Monday, 31 March 2014

I give up

I've run out of snow title ideas. 

Right now, my windows are going 'click click click' as the ice pellets hit them. The weather is supposed to deteriorate further. 

My son's school was cancelled due to weather on Friday too, and then again today. It'll probably be cancelled again tomorrow. He's had two days of school since March break, for a grand total of twelve snow days so far. On Friday, he came with me to class and he may come with me tomorrow if the university doesn't close.

I have a lab final tomorrow, and I am so very not worried about it. My son can sit in the corner with the iPad for a bit while I write if necessary. Hardly the end of the world. 

Still, this weather sucks. I'm quite ready for spring weather, though somewhat unimpressed that our basement starts trying to flood every time it gets a bit warm. 

Four more days of class, then into exams. My first exam, neuro, is on the 9th. Physics on the 10th. Genetics on the 14th then micro and physiology on the 17th. I have the 18th and 21st off so I get a four day weekend after exams which is nice. Then my full time term at work starts for the summer.

One of my coworkers is going on mat leave in July so I will be helping train her replacement and helping to ease the transition. I'm being trained in a bunch of new systems since I'll be doing some new work; more on the back end of health care admin. It's a lot of interesting stuff and I'm looking forward to learning it. 

Lots to do, lots to do!



Sunday, 30 March 2014

Professional Relationships to Come

I've made no secret of the fact that I fully intend to return home to practice medicine someday. This is my home, this is where I want to work and where I want to raise my kids and grow old and retire.

This is where I belong.

However, I also was a bit of a thorn in the side for a number of doctors here for a few years. I was a pain in the ass, cocky, non-compliant patient. Especially when I was pregnant with my daughter. I was a very difficult patient for my OB. I held on to a lot of unscientific beliefs and I was exceptionally argumentative. I am not a pleasant person when pregnant.

If I were just to remain here as a member of the public, I'd let this slide into the past and leave it alone.

But these people are going to be my colleagues someday. This is a small province with a very small community of doctors. We have ~260 physicians. That is not a large group.

For the past year or so, I've considered sending my former OB a letter apologizing for how I treated him. I was not only rude, non-compliant, and argumentative, I gave him a nasty review. I know some doctors do read them, though I don't know if he has. Looking back, he really didn't deserve my ire. He was adhering to best practice guidelines. He really was looking out for my and my daughter's best interests, and was generally pretty respectful about the fact that I disagreed with him.

I think, when I get into medicine, I'll send that letter. I've had it written for a while. Patients come and go, I know doctors don't remember all (or probably even most) of the patients they see, particularly ones who they see for a short period, but still, I feel like apologizing to him because it's both the right thing to do, and can hopefully prevent any negative feelings if I end up with him supervising me on an elective.


Friday, 28 March 2014

Snow. Again! What a surprise!

We ended up having Wednesday and Thursday off. The blizzard was just that bad.

We spent the days at my parents' house. They are in out of the country so we had the house to ourselves. The kids had a blast. 

Prior to the accident, we'd been looking at options to replace my husband's old car since it was going to cost us a couple grand to put it through inspection this year. Just didn't seem worth it to keep that car on life support, essentially, or to replace it with one that'll start falling apart in another couple years. 

So we decided not to go the used car route again. Meet Annie. 



I pick her up on Tuesday. It would have been this week, but the weather interfered. The bumper was slightly damaged on the train ride to NB and so they are replacing it. 

We just got back from checking it out. I got to take the stickers and wheel protectors off. :) 

Yes, I know new cars depreciate, but depreciation only matters when you sell. We keep cars until they are ready to be scrapped. The depreciation is the cost of going five years without major repairs. We look at it this way: in a ten year span, we could go through two used cars, or one new car. Total cost would be about the same, but if we go with the new car option, we get five years (at least) of that ten where major repairs are unlikely, but covered if they occur. 

With a promo rate and a factory rebate and the fact that we don't need to pay tax on it (long story) it just made sense. 

I am so, so done with things breaking at the worst times. 

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

I think I've lost count....

Yet again, bad timing strikes my household. 

We're expecting a blizzard - 50cm of snow, winds up to 150 depending what report you read - in the morning. We are planning to pack up the kids, dog, and birds (cats will be fine) and head over to my parents' house because, well, if we're going to be snowed in we'd rather be at the house with a generator.

We cranked up our heat so that this house will stay warm longer if the power goes out, to minimize the chances of pipes freezing. 

Annnnd our septic system decided to take this opportunity to back up. We can't use any of our plumbing right now because it has nowhere to go. 

It took about three hours to get our landlord on the phone which was a problem because the after-hours plumbers wouldn't come out without his approval. So now it is too late and they won't come until the morning.

On the plus side, no school tomorrow. So... Yay?

These snowy days of winter's final fury...

We're expecting another snowstorm. Big surprise: on Wednesday. Now, we've had a lot of snowstorms this winter. One on a Thursday, two on Sundays, and I think one on a Friday, but this makes at least seven or eight specifically on Wednesday. My profs who teach Monday/Wednesday/Friday classes appear to have given up hope that we'll cover everything in time. 

There have been so many snow days this winter that my seven year old is tired of them. I didn't think that was possible. This one is even an official blizzard. The forecast says "blizzard" for tomorrow and Thursday. Not snow. Not cloudy. Blizzard. 





Due to a fun bit of scheduling, I have neither work nor lab this afternoon, so I plan to use the time to mostly finish a project and I should be able to wrap it up on Wednesday. 

Got the mark for my second physiology test back, and I am beyond disappointed. I was positive I did well on it, but got only an 85. This prof is a notorious hard marker, she does expect diagrams to be essentially perfect replications of the ones in the book, and so I prepared that way. I wrote up until they said 'pens down.' I have a VERY good grasp of physiology, but how I explain things doesn't mesh with how this prof marks things because she wants things done very specifically. Actually understanding the material doesn't matter, you have to present it how she wants. 

She isn't a bad prof, but between her and my genetics prof, I'm getting quite fed up with this nonsense this semester. We are supposed to be learning, not regurgitating. Knowing how things work is sort of the point of these classes; so knowing how things work should result in decent marks. 

I currently have an 87.64 in the course, with the marks for two lab reports and the final yet to be entered (these count, collectively, for 58.5% of my mark.) I am a very good scientific writer, so the writing work has so far had the effect of bringing up my mark in the course, but not high enough. If I get mid-nineties on the remaining writing assignments and a high 80 on the exam (worth 35%) I can still possibly pull a 90 in this course, but it is going to be close. 

Genetics is another sticky one. The prof... is not quite up to the high standards I hold. She knows her stuff, but gets flustered, and I greatly dislike how she marks things. 10% of my mark is dependent on the ability of other people to follow directions precisely. I had to explain my topic in 90 seconds and they had to write a one sentence summary of it, covering four points I included. If they wrote two sentences (it is very difficult to fit four separate points in a single sentence!) I get a 0. If they didn't understand well enough - they weren't allowed to ask questions - I get a 0. According to the reviewing TA, most people are getting 0 because almost no one followed the directions. 

I do not think this is a fair way to mark, particularly for such a large percentage of the course grade. I do not yet know my grade, but I'm doubting it will be terribly impressive. 

On the plus side, my physics and neuro marks are going to be good. I still have hope for an average above 90% this year, which will get me a $2000 achievement scholarship in the fall. 

Friday, 21 March 2014

Wrapping Up

The end of the semester is here and for once, that means I have assignments to do. Prior to this semester, I never really had big assignments. Short lab reports with only methods and discussion, and weekly assignments of 4-5 questions, don't really count. If it takes less than two hours, I don't really consider it an assignment.

This semester, I have actual assignments. Not terribly worried, though. I do very well on assignments.

My last test of the semester was yesterday (neuro) and I think it went well. I had physiology on Tuesday - it was supposed to be last week but we had a storm day.

The course schedule for biology for next year is out. I only need five biology courses to finish my course requirements.

I'm definitely going to take immunology and medical microbiology. Probably also endocrinology. Most of my third year is going to be fourth year courses.

I'm hoping the physics department will offer biomedical imaging and intro medphys. Both would be awesome courses and I won't need to get special permission to take them.

Overall, I'm just looking forward to things quieting down for a bit. We need it.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Happy Birthday to Me!

It is my 27th birthday today! I have no plans, but my husband did buy me flowers!

I posted a status on Facebook today about the measles outbreaks, urging parents to get their children vaccinated.

I harp on about vaccines because many parents who do support vaccination don't do so vocally - for whatever reasons they may have; social pressure, a desire not to engage in debates with friends, not feeling comfortable enough explaining things. But it is important to be a voice for the safety of all of our children, and the immunocompromised, ill, allergic, or otherwise unable to be vaccinated members of our communities. 

This isn't some parenting decision like time outs or what clothes you let your kids wear. This is a serious issue of life and death, like car seats. Vaccine preventable disease remains one of the largest killers of children the world over, and it is only the privilege that decades of effective public health campaigns has afforded us for us to be so complacent about the dangers these diseases pose. 

To let decades of public health work slide, to allow these diseases to return their stranglehold to our communities, would be unforgivable. 

I've walked through old cemeteries and seen the headstones. Two years old, one year old, 'beloved baby girl,' 'dearest son - age five.' Tiny stones on tiny graves. So, so many of them. Rows of children who all died in a bad measles or flu or polio or scarlet fever year. A reminder of how far we have come.

That's why I talk about vaccines, why I promote medicine. Because I don't want people to suffer, and our advances in medicine represent the greatest reduction in suffering that any species has ever made. 

We are amazing, and I'm not going to shut up about that.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

The next chapter

When we were deciding which vehicle to buy, we didn't discuss if we could fit another car seat across the back. We discussed how our ever-growing, long legged kids would fit in the back as teenagers.

We talked about teaching them to drive. About whether the vehicle would survive to be handed down to a child heading off to university.

Today, my kids and I packed up and went somewhere, then stayed out long after we'd originally planned, just because we could.

I had no diapers in my purse. No wipes. No little baggies of goldfish crackers or grapes. If someone has to pee, they ask. My oldest even goes into the men's room on his own.

When we go to a restaurant, we don't need to ask for a booster seat, and the kids order for themselves.

No high chair sits near our kitchen table. The booster seat is gone. No silicone-coated cutlery is set at any place, just the regular set. They cut up their own food. They even use real glass drinking tumblers.

Our baby days are really, truly gone. It just sort of hit me today that it's over with.

Some women might be sad about this, but right now I could do a happy dance. Never really been one for babies, though I do enjoy having kids I can talk to.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Check, check, cheque

 Car stuff is sorted, insurance slips are sent, and we'll be picking up the pretty new car on either Monday or Thursday. Depends on a few things to do with the down payment, but otherwise that's good. 

I got a test back this week that almost made me choke. In neurobio. I didn't fail, but it was VERY much not within my usual performance (consider, I got 98% on the first midterm. This one was more than 20% lower.) 

I had just gotten a very jarring phone call about an hour and a half before that test. It's not something I've mentioned much here, but I have been having trouble since around this time last year which has resulted in quite a bit evaluation to try to get a complete picture of what is going on. 

My doctor had ordered some more imaging. What threw me was the fact that I got the imaging appointment just days after it had been ordered. That is NOT typical here, unless they are really worried and you get it on an urgent basis, even then not necessarily very fast. I got that call for the appointment about an hour and a half before my midterm and I could not get it out of my head and I was so distracted when I wrote that test. 

I'm tempted to talk to my prof and ask if I can possibly have the test weighted less while having my other two tests weighted more heavily. They are 20% each and I was thinking of asking if the other two can be 25% each and this one 10%, given the circumstances. I haven't bothered because I figure she'll say no, but if this test remains as 20% of my mark, there is no way I can get over 90% unless I get 96%+ on the next test and the exam. It's so unlike me to blank on a test - ever - but I did.

I just hate to be that annoying premed who asks for marks for dumb reasons. 

Friday, 7 March 2014

Focus and Rav up

My grades have been harder to maintain recently. I think it's just that everything going on, pulling my focus in all directions, has caught up with me and focusing on school has dropped in the priority list. It's not that any one thing (besides my kids) is more important than school, but life outside of academics has gotten to the point where the sum total of required energy has exceeded that which I can put towards school.

So my grades are dropping. They are not anywhere near 'bad' but they are definitely not up to par. I'm getting far more grades in the 80s than I typically have, and I've even had two in the 70s this semester. While I have some irritation about it, I will admit I don't have the gut clenching panic over low grades that I would have had last year. I'm not sure if that's good or bad.

I think after this week or so, I can hunker down and regroup, get back to what I need to do.

The financial stuff is pretty much sorted. A bunch of things came together at once and took the pressure off for the forseeable future. Yay! I'll be able to comfortably put away for interview season. 

We got the car stuff sorted too.

We'd been planning to get a 2014 Accent. Had it all picked out and everything, but my husband wanted to check out the sale at Toyota because they have a promo on right now.

We both totally fell in love with the Rav4. It's the demo from last year. 2013. But because it was a demo it still counts as new so we got the promotional financing rate. We'll be picking it up as soon as



Altogether, worked out nicely.

This week has been very, very weird, but it seems to be ending on a good note. Been a while since that happened, but I'm glad for it.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Deciding on Debt

We're trying to decide what to do about the car. Never having used our car insurance before, we're not *entirely* sure how this all goes down, but we're piecing it together. I read the policy documents so I know the coverages and such, but the usual procedures are all new to us.

It seems we have a form of replacement value coverage, so the claim is being done up in such a way as we'll be reimbursed for what it would cost to replace the car, including all the features that were on our original one. This works out to being about $5000 more than we owe, so that amount (less the deductible) will be sent to us, while the original loan will be paid off.

We get to decide what we want to do with that money. We could go to Cuba. Or use it as a down payment on a new car, or buy an older car outright.

While there is definitely appeal in not having a car payment, we got *screwed* by a used car before. I think most people who buy used cars have been at some point. It makes us a little nervous.

We bought a new car originally for the specific purpose of avoiding large repair bills for a while. Our secondary car is quite old (2004 Focus with almost 300,000km on it) and we prefer to have at least one car we can be reasonably certain isn't going to blow up on us at any given point.

So, that means we're leaning heavily towards a new car. Probably the 2014 Accent.


Hard to say, really. No car payment, but risk the occasional big repair at really inopportune times, or car payment with some peace of mind.

Hard choice.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Change of Heart

I had a profanity-laden rant ready to post, but now I have something more pleasant. 

As I've whined about recently, we've had a nasty run of bad luck of late. Just one thing after the other. 

Well, this evening, yet another nasty thing happened: one of my molars cracked in half and my face just exploded with pain. I called every dentist I could find but no one was open or even had an emergency answering service. I gave up, resolved to just bear the excruciating pain for the next few days. 

My amazing husband refused to give up. He kept calling, then, success. The oral surgeon I saw a few years ago was going to help. My parents came to watch the kids and I was in the chair within a half hour. 

When I saw him a couple years ago, he did a surgery on my jaw at the same time my wisdom teeth were extracted. I ended up with a nasty abscess afterward, and it was all around an unpleasant experience. I am inclined to dislike dentists, so it wasn't much of a stretch to dislike an oral surgeon. 

But I can honestly say that I have had fillings more painful than the extraction he just did. He numbed me very well (which is not easy) and was very careful. Because he had no nurse, my husband (who, keep in mind, typically faints at the sight if needles) stood by to assist with suction and he saw the whole procedure. The root had cracked completely off of the tooth, which is why I was in so much pain. 

At the moment, I could nominate the man for sainthood. I nearly hugged him. We'd chatted while waiting for the X-ray film to develop and he'd asked what I am planning to do (I'm wearing my school hoodie) and so I told him. Afterwards he told me "when you are a physician, or surgeon, and someone needs your help, you help them. It's a bit old fashioned, but it is right." 

I thanked him profusely and I am immensely grateful to him for taking time on a Saturday evening to help me. 

It reminded me that, even with crappy things happening to us regularly, there is still too much good in the world for me to let it get me down.