Monday, 31 August 2015

Actual Day One

Mac has a really interesting program. So far, I think I'm in love with it. The learning is primarily student-directed, but we have tutors to guide us if we need to be brought into line. Lectures (officially "large group session") are testable, but not mandatory so if something comes up those mornings, I can skip them if necessary provided I ensure I cover the material on my own. The mandatory things are evaluations (obviously,) tutorials, professional competences, and clinical skills. 

Anatomy is not required, but strongly recommended and I'll definitely be attending. I may have to wear a respirator because apparently there is no latex-free policy with the labs. Or the ORs. The anatomy instructor seemed rather perturbed that I have this allergy; he seemed quite concerned about me doing surgery as there are latex items in ORs. I already knew this; I can get around this by use of antihistamines, careful hygiene to avoid getting any powder near my eyes or airways, and using a respirator to prevent inhaling particles if I'm around much latex. 

I've been testing myself over the last couple years to see how much I can tolerate. I managed to eat breakfast in a smallish restaurant that had lots of balloons in it recently. I needed my puffer and my tongue got a bit itchy, but the reaction didn't continue past that, so I think I should be good to avoid any major reactions during my career.

Today was day one of tutorial. I have a really nice group and today I sort of had to put their niceness to the test. I had to bring my kids with me because my husband was in the ER. Several classmates did offer but my tutor said I could bring them so I did. It was... suboptimal, that's for sure. 

We definitely need to find an emergency sitter for days like this. 

Good thing I forced my husband to go to the hospital. He was going to just wait things out but as soon as I checked him out I knew he had to go. Yay for first aid training and being a huge nerd who reads a lot.  He's okay, but needed to be seen for sure. There were two possibilities - one would have necessitated immediate surgery, the other possibility required immediate treatment anyway. I told him before he went what I thought it could and what I thought they might do to assess because I wanted him to know why I was insisting he go. I was right on all counts - the possibilities I thought were likely were what they investigated, and it turned out to be one of them. 

While I realize that I am quite literally a day one med student and my level of clinical knowledge is basically microscopic, I am hoping that the fact that I have some idea of what to expect will help me make sense of electives early on. I don't want to be completely confused while following doctors around!

So, fortunately, my husband will be fine and I got through day one of real med school despite a literal family emergency. Tomorrow all I have is procomp in the morning and then registering the kids for school in the afternoon. 

Of course I brought them to the Atrium. They loved it. 

Sunday, 30 August 2015

In the (Future) Doctor's Office

We finished my office today and it's fantastic. I have my desk and two bookshelves so I unpacked the books I've kept boxed for years. Beloved books, like old friends brought 'round again. I also unpacked my old papers. My original writings from childhood, the journal I kept during my pregnancy with my son, things that matter a great deal to me. We just haven't had space to have bookcases, and now we do. I have two book cases in the little closet off my office. One's full already; I have a few more boxes to unpack still.

I have my Surface's dock and my monitor set up on the desk and I've already done my readings for tomorrow's tutorial on them. It's a perfect setup for studying.

Right now I just need a couch/sofa bed/futon for this room. We want it to be suitable as a guest room too. A friend of mine from back home is visiting us in December so that will be our first use of it. It's suboptimal since I won't be able to use my desk when we have visitors, but my Surface is so portable that I'll still have full computing access even if someone's sleeping in here.

It's nice and quiet in here. I can't hear anything from upstairs, though the kids are in bed now.

I have wanted my own office since I started school because I find it far easier to focus when I have dedicated space. My little desk - which is now in my son's room - just wasn't enough.

So now I have books, and my big desk, and a big old leather chair. And I'll have a couch on which I can curl up and read until I fall asleep.

The one last thing I need is a big whiteboard for working out flowcharts. I'll probably get a huge roll of the stick-on whiteboard stuff and put it on the wall behind the door.

Now I have my own little academic haven at home. It's telling of how far we've come that the room that is now my dedicated studying space is larger than the bedroom my husband and I shared when we got married.

Life is good.

Friday, 28 August 2015


I have not used a desktop computer at home for years, though I did at work. I knew it'd be important to have something desktop-like for med school which is why I bought the Surface Pro 3 and the dock that goes with it.

I didn't actually have a monitor to use at home though until today when I bought a used 24" monitor from another student. I can confidently say that the SP3 is handling everything just fine. I have the monitor and USB mouse hooked up to the dock and I'm using the typecover keyboard since I couldn't find the dongle for my wireless keyboard. It's a perfect setup. This will be absolutely perfect for school - one device for handwriting my notes, for typing as with a laptop, and to function as a desktop for larger file editing. I know lots of med students are still in the market for a laptop or tablet or whatever; I would very much recommend the Surface Pro (although the 4 is coming out soon, so you might want to wait for that!)

Related: today, I was at Best Buy to get an adaptor I needed for the monitor. Because I pretty much don't use a purse during the school year - as I'm horrible about forgetting to transfer important things when I switch back and forth with a backpack - I was wearing my new, purple backpack at the store. I was browsing when someone greeted me and extended his hand. I was confused, but shook his hand and returned the greeting.

He smiled and introduced himself as a classmate. He'd seen my bag and he and his wife (and their adorable little baby!) came to say 'hi.' Another parent! I'm always thrilled to meet the other parents in my class. Apparently he lives pretty close to me and is in my tutorial group - even better!

Part of the intent of the backpacks is to help us find our peers no matter where we go. I know when I see someone on campus with a purple bag that they are one of my classmates. I know that the people with green bags are our upperclassmates and I know that those with orange bags (not that they are on campus anymore since they're in clerkship now) are graduating next year. It is incredibly convenient to have this quick mode of identification.

It leads to chance encounters like today. I've spent five days on campus, around my classmates, but it was in the tablet accessories aisle of Best Buy that I met for the first time someone I'll be working closely with for the next three months.

Hopefully I'll have the chance to attend Ontario Med Students Weekend and will have many other such chance encounters.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Formality in Action

We went. We chatted with people (mostly I did - my husband is pretty quiet) and then there was very loud club music - decidedly not formal - so we left since that's not really our thing and we couldn't talk to people anymore. 

My classmates are generally quite nice. I think this will be a good few years. 

So yes, I took your guys' advice and I went to socialize. We found a sitter thanks to the kindness of a classmate reaching out to a friend. 

We are heading home now. Tomorrow is the last day of orientation week and all I really need to attend is my mask fitting; next week, the real work starts. 

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Finally My Own

They are very purple. 

Been waiting three years for this bag. It's actually really nice and high quality. 

Back to talks. Discussion of infection control. 

Favourite Spot and Matters of Privilege

I think I found my favourite spot on campus so far. We have trees - 15'+ tall trees and bushes and grasses - in the front sunroom (atrium? Solarium? I have no idea what this room is actually called) and there's a waterfall. So there's the sound of running water and the smell of earth and so much light. It's going to be a fantastic place to study.

I like this room and I have a feeling I'll be here a lot. It's a perfect little oasis in a building where I will find myself so stressed. 

Yesterday was a short day; there were sessions in the morning but they were not mandatory and they are available on Friday too so I didn't attend. We went to register the kids for school but it apparently isn't until next week, so I know what I'm doing next Tuesday afternoon after procomp. I actually ended up losing pretty much the entire evening as I felt quite sick. I fell asleep at 5pm and slept until 7:30am. Feel fine now, though. It was weird. 

The only things I attended yesterday were the talks in the afternoon on inclusivity, diversity, intersectionality, and professionalism. Very good topics of which I am very conscious, but which are always good to discuss so openly. 

That reminds me. Am emerg resident who has been kind enough to comment here and who who was helpful with our move to Hamilton, who blogs at This Liminal Space, wrote a fantastic piece on privilege recently. I hadn't read her blog in a couple weeks but a friend of mine - who I know didn't usually read her blog - actually shared the piece on Facebook so I saw it that way. 

Sluckettg*'s piece The Narrative of Privilege is thought provoking and I find myself, after reading it, also hoping I won't lose the compassion that comes so easily to me now for those who suffer, no matter whether their suffering is a matter of choice or circumstance, because ultimately our choices are all constructed from the materials of our experience, as she illustrates. My home province has very significant issues with addictions and "diseases of poverty" which I absolutely can't lose sight of or allow myself to become jaded about. I've posted about it before, and in light of yesterday's talks and the rather fantastic piece by sluckettg, I think it's something I need to ensure I reflect on more often. 

Yup, going to study here a lot. 

*I use usernames only for other bloggers unless they comment as something else.

Monday, 24 August 2015

My First Day of Med School

Years in coming, and today I finally headed off to med school. My husband did, indeed, take a photo of me like we do with the kids on their first day of school.

The day went well. I tend to be slow to warm up to large groups of people, but I did chat with several and I largely avoided making a fool out of myself at any point (accomplishment!) I do tend to natter a bit when nervous, but I think overall it was fine. Met several people who have read this blog (haha, still freaks me out a little. Hi guys!) and twice met people who didn't know my real name, but knew me from PM101. This tells me I probably spend too much time online.

Big groups aren't really my thing, and there was over 200 people in the room all morning and at lunch, then we were in groups of ~20 for the remainder of the day which wasn't too bad.

I have my schedule, mostly. There's one part where we have to contact our preceptors to schedule our clinical skills sessions.

We have Large Group Session Monday and Friday mornings. The times vary, and attendance isn't mandatory but it is recommended. I probably will go - some of the topics look really useful to have in a lecture setting. It's not 'technically' lecture, but they are educational talks in an auditorium and pretty much every student ever would consider that to be a lecture.

Professional Competencies looks interesting. It seems to be primarily the social sciences part of the curriculum; social determinants of health, ethics, soft skills. Some students don't like it, apparently, but some do. I think I'll probably enjoy it, particularly coming from a different background than most of my peers.

Anatomy is Wednesday afternoons. Also not required (surprised me) but I'll be attending anyway since I actually enjoy anatomy.

My tutorial group is Monday and Thursday in the evenings. It's not ideal, but it means I have lots of time during the day to do research for tutorials. I actually only have something scheduled one afternoon a week - anat on Wednesdays.

It was nice to get our group assignments right off; makes things easier. They're people I'll be working with closely for months. My ProComp group will be the same throughout preclerkship so hopefully we mesh fairly well.

Everyone I talked to today was very nice. Lots of very outgoing people from some fascinating backgrounds. People from all over the place. Lots of people from the GTA but I suppose that makes sense, given the location of Mac.

Overall, a good first day. I don't actually have to be there until 1 tomorrow so we're going out and registering the kids for school first thing tomorrow then coming home to finish my office.

Ready for my big first day!

My First Day of School

It's nearly 7am and I'm up and about. No need to grab breakfast at home since I'll be having something at school. 

It's my first day of med school!

I've been waiting most of my life for this day, and I've been working hard for it the last three years, and here it is already. 

Time for a shower then we need to drag the kids out of bed because my husband is driving me to school. 

I'm both very excited and very nervous. 

Saturday, 22 August 2015

One Day More

This time tomorrow, I'll have my clothes for day one of medical school laid out. I have no idea what I'm going to wear; apparently we're having our photos taken (not yay) and we have a nice breakfast with the faculty so... no sweet clue. I'm probably going to buy something since my selection of clothes between 'very dressy' and 'super casual' is virtually non-existent. 

My husband joked today that he's going to have to take a picture of me before I head off to my first day of medical school, like we do with the kids. So not happening. 

A bunch of my classmates are apparently getting together tomorrow night, but I don't think I'll go. I'm not really the 'meet up at a bar' sort, much as I'm aware that limits my socialization. I'd rather spend my last night before the beginning of a very crazy three years at home, with my kids and husband, watching movies and munching on popcorn.

Even though my first 'med student' thing is less than 36 hours away, I don't know that I really feel like a med student yet. Maybe I will when I have my stethoscope and finally start doing electives. Maybe I never will. What does it mean to feel like a med student anyway? 

O week starts out with a faculty welcome breakfast on Monday morning, followed by an overview of the program and then the Dean's luncheon. We have MMI-esque rotations after that, which is where we do all the things that would involve annoyingly long waits - administrative paperwork, fittings, ID badge, etc. - but we do it in small groups, rotating through the necessary stations. I think that's a really fantastic way to do it. Limit waiting time, get 208 students through all the necessary steps as streamlined as possible. That's all we have on Monday.

Tuesday morning I actually don't have anything since I scheduled my mask fitting for Friday (there were two blocks of time during which we could schedule those.) So we're going to register the kids for school Tuesday morning. That reminds me - I need to dig out their vaccination records.

Then apparently we have lunch first thing Tuesday. Then there's some lectures on important topics followed by some musical performance.

Wednesday - BACKPACKS! and a carnival. And food. They're planning to feed us a lot, apparently.

Thursday is kind of the typical 'here's what you need to know' stuff, and a class photo. The formal is that night. Still haven't found a sitter and I'm getting very worried, considering it's in five days. We might not be able to go and I will be very disappointed if that's the case. I've been looking for a sitter for almost three weeks and nothing has panned out yet even though multiple people are asking around for me.  

Friday I have my mask fitting, plus there's drop-in sessions, interest group presentations, and we're going to a trampoline place in Oakville. 

Time to head to bed, though. Trying to get my sleep schedule realigned so that I can get used to having to be up and going first thing in the morning again. 

Friday, 21 August 2015

I love the zoo.

I first went to the Toronto Zoo when I was about my son's age, I think. I've had a lifelong love of animals and conservation, so it's always been a place I've liked quite a bit. I'd follow the news of what major exhibits or what conservation programs were going on at the Toronto Zoo.

Of course, we bought a membership almost as soon as we moved here and we've gone twice. We'll be going many more times over the year, I'm sure. It's a bit of a drive (over an hour) but very worth it.

Today was just fantastic though. I go all touristy and take a ton of photos while we're there, so this post is purely for me to post a bunch of zoo photos because I can. It's my blog. Not everything needs to be medicine related, anyway.

Who doesn't love cheetahs?

I absolutely love butterflies. There were so many inside the pavillion it was just amazing. 

Hammerkop! I love these guys. The bird was so playful.

I like shiny things, I do not deny it.


Absolutely gorgeous Sumatran tiger!

Orangutans are just amazing and she was so lovely. 

Arctic wolf - my son's favourite. 

This is me most of the summer. I feel the polar bear's pain.

Przewalski's horse! The evolutionary history of these is really incredible. I recommend looking it up if you're at all interested in equines. 

Red panda!

Snow leopard. :)

I can't promise I won't post more pictures from the zoo. It's one of my favourite attractions in the country. Plus the kids love it so it's a great way to spend the day. 


Today is my husband's and my ninth anniversary. It's hard to believe we've been married this long. I don't feel old enough to have been married almost a decade, but here we are. Nine years in, and finally making progress towards our goals. 

We aren't doing anything terribly special. We're going to the formal next week so I suppose that will be our "going out" for our anniversary. It's close enough. We still don't have a sitter - it's hard to find one when you just moved somewhere - so I'm getting concerned we won't be able to attend, but it won't be the end of the world if we can't. 

Today we're taking the kids back to the zoo. Or we will be, once the traffic eases a bit because this is ridiculous. 

I enjoy the zoo as much as they do. We bought a membership since it cost the same as just two trips for our family an we knew we'd be going more than once considering how much we enjoy this sort of thing. We're planning a trip to the Ontario Sciece Centre too since the province made "fun passes" available to families in Ontario which means we get the kids' admission for free.

At the moment, I need to go settle down the bickering in the back seat. If you ever have more than one child, invest in a soundproof, opaque barrier for the back seat of the car to save your sanity. 

We saw the pandas last time we were there. 

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Scouting About

When I was very young, my family was pretty involved in Guides and Scouts. By the time I got old enough for Brownies, though, they weren't and I didn't get the opportunity to be as involved as my siblings had.

However, I still think overall they are good programs for kids and Guides and Scouts Canada do not suffer the same sort of discriminatory nonsense that their American counterparts have. My daughter is old enough to start Guides as a Spark, though it looks more like Scouts would probably be more her thing, which is great because Scouts is co-ed.

My one hangup is that Scouts (not Guides) is still a somewhat religious organization - the children are required to pledge a "duty to God." While the literature states they aren't required to believe in God to join, it does require that they have some form of personal spirituality.

My children are not being brought up religious. I have my personal faith, but I do not raise my children with it because I view religion as a very personal thing that cannot be decided by a parent for their child. My husband is an atheist. My kids will believe - or not believe - what they choose when they are of an age to decide what feels right to them. I answer questions about religion honestly with as little bias as possible as I was raised by a very ecumenically-minded minister and have a very thorough grounding in world religions and religious history.

As it is now, my daughter does not seem to express any sort of belief in the supernatural. Children don't really seem to spontaneously generate a belief in a higher power if they aren't told that one exists. My son has grown into quite the little atheist and I've had to have talks with him about not telling other children that he thinks their beliefs are silly. He can lack tact, by times, and doesn't fully appreciate that religious matters can be inflammatory.

So, I can't say for sure that my kids do have any sort of personal spirituality. They are raised with an understanding of the history and beliefs of the people from whom they descend. We celebrate the seasons, not religious festivals.

It makes me wonder, even though the programs do have a lot to offer, whether scouting would be suitable for my kids. I'd like for them to have activities like this to participate in, but I just really don't know if they'll feel welcome. 

Tuesday, 18 August 2015


The excitement for orientation week is ramping up. A week from today, I'll have my purple backpack. I don't know when I'll get my stethoscope and diagnostic tools since my province's health ministry and medical society provide those to me. But I'll soon enough have the physical tools that will launch me into the most intensive phase of mental tool acquisition.

I am very excited, but also pensive.

Prior to O week, we need to complete some online training modules. I'm almost done, but the last few have really driven home that my life and responsibilities are different now.

When reading about evacuation procedure, it really clicked that now I'm one of the responders. My job in an emergency is no longer "get yourself to safety and get out of the way." My job is now to be one of the people whose way I used to be instructed to stay out of. Now (well, soon) I'm one of the people who is charged with the care and protection of others.

To a degree, this is already my job because I have children. My responsibility is for more than my own life. But I instinctively take care of my children. When we had a house fire, every cell in my body drove me through the smoke and screaming alarms to make sure my children were safe. I am hard wired by eons of evolution to do everything in my power to protect my children, no matter the risk to me.

That unconscious quelling of one's own survival instinct does not necessarily extend to unrelated people. I hope it will, but I can't guarantee that in an emergency my first thought won't be of my own safety. Though, of course, my second thought will be to my responsibilities towards the people under my care. I know that I am not the sort of person to be a bystander in a tough situation - I am the type to act, and I have proved that when necessary. But that's different than remaining calm in an emergency situation to ensure the care of others first. That's different than going back into an evacuating building to get more non-ambulatory people.

It's different.

The responsibilities of the profession are not things I was ever unaware of. I know it is my responsibility now to help care for other people and that to do so is associated with some risk towards me. I suppose I'm just thinking on it a little more heavily at the moment, as these modules are doing a very good job of impressing on me the responsibilities I'm taking on.

The excitement and silliness of O week is just days away, but it is an overture to a very serious three years ahead.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Inconvenient Amnesia

The last time we finished a room I said "I don't care what it costs, next time we will pay for someone to do the seamfilling. I am never mudding a room again."

Then someone came back, said it'd be $500-$600 to mud my office and we promptly said 'nope!'

We're most of the way through the first coat and I am remembering my words of four years ago.

I hate hate hate hate mudding. 

Die seams, die. 

Mud and Clothing

We started work on my office yesterday and mudding starts today. We were going to do it yesterday but the power was off I. Our neighbourhood and we were under a heat warning, so we left the house for somewhere that still had air conditioning. Spent an hour and a bit at the gym, then spent most of the rest of the day wandering the mall. 

My kids are still amazed by the mall. They'd never seen the Disney Store before. My daughter is in love with H&M and she's found her true calling in shopping. We've started shopping for school clothes (three weeks for them!) and my son - who has grown four sizes in the last year and is now 4'7" which is ridiculous for an 8 year old - has turned into his father when it comes to buying clothing. Grabs a few shirts, says "that'll fit" and gets it in two colours. I asked what kind of jeans he wanted and he shrugged. My daughter wanted to buy most of the store. 

We have to go to the schools next week to register the kids for school. I don't yet know if we're going to put them in after school care or not. Probably, until we know for sure what my husband's schedule will be. It's kind of pointless for us to pay $800 a month in after school care for my husband to work 10-15 more hours a week. If he can get a 25-30 hour a week job during the hours the kids are at school, we'll have the same income as we would after child care expenses and it'll be more relaxed for him since I'm going to be so busy with school. 

Right now, I need to go finish my nice, tranquil office space so that I have somewhere to retreat to work on said school stuff since I start medical school in one week!

Friday, 14 August 2015


At the moment, I'm feeling rather like crap. I just had a couple shots the other day, one of which was a live attenuated vaccine, and I'm reacting rather uncomfortably. Neither my husband nor kids had this reaction after they got it, but I've now had a huge wheal, fever, and general malaise following both shots. At least this was the last one, and the couple days of discomfort is nothing to the risks of actually catching that particular illness at my age. 

School starts a week from Monday and I have a laundry list of things to do. We need to finish unpacking, mudding and painting my office and putting down flooring. I want my office space to be nicely outfitted before school starts because I'm definitely not going to have time to do it afterwards. My little office is just off the laundry room in the basement, which is perfect. Out of the way, where the kids won't bug me while I'm working. 

With just over a week to go before O week starts, things are being finalized. I have to finish up my online health and safety learning modules. Because of my asthma and latex allergy I have to see a doctor before my mask fitting because part of it can trigger a reaction. 

I have my dress for the formal (still need shoes and a bag) and my husband bought his suit yesterday. It's been sent for alterations so we'll have it back next week. It's his first ever suit - he'd never previously owned anything more dressy than nice slacks and a dress shirt. Because he just got his hair cut very short and he's a big guy, he looks rather like Vincent D'Onofrio's Wilson Fisk in the suit. We both got a giggle out of that. 

How easy it is for men, though. Walk into one store, get an entire outfit. From socks and undergarments to formalwear and accessories. Women can't do that. 

I don't know what jewellery and shoes to wear, though. My dress is black. I'm thinking probably my pear cut aquamarine drop earrings and matching necklace, though the pendant is rather small compared to the neckline of the dress. Think I might need something a little more dramatic. My wedding ring is rose gold and diamond, though I have several white gold rings I could substitute to match the necklace and earrings. I have a variety of pendants I can change out but nothing terribly dramatic. Most are everyday wear. I have my pearls, and matching earrings, but they're only 18" - would probably not seem enough for the dress. 

As for shoes, I have no idea. Dress is black and floor length so I need some height but I do not do well on heels. I'm guessing closed toe because it's formal and evening, though it is summer, and I should probably coordinate them with my bag. Silvery, maybe?

I rarely think so much about clothing. But I have a fever and I'm feeling slightly mentally slow today as a result so this is an easy enough topic. Suggestions for this fashion-deficient blogger would be most appreciated.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


I take metformin not due to diabetes (definitely not diabetic) but because it's pretty much first line treatment for PCOS and reduces my risk of developing diabetes. I hate it. Absolutely hate the damn drug, but I also REALLY don't want to become diabetic and the risk for women with PCOS is very high. 

It doesn't usually cause hypoglycaemia, but if you're not careful about planning eating it can. 

I made the mistake of going to the gym on an empty stomach and I almost passed out when we got home. Slurred speech, dizzy, fuzzy vision, staggering around the kitchen. Really annoying. Fortunately we had a bar of chocolate on hand for just such an occasion and I had a couple pieces and now I feel fine. 

But metformin sucks and I wish there were options that didn't suck, but I need to take it to prevent something even worse. 

School starts in eleven days, and I'm feeling rather nervous. As dumb as it sounds, I already know I'm going to be the only fat person in my class and I really, really hate standing out.

I know that when people look at me they don't see someone who exercises regularly and tries to feed her family well on a budget. When we got our gym memberships the manager goes "you're taking the first step towards good health!" No, lady, I fight tooth and nail to stay relatively healthy within the hard limits imposed by my biology. I swim regularly, walk every day, and I am even getting back into biking. I quit smoking. I manage my medications and my asthma. I watch out for my mental health. Literally my size is the only thing about my health status that isn't managed to most doctors' satisfaction.  

Going to a gym like this is the *last* step because my husband wanted to start exercising too and we finally live somewhere with a gym that has child minding. Now we can go together. 

Just because I'm fat doesn't mean I don't know anything about health or how to be healthy. I face challenges most people don't which make things harder for me. I am not stupid or lazy. 

But when most people look at me, all they see is someone they think doesn't care about her health, when my health has actually been a central focus of my entire life. 

So in less than two weeks, I'll start school and stand out, in a bad way, in a group of 208, and I hope that they won't be so quick to judge me. 

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Bit of a Bumpkin

Of my 28 years on the planet, I have lived in a large city for 10, and that was the ten years in Ottawa. I spent 6 years in a small city (~50,000) in northern-ish Ontario, 3 years on a small island off the coast of BC, a year and a half living a bit north of Edmonton surrounded by fields, and the rest back home. Nearly my entire adult life has been spent on the Island.

As I've mentioned before, I am not a big city person. While Hamilton may not be 'big' to people from Toronto or Montreal, it is very big to me and yes, I feel like a total country bumpkin being here.

I call city services for information and get exasperated, impatient public servants instead of people who you can hear smiling, who chat with you. It doesn't hurt anyone to be friendly, and it bugs me a little that so few people seem to bother to put in the effort. I'm hoping that it's just been a string of unusually grumpy people instead of bad attitudes being the norm. Why do so few people smile back?

I suppose I'm going to end up with a reputation of being annoyingly bubbly or friendly, but I don't care. Life's a bit brighter when people smile and say hi to each other.

My son tried to approach some kids at the park to play and while he's not great at breaking the ice (autism thing - my daughter just goes up to other kids and says 'you're my friend now!' then they follow her around) they just kind of stared at him like he had three heads. There's obviously different social rules for the kids here, and my son is completely adrift because it took him so very long to learn the kid-rules back home.

I'm not feeling very much like we fit in here. I know it hasn't been long and I need to give it time, but it's a little intimidating all the same.

I'm also feeling a bit homesick. I've not been off the Island this long since moving home, and I've got a whole year to go before I can go back.

At least the house is coming together nicely. We're painting our daughter's room tomorrow, then the rec room/bar area (yes, we have a bar in our house) and then we're going to go to the zoo.

This has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of my post, but I was feeling homesick and crabby so...

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Checking Things Off

 I start med school two weeks from tomorrow. It's freaking me out a bit since I still have a lot to do. 

We need to finish unpacking, painting, mudding my office, put down flooring, get the kids registered for school, finish my vaccine series, husband needs to find a job.... It's a big list. 

I also need to see a doctor about my latex allergy prior to my mask fitting appointment because they require it. 

I'm very thankful for the LOC right now because we'd be screwed come the end of the month if my husband were working by then. The kids don't start school until the 8th of September, but I start August 24th. Where would we send the kids all day if my husband weren't home?

We need to find an occasional babysitter as things stand. We need one for the evening of the Mac Med formal, and that's in only two and a half weeks. My kids have never stayed with someone who wasn't family or a close friend of mine, so this will be quite a change. 

On the plus side, I got my dress for the formal. Black, modest v-neck with modest open back, floor length, elbow length sleeves open to the shoulder. I don't know if I'll wear my pearls or something a little more shiny for the occasion. It's a dress that allows for more dramatic accessories so I need to sort something out there. My tennis bracelet is somewhere. My husband needs a suit, he's never owned one, so that's on the to-do list too. 

So much to do! And all I really want to do is sleep. I'm so, so tired after the last few weeks. I think I need a good, long swim to revitalize me. 
The first full day we were here with the kids, this went by. They had never seen one before. If ever you need to make kids be okay with living somewhere, mobile ice cream will do it. 

Thursday, 6 August 2015

Figuring Out How Things Work

Relating to my post of a little while ago about infertility, I'm planning on asking for a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist now that we live somewhere that actually has REs. We should have been seen as soon as we decided to have a third because of my history, but we just didn't have one back on the Island and my OB, who will do some first line treatment for PCOS, wasn't accepting referrals except for pregnancy. Bit of a catch-22 for someone in my position.

So now I'm trying to figure out how to go about finding a family doctor and convincing one to refer me pretty much immediately. I actually would like to do some elective time in RE so this could get awkward.

As someone who has had a lot of interaction with doctors as a patient, being a med student who may study  with them adds a totally different dynamic. I'm certain that they can be utterly professional while I am with them, but it'll still be pretty damn awkward to be studying under a physician who has given me very personal - ahem - exams. 

I'm going to have to get used to it, I suppose. Once we go home, there is a very small complement of physicians so all of my medical care will be delivered by people I know fairly well. When I need new inhalers or various screening tests, they will be given by people I know. The doctors who have seen me for mental health issues will be people I refer patients to for those same issues. The people who have literally seen me at my worst are now people who will need to trust my professional judgment.  

Obviously I can't just forgo my own medical care to avoid that awkwardness. It's an aspect of this whole new world that is the medical profession which I need to sort out. 

My former family doctor told me it was a good idea to do my residency where I would eventually like to practice, and I think I can really see why she said that. The people I will work with will need to get to know me professionally. I need to build those relationships over again so that they can see me as Kay the doctor, not Kay the (occasionally annoying) patient. 

But how do you handle it when you are forced - by necessity - to be both colleague and client?

I suppose that's something I'll have to sort out over the next few years. 


We now live near an Ikea and this is helping us get set up here since we brought so little furniture. 

At the moment, each of my kids is assembling a table. 

The unpacking is slow-going. My husband and I are totally wiped out from the days on the road and the week of little sleep we've had. 

The kids' behaviour is, as if feared, somewhat atrocious. My daughter more so. She is having a hard time adjusting and not having an 'out' to play with her friends every day is proving difficult for her. School is only a few weeks away so hopefully she'll be back to herself before then. 

At the moment, though, I am immensely thankful for air conditioning. My allergies have been absolutely insane since we got here and nothing I take is helping. I've been puffy-eyed and stuffed up and coughing and sneezing constantly. My asthma has been hard on the hotter days too. But inside, the air is nice and cool and filtered because of the A/C which is helping immensely. I doubt we'd be able to live here in any reasonable comfort without it. 

We went to Costco yesterday which was my first trip there in about ten years. We spent $500, but we did need to replace our stock of pretty much everything, since we brought almost no food with us. We got most of a month's worth of groceries as well. We'll just need to get fresh veggies, milk, and bread over the next few weeks but we are otherwise done shopping for the better part of a month. Our food budget is $700 monthly, including the pets, so it's not ludicrous to spend that much considering we got more than a month's worth of a lot of stuff. 

At the moment my husband is undertaking a bit of chemical warfare with some wasps that took up residence under our front step. 

I should get back to unpacking. So many boxes!

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

In French

We are at a (very) cheap little hotel in Montreal just to rest for a few hours before continuing on.

I slept a fair bit in the car so I'm having a hard time getting to sleep. I'm doing a bit of mental math to pass the time. 

The move has, so far, come in around $6,000. Truck rental, gas, parking for vehicles, hotel rooms, flights, food on the road, loaders, unloaders, packing materials, various setup fees. We still need a bit of furniture but we are going to buy used for most of it and I don't expect it will run us more than $1000 total for what we need. Futons for the rec room (I am not getting nicer furniture because that will be the kids' space, mostly. Futons are super cheap,) a TV for the rec room, my desk, a bookcase, a bed frame for my daughter, and a dining table. 

All told, still under the $10k ballpark I was expecting for the move. Moving people and pets this far is very expensive. It has really driven home how out of luck I'd be without the LOC, which is why we have been able to manage this. It'd have been utterly impossible otherwise. 

I was very sad as we left the Island. My kids were in tears at points and my daughter is confused. She doesn't really understand how far away we are moving.   She'd never once been off the Island until this. Same with our dog. She's been really amazed by all the different smells at each stop. 

Everyone else is sleeping peacefully now so I suppose I should try too. Four hours is better than nothing. 

We're doing a short drive through of Ottawa tomorrow. Mostly for poutine and beaver tails downtown and for my husband to take a look at his old stomping grounds in Vanier. 

Yes, we are going out of our way for nostalgia and ├╝ber-Canadian junk food. Worth it. 

The dog's little spot in the back of the SUV. She's been pretty well-behaved the whole time. 

Monday, 3 August 2015

Last Few Breaths of Ocean

We are just about to pick up the kids back on the Island and I have been drinking in the scenery - I'm typing without looking down - with a wistfulness that is hard to describe. These are my last few moments on the Island that is my home for at least a year. We'll be back next summer for vacation but it will be different. 

We no longer live here. As we head down the road to town, we will continue on straight towards our house seventeen hours away. We won't turn right on the country highway and follow the green fields home. 

Our flight was delayed for hours yesterday. For a short whole because of the storm, but largely because they didn't have staff to load the plane. We got in to Moncton at 3:30am instead of 11:30pm. Because we had to sleep a bit late to make up for it, we don't have time to go to the beach today like we had planned. It will be a year before I'm back on our beach again. 
I don't want to leave. I don't want to live in Ontario, where the air doesn't smell right and the dirt is the wrong colour and there are so many people everywhere all the time. 

But I want to be a doctor. I am going to be a doctor. That is the overriding thought. This is all for the benefit of my family, for my ability to pursue a career I have deemed of since childhood. 

But I wish this part of it wasn't so hard. 

Saturday, 1 August 2015


We've got all of our stuff in the house now. Lots of moving things around and unpacking to do. Painting too, because I hate the colours of the rec room and our bedroom. Too dark. 

The birds were so happy to get back into their own cages. They were in the travel cages for 48 hours and they were really cramped. As soon as the canaries got into their cage, they each had a long bath. I think it's adorable that their first instinct after travel is the same as mine. Wash off the road and relax!

The unloaders were five hours late and I was less than impressed. It's done now though, at nearly 10pm. Our internet company also managed to screw things up. The installer arrived a few minutes before we did. He tried to call me, but the rep had entered my phone number wrong. So he left. Now we won't be able to get service until next Saturday. I booked a month ago to make sure we'd get our service installed the first day we get here. 

The rep who placed the order for me also screwed up sending the modem and spelled my name wrong. I'm really, really unimpressed with this company and it's the one everyone told us to go with because of the great customer service. So far they are not living up to the hype. 

We took a drive around Hamilton today, took a look at the campus. It's certainly more green than Toronto, so it has that going for it. We are on the mountain, so it's not too bad for a city. Still has so much going on all the time. There are so many cars and so many vehicles. I drove on the 401 and the QEW and the Linc and it all freaked me right out. Abject terror is a great way to ensure you are focused on your driving. 

At the moment, I'm taking a breather before diving in to unpacking the kitchen. It's the most important one to start unpacking. We did hit the grocery store for some basics and we were a bit in awe of how much cheaper most stuff is. Our grocery bill is going to go way down. 

I really miss the kids, though. We won't see them until Monday and I haven't ever been away from them for this long before. 

Back to the kitchen and then a well earned night in my own bed!


I had a bunch of travel points so we booked to stay last night at a Hilton and it didn't cost us a cent. 

I usually stay at the very cheapest option, so this is quite the experience. We had a jacuzzi in our suite. The room was twice the size of my first apartment. Bathroom, little kitchen and dining areas. Living room space. 

If I could justify the expense, I'd stay at places like this any time I traveled. As it is, we'll be staying at a holiday inn tomorrow night since we'll be getting back to the Maritimes at 11pm and don't want to drive the horrible corridor between Moncton and the Island that late in the Rav. Too many moose. 

Gotta say, besides the (fantastic) hotel, I'm not liking it here much yet. The traffic freaks me the hell out. I'm not used to that many cars and that much congestion. There are just so many people all over the place. It's almost claustrophobia inducing. 

The house is 'meh' - big, but not as nice as I'd hoped. My husband like it a lot. We definitely need to make some changes, though fortunately our landlord seems pretty okay with us wanting to improve it. We will, of course, get his approval before doing anything.  

We did the drive in one go and my husband currently feels hungover from the exhaustion. It's time for coffee and letting the unloaders do all the hard work. 

Time to pack up and head out from the hotel. Unloaders will be at the house in three hours. Internet installer sometime in the next five.