my six year old son learn to ride a bike. I watched my ten year old son play electric guitar for a Beatles cover band. And I watched my eight year old son learn how to play improv jazz on the piano.

The highlight was a trip to Italy. We saw art, we relaxed in the Tuscan countryside, we enjoyed great food and card games in the evening. I would never dream of going without my children.

Summer has been amazing. So it’s no surprise that I’m starting to feel the pangs of sadness that I felt as a child - that sense of sadness that a wonderful time is ending. But at this point in my life, it’s more than just this summer. I feel pangs of sadness that my summer of motherhood will soon end and I just don't want it to.

Sooner than I think, I will be in the autumn of motherhood. My kids will be teenagers. I suspect they will want to spend less time with me. They may dread family vacations. And they will, no doubt, be sassier.

I feel like a broken record when I say that motherhood just flies by. There are so many moments when I wish I could stop time - keep my kids exactly as they are and never let them change. This is a moment when I really feel that way.

Unfortunately, I have no way to stop time so I am trying my hardest to enjoy every moment that I have during this amazing summer of motherhood.