Showing posts with label X-ray vision. Show all posts
Showing posts with label X-ray vision. Show all posts

Friday, July 28, 2017

End of training!

Hello Mothers in Medicine readers,

I am Geraldine Chang. I go by Geri. I have been X-ray vision for a couple years now. Thank you for reading about my struggles of balancing motherhood, long distance marriage and residency and then fellowship. It has been hard for someone like myself who is an open book to be anonymous. However, I was always cautious during training to be so open about my thoughts and opinions.

Anyways, that ship has sailed! I officially graduated from my breast imaging fellowship on June 30th, 2017. I am currently very much enjoying unemployment, which is coming to an end. I did my residency and fellowship in San Diego and now I will be starting a private practice job in Los Angeles. After two years of being apart, my family is now all under the same roof! It has been absolutely wonderful.

But now reality is sinking in. I am about to start my FIRST attending job, which begins next Monday and I am hot mess of emotions ranging from fear to excitement. I hope to be honest and open about my endeavors as a first time attending, expanding my family in the near future and continuing this balancing act all of us workings mom do!

I had it in my head that a lot of the problems during residency and fellowship as a mom would magically disappear when I became an attending! Silly right? But I needed some of that ignorant bliss to get me through all the training but as I was ending my fellowship, I realized there is no magical solution to balancing motherhood and a career. You just have to do what's right for you.

My mom has been pretty much my only source of child care the first two years of little C's life. I am forever grateful but it has been hard on her and also our own relationship. She's no longer an option. After being with little C alone for 2 years in San Diego while big C was doing his fellowship in New Haven for 1 year and another year as an attending in Los Angeles, I grew a lot as a mother and as physician. People asked me how I did it all the time. To be honest, I don't know. When you have to do something, you just do it. And it never ends. But a lot it is just perspective (and a lot of coffee!).

Right now, I am feeling grateful for this new job. I am grateful for the flexible schedule, the obvious increase in pay and mostly, I am grateful that I get a provide my daughter with an example on how you really can do it all. Do you remember me? I wrote a guest blog on this very website.  Here it is--http://www.mothersinmedicine.com/2013/07/guest-post-hard-decision.html

I wish I could give that girl a hug. She really needed one. I still can't read that post without crying because the overwhelming guilt I felt comes back and I feel it to the very core.

But now I know, it all works out. I tell myself this as I am getting ready for a whole new set of growing pains, which includes new job, new school and nanny for little C and overall, a new routine and with that I know will come with some degree of mom guilt.

Thanks for being my support. Thanks for listening! Now that I am no longer X-ray Vision, you can also read my personal blog to little C at www.doctormomwifealloftheabove.blogspot.com or follow me on instagram at gerichangmd.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Why haven't you had your second child yet?

This is a topic that I'm sure other moms with only one kid can relate to--it's the never ending questions of why haven't you had your second child yet? It seems as if you have two children, every one assumes you're done and then if you have four, people start to question why you aren't on birth control. First of all, it's nobody business the number of children your family should have. But I feel compelled to share my thoughts so here goes.

I was beyond clueless when I got pregnant at the age of 27. I was 9 months into my internship, general surgery no less! and soon after about to start my 4 years in radiology training. At the time, my husband was in his third year of his 6 year orthopedic residency program. We were about the enter the monster of hot messes but we just had no idea. So come January 2013, 6 months into my first year of radiology residency came C. She was perfect. I was not. That is the short version of the story.

I was the epitome of hot mess. I cried a lot. My husband had to go back to work in less than week after her delivery. I was with my parents. I had help but I still couldn't get my act together. C was a good baby. She slept 3-4 hour stretches from birth. I could not sleep at all. I was overwhelmed with anxiety, guilt and basically a state of "WTF did I get myself in?" I was an emotional zombie. I was in a cycle of nursing, crying and attempting to sleep but never really getting any. It took about 4 weeks to realize that maybe I have post-partum depression.

I had all the symptoms. Feeling overwhelmed. Check. Feeling guilty. Check. Feeling empty and not bonding with baby. Check. Feeling even more guilty about that. Check. Not knowing why this is happening. Check. Check. Check

Even though, I was aware. I couldn't get myself to do anything about it. I just powered through the end of my seven week maternity leave. I went back to work. I pretended like nothing happened. But these feelings did not go away. Given the schedule of residency and the shame of postpartum depression, I did not tell anyone nor did I get the proper treatment. I went to a maternal health psychiatrist once, who talked to me after hours, off the record. She wanted to start me a low dose antidepressant but I never took it. I think these feelings never really went away. They did fade over time as I adjusted to my schedule of constantly driving back and forth between San Diego and Orange County (1 hour commute) and doing residency in between that time. I was so busy that I didn't really give myself to process my emotions. I just kept chugging along and watching C grow up was the silver lining. She transformed from this tiny infant to a toddler who was a force to be reckoned with.

When she finally moved to live with me, we encountered several other hot messes but I do believe that is what it took for me to rid of these postpartum blues. I still have the occasional feelings of working mom guilt and anxiety especially when it comes to big changes in my life (such as moving and starting my first attending job!). But I do feel "cured" but for the most part. It took time but I was finally her person. I was the one that she wanted in her time of need. I was the one that could figure out what was in that little head of hers without her saying anything. I knew then that I was definitely put on this earth to be her mom.

So yes. That is why I don't have my second child yet. I knew what triggered my postpartum depression with C. I was overwhelmed with a husband in training, my own training and my feelings of inadequacy as a mom. I told myself if and when we have another child, I will do it when I'm ready so my mental health isn't at stake.

My husband had to leave for the east coast for his fellowship training right after C moved and now he works in LA. We've done long distance for two years now. We are finally at the end of this long distance journey. I will be moving up to LA in less than 6 weeks after I complete my fellowship in breast imaging. I knew I could not handle a pregnancy, C and another baby while he was away. I learned from my first postpartum experience that  a lot of my anxiety was not having my husband around. I understood why he wasn't there but it didn't change how I felt. So I knew that time was not an option for child #2.

And right now is still not a good time. My poor C has not lived with her father yet. She spent the first 7 weeks of her life with me and grandparents. She then lived until 2 and a half with her grandparents in Orange County with seeing me almost every weekend but her dad maybe twice a month. She then experienced life with me in San Diego. She suddenly had to do full time pre school, new home and a new primary care giver. She went from being the center of the universe to being a toddler of a "single" working mom in residency. She saw her dad maybe once a month while he was on the east coast. Now that I'm in fellowship and her dad is an attending in LA, she spends most weekends with both of us. She's gotten used to that now and every Sunday, she hugs her daddy and says "see you next weekend!" It breaks my heart at times that she thinks this is "normal." I want her to experience life with both parents. every single day. before we add any more changes.

So there you have it. I know I'm getting older. My ovaries may be shriveling. My uterus is crying every time I see another baby. But I am grateful for these experiences. It made me stronger in the end. It made me a better mom, wife and physician. It taught me what I needed to know to grow as a mother and maybe one day that will be a mom of two. But for now, I am perfectly content as a family of 3.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Social media

I have conflicting views on social media.

In order to describe my pro and cons of social media, it would have to reveal my age. I'm 3 weeks away from 32--meaning I was a college freshman in 2003 as I went straight through college, medical school and residency without any gaps.

Facebook was founded February of 2004. I was a college freshman. I remember signing up for it with my college roommate but back then, it was still very much in its early days. There was no photos to post. I don't even remember if there was a wall. I do remember "poking" people. Who knows what that even means?

Even though, it was still around, it really wasn't a huge part of our day to day college life. I believe by the time I started medical school come 2007 that it was when it became bigger and more promiment in our every day lives. I remember getting "friend requests," and thinking "wow, I haven't talked to that person in years!"

As I got older and became a mom, my take on social media has evolved. I do love its convenience. When I was busy with residency, I loved how accessible Facebook was for my relatives as well as my husband's relatives. We both have huge extended families as I still have a lot of family in Korea and he does in Taiwan. The last time we went to either country was before we had little C so it was a great way to share our lives with them. And of course, I would have never been a part of this wonderful MiM community without social media either!

However. as I got older, I find myself, posting less and occasionally going through my friends list and de-friending people that I really haven't spoken to in awhile.

I have a cousin who is 5 years younger than me, a sister in law who is 4 years younger than me and another cousin who is in high school. I look at their social media account and see how I got so lucky. I just missed the era of social media predominance during my childhood as well as my college experience, which I believe is the most vulnerable period in our lives. I believe, at least by grad school, you have a sense of who you are and what you want to be--in my case, I really wanted to be a physician and somehow along that path, I became a mom. It was still definitely a path of self-discovery but by that point, I think what other people posted on social media had less of an effect on me. I knew what I wanted and I was on my way of figuring that out. (Don't worry, I"m still human! It does bother at times too! Like for example, whenever I see photos of a mom postpartum looking like a runway model, it's like how does that even happen??)

However, I see the world of social media through their eyes and it kind of pains me a little. Because I have a little girl and I don't want her to feel this way. They look at Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat and don't realize that these are just snippets of people's lives. They don't realize that nobody posts a bad photo. Nobody shows their bad days. If I spent my weekend at home with my parents in middle school, nobody knew about it and I also didn't know what everyone else was doing. I didn't log onto social media and see some other girls at school doing something fun and exciting. It could have just been a photo but a photo speaks a million words and can be misinterpreted and lead to feelings of loneliness and insecurity.

I see Instagram accounts of people that I know are home but yet, they'll post photos saved up from vacation to make it appear as if they are traveling and leading this exotic, adventurous life. I look at those photos and wonder if they actually enjoyed any time of their vacation if they were so busy, creating such staged, "instagram worthy" photos.

As I'm getting older, I feel like the inevitable is happening. I'm becoming more cautious, more worried and definitely more anxious of what's to come.

As little C gets older, I'm realizing I can't really protect her from everything especially in a world of social media but I can help her deal with its consequences. I'm going to do whatever is in my power to keep her my confident, opinionated, tomboy yet princess dress wearing little girl!

Any thoughts?

X-ray Vision

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy 4th Birthday C!

Little C is turning 4 tomorrow. I am not quite sure how that happened but I just wanted to share a letter I wrote for her.

Dearest C,

I seriously cannot believe you are now 4! There are times it feels that these past 4 years flew by but it also seems like you've been with us forever and what was life before you?

If there was one word to describe you, it would be that you are a fighter. I knew from the very beginning when you were in my tummy. Being my first pregnancy and all, I wasn't sure if what I was feeling were your kicks in my second trimester. However, when I went into the ER at 26 weeks for abdominal pain and you went in with me to get a MRI, you let me know you hated it! I didn't blame you as it was so incredibly loud for an entire 60 minutes and the images were being taken right where you were! But you definitely let me know that you were pissed off. You kicked me the entire 60 minutes and it was then I knew what they meant by fetal kicks.

At the time, I was so worried about what would happen to you while I went under general anesthesia but you nailed it. You were literally there when I had my appendix removed and you did exactly what you were suppose to do. You stayed inside and cooked for another 14 weeks.

When you were born, you were perfect. I was not. Tears still come to my eyes when I think back on that period of your life and I feel this insurmountable amount of guilt of what I put you through. I had no idea what I was doing. Instead of focusing on my perfect and healthy child, my mind kept going on how the heck I was going to balance motherhood and my career, which was in its infancy as I was only a PGY2 in my 6 years of training.

You nailed it again. You were the most perfect baby. You went from 7 pounds to 17 pounds by the end of my 7 week maternity leave! By the time, I had to go back to work, you were basically sleeping through the night except waking up once to eat and would right back to sleep. You thrived under the care of grandma. As I watched you grow into a happy healthy baby and eventual toddler that guilt started to lessen but never completely. You let me know in your way that you were doing well even though, I wasn't your primary caregiver and I knew my decision to keep you with grandma was the right one.

Fast forward to June 2015 and your move home. We only had about 4 weeks as a family of 3 until daddy had to go away to the east coast for fellowship. It was our first year as just the 2 of us. Once again, you were beyond patient with me. I struggled with balancing my last year of residency with being your primary caregiver. It wasn't easy for you to go from being the center of the world at grandma's house to going to pre-school full time and having a full-time plus working mom. But once again, you nailed it. You shut down all my fears in 2 months. You thrived at pre school. You learned English in a matter of weeks. You made friends. You formed bonds with your teachers. It was one of the most hardest years of my life but it was beyond gratifying to finally be your "favorite" and the one you wanted in your times of need.

And here we are today on your 4th birthday. We survived the first half of mommy's fellowship. Daddy is finally back on the west coast but he's still 2 hours away. (On a side note, we are so incredibly proud of him!) It's still just the two of us but we have so much to look forward to as in 6 months, we'll be joining daddy and mommy will be starting her first attending job. We have a lot of firsts to look forward to this summer as we start a new chapter in our lives. But until then, I'm going to enjoy these next 6 months of just you and me. I will always look back at these times and the difficult memories will fade but the memories of picking you up from school while you run to me, the memories of eating dinner just the two of us and the memories of all the mommy-daughter dates after school will always remain be in my heart.

I know I say this all the time. But I had it all wrong. You continue to teach me something new every single day. You show me a love that I didn't I know I was capable of and you show me that love is not finite. My heart grows in places that I didn't know existed. Life has never been the same since you entered 4 years ago and I am beyond blessed to be your mama.

It is truly an honor, C. Thank you and happiest birthday to my firstborn!

Love, mama

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Help with attending job interviews!

T minus 8 months until I join the real world.

I am now 4 months into my breast imaging fellowship. It's about that time I start looking for my first attending job!! As someone who went straight through in my medical training, I have no idea what a job interview truly entails. Yes, I've done plenty of interviews. I know what it's like to sell myself as a medical trainee but as for joining the real world, I have absolutely no idea.

My experience looking for a job might be a little different than some because I am geographically limited. My husband started his (first) attending job in a city 2 hours away from where I am doing fellowship. On a side note, this situation is so much better than our west coast east coast marriage while he was doing fellowship last year! As much as I am looking forward to joining the real world, I am really looking forward to our family of 3 to finally be living under the same roof!

I went on 2 interviews so far. The first one was not the same location but same group as my husband's place of work. Given that it's part of the largest managed care organization in the United States, questions outside of who I am, what I can offer were really not asked. Details of what the contract would entail, how much I would make, what my benefits were and etc. were not discussed. Mostly because I already knew the answers to these questions and the fact that I was told that there was no need to go over a contract from this place as it was standard across the United States. I came back from this interview thinking it went well and that it wasn't much different from a fellowship and residency interview. A downside to this job is that it will be a 45 minute commute to where we will most likely settle down.

The second interview I went on was a large private practice group in the city where my husband practices. It's a group of approximately 80-90 radiologists. We talked about my dual boarding in radiology and nuclear medicine. We discussed the possibility of working within my preferred subspecialties (breast imaging and nuclear medicine. We discussed the possibility of working part time, which got me really excited. I also met some of the radiologists in the group, who all seemed very nice. However, I came back after my interview most of my conversations with my attendings at work went like this.

"How was your interview?" "Good. I really liked the practice"

"What is your base salary?" "I don't know..."

"What is your retirement?" "I don't know..."

"What benefits are offered to you?" "I don't know..."

"What about maternity leave? " "I don't know..."

"Do you get paid overtime for call?" "I don't know..."

"How many years until partnership?" "I don't know..."

Basically, I felt like an idiot. And now, I am waiting to hear back from both jobs but I feel like I cannot really compare and contrast since I don't know the answers to these questions!

How do you go about asking these questions during a job interview? Do you ask right away? Do you wait until there's a proposal? Is these anything else I should be asking? Do you need a lawyer to review your contract?

Thank you in advance for your help!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

10 myths about radiology

Hello MiM community,

It has been awhile since my last blog post. I graduated residency in June and I am currently in month 3 (where has the time gone?) of my breast imaging fellowship. I stayed in the same institution as residency for fellowship. My little C is less than 4 months shy of being 4 (!!). Big C finished his orthopedic spine fellowship on the east coast in July and after a nice 5 weeks of having a stay at home husband, he started his attending job in a city 2 hours from me and little C last month. It has been a busy summer!

I am currently surrounded by medical students applying to residency, which made me want to do this post. And now that I'm a PGY 6 in my radiology training, I think I feel somewhat equipped to dispel some myths about my specialty and I thought it would be a good opportunity to go into the medicine aspect of my life since most of my posts have been about my role as a mom.

1. We are anti-social. A huge part of our job is communication not just with patients but with other physicians. We talk to physicians from all specialties throughout the day. We often present at multidisciplinary tumor boards. I can't speak for all radiologists but the ones I work with and myself included, we are very extroverted and approachable!

2. We never see patients. This may be true if you decide to go into teleradiology post residency. However, during residency, we see patients all the time--whether it be giving results, scanning patients or performing image-guided procedures. As a breast imaging fellow, I spend half my fellowship doing mammographic-guided, ultrasound-guided or MRI-guided biopsies/localizations. In addition, we often have to speak to patients to relay biopsy results. There is the option to not see patients but this will not be the case during residency and the choice is always there for patient interaction post training.

3. We are lazy. Being married to an orthopedic surgery resident, I have the utmost respect for these grueling specialties. We may not wake up the hours of other specialties but we are definitely not lazy. The time we spend having to study plus the time we spend at the hospital would often sum up to 60-80 hours of week during the earlier years of our residency. In addition, our residency is 5 years plus an extra year of fellowship (which is typically not an option as everyone does a fellowship post residency.) Our radiology boards are 2 days--that includes 18 subsections including physics! The amount of reading on top of working in the reading room equals so many hours that we put in outside of work that most people don't realize.

= 4. We love sitting in a dark room all day, every day by ourselves. This is definitely not true especially during residency. Radiology is a unique residency in that we are often one on one with an attending all day, working together and learning from him or her. In fact, this also debunks the fact that we are anti-social as we need to learn to interact and get along with someone we work with all day. In addition, our dark rooms are often frequented by visitors usually in form of clinical teams and occasionally patients.

5. The job market is horrible and no one can get a job. The job market may not be what it was in the past but there's always a supply and demand when it comes to medical imaging. As the reliance on medical imaging only continues to grow with the increase in number of CT and MRI scanners, the job market for radiologists will always be open. As someone who is only looking for a job in one city (one that is super competitive I might add), I have been surprised at the number of listings as well as the number of responses as a fellow in only month 3 of fellowship. In addition, I have only just begun my job search (literally 2 weeks ago).

6. Radiology is boring. I may be biased but I find radiology incredibly interesting. We see different pathologies across specialties on a daily basis. We often get to make the diagnosis and provide a differential. We are not involved in the treatment but for me at least, coming up with the diagnosis is the most satisfying part of my job as a physician. In addition, it is a field that is constantly changing as technology evolves. Imaging utilization only continues to grow and different applications of imaging for both diagnosis and treatment are constantly being researched and incorporated into our specialty.

7. Women should stay away from radiology because it will fry our ovaries. I was pregnant my first year of residency. I have a perfectly normal, adorable daughter. Yes, to be completely honest, radiation can affect a woman's reproductive capabilities but you would need direct radiation to the pelvic area and the amount of radiation would have to in the amount that is used for radiation therapy in oncology treatment. Therapeutic doses are often 1000X more than diagnostic doses (even a CT). Furthermore, as a radiologist, we are shielded from significant radiation doses with the use of radiation equipment and radiation protection practice shields (lead, lead glasses).

8. Radiology as a profession is useless because physicians can interpret their own films. Physicians across all specialties order medical imaging and it should be their responsibility to look at the images they order. However, a formal interpretation by someone who trained in this field for 6 years is completely different. There are many times that the ordering physician has more clinical information that helps in the interpretation of the study. However, when it comes to interpreting the study as a whole that is what we are trained to do--we look to see if its an adequate from a technical point (are there any artifacts on the study? is there too much patient motion?), we look at the entire study (for example, CT abdomen/pelvis is ordered for belly pain and on the few slices of the lung bases, we find a pulmonary emboli), we decide on how to make image quality better (do we need to increase the field of view? what should the slice thickness of the images be?) and lastly, we often decide if the correct study is ordered for the right indication while minimizing radiation dose to the patient (does the study need to be done with contrast? can we do an MRI rather than a CT in a pediatric patient? what study should we order in pregnant patient?)

9. We make too much money for what we do. I can't speak for all specialties except my own but I find it unsettling when I hear this about radiologists. We put in our time with our 6 years of training. We take our boards. We have written reports that cannot be disputed--if we miss something, it is evident that we missed something. Just like any other specialty, we are learning a valuable skill set that helps our colleagues and patients. 

10. We are not real doctors. This one applies more to the general public. We are not the technologists. If I got a dollar for every time somebody asks what I do for a living and I say I'm a radiologist and I get the response "oh yah, I met a radiologist last week when getting my "insert imaging modality" done," I would be incredibly wealthy. However, for someone interested in radiology, the prevalence of this myth one is something to be aware of. I always discuss with my husband who often gets cookies/cupcakes sent home from his patients that as a radiologist you have to be okay with sometimes not getting the direct satisfaction of "saving a life." It's not always "saving a life," but often times we do make the diagnosis but we're not the ones who relay the good news (or bad news) to the patients. I am okay with that. People choose to go into medicine for different reasons and some thrive off the direct acknowledgement from their patients. For me, as a radiologist, the internal satisfaction that I am helping my patients is enough.

Lastly, good luck everyone in their residency applications regardless of specialty!

X-ray Vision

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Dear stay at home mother...

I recently came across this article and it really struck a chord with me. As a working mom, I have often felt the divide between the working mom and the stay at home mom. This is the article and this is my own article to the stay at home mother.
http://carolynee.net/a-letter-from-a-working-mother-to-a-stay-at-home-mother-and-vice-versa/

Dear stay at home mother,

I just wanted you to know that there is absolutely no judgment from my end. In fact, I think what you do is infinitely harder than what I do. Sure there are moments such as when I have to wake up little C earlier than she would like, force feed breakfast down her throat while trying to apply sunscreen all at the same time only to be late to work once again that I might think for a millisecond that it would be great to be a stay at home mom. However, the minute I do get to work and get to enjoy my morning coffee in silence. The thought crosses my mind for much longer than a millisecond that I don't know how you do it.

I am sure you are intimidated by me but I want you to know that I am also intimidated by you. I didn't breastfeed my little C the entire year. In fact, I had to hand off the role of primary caregiver to my parents for the first 2 years of her life. I had to be okay with not being the person who knew what her cries meant at all times and I had to be okay with not being the one she wanted at all times. Even now, I try but there are times we often settle on mac and cheese for dinner and I let her watch TV one too many times just so I can finish the work that I brought home with me.

I see you at the playground. But the minute I mention my occupation, I see that look in your eyes. It's as if we no longer have anything in common. But we are both mothers. I identify myself so much more as a mom than I do as a physician. So please don't be shy. I often find motherhood to be a sorority that requires an unending pledging process. How we do it is our own personal decision but we are all linked in our role as a mom, our role to take care of these little human beings and every day we wake up a superhero because what greater power is there than caring for the next generation?

So stay at home mother, please know I have nothing but respect for what you do. I had the most incredible stay at home mother growing up and often find myself at a loss, feeling unsure of how I can provide the love and security she gave me during my childhood to my own child. I had the best childhood because I had a stay at home mother so judging you would make absolutely no sense because I had the best childhood and the best mother.

However, I chose to work for reasons that are important to me. Just as I respect and understand your decision to stay home, I hope you can do the same for me. I love my child just as much as you loves yours. I constantly struggle with the working mom guilt and every day as I tuck my little C in bed, I question whether my decision to work will be worth it in the end.

Let's support each other. We are all united in the sorority of motherhood. Most importantly, I wanted you to know I get it. I really do.

Love, this working mom

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Surviving long distance

It's been awhile since my last post so a quick update before I go into this topic. I am currently 11 weeks away from finishing my radiology residency! I will be continuing on at my home institution for my breast imaging fellowship. My little C just turned 3 in January and is doing very well in pre-school (and an update to my prior post, she is finally pooping in the toilet!! It turned out she was just very stubborn and decided one day to do it and never looked back.). My husband big C is finishing up his fellowship in spine surgery on the east coast and will be coming back home at the end of July. He got a job on the west coast, which is about 2 hours north of my home institution so we'll be doing another year of "long distance" but I don't consider a 2 hour commute "long distance" after a year of "west coast and east coast, 3 hour time difference, and 2 flights and a layover to see each other long distance."


I am by no means an expert on long distance relationship and this year has been my first year of ever being in a long distance relationship. I was definitely a hot mess for a good part of it but now that we're less than 4 months of it coming to an end, I am starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel and wanted to share how we, me and little C, survived a year alone.


1. Communication. This is the biggest part of any relationship especially in a long distance relationship. Big C and I talk every single day usually via text message. It's hard at times especially when he is doing a 9-10 hour case but he always manages to text me in between cases. It's important that we check in on each other and know what we're doing even thought there is an entire country in between us. This is our way of maintaining our adult relationship and marriage because when we do FaceTime in the evenings, we try to make it about little C. Usually from the hours of 6 to 8 PM (west coast time), we have our FaceTime on. We usually aren't talking the entire time but big C is able to see us eat dinner and our usual bedtime routine. This way little C gets to at least see her daddy almost every day. No matter how busy we are, we always check in on each other!


2. Don't forget about the light at the end of the tunnel. I am guilty of forgetting this at times. As a single mom this year (minus most weekends when we go an hour north to my parent's house), my days just revolve around surviving. I am just trying to make it to bedtime but it's important to realize that there is an end goal. There is reason why we are doing this. It's easy to get caught up in the stressful moments but whenever I am feeling stressed, I think of our family living under the same roof once again and being able to provide for little C all the things we talked about and hoped for in the near future and the stress does melt away some. It definitely helps to know that it is only temporary because there is a bigger picture in mind!


3. Making each moment count. I am not brave enough to travel with little C alone to the east coast, mostly because where big C is training, there is no direct flight and it's a whole day ordeal to get to his place and his place = bachelor's pad. I've been out to the east coast a couple times this year when my mom graciously watched little C. We didn't get much sleep but in its sacrifice, we got to treasure these few days of adult time and made memories to last us to the next visit. When big C visits us here, which is about once every 6-8 weeks, we will fill every minute with family time for little C whether it be going to an amusement park or something as simple as going to the playground. We just strive to create memories and experiences for little C as a family of three.


4. Be considerate. Sometimes it's very easy in a long distance relationship to get caught up in your own life that you forget to think about what it's like to be in your partner's shoes. I am very guilty of this as well. I often lash out at big C about how he has no idea what's it's like to be a single parent doing residency.  But at the end of the day, I am so grateful I get to snuggle little C in bed and how she gives me 3 kisses, 1 on each cheek and 1 on lips right before bed and she calls me her favorite. I get to pick her up from pre-school every day and I get to come to a home filled with pictures and memories of our family. There are hard days but I am not alone. I remind myself that he might not be here but he has his own battles. He lives alone and away from his family. He's experiencing a rigorous fellowship that often involves 5AM days that sometimes end at midnight. He's on call constantly. All 3 meals are often from the hospital cafeteria. He's in a new environment where he doesn't know anyone. And at the end of the day, he's not just doing this for himself. He's doing it for our family and for that, I am truly grateful to have such a hard working, selfless husband.


5. Make short-term plans. This was more relevant when we first started our long distance relationship. I would make a big deal at each 10 week mark. I still continue to make a big deal for each time he gets to visit. There is a light at the end of the tunnel but we still need something to look forward to get through the day to day. Now, we're days away from April and making plans to attend each other's graduations. I still can't believe we have survived this far!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Thankful for my village...

They often say it takes a village to raise a child.

As your typical OCD, type A personality, I was not one to ask for help. Before motherhood, I would say my life was quite simple. My innate desire to excel at everything I do was never challenged. I was born into a typical Korean family in America. My parents immigrated to America shortly after getting married to provide a better future for their children. I was my parent's pride and joy. I did well academically. I got accepted into a combined BS MD program in high school. My life was planned out. I would go to college followed by medical school and become a doctor.

Who knew I would meet the love of my life and get married by the end of medical school? And better yet, who knew I would get pregnant during my intern year?

I certainly did not. I lived in denial throughout my entire pregnancy that I got this. I was so wrong. My whole world turned upside down. I loved my baby girl more than life itself but for a control freak like me, having a child was the ultimate test in learning how to let go.

Fast forward 2 years and 10 months later, here I am. I cannot be more grateful. My life is a lot more complicated but I wouldn't change anything. Everything truly happens for a reason. It wasn't medical school or residency that proved to be my biggest challenge. It was the combination with motherhood.

I'm thankful that the challenges of motherhood and residency has taught me how to ask for help. It has made me a better person. Life isn't a competition. And I am constantly grateful to the people in my village that help me raise my child and pursue my career.

So here is my thank you.

Thank you to the others moms I've met during this journey whether it be a simple look of camaraderie when little C is throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of the supermarket to those who  have reached out to let me know that I am not alone in this process.

Thank you to my daughter's teachers. Thank you so much for being so understanding. Thank you for making little C love pre-school. Thank you for providing a safe environment for my daughter while I go to work. Thank you for answering all my paranoid questions.

Thank you to my pediatrician friends for answering this radiology resident's questions (whose entire medical knowledge seems to go out the window when the mommy cap is on!) from how to dose tylenol, to answer questions about little C's rash and even regarding her intense stranger anxiety (thank goodness that phase is over!)

Thank you to all my friends that stuck around. As a resident and as a mom, it doesn't leave much for a social life. Times like this has made me realize that true friends are few. Thank you to those that have been understanding and we can pick up where we left off despite the times we talk and get to see each other are few and far apart. To those who didn't want to stick around, that's okay too. Thank you for once being a part of my life but I understand that I may not be the friend you need or want. Thank you for teaching me that as we grow older, it is not possible to be friends with everyone and that it is also okay to not be liked by everybody.

Thank you to this blog for providing a sense of community. I feel grateful that I get to share my stories with other women just like me.

Thank you to my attendings. I've had my share of attendings who seem to forget how hard it is to be a resident let alone a resident and mom. However, I've also had my share my attendings that do remember and this is my thank you to the ones that tell me to go pick my little C early when things start to slow down at the end of the day.

Thank you to my husband for always listening to me and making the best out of the situation. Despite the entire country between us, you try your best to make sure I don't feel alone this year.

Thank you to my in laws for being understanding and patient. Thank you for not complaining about not being able to see little C or us that often. Thank you for supporting our careers and our journey to parenthood.

Thank you to my dad and brother for sharing your wife and mother with me. I know me and little C have taken her away from you two during the past 3 years. But neither one of you ever complain and love little C just as much as I do.

And my biggest thank you goes to my mom. Thank you for raising little C for 2 and a half years as her primary caregiver and now that she's in pre-school, thank you for spending your weekends with us, thank you for always packing us food for the week, thank you for watching little C when I'm on call and thank you for always being available when little C is sick and can't go to pre-school. You are the main reason I've made it this year.

Thank you, my wonderful village. I couldn't and can't do it without you all. Here's to 38 more weeks of long distance and to 30 more weeks of residency! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Dear beautiful people in my village, my success is just as much yours as mine.

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)


Wednesday, August 26, 2015

2 year olds say the funniest things...

Considering my first 2 posts were a bit on the serious side. I just wanted to share the funny things that little C have said to me recently. Motherhood is a curveball. You never know what's coming at you but you really do live for moments like these. Recently, I've been feeling very nostalgic, reminding myself that little C is only this little for so long! Perhaps because my husband is on the east coast doing fellowship and missing out on these adorable moments! But this is a list that I've made for him that I wanted to share with my fellow mothers in medicine as well.

Little C has been saying the funniest things lately. I feel like I need to document them so I don't forget. Here's my top 10 fave from this week! 


1. When P tries to lick me, she yells "No Po!! C's mama!!" (P is our toy poodle)
2. She told her teacher "mommy is a doctor!" Her teacher asked what does she do? And she said "oh she gets to drive an ambulance!"
3. When shes in trouble, she grabs her toy phone and says "mom! I'm calling grandma!" And she talks into her phone and says "grandma, I want to live with you!"
4. When someone isn't sharing with her, "Be nice!! Share with C!"

5. First thing she says when she wakes up--"Mister Sun!!!! Where are you Mister Sun!! Mom! We have to go say good morning to Mister Sun!:
6. I lost my hospital ID badge last week. (Super annoying by the way! Considering it lasted me a good 4 years and 2 months and now I'm only 10 months away from graduating residency). She noticed. "Mommy, where's your badge???? Did you get fired?"
7. When she doesn't want to go to school--she grabs her toy stethoscope and say "okay C go to hospital too. C doctor too"
8. When she doesn't want to play with P or another kid during a play date-- "Okay bye P (or insert kid's name). See you tomorrow!!" (as if that will make the dog or kid disappear...)
9.  When we're going up the stairs, she doesn't want to hold my hand anymore. She goes up first and yells "Wait for C! Mommy!!!!" and when she makes it all the way to the top "Mommy's turn!"
10. And my favorite that she's been doing for the past week! Every morning she says "bye mama! I'm going to miss you!" And today she added "I love you!"


X-ray Vision 


P.S. On a side note, after 7 weeks of crying and making me feel miserable at pre-school drop offs, little C has done a 180!!! She is very happy at her pre-school, made lots of friends and loves her teachers. We are slowly but surely adjusting to all the changes in our lives. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Feeling like the worst mom in the world...

My introduction post was mostly about how I get to know Mothers in Medicine, which was when I found out I was pregnant. I also talked about where I am today. I never talked about what happened in between those 2 and a half years.

So during those 2 and a half years, I went from first year radiology resident to fourth year radiology resident. I just took my boards last month!! (Ask me again in 1 month how I felt about it, which is also when I'll get the results.) My husband, big C, went from 4th year orthopedic resident to a 6th/chief orthopedic resident. He just graduated last month!! Currently, I started my first month of my last year of residency and my husband is actually, right now, taking his orthopedic boards. He'll be moving to the east coast in exactly 2 weeks to start his spine fellowship.

So basically, I'll be a single mom for a year. But what you don't know about me is that my little C has been with my parents in a city 1 hour away from our  city of training for the past 2 and a half years. That is how we did it. So your recent blog post Anita Knapp really resonates with me! It was an extremely difficult 2+ years. But given my husbands 80+ hour work weeks and my most difficult years of residency ahead (combination of both majority of my calls during my 2nd year of radiology residency and studying for radiology boards/multiple board review sessions during my 3rd year of radiology residency), we felt that this was what was best for little C. 

I have had my share of mommy guilt during this time. I questioned my decision all the time. I felt like a horrible mother. It definitely put a strain on my marriage with big C because who likes being around a negative and sad person all the time? But little C was my heart and soul and it just didn't feel right being away from her Monday to Fridays and some weekends. 

Well little C is all moved down. It's so funny how kids can be so resistant to change at times and also so easily adaptable. I took 2 weeks of vacation to help get her situated. In less than a week, it was as if she already forgot about her 2+ years with grandparents (much to my mom's dismay). During those 2 weeks, she and I attended her 2 week orientation at the pre-school associated with the university, which basically meant spending 1 hour a day for 2 weeks with her at the pre-school. That part went fine. In fact, the entire 2 weeks was awesome for our relationship. I got to just be her mom without even thinking about residency once. 

I thought the transition to pre-school would be easier. She attended part time pre-school during her last 5 months with grandparents almost as a preparation for what's to come. She had a hard 1st month but eventually grew to love it and was out the door to go see her friends as she would say.

However, she must feel like her whole world is upside down now. It's been almost 2 weeks into her new pre-school, which is obviously now full time and every day she cries and cries. Drop-offs are so painful. I spend the mornings just thinking about her crying little face screaming for mommy.

She refuses to eat at pre-school. She's potty trained at home but refuses to pee on the toilet at school. She also doesn't nap. When I go pick her up, she seems okay but I can't seem to shake it off that this is just a transition period. Is she ever going to adjust? Am I just the worst mother in the world? Was this a mistake? Was I being selfish by taking her away from the princess treatment that was given to her by her grandparents? 

I don't know if I can go back to the former life. I love picking her up. I love eating dinner with her. I love putting her to bed. I love that she runs over to me and wakes me up in the morning. But do I need her more than she needs me? Am I not able to give her what she needs? 

It almost feels foolish that I thought the mom guilt that I carried with me for those 2+ years since maternity leave would disappear once she lived with me. 

But right now, I can't help it. I'm feeling like the worst mom in the world yet again.

How am I going to survive once my big C goes to the east coast? 

Days likes this. Cutter's blog post comes to mind on whether this (as in medicine) is worth it? I simply say "no." 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

MiM intro: X-ray Vision

Hello MiM!

I am so excited to contribute to a community that has been my lifeline during residency and motherhood. I figured my introduction should include how I got to know MiM.

Rewind to approximately 3 years and 1 month ago, I was at the end of my surgical intern year. (I know. I'm a radiology resident. Why did I do a surgical intern year? Long story short. My husband, big C, was already an orthopedic resident at the institution of my medical school before I matched. I was pretty set on staying on for internship and residency at the same institution. There is only 1 transitional program in a 2 hour radius of where we are from and that particularly 1 was heavily medicine and ICU. I don't like long rounds. So surgery it was!) At that point in my life, I was pretty darn happy to be at the end of my surgical intern year and ready to start my radiology training.

My husband and I just returned from vacation and I was feeling unusually tired. More tired than I usually do. Hard to figure out what my baseline was given that I was a surgical intern! I joked around with him that maybe I was pregnant. I had forgotten my birth control pills during our 2 week vacation but thought nothing of it at the time. I remember distinctly finishing rounds on a Saturday morning and settling into my day of call. I remember texting my poor husband who was post call that I hope he didn't "knock me up." It was a particularly slow morning. I was bored. I walked over to the nursing station and asked for some pregnancy tests. I took 5! I peed on one and I saw 2 stripes. I freaked out! I got some gatorade from the hospital cafeteria and peed on the remaining 4! 2 negative pregnancy tests followed by 2 more positive pregnancy tests! I remember as a medical student on OB thinking how could people NOT know how to read a pregnancy test. Now I knew why.

After my call ended and thoroughly freaked out, I remember going to the pharmacy and purchasing digital pregnancy tests. The kind that said "pregnant" or "not pregnant." Same thing happened! 2 "pregnant" and 2 "not pregnant." At that point, I was still in denial. I wanted a blood test. Except I don't have a primary care physician. Who has time to go to primary care physician as a medical student or a surgical intern?

I found the family medicine department on our institution's website. It was already Sunday at this point and I was desperate. I e-mailed one of family medicine physicians, Dr. B. I never met her. But she e-mailed me back immediately. She said it was no problem and she would put in the lab order for a blood b-HCG. I got my lab drawn the following morning. After rounds that Monday, I got an email saying that new lab values were posted on my online medical chart. There it was. b-HCG 79. Reference Value: >10 pregnant.

I remember taking a screen shot of my labs and texting it to my husband. First and only time he would actually excuse himself out of rounds to call me. We were both in shock. I was an intern! He was a PGY 3 but basically a PGY 2 as his orthopedic program requires a research year as a PGY 2. We were babies in the world of medicine and somehow now we were going to be responsible for a real baby in less than 9 months?

I remember Dr. B calling me with the results herself. She said "Your intuition was right! You are definitely pregnant and very early pregnant, which explains the equivocal urine pregnancy tests." I sat there and tried to calculate my due date. I was going to be mom half way through my first year of radiology training. Once baby comes, I will still have another 3.5 years of residency and 1 year of fellowship. How am I going to do this? I will forever be grateful to Dr. B. I wasn't her patient. I was just some resident that found her e-mail and she was just nice enough to respond. It was then she asked, "Have you ever heard of the website Mothers in Medicine? I think it will be good for you."

I've been hooked ever since! So here I am today. 3 weeks away from taking radiology boards. My little love bug, little C, is now almost 2.5 years old. I'll be starting my last year of radiology residency come July. (We take part 1 of our boards a year before we graduate. Part 2 comes 15 months after graduation.) Big C will be graduating from his orthopedic residency this June and leaving to the east coast for his spine fellowship.

This year will be an adventure for me and little C. I will have to figure out what it's like to be a "single parent" while doing residency among other things. I am very lucky. I have a wonderful support system that mostly involves my mom, which is the reason I even survived up until this point. All topics for future posts! (most likely after boards!) Thanks in advance to everyone in this community for being a part of this journey :)

Sincerely, X-ray vision