Tuesday, 30 June 2015

About Time

It's finally, FINALLY summer on the Island. Just in time for Canada Day. I hope we'll be able to hit the beach tomorrow. 

We're going to bring our dog to the downtown park tomorrow for the festivities. She's doing okay on a leash and so I'd like to test her around people. I need to get her used to walking on a leash around people before we move. Figure this is a good opportunity to see how things go. 

The not working thing is just as relaxing as I'd hoped. I have a bit of a cold right now so I haven't done as much as I'd like yet, but I am enjoying having lots of time to myself. I'm planning a nice long walk with the dogs on Thursday afternoon, plus swimming the rest of the week. I really want to spend as much time being active over the next couple of months as I can. As much as I loved my job, it was mostly sitting down and I really did not like what so much sitting was doing to me. I could feel that I was getting weaker and that it was harder to keep active when I was spending so much time on my arse. 

Speaking of sitting around... I had to drive about an hour to get part one of step two of my TB test done. Also started my Hep B series and I'll get my first MMRV on Thursday when I go back to be read. Then I can send in my health screening form. My police record check is ready to be sent, and I'm doing my BLS training on Saturday. 

So all my paperwork will actually be done - as much as it can be - as of Saturday. It'll take me six months to finish the Hep B series and then a month after that before I can do serology, but hopefully they'll grant me provisional clearance for horizontal electives. 

I'm starting to really seriously think about where I want to do electives next summer. I'll have seven weeks to do block electives and apparently I won't be allowed to do them here (you have to be in clerkship) which is unfortunate. I'm going to have to look into other options for how to put in some face time here before CaRMS if I do decide to apply to the family medicine residency here. 

Saturday, 27 June 2015

The little things

We're keeping a friend's dog for a week so my dog is pretty thrilled to have a buddy. Not necessarily one who steals her stick, but she's enjoying that he plays with her. She's half lab, he's all lab, and they have a similar rough play style. She's faster, though, so she had the stick the most. 

I'm now done work. Tomorrow I'm doing blood typing at an event in town (good way to recruit donors!) and then I plan to spend the rest of the day at the beach. I've got a few things to do Monday morning, but otherwise I'm done.

It was weird to leave work yesterday. It was very quiet by 5 because it was a Friday. I handed in my badge at the security desk and walked out of the building for probably the last time. 

My boss wrote me an incredibly sweet farewell card and she had our whole unit sign it. I was very touched. She has been a mentor to me and I'm really going to miss working with her.

So now I have a whole lot of time to myself. Time to hang out at the beach, time to get my paperwork done. I have part two of my TB test this week then I have to get a number of vaccines.

Despite having been vaccinated, I'm not immune to mumps or Hep B. I only had one MMR shot plus a second measles shot, so I need another MMR. I had chicken pox as a kid (my records are long, long lost) but I actually am not immune so I need the vaccine for that. Because I'm not immune to mumps, I'm going to get the MMRV twice instead of MMRV plus a standalone varicella. I'd really like to be immune to these, thanksverymuch.

I'm a bit worried that my clinical clearance will be delayed. I don't have records of my Hep B immunisations but I definitely had them! I remember because I had to get them at my doctor's office since I left Ontario the year before they did them in school, but it was the year after Alberta did them, so I missed the shots in both provinces. I'm not immune so I need to do an entire new primary series - which takes months - and then do serology again. 

My health paperwork is due back by July 15 so it's going to be incomplete because I'll have waiting periods before I can complete the Hep B course and before I can get the second MMRV. 

Frustrating though it is, at least I know what I'm immune to and what I'm not. 

My police check is back so I'm mailing that off this week, then I'm doing my BLS next weekend. It's all coming together quite nicely!

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Money Matters

Money is not my motivation for going into medicine. It never has been, and quite honestly if it just paid enough for a modest standard of living and paying my debt, I'd still be going for it.

The fact that medicine is one of the most well-remunerated 'normal' careers (I'm excluding 'movie star' and 'professional athlete' level careers here) is... a perk. The fact that it will provide a comfortable standard of living for my family is what has made it possible to go back to school. I would not have pursued my dream if it didn't have anything in it for my family. After all of our sacrifice, my family gets a stable future and I get my dream career. Positives all around.

So now that I have an acceptance in hand, and a somewhat ridiculous income potential (relative to my norm...), I need to take steps to protect the future that has now solidified. Even though this isn't all about money for me, financial considerations absolutely must be taken into account so I can build as stable and secure a future as possible for my family because it's now possible. Even if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I want them to be better off than they would have been if I'd been hit by a bus eight weeks ago. Not that either situation is ideal, mind. 

That means life insurance, disability insurance, and long-term planning. I've had some nebulous medium and long term plans, but they were dependent on whether I got in or not. Now that I'm in, it's Plan A all around. The only variables are what specialty I'll pursue and whether I'll apply for the province's sponsorship (which would effectively reduce my debt by $110lk.)

So the other day I met - via phone - with a financial advisor from MD Financial. She managed to point me in the right direction on a number of topics I need to research more and she was fairly positive about the roughed out plans I already had in place which made me feel less like a complete newbie. Next step is meeting with the OMA rep about insurance policies since all signs point to them being much cheaper for my needs.

While I haven't ever had much in the way of resources, I have tried to be somewhat educated on financial matters so that I'd know how to make my money work for me should I ever actually have any. That day isn't too long off now, so my casual reading is coming in handy and I don't feel too terribly overwhelmed. There will be a lot of important decisions to make in the next few years so I will need to find someone to advise me over the course of my career. MD Financial will do for now, until I find someone I will want to build a longer term business relationship with anyway, and I'm keeping in mind that they aren't entirely unbiased. 

It's nice to be getting the ball rolling, at least. 

Reflecting on Where I'll Never Be Again

Tomorrow is my last day at work. I extended by a week already and while I have a feeling my boss might just ask me to stay a little bit longer, I am going to refuse.

By virtue of me being the only person who has been there consistently for the last (nearly) two years my job has been to do any part of anyone's job if needed, plus my tasks. I'm cross-trained. Not that I mind; it was very fun and I enjoyed the challenge and I've had great people to work with. But the new student may end up a little overwhelmed for a while, I expect.

I'm leaving my replacement with a large procedures manual. Some things are step-by-step, some things are described more generally because I expect the reader to gather information from other sources too. It's not rocket science, but it does require some thinking and seeking out resources on one's own.

Now that my last day is nigh, I'm looking back a bit nostalgically at the last couple of years. While work has been stressful by times, I have really enjoyed my job. It's been a source of a lot of growth and some very interesting opportunities to be exposed to things I never would have expected. I have learned a lot at this job.

My boss is really quite fantastic, even if her management style rubs some people the wrong way occasionally. I honestly really like her, and I respect that she doesn't let other peoples' opinions get in the way of her priorities. We've had our moments, as any manager and employee will, but overall we've had a fantastic working relationship and I'm really going to miss her. I plan to keep in touch especially as she seems to know absolutely everyone and she's already offered to put me in touch with people who might be able to help me with electives.

My coworkers are just lovely people and I am going to miss working with them.

Tomorrow is going to be my last day working as something other than a doctor. My next paid job will be as a resident physician. That is a heady thought.

Over my working life, I've done everything from manufacturing and food service to tech support and personal care assistant. And those days are done. The barely-minimum-wage days are behind me. Meeting with my financial advisor today and discussing quite frankly what my income will likely be in a few years just left me a little gobsmacked.

Tomorrow is the last day of my old life, and the launching point of a new, grand adventure.

An actual stop sign in town. 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Green Spaces

My son had his year end field trip today. I can't post any photos of the kids as I didn't take any (student privacy rules) and the only photos I have of my son have other people in them so I can't post those either. He got to swim, shoot some arrows, climb a rock wall, and play some field games. It was lovely and fun.

Man was it gorgeous there. 

Yes, I'm taking lots of pictures still. Wouldn't you if you lived somewhere so lovely?

Kid and I are absolutely wiped out. I took him out for ice cream after. 

It was really sad to see all his little friends were hugging him goodbye. Friday is their last day, but they'll be pretty wrapped up in the year ending stuff. It has taken him a very long time to make friends and the ones he has are very dear to him. He'll at least have a few weeks of fun time with a couple of them at daycare before we leave. 

I've decided on another couple days of work so I'll be done Friday too. Only 16.5 hours of work left and then I'm done for good. 

Right now, I'm done in and I'm going to go for a nap. 

Monday, 22 June 2015


It is my second last day of work. I am taking tomorrow off to accompany my son on his end of year field trip and then Wednesday is my last day. Maybe. My boss asked me to stay until Friday and I'm sort of considering doing it part time so that my (fantastic) dental benefits are extended. Wanted to get some work done anyway so why pay if I don't have to?

I am planning to spend as much time as possible on the beach, reading, as well as biking and swimming and just all around enjoying as much as the Island has to offer once I finish work. It's so close I can taste it. I think the only reason I'm seriously considering staying is because it's going to be rainy this week. 

My husband gave his work his end date - July 3. We have three full weeks of just us before the kids finish at daycare. They wanted to keep going for a while so they could spend time with their friends, so they aren't ending there until the 24th of July. We'll spend the rest of our time here just enjoying ourselves. Doing the touristy stuff we never had time or funds to do before. 

We may send our stuff ahead of us and then camp for a couple of nights. We can likely have our stuff stored for a couple of days and turn the move itself into a 5-6 day event. Moving services usually include at least 30 days of storage anyway. 

I'm feeling pretty sad about leaving. While things have been tough for us, largely we have been happy here. This Island is our home. It certainly has its problems but our hearts belong here. 

There is no better place I can think of to spend a month-long vacation than right here in July. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

No Going Back

Well, looks as though our house has been rented. Landlord and the (probable) new tenants just left. Guess we absolutely have to leave now.

The house is currently tidier than it has been in quite a while since we just did a dump run to get rid of the crap that had accumulated in our basement. It is the natural tendency of basements to attract and keep household detritus.

I'll be scheduling some on-site estimates by movers for later this week since I want to have a clear idea in mind of what we'll spend. I'm just not comfortable enough driving that far by myself so we're not going to go with a rental truck.

Plus, I want it to be an adventure, a special family road trip and that is best done in one vehicle. We'll be stopping to see some old friends along the way as well as see some sights. We decided against doing a big family trip, so we're going to make the move itself into a vacation. We'll be boarding the dog for a few nights then flying her to meet us. The cats and birds are coming in the vehicle with us. We have a cargo bag for the roof for our luggage, so everything's accounted for.

I have two more days of work (tomorrow and Tuesday) and then I get to just focus on preparing for the move. And relaxing. More relaxing than anything else. The bulk of the move pre-cleaning/organizing is done now so all I really need to do is pick away at the packing as time goes on.

I am so, so looking forward to relaxing for a few weeks. Bikingm, swimming, days at the beach by myself reading. Oh yeah, this is going to be awesome.

Now it's time to take my husband out to pick up his father's day gift (something we agreed to ahead of time) and then go out for supper.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Real Life Tetris

We've begun packing. 

The move is six weeks from today, but that time will go very quickly. I want to relax as much as possible during the next month and a half, so we're starting the packing quite heavily now. We have probably twenty boxes packed already. Anything we can do without for six weeks is being packed. The fact that we have people coming to look at the house on Sunday has accelerated that, but ultimately I'd like to leave only about six hours' worth of packing to be done in the last week before we leave. 

We are also getting rid of a lot of stuff. Old, broken-but-still-functional stuff that we've kept because it was free and we couldn't justify replacing it. We have set a budget for setting up the new house which allows for the purchase of some furniture. Second-hand, but nicer second hand stuff. 

I'll have an office and we will have a guest room, which already has some claims laid to it. The bedrooms for our kids will be a bit smaller. Our son currently has a double bed but he's expressed that he'd like something else, so his bed will become the guest bed and he'll get a new one.

Really looking forward to setting up my office. I've wanted dedicated study space for a while and it'll be nice to have a good sized desk I can actually use which isn't in the living room . It'll be nice to set everything up the way I want it and have space that is mine alone. Well, mine and the birds'. 

For the moment though, we're focusing on the first half of the move. I've joined the OMA and CMA and have found that there's a lot of discounts available. Apparently there's some special moving perk for OMA members so I've emailed the company in question about that. 

Bit by bit it's coming together. The move will be on us before we know it. 

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Green Indulgences

Food here tends to be a bit more expensive than elsewhere and even more affected by seasonal variations in pricing. In-season, local produce does tend to be cheaper here relative to non-local goods, but it's still, on the whole, pricier than elsewhere.

This means that buying healthy food is hard. Getting lean meats, high quality dairy, a wide variety of vegetables is hard for modest earners. Any sort of convenience food that isn't horrifically bad for you (because if you're subsisting on cheaper foods, odds are you probably work a weird schedule and can't cook regularly with any ease) is priced beyond reach for most people who live as we have for a long time. 

We've spent many years doing as good as we could on our relatively limited food budget. We cook a lot, which permits us to stretch our food dollars, but it's hard and we've always had to sort of make do with whatever we could get on sale. 

So one thing I have allowed since the LOC was confirmed was a bit of an increase in the food budget (about 25%) which I factored into my long term projections. Not to buy more food, but to buy better food. 

A couple weeks ago, we decided to do a bit of an experiment. As a one-time thing, we decided to just buy what we'd reasonably need for a week without other restrictions. The foods we wanted, even stuff we normally couldn't afford to get. 

We spent about double what we normally would and we bought a lot of vegetables plus lean pork, chicken breast, fish, some fruit, goat cheese, and so in. We bought one little 1.5 L thing of local ice cream because there was a buy one get one free thing (we still haven't finished these) as a treat but otherwise bought no 'junk' food or highly processed stuff. 

We didn't really think about it while we were shopping. We just bought what we wanted and we naturally gravitated towards the foods that are better for us. I came home from work yesterday and made bruschetta from fresh tomatoes to serve with the roast chorizo, pepper, and potato dish my husband made. Tonight, harvest salad and pork chops with apples. 

Of all the things we could have splurged on, I think fresh, whole foods are quite justifiable. Our grocery budget will be even more generous once we're living jn Hamilton where stuff tends to be cheaper. 

Also, despite his constantly demurring whenever I compliment him, my husband has become quite a fantastic cook, particularly recently. He reads this fairly regularly so I'm posting the compliment here so he has to listen. 

Saturday, 13 June 2015

Sponsorship and Long Term Planning

My province offers a sponsorship to medical students. Naturally, it's tied to an ROS. It has two basic structures:

- Sign in 2ed year. $10,000 signing bonus
- $40,000 each of 3rd and 4th year
- $10,000 each year of residency
Total: $110,000 sponsorship.
Comes with a 5 year ROS. Location of service decided by the Department of Health and Wellness.


- Sign in 3rd year. $20,000 signing bonus
- $40,000 in 4th year
- $10,000 each year of residency
Total: $80,000 sponsorship
Comes with a 4 year ROS. Location of service decided by the Department of Health and Wellness.

They have no information on how it would be treated for students in a 3 year program. I imagine I would either only have the second option open (and they would just let me do that a year early) or they would divide my program up into four 8 month blocks and consider each of those a year for the purposes of the agreement.

Because I have the LOC, I am not in a position where I must try to bring in funds during my training.

However.... if by next year I'm still leaning very heavily towards family and we are sure we want to come home then it would not be a bad idea to consider getting paid for what I'm already planning to do anyway. We're strongly considering going back to Ottawa for a few years or possibly overseas after residency, so that might change.

It would mean I'd graduate with only around $100k in debt vs the $180-$210k I currently have projected (that's LOC plus my provincial loans, which stay interest free throughout repayment and I can defer during residency so there's no point rolling them onto the LOC as I will with my CSL.) I already know of programs which will forgive significant portions of that, so I'm certainly not overly worried about paying it off, but it'd be nice.

As well, next year I will be able to apply for OSAP instead of my current provincial student assistance program because of a lovely little loophole - my husband will have been working and residing in Ontario for 12 months. Because so much of the Ontario assistance converts to a grant, and because being OSAP-eligible opens me up to a whooole lot more bursaries at the school, I will be doing that next year as a debt-reducing strategy.

I'm working on my long term financial projections and I've requested a meeting with a planner at MD Financial. One thing I need to get sorted out *now* is my life and disability insurance. Given my rather drastically increased future earning potential, I need to ensure that if something happens to me, my family will be left comfortable, not thrown right back to the barely-making-it that has been our norm for many years.

Lots of thinking to do. I have spreadsheets galore going on, and I've immersed myself in learning more about life insurance. I've usually ensured I'm covered through work-related plans (either my own or my husband's) but I want a standalone policy now.

Lots to do, lots to learn. And it's all just barely starting.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Memory Making

We're off to the drive-in theatre with the kids. Cheaper than going to a movie in theatres since we get two movies for $30 for all of us, convenient because the kids can talk and be noisy and it won't bother anyone. 

I might possibly be driving my husband nuts with all the photos I'm taking of the Island scenery. This one I took during our drive into town this morning. 

Stopped by the community centre on my way home yesterday at dusk and took a pic of the field behind it (yes, those are dairy cows. Holsteins.)

It is hard to describe how beautiful it is here this time of year. Down the road towards the bridge, it looks like photos I've seen of the Scottish highlands; rolling green hills dotted by the shadows of clouds covered with sheep and goats and cattle all grazing and living their lives in the open spaces. 

I'm going to have to spend some time finding the beautiful places in and around Hamilton. I didn't really get a chance to see any while I was there considering I had less than 24 hours. There's quite a large amount of green space near Mac so I'm going to have to spend my free time walking around to find beautiful places. 

There are some everywhere. One of my favourite spots in Ottawa is the roof of the Rideau Centre. It is (was? Haven't been in a while) full of trees and grass and bushes and it's a lovely place to go eat with your friends. 

There's just a whole new set of fantastic places to discover.

When I have time, anyway. 

Thursday, 11 June 2015


My replacement has been hired, so I'll be training her. She seems pretty bright and capable so hopefully the training will go well. I've agreed to stay on another few days - probably just 2-4 days more - just to ensure things transfer over smoothly and because I'm not entirely sure what I'll do with myself if I go from full time to nothing.

No work tomorrow, though. I have the day off as I have oral surgery. I also am out two mornings next week because I'm going to get the first step of my TB test done.

Our public health resources are somewhat limited and they only have so many appointments. Because of all the nursing students needing theirs, the office in town is booked until August so I have to go to a town about 45 minutes away to get it done and then to get it read two days later. Step 2 will be right at the start of July.

Fortunately, it turns out the public health unit in North Bay had my vaccination records up to age 15 (which is cool because I left there when I was 9. Yay EHR!) which is saving me a lot of hassle.

Bit by bit, my paperwork is all coming together. Everything is falling into place. As hard as it still is to believe that I actually got into medical school, it's gradually becoming more real.

Today, I was standing by my boss' desk taking a note on a small pad. A colleague came in and she told me "Just now, seeing you standing there, I could just envision you writing a prescription while talking to a patient."

Lots of people who have been cheering me on are celebrating with me. I'm called 'doc' at least a couple times a day. But that comment meant a great deal to me because it's hard for me to really accept that the dream is becoming reality. To be told that someone else can see me in that role just made my day.

Unrelated to the rest of my post, I'm reading The Secret Language of Doctors. I like a lot of what Dr Goldman produces, though not everything. I was already familiar with a lot of the medical slang in the book, but the anecdotes and analyses are interesting. It's an enjoyable read, anyway. Next up is House of God which I have somehow managed to not read yet, even though I've known about it since I was little.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Pup Tales

One of the things that makes me most sad about the move to Hamilton, besides leaving our friends and the Island we love, is that my dog loses a lot of her freedom. My pup is a country dog. Since she was a puppy, she's been able to run and play in the fields and the woods that surround our home. She plays frisbee in our huge yard and ball down the field. We take her to the beach and she brings her frisbee and trots along beside us then drops it at the feet of anyone who will play with her. 

She isn't used to fences, to being confined. She has never once been in a fenced yard. She has walked on a leash less than five times in her life. To make things easier once we get there, I've started training her with a head collar and she is, as always, learning quickly but it's clear she does not like being leashed. 

She's losing her easy freedom and endless open spaces for at least a third of what remains of her life. 

I'm sad for her. My kids are losing these things too, but there is a park across the street from our new place where they can go and run and be free like they are here, it'll just be less wild. But dogs aren't allowed off leash except at the dog parks. I don't know if they're allowed at the beach but I dearly hope so. 

I hope she'll adapt easily. I'll certainly be getting out of the house and walking her more to make up for the lack of running time. It'll be good for both of us, I think. She can be my walking buddy. It'll be nice to have sidewalks. Looking at the bright side, I suppose. 

Monday, 8 June 2015

Party! Soonish.

I've long had an anxiety thing about having people in my home. It's something I've been gradually working towards getting better about since I want my house to be a place where people can come hang out. I intended to have a barbecue for friends last summer yet never managed to get around to it. But I've been saying since day one that I'll have a party for friends when I get into med school and I very much intend to make that happen.

My husband and I are not highly social people. We're not anti-social, but we are essentially introverts. That we've made the friends we have is something of a surprise to both of us. Our friends have been very important supports to us throughout the last few years and I think it's important to thank them for having been part of all of this with us, which I why I really want to have this party.

So we're going to have a big ol' kitchen party before we leave. We'll feed and beer (to beer is a verb, ask any Maritimer) our friends and enjoy a night in fantastic company before we leave.

Unfortunately, with Mac's schedule, we won't get to come home much over the next three years and by the time we get home, a lot of our friends will have dispersed. We won't come back to the same people. It's a bit bittersweet to think about. It's the nature of the Island that the young leave to find opportunity elsewhere, but it changes things. 

And there's no saying we'll come home for (or immediately after) my residency so it may be a very long time before we're all even in the same province at one time again. 

So I'm going to shove aside my discomfort with having people in my home and welcome my friends into my home to enjoy their company together. 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Next Steps

So, we found a place. Lease is signed, deposit placed. It's right by a big park and it has almost all of the features we wanted. Not all, but we'd be looking for months if we tried to find a place with everything and we just don't have that much time. It has space, which is one thing that is important to us.

The yard is smaller than our current one, which will be hard for our dog to get used to since she can't just go running in the nearby park. We'll have to take her to a dog park. Here, it's pretty common for people to just bring their dogs to the nearest green space and let them off-leash to run and play, but apparently there are leash laws in Hamilton. Our dog is a country dog; she has almost never had to wear a leash. The only time she's on any sort of lead is when we put her out unsupervised which is only for a few minutes at a time.

Once I finish work in a couple weeks, part of my move prep is going to teach her to walk on a leash. She does not have good leash manners because we've never needed to teach her, but she's a bright dog and should be able to pick it up pretty quickly.

I have a list of things to do as soon as I stop work. The serious move preparation doesn't start until then. I'll be getting a number of moving estimates before I pick a company. We're probably going to go with a mover instead of renting a truck because I just don't feel safe driving for that long on my own. I can do a 4-5 hour drive easily, but 17 hours (plus breaks) is a bit much for me. Even split up over two days, we're talking 10-ish hours on the road (including breaks) each day which is a lot to ask of the kids. It's easier for them to do it in one go.

It's been seven and a half years since we made the move home, but my husband is the only one who drove. Our son and I flew. It doesn't feel right to fly this time. I want the kids to get to see the land change as we go, to appreciate how lovely this country is. It's harder to do from the air.

The detailed things are starting to come together. Making a move of this magnitude takes a lot of work and preparation, but we'll get there. At least now we know exactly where 'there' is.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Bit Sized Input

We were on our way home yesterday and I mentioned to my husband that someone who commented on my blog (sluckettg whose blog I will be reading regularly since it's awesome) recommended a realtor (thank you!) who I've now been in touch with.

I've gotten so much help and 'met' so many people through this medium. It's really been quite a fun adventure, and I'm pretty open to people in my life about the fact that I write here. My kids know about it.

So when I mentioned that I'd gotten the recommendation from here, my son piped up from the back and asked "how many people read our blog now?" I told him. He goes "wow. I'm a little bit famous."

Made my day.

We may have found another property, but we're waiting to hear back. I'm going to keep working with the realtor until we have a lease in hand, though.

I went to see my doctor to start my paperwork. I called and made the appointment as soon as I was acceopted, but it can take a while to get in. My vaccine records are spread all over the country and my little booklet was lost years ago (my parents say they gave it to me, I am certain they did not) so I have to do a bunch of serology and may have to re-do a few series. Doesn't bother me. I certainly have no problem making sure I am doing everything possible to protect myself and patients.

I was particularly happy to read on the front of the form that they do not allow philosophical exemptions from the vaccination requirements.

My doctor was really lovely to talk to today. She's leaving at the end of the month (she's been a long-term locum) which works out, I suppose. She's really a great family doctor, even if it does take a while to get in. She listens, she explains, and she doesn't talk down to or talk at me.

I have nine days of work left since I have surgery next Friday. I don't know yet if I'll actually be dropping to part time after that - it's up to my boss. At the moment, I'm counting down the days because I am REALLY anxious to get back to the pool. I haven't had time to swim lately and I'm feeling it, particularly since I have to spend most of the day sitting down which I do not like. 

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Forbidden Furred and Feathered Friends

We found a brand new place for rent. It's pretty much the only circumstances under which we'd consider renting sight unseen. It met almost all of our requirements, so we decided to take a chance. After confirming a few things, we submitted a rental app.

Landlord won't rent to us because of our pets.

A landlord can't forbid pets in Ontario. Right in the residential tenancies act it says that 'no pets' clauses in leases are void. I do not have to disclose that we have pets. I could sign a lease that states pets are prohibited and tell the landlord immediately afterward that we have animals and they would not be allowed to terminate the agreement based on that. But because we are responsible pet owners and up front about our animals, we're turned away.

It is frustrating to, essentially, be punished for honesty, Friends suggested we lie - but we won't. I'd rather not start a potentially 3 year business arrangement with dishonesty. I know many landlords have been burned by irresponsible tenants with pets, but this is what they should use references for - to make sure we actually are responsible.

I'll be in contact with one of my commenters (hi!) who said she has a realtor recommendation for me. We're getting into crunch time for finding a place. We need to rent a place ASAP so that we have an address because that will determine what schools our kids go to.

It's important to start transition planning for special needs services as far ahead of time as possible. While school registration there isn't until the last week of August (which is absurd, but them's the rules) I've been in contact with someone at the board who will help us get started on navigating services for my son.

I'm a tad frustrated at the moment, because the property was lovely and I was really hoping we'd get it. It fit almost all of our criteria and so I'm a bit sad.

Just have to keep looking.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Checking Things off the List

I bought my computer for school. I've read a bunch of reviews and decided for sure on the Surface Pro 3. It works as laptop, desktop, and tablet and that's really what I need.

There was a bundle package thing on at Microsoft's web store and so I got our local Best Buy to match the education pricing (plus an additional 10% of the difference off) for the tablet, dock, and keyboard, and include the free case Microsoft was offering. All told, it saved me about 12% off the new price for everything, which is a pretty decent savings for this type of product.

I have literally never once spent even half this amount of money on something for myself. Even my wedding ring didn't cost that much. 

It makes me a little scared to use Steven (my devices get names.) I'm typing this on it and I've gotten Office set up and played around with OneNote (which is going to come in handy!) I found a good PDF annotation app so I think I'm probably set up for school now.

Tomorrow, a fantastically kind classmate is checking out a property for us. If it's still available and checks out okay, we'll probably take it. That will get a bunch of other things rolling. Getting my son's services set up is a big priority and we can't do that until we have an address and know what school he's going to attend. I've been in contact with the school board there already and the lady I spoke with there is fantastic so I'm glad to have some stuff getting sorted.

I've decided to work a bit longer than originally intended, but only part time and only for another 3-4 weeks. There are some things I want to see through before I leave, and doing so part time allows me to get a good start on the move stuff and get some relaxation time as well. I do not do well with idleness so dropping to just two days a week is an ideal option. Also, it's really hard to give up earning money before I absolutely have to, even though I know that the bit more money I'll earn isn't that much in the grand scheme of things.

It's enough extra that it pays for Steven the Surface, anyway and that makes it slightly less terrified to use my new toy educational tool.

Monday, 1 June 2015


There's an interesting phenomenon that seems to happen when people find out you are going to be a doctor. I saw it a bit when I told people I was a premed, but it has increased significantly since. 

There is some sort of shift that happens in others' minds and you're immediately considered part of the profession even though, for me, my only claim to bring such is an email congratulating me. I've had people ask me medical questions and I haven't even started school yet. 

What is really interesting and really helpful, at least I think so, is that people are telling me their stories. I love hearing peoples' stories and so many people have stories about doctors that they love to share. Good and bad. Some horrifying. There are lessons I can take from a lot of them, things I need to remember. 

Many people who have a very difficult time accessing health care here have asked me if I'm coming home after med school. Lots asking me if I'm going to go into family med. I've had more than a couple of people tell me they plan to be my patients (and I'm not sure they're joking. 5 years to get a family doctor isn't that odd here.)

People are already trusting me, already looking at how I plan to help the community, and all I have is an acceptance letter. It's a bit intimidating. 

It's just fascinating how there's this shift in how people seem to perceive me even though I haven't done anything yet. I think maybe it's because a medical student is someone they see in scrubs and following residents around at the hospital, someone they consider part of their health care system. They may have had a medical student in the room during very sensitive procedures, because a portion of the trust placed in doctors is shared with those under their tutelage. 

It's making me very aware of how careful I should be in how I act and how I talk to people. I've been told that a doctor doesn't really stop beig a doctor when the white coat comes off. That it's not just a job. This is something I understood ahead of time, but I didn't really think about the fact that it could start before the white coat even goes on in the first place. 

It's important because even though I haven't started med school yet, that other people see me as part of the profession means that what I do reflects on the profession, even if in a very small way at this stage in the game.

Gives me lots to think about, that's for sure. 

Unrelated: I think I might be renaming the blog Red Stethoscope Diaries, since being handed a red stethoscope was essentially my 'aha' moment when it comes to medicine. Still deciding though.