Saturday, January 31, 2009

Lazy Saturday morning

It's so nice to have a day off, where I can have grand plans and then end up watching 3 hours of cooking shows on public television.  I mean, did I really?  Yes, I did. 

On that note, I have a love-hate relationship with public television.  The shows are great and it's so educational.  On the other hand, there are no commercials to allow me to stand up, pretend to be doing other things, and then sit back down - so I end up sitting here for 3 hours straight.  Ah. 

Friday, January 30, 2009

Green (or brown) thumb

So, I'm planting a garden. Albeit, it's all in containers and all on my balcony. However, that doesn't mean my ambitions aren't high. So far, what I have is an herb garden which includes peppers, oregano, cilantro (all of which I planted from the seed), lemongrass, mint, regular basil, and Thai basil. And yes, it's probably too much for one small pot to handle, but it's all that I have. I meant to get one of those berry pots, but I got lazy and cheap.

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I also have the lemon tree, which I just bought and am so so excited about that it's bound to disappoint. Lastly, I just potted a pot full of bulbs that I got free with an order of seeds I bought online. I have no idea how to plant bulbs and I'm sure it's way too late to plant them, but I have done so nonetheless.

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Also, if anyone needs any herb seeds, please just ask. I have tons. Well, not tons, but if they were plants they would be tons!

Stating the obvious

Apparently, some people in Chicago asked people while they were in the hospital to name doctors that may be taking care of them and 75% of them failed to name a single person on the team taking care of them.  Is this a surprise?  Not to me.  I'm surprised if the patient even recognizes me as a doctor.  

Today, I was taking care of an 87 year old man (yeah, I'm not doing Ob/Gyn at this moment - I'm actually doing a rotation on inpatient adult medicine right now) and did my rounds, said, "Hello, my name is Dr. Truong and I will be the doctor taking care of you today."  I turn around, see another patient, and go back to see him and he looks at me, looks at his son (who appeared in those 5 minutes), and I introduce myself again.  He then says, "Wait, you're a doctor?"  Maybe it's because he was old, had hit his head, or because I seemed too young (he kept on asking me when I started medical school) - either way, he had no idea what my role was, let alone my name, even though I had told him no more than 5 minutes before.  

However, I guess the question to be asking is whether this matters.  Does it matter that this 87 year old man didn't know my name?  Or that I was a doctor?  It certainly doesn't matter in terms of his ability to get in contact with me - as his nurse is aware of who I am and they're the ones (incessantly) paging me anyways.  It would matter to his son, who seemed to be more in tune to what was happening to him and concerned about the quality of care he was getting (which he stated was much better than an unnamed private insurer/hospital system that he belonged to).  

Does it make me feel bad and hurt my feelings - thereby making me less likely to provide optimal care?  Certainly not.  Dear, I can't even remember half my patients' names sometimes, so I cannot blame them. Does that make me a bad doctor?  I don't think it does.  Does it make me a bad person?  Possibly so.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ok, now it's weird

So, I think that this blog is mirroring my life: I bought a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree, they write about it. I buy popcorn to make at home, they blog about it. What will it be next?

See, I'm not the only one

Saw this today - I'm not the only one who craves citrus in the middle of winter.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Apartment living with lemons

For some unknown reason, I have been wanting a lemon tree for the longest time. My mom said I shouldn't get one because there's no way it would survive in a container on my balcony. However, on a trip to Home Depot today, I found a dwarf Meyer Lemon tree for the taking and I took. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for its survival. It already has some flowers, so I may get some lemons in a few weeks!

Gotta love the picture

I just had to post this picture as I just found it hilarious. Also, I love salt - if I ever end up with hypertension, I might as well stop eating.

For those of you interested in reading about NYC's attempts to curb high salt diets, you can read here.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Berkeley Bowl!!!

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I'm so happy today - I got to go to Berkeley Bowl! Now, for those of you who are unacquainted with Berkeley Bowl and are a fan of fresh, cheap food are definitely missing out on something. It's like my idea of heaven. It was especially nice when I lived a mile away and could bike there and bike back with a stem of brussel sprouts on the back of my bike. Now, I live an hour away and only can sneak a half hour away before the real world beckons again. Ah, but in half an hour, I walked away with so much beautiful fruit that it makes me happy thinking about it.

Oh, another post tomorrow on the even that brought me to the east bay to begin with!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

It's about time

I'm very happy and encouraged that one of President Obama's first acts as President was to rescind the Global Gag Policy

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Sleepy head

I'm so proud of myself - I stayed awake for the entire day today!  This is quite a feat given that I had slept for about 16 hours for the last 3 days (12+ hours overnight, and a few naps thrown in).  Let's keep my fingers crossed that I can stay awake for my in-service exam tomorrow (yeah, I still have to take tests) and then last a night on call. 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Dracula struck

I just took the bandaid off of my neck and it looks like Dracula bit me.  (Yeah, she had to go in twice for the FNA.)

Cried like a baby

I just got back from the doctor's and got my fine needle aspiration (FNA), to finally find an answer to this pain in my neck.  I have to admit that I screamed like a baby when she did it.  Dude, it hurt.  And it stung.  And it hurt.  And then it hurt more.  It still hurts.  And when I saw how little tissue she actually got out, I was kinda sad.  I mean, all that pain and no gain?  She did say that the "thing" didn't want to give up tissue easily.  Let's hope that's not a bad sign. 

The pathologist (yes, a pathologist who sees real, live people!) did look at it right away and just said her initial impression was normal, just lots of "polys" (which means lots of white blood cells, meaning it's likely infectious).  I won't have an answer til Friday at the earliest.  And the culture takes at least a week, so we'll see. 

Of course, she couldn't help but mention TB.  "Your case is so typical for TB."  I eye her suspiciously, "Yeah, and the public health department will have a field day if it is."  "Yeah, it wouldn't be pretty." 

So, let's keep our fingers crossed that it's neither TB nor the dreaded "C" word.  And let's hope that I get answers, come Friday.

Hopes and fears

I watch the inauguration with grand hopes that this country will be greater than it has for the last 8 years. 

However, as I watch the President and the First Lady walk the parade route, I can't help but be scared for their safety.  Would I be as fearful were they not black?  Probably not.  Would I have reason to be as fearful?  Probably not.

Sunday, January 18, 2009


I'm sitting at my parents' house feeling sick.  Sick like I haven't felt in a long time. 
  1. My lymph node is still huge and still hurts.  As the doctor I saw put it: "Yeah, that's a big lymph node.  Gosh, that's the size of a golf ball!  That can't be normal... [then scribble something down]... it could be scrofula! You know, where you have TB in your lymph node. That'd be cool."  Cool, yes, if it weren't happening to me and it weren't one of the most painful things I have ever felt. 
  2. I've got a fever!  Yeah, how does one get a fever after being on big gun antibiotics for nearly two weeks?  Clearly, can't be good. Nonetheless, I'm on Tylenol around the clock.
  3. And a rash to boot.  Turns out I'm allergic to the big gun antibiotics that I've been getting, with proof in the pudding - the pudding being my skin mottled with a nice rash. 
Yeah, let's just say it's been fun.  And I was on call yesterday.  I made it in, did some rounding, then realized that maybe I shouldn't stay around, in pain, with a fever, delivering babies. So, that's when I decided to drive to my parents' house before taking my Tylenol #3, which was a questionable decision given I don't know which is worse - driving with a high fever (every time I get a fever, I get the same crazy thoughts, like weird puzzles that recycle over and over in my head - yeah, I may be crazy) versus driving under the influence of narcotics.  Oh well. 

Fortunately, I do have my spiked Tylenol and my dad has some Vicodin to help me sleep at night.  Thank god for pain medicine.

Oh, did I mention that the CREOGs are this week?  For those not medically-inclined (I can't blame you), CREOGs are the in-service exam for Ob/Gyn residents - basically like a yearly SAT to see how you compare to everyone else in the country.  Let's hope my fever stops by then.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Health reform - can it happen?

The New England Journal of Medicine (a favorite of mine, albeit biased because I did a rotation there in med school) just came out with an article putting it very succinctly and eloquently the reasons why health care reform has not been succesful and possible strategies to have it happen.  In summary, he points out the reasons why health care reform efforts have failed in the past - there are lots of parties who prefer the status quo, reform is difficult, bureaucracy always gets in the way, and reformers have yet to support a single approach. 
He quoted Machiavelli (whose political philosophy of realism differs from my own, but who has a lot to contribute to political thinking nonetheless) in summarizing, "There is nothing more difficult to manage, more dubious to accomplish, nor more doubtful of success . . . than to initiate a new order of things. The reformer has enemies in all those who profit from the old order and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit from the new order." 
I just found it a very nice article on why health care reform is so difficult, yet how it is not impossible.  

All play and little work

I have to say that my life on ambulatory has been really really nice.  I don't have to be in the hospital until 8, which is like a vacation!  And I usually get out by 5, which is like a vacation, times two!  That means that I have time to cook, watch a little bit of Project Runway, season 2 (which I got in a white elephant gift exchange), and sleep - in other words, I get to live a normal life.  I've actually been sleeping a lot more than usual, which is nice and concerning (especially given my hypochondriasis about my lymph node - which is still here, albeit nontender and a little smaller).
On another note, I'm continuing my reading trend.  A few months ago, I tried reading Oblivion by David Foster Wallace, but didn't understand half the stories that I read, so got bored. Now, I'm back onto reading a classic (I alternate between modern fiction and literary classics - really, it's whatever I can find at the used book store or bargain rack).  My latest kick is Little Women and I'm liking it much more than I thought I would.  The old-fashioned ways of courtship and such still confuse me (I mean, being asked for my hand in marriage after a smile and professing of undying love?  I think not), but it's a nice escape.
Well, no reading for me tonight.  I'm on call - so I guess this month isn't entirely like being on vacation.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The big life

My dear brother, Andy, went out and bought me a 42" flat screen TV.  Yeah, 42".  It takes up almost my entire wall.  And I can view it from the other side of my apartment, on my bed.  It's kinda crazy, but cool at the same time.  Now does that mean that I have to cave in and subscribe to cable?  I mean, it does seem silly to watch antenna television on a 42" TV, no? 

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Enough said

I think I have been afflicted with this.  And still have a big whopper of a lymph node.  Fun!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Paging Dr. CNN

So, the blogs are all abuzz about the rumor that Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of CNN medical correspondent fame, was approached to be the next Surgeon General.  What do I think about this?  I think that surely, we must have more qualified doctors than a talking head on tv.  Am I biased against doctors on TV?  Yeah because I don't think that you can ever be a good one (don't even get my started on the show, "The Doctors"... an Oprah spinoff which no one, including Ms. Winfrey herself, should ever watch). 
At one point, I wanted to be Surgeon General.  I think I might have even mentioned that on a medical school admission essay or two (or at least thought about putting that in).  I still think that it'd be pretty nice to be Surgeon General, but my sights are on other positions (HHS Secretary is a good start, then WHO director or UNAIDS director - hey, maybe even throw in a MacArthur genius grant somewhere in there).  However, I think that whoever holds that post should be someone more than a (non-)talking head.  They should be ready to elevate the position to something of stature, and elevate it beyond the public health ruins in which it currently finds itself - especially with a willing and ready president, as I hope Obama will be (my hope for his first act as President, as others before him - repeal the Mexico City Policy).
On the other hand, I find it encouraging that someone who is merely 39 may be Surgeon General.  That gives me a chance at doing before I'm 35.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Pain in the neck

I've had this lymph node in my neck for more than a month now. Crazy.  Unacceptable.  Seriously, it's a big pain in the neck.  I've now resorted to using heat packs to get the swelling down.  I got it worked up today and am now on antibiotics.  Let's hope that helps (I'm for the judicious use of antibiotics and all - but now this is turning ridiculous). 

In the meantime, I just saw the Feist album cover (above) and it reminded me of my predicament.