Stitches and Sutures

I'm a 25-year-old second-year medical student living in Ontario, Canada. I'm pretty sure that the only way to stay sane in medical school is to have a life outside of medical school, and knitting is one of my chosen diversions.

Location: Ontario, Canada

Friday, January 27, 2006


Today was my first day of actual clinical time in my anesthesia rotation. For the first four days of the rotation, we did classroom and simulator stuff. It was very interesting and fun, but I was really looking forward to seeing real human beings.

I worked with a really nice anesthesiologist today, who let me do lots of stuff (intubating being the most exciting - that's where you stick a tube down someone's trachea so the ventilator can breathe for them while they're unconscious during surgery) and treated me really well. Once she found out that I had once been a nursing student, she let me draw up all the drugs as well. (This is one of those things that will only be exciting the first ten times, then I suspect it becomes a chore.) Some intravenous drugs come in these disposable glass ampules. To open them, you grab the top part in one hand and the bottom in the other, and snap the top off. It seems a little crazy to be breaking glass with your bare hands, but I have done it many times (more in nursing than med school) and it actually works fine - usually. Of course I was trying to look all suave and not like a totally clueless med student today, so when my supervisor asked me to draw up a med from one of these ampules, I jumped to do it. Except when I snapped the top off of it, I crushed it, and I put a huge cut in my index finger. There I was, bleeding all over the place in the OR. My supervisor was scrambling for gauze and one of the nurses had to go digging for a bandaid. So much for cool!! "Pride goes before a fall," and all that, I suppose.

Other than the ampule incident, it was a pretty uneventful day. It was pretty much "private parts" day for me - gyne and urology surgeries. It was a nice mix of long and short cases. Long cases are kind of good because there's lots of time in the middle while the patient is sleeping (provided that they don't drop their blood pressure or something) for the doc to do some teaching and for me to ask questions. However, the most interesting parts of anesthesia are putting the patient to sleep and waking them up, so a day of only long surgeries would probably mean quite a bit less hands-on experience. Short operations are less involved in terms of drugs and have less time for teaching, but I got to do three intubations in two hours this afternoon, which is definitely a plus. It was a good mix.

I have my first "on call" shift on Sunday - except it's not some crazy all night thing, I just have to be there 0800 to 1600. Pretty sweet. I can continue to dread "real" call for at least another week.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Oh, the fear

Today is federal election day in Canada. I've always been pretty interested in politics, and the Boy is a historian, so he's passionate about politics. We've watched the election with interest, and a fair bit of disgust. The attack ads made me sick, and the debates were basically live versions of the same stuff. In fact, my pick for the winner last English-language debate was Gilles Duceppe. If he had jumped into the insults, he would have been slaughtered (there's not much you can say to, "Yeah, but you're trying to break up Canada"), so instead he took the approach of asking very good, pointed questions of the other candidates. Anything constructive that came out of the debate was a result of one of his questions. And when I'm picking a separatist as my favourite for ANYTHING, you know the situation sucks.

I've felt pretty pessimistic about this whole election -- the Conservatives are, pretty much evil; the Liberals are fat cats who seem to have done all that they can; the NDP are led by a bit of a nutcase and although I like their politics, they can't do math. And the Bloc Quebecois, *sigh* I just don't know what the "best case scenario" is. All I know is that it doesn't involve Stephen Harper as prime minister.

Nonetheless, the Boy and I walked to the polls this afternoon and cast our ballots. Rick Mercer pointed out tonight that by the time this day ends, millions of Canadians will have cast their ballots without a shot being fired. As he said, "that's worth voting for." We're pretty lucky to live in a country where we can vote.

And so, since I have to be at the hospital very early tomorrow morning, I'm off to bed, feeling pretty nervous about the future of this country. I'm predicting a Conservative minority. Here's hoping I'm wrong.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Holiday recap

It was +13C on Christmas day in Lethbridge, Alberta. I was outside in a t-shirt. So much for the white Christmas. In fact, I only saw snow once while I was there, and that stuff didn't stick.

However, Christmas was still wonderful. We stayed in a lovely hotel (courtesy of the Boy's grandparents), had our own rental car (a Kia Rio....I know of sewing machines that have more power), and spent lots of time hanging out with the Boy's family - particularly his new nephew, William.

I love babies. I love them. As in, if the Boy had pressed the issue, he could have convinced me to drop out of medical school right now to have a baby. Thankfully, he didn't do that. But oh man, did I ever spend a lot of time filling myself up with that wonderful feeling of rocking a sleeping baby.

I also loving watching the Boy with the baby. He's absolutely crazy about him. It's enough to make anyone melt, and it definitely melts me.

(Sorry it's so dark. I just couldn't wreck the moment with a bright flash.)

We did some after-Christmas shopping in Calgary, which was very fun. And we just spent lots of time hanging out with family and relaxing. This was my first Christmas away from my parents, and although I did have a few brief moments of homesickness, overall it was a really good time. I think it helps that I really like the Boy's family and - as far as I can tell - they like me.

On the 30th, we packed up alllll our stuff (did I mention that we were spoiled rotten at Christmas?) and two suitcases full of books (the Boy has been storing books in his Mom's basement, but he needs them now for every time we go out there, we bring the maximum number of bags home, and fill everything up with books), and we hit the highway. I love driving on the Praries. You just can't beat the skies out there.

We went straight to my parents' place and spent a week with them. We had Christmas morning #2 on the 31st, and we were spoiled rotten again. (I can definitely get used to this two-Christmases-a-year thing.) We spent New Year's with some of my friends from highschool, and on New Year's day we got to see all of my Mom's crazy extended family. The rest of the week was relaxing and family time.

We're really lucky - we both have families that we enjoy spending time with, and we really genuinely like each other's families. You can't do any better than that.

Back to the grind tomorrow. We're spending today unpacking and relaxing with each other....and then we dive into 2006 for real. This year is going to be a crazy one for both of us - I start clerkship tomorrow (that's all the crazy hospital rotations that I have to do) and the Boy is preparing for his huge comprehensive exams in European history, which are in the fall. I keep saying that we just have to survive 2006....but I think we'll aim a little higher and try to ENJOY it too!

I'm sorry....I know you can't see the baby's face in these pics, but since he's not my child, I figure it's not right for me to post identifiable photos of him on the net!