Sunday, January 30, 2011

A joke, courtesy of WestJet...

Q: Why do seagulls fly over the sea?
A: Because if they flew over the bay, they would be bay-gulls ("bagels").

Thank you WestJet for keeping me entertained on my 10pm - 1 am flight.

Just because it's insane doesn't mean that it's impossible.

Current Scholastic Pursuits:

  • Howdy friends, from the prairies! I'm currently sitting in an airport in Saskatchewan waiting for my next flight so I thought I'd take advantage for the free WiFi to sneak in my regular Sunday update.
  • So far, I've done 2 interviews and they have both gone really well. I was very impressed with the first school and relatively unimpressed with the second- which, is actually nice since it offers me some perspective on the range of programs available.
  • With 2 interviews down, I've got 6 more to go! Please continue to wish me luck and send me positive thoughts to keep me going on this journey.
Recipe I've Been Drooling Over:

Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week:
  • Goose with Oxalis by unitedthread
  • I just love, love, love the texture and diversity of lines used to create the goose's feathers. This is watercolor at its finest for me.
Goose with Oxalis - Limited Edition Print

What I'm Reading Right Now:
  • Honestly, I'm reading program descriptions and RCTs about hernias and gallbladders this week in an effort to prepare for my interviews and start/finish my reading week project.
  • The woe-begotten John Raston Saul book continues to be put on the back burner. I swear I'll conquer it one day soon!
TED Talk I Watched this Week:
  • I didn't get to watch a TED Talk this week, which makes me sad. It's been a bit busy with all the travel!
Song of the Week:
  • Our Retired Explorer by the Weakerthans
  • Please note the realistic depiction of squeaky snow. Love it!!

Thing I'm Most Grateful for this Week:
  • The incredible opportunity to tour across Canada and interview at all these incredible programs. Yesterday, I got to pet a stingray at the West Edmonton Mall, today I got frostbite in Saskatoon, and tomorrow I'll be in Winnipeg where I'll finally meet Penguin's buddies from his Masters. I'm the luckiest girl in the world.
Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to this Week:
  • Meeting the Mysterious Mexican... and of course, more interviews!!
Bunny Photo of the Week:
  • Here they are in a post-dinner food coma. :)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

It's Game Time.

Hi folks,

Today, I leave to begin my cross-Canada CaRMS tour. My internet access during the next 2 weeks may be very spotty, so I can't promise any regular updates. I apologize in advance. Wish me luck!

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Penguin and I talk a lot about our future dream house. We've talked about everything from having a bedroom only accessibly by a ship's ladder to having an outdoor hot tub on the wrap around deck. But rest assured, no matter how that house comes into reality, it will proudly show these wallpapers:

Coy - I saw this in a hotel bathroom once and it was stunning. I was so excited when I found it online!!! EEEE!!!!

Animal Magic - Grey
Animal Magic - isn't this, well, JUST THE MOST AWESOME WALLPAPER YOU'VE EVER SEEN????? AAhhhhhH!!!!! So awesome.

Weekly Update: January Snows On...

  • Current Scholastic Pursuits
    • T-minus 5 days, dear friends, until my CaRMS tour begins. And while many of my colleagues have already begun their interviews and told me that it's really not as bad as it seems, I can't help but get my knickers in a twist. I'm sure I'll calm down once I get on the road but the anticipation might just be killing me.
    • This weekend, Penguin came down to visit and tour the ice wine festival with some of our mutual friends. We spent Saturday driving between 7 (SEVEN!!) wineries for various snacks and tastings. It was so much fun but also very intense. In between wineries, Penguin would quiz me on potential interview questions. Needless to say, by the end of the day, I was cooked. Thankfully, we had planned to share a very low-key meal with Scarlet, mr.ak, and Redwood. Redwood made the most delicious risotto ever and it was a wonderful way to wrap up what had already been a lovely, lovely day.
    • Today, Penguin and I talked interviews over breakfast and coffee, then he left to drive North while Redwood and I went back to the gym. I can't believe that OTM will be over in 5 days!! But, I think I've achieved my goals. I'm feel sexy and sleek. This little minx is ready to rocket across the country and flash her guns.
  • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over
    • Bread Cones. Honestly, does it get more delicious than this?


  • TED Talk I Watched This Week
    • I loved this presentation by an opera singer who continues her career after a double lung transplant. She really hits it home when she says, "Stop letting disease divorce us from our dreams."

  • Song of the Week
    • January Hymn by The Decemberists
    • The opening lyrics couldn't be more appropriate: "On a winter Sunday, I go to clear away the snow..."
  • Thing I'm Most Grateful for this Week
    • Penguin once again tops the list! I am so blessed to have such an amazing and wonderful man in my life. The depths of my gratitude for his many gifts are unplumbable.

  • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to this Week
    • Penguin's 31st Birthday is on Thursday! And I fly out to Edmonton to start my interviews on Friday... it will be an eventful week.

  • Bunny Photo of the Week

      • Here are the buns, basking in warm July sunshine. Mmm, I can't tell you how much I'd love to lie in a puddle of sunshine right now, too.

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    On 100% Sustainable Effort; or "Tell Us About Yourself"

    Running my first marathon radically changed my approach to life in general. Before that 42.2km run, I went after life with 100% effort. Everything was a sprint. Consequently, I'd burn myself out again and again. My life was characterized by big achievements followed by long recoveries.

    In taking on the marathon, I learned something very important: you can't sprint 42.2km (well, maybe you can if you're from Kenya but that's another story). To get through that long distance, I needed a new mantra. So, I changed my chant from "faster! faster! faster!" to "100% sustainable effort". This meant that at any given moment during my 4 hour run, I had to be giving 100% but that 100% had to be sustainable into the next moment and then again in the moment after that. I couldn't afford to burn out in the first 10 km and I definitely did not want to arrive at the finish line with any gas left in the tank (in retrospect, I don't think I need have worried too much about the latter). In the end, this was the perfect mantra for me. 100% sustainable effort became my motto for everyday life.

    But, there's a big difference between life and a marathon. For one thing, when you start a marathon, you know exactly how far you have to run. Life's not like that. I could kick the bucket this evening on my way to get groceries or maybe I won't bite the dust until I'm 112 years old. How do you know what's sustainable for 1 day vs another 60 years? Well, believe it or not, running still holds the answer. Running- for me at least- is not about getting to the finish line as much as it is about covering the distance. It's like that age-old quote, "It's not the destination that matters, it's the journey". And when I ask myself while I'm running, "Is this a 100% sustainable pace?", my answer is always defined by the following terms:

    1. Is my breathing full and rhythmic?
    2. Is my posture upright, with my chest up and my heart open?
    3. Am I psychologically focused with a feeling of well-being?
    100% sustainable effort requires a mindfulness of the present moment. Because sustainability doesn't mean: how was I feeling at the start line? or how will I feel once I cross the finish line? so much as, how do I feel right now? Can I perfect this present pace, this present posture, this present focus, right now, in this very moment? For these reasons, at various times during my run, I might run slightly slower or faster than at other times. It all depends on that moment and how tired my legs are or how focused my mind is. The goal, however, is to never quit or burn out. 100% effort means no giving up. Sustainable means no burning out.

    So, how I do practice 100% sustainable effort in my everyday life? I do it through mindfulness of the present moment. It is important to acknowledge that our linear interpretation of time is an arbitrary construct. In living, there is no past and there is no future. There is only right now.

    If I feel as though I am not achieving 100% effort in my daily life, I ask myself the same questions that I do when I'm running. Am I breathing deeply and rhythmically? Is my heart open? Am I focused on a feeling of well-being? If any of those questions prompt a no answer, I ask myself why and correct the problem. It is an on-going, moment-to-moment, self-evaluation. It is with the 100% sustainable effort motto in mind that I run at life, heart first, exploring each moment to its fullest. You see, that's the crazy thing about mindfulness: it dissolves the barriers between moments and let's your life flow- unobstructed by past and future tenses- through you. It is only by letting go of time and living in the now that we can hope to reconcile our deepest desires with the finitude of our lifespan.

    Like gravity, karma is so basic we often don't even notice it.


    Patient: "You know, I haven't been sick yet this winter."
    Me: "I haven't either! We must be very lucky, there's been a stomach flu going around."
    Patient and I both knock on the wooden desk for good luck.

    Today, 4am
    The stomach flu strikes.

    #$%@! Can't I get a break?

    Monday, January 17, 2011

    Weekly Update: January

    • Current Scholastic Pursuits
      • I apologize for the belated update. I drove back from the North to the Tropical Tundra last night and it was a rough drive. I left at 4 pm and didn't get in until nearly 11pm on account of some terrible accidents that caused the highway to close in 2 different locations. When I finally got home, I discovered that I had no TP or family cloths AND no toothpaste. Plus, it was -28 and it took me 4 trips to empty all the essential stuff out of the car. Brrr!!!
      • On the plus side, the detour we had to take on the highway allowed me to drive through Sparkle City (seriously, it's a real town!) once again. And, it is lovely to be home and see my tree again. I missed Fig.
      • Over the weekend, we were up at the cottage burning brush. Initially, there were 4 of us to do the work (my aunt and uncle came to visit from BC). However, 5 minutes after getting there, my uncle poked his eye with a stick and we sent him to the hospital to get it checked out. By the time my aunt and uncle got back, Penguin and I had the whole brush pile out on the ice and ready to burn. It was absolutely breath-takingly beautiful up there. After the flames were out, we headed back to town. Penguin and I were so exhausted by the time we got home that we just showered and went straight to bed. Penguin was particularly tired (he drove home through the mild snow storm while the rest of us slept in the car) and he forgot to rinse the soap out of his hair before exiting the shower. It was actually pretty cute to see him realize this and scamper back in to finish the job. Hahaha.
      • Back in the Tropical Tundra, today was my first day of nephrology and I'll be doing this for the next 2 weeks until the XCanada Tour begins for interviews. I'll keep you updated on how it goes.
      • Hope you're all having a great week!

    • Favourite Thing on Etsy this Week

    • What I'm Reading Right Now
      • I didn't get a lot of reading done over the past little bit because school has been so busy but with any luck, I'll polish these 2 off in the next week or so.
      • I Was Told There'd Be Cake by Sloane Crosley (continues!)
      • The Unconscious Civilization by John Ralston Saul (continues!)

    • TED Talk I Watched This Week
      • Naomi Klein: Addicted to Risk

    • Song of the Week
      • Ok Go remains my favourite music video band. They're just so awesome. Check out more of their work on YouTube.
      • Did you notice the goat?? Hehehe.

    • Thing I'm Most Grateful for This Week
      • Penguin. Leaving on Sunday night to come back to the Tropical Tundra was the hardest separation yet. Over the last month, Penguin has spoiled, pampered, supported, laughed, beaten (at the gym), fed, and loved me to a greater degree than I could ever have imagined. I am so profoundly grateful for the magnitude of blessings he represents in my life.

    • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to This Week
      • The Ice Wine Festival is on this weekend! Penguin and some of his dear friends are coming down to enjoy it with us. Yay!!

    • Bunny Photo of the Week

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    The OR Cat.

    Whenever we remove tissue from someone's body in the OR, it ends up in one of three places:

    • stitched back inside again
    • off to pathology for testing
    • the incinerator for burning
    Very rarely do we remove something entirely and the stitch it back in (in fact, I can only think of grafts and organ transplants as examples). Most often, the tissue gets sent to pathology for testing, in which case, the surgeon always hands the tissue to the scrub nurse and tells them exactly what it is (ie. "Distal ileum and proximal cecum, short stitch anterior, long stitch lateral"). They know that this means they should preserve the tissue in formaldehyde and label it accordingly. Then there's the tissue we take out and don't need to analyze. That tissue also gets handed to the scrub nurse. However, it seems a bit rude to refer to a piece of someone's body as "garbage" so instead we tell the scrub nurse that it's "for the cat". I'm not really sure if this is any better. The imagery refers to a hypothetical stray cat that lives around the OR and survives off the scraps of human parts we throw out. In actual fact, this tissue gets incinerated but for some reason, the cat saying has stuck. Creepy or cute? You decide. I vote cute with a hint of creepy.

    This week at Grand Rounds, however, I learned that "for the OR cat" is not just an expression. A resident did a presentation their recent trip to The Gambia, entitled, "International Surgery - A Resident's Perspective". It was a great talk, with loads of pictures. One picture was of a turkey vulture sitting in the hospital's courtyard. The resident had put a caption on the picture stating "Africa's OR Cat". And, in earnest, she reported that since no pathology was available where they worked, all specimens from 'garbage tissue' to 'specimen tissue' were simply chucked into the hospital courtyard after each case and eaten by the vultures (or, if left until after dark, the hyenas). I have to admit, this seemed to me like a remarkably efficient, low-waste system. I felt significantly less creeped out by the physical evidence of real-life scavengers than I did about some fuzzy toothsome ghost cat lurking in the hallways of my local OR.

    Oddly enough, the resident didn't mention if the hand-off phrase in The Gambia was "for the OR Vulture" rather than 'the Cat'. I'm rather curious to know...

    Sunday, January 9, 2011

    Weekly Update: Delayed

    I'm sorry to report that I won't be able to do a complete blog update this week. I'm currently rotating through my 1st choice school on elective and things are CRAZY HECTIC -- also, I'm sleep deprived in a semi-post-call state.

    In the meantime, here's a nice life-affirming TED talk to keep you going... enjoy!

    (PS: I totally guessed what the 3 A's would be before Neil introduced them... can you?)

    Sunday, January 2, 2011

    Weekly Update: New Year's Edition

    • Current Scholastic Pursuits
      • Happy New Year! It's 2011 at last - year of CaRMS, LMCCQE, (hopefully) graduation, and the beginning of residency. And that's all just within the first 5 months of 2011. Who knows what the second half of the year will hold!
      • At present, I'm starting to book my flights to all the interviews. I still have 3 responses pending, so fingers crossed that I'll hear back from those schools within the next couple of days. The tally still stands at 6 yes, 2 no, 3 pending.
      • Penguin and I accomplished both XCountry Skiing and NYE at the cottage this past week. Both experiences were amazing. The skiing was actually very good despite the mild and relatively uncooperative weather we've had over the holidays. We skied about 13 km along the parkway and it was lovely.
      • NYE was probably one of the best we've ever had. We had a package deal at a local motel/restaurant on the lake. The room was HUGE and lovely and very comfortable. The food was delicious. And the revelry was very pleasant. Highlights of the night included the live music at dinner being a guy who played covers on the acoustic guitar and harmonica (harmonica!!). Good tunes by the DJ for dancing afterwards. And definitely brunch. I loved brunch. It was delicious. That morning, I felt as relaxed and happy as I've ever felt. It was wonderful.
      • After we checked out of the hotel, we went to the cottage to check things out. 48 hours of rain made for a bit of miserable day but we were unperturbed and we built a snow rabbit (in honor of the year of the rabbit) and checked out the ice thickness with an eye to burn some brush in a few weeks when my uncle comes to visit. Then it was a quick drive back home to have dinner with Penguin's folks, followed by some time with mine, followed by a movie out. Whew! We sure do know how to party. :)
      • As always, Penguin and I made New Year's Resolutions. I'm posting mine here so that: (a) I'll remember what I resolved to do; (b) I'll have you to hold me accountable; and (c) cuz I'm always curious about other people's resolutions and I'm hoping that you'll post yours in the comments section.
        • My Resolutions:
          • continue to make food from scratch as per last year. Yet to do on my culinary checklist is homemade pasta. Tres exciting!
          • continue to be mostly vegetarian and (try to) eat only ethical meats. Ethical meats, for me, are defined as meat that comes from a farm that I am familiar with, who raises their animals in such a way that the critters enjoy very good lives, free to roam and scamper and enjoy the sunshine. This typically ends up being organic meat from a free-range farmer. In keeping with this, the meat must also be ethically slaughtered.
          • stop buying the majority of my food from the grocery store and go the farmer's market instead.
          • join a CSA this summer.
          • switch away from using disposable paper products. This includes kleenex, paper towel, and - yes, even - toilet paper. To replace these, I've acquired flankees (flannel hankies, so soft!), odd job towels for cleaning, an oil cloth (for greasing pans and drying the occasional bacon), and "family clothes" for the bathroom (to learn more about this program, check out this link). Of note, these family clothes are going to be for #1 only. I'll still use TP for #2 and of course have it on hand for guests.
          • Lastly - and most importantly - I resolve to survive this year with my sanity intact and without losing/gaining any weight because I am either too stressed out to eat or go to the gym.
          • Whew! That's sure enough to keep my busy for 2011!!!

    • Recipe I've Been Drooling Over...
    • Pengiun and I are making this chocolate torte for the Parental Dinner tonight! Yum!

    • Favourite Thing on Etsy This Week
    • Bicycle Cotton Fabric for Quilting Custom Illustration
    • This lovely bicycle fabric would go perfectly on my planned new-and-improved-couch-cushions!

    • TED Talk I Watched This Week...

    • Song of the Week

    • Thing I'm Most Grateful for the Week...
      • The cottage. I can't think of a better place on earth.

    • Thing I'm Most Looking Forward to this Week...
      • Hearing back from those last 3 schools about interviews and starting another GSx elective at my top choice school.

    • Bunny Photo of the Week
      • Happy Year of the Rabbit! May 2011 bring you the richest food the earth can grow, an abundance of adoring moments, and all the love your little hearts can muster.
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