Saturday, 28 May 2016

Well, one of them was right

My kids have been arguing about whether they'd have a new brother or a new sister basically since we told my daughter about the baby. My son wanted a brother, my daughter wanted a sister. 

Because my anatomy scan isn't until the end of next month, and I won't get the results of it - which includes the sex - until maybe right before I leave for several weeks (possibly not until after I get back, depending how long the report takes) I didn't want to keep the kids in suspense until the end of July, and I didn't want to wait that long myself!

So we found out this morning. We made a day of it to make it special. Went out for breakfast beforehand.

Unfortunately, I don't have any nice images of the baby's face to share since the kid was pretty uncooperative and was facing my back and would not move. 

But, we did find out we're having another little girl. 

This works out nicely, since my husband and I could NOT decide on a boy's name. Now we don't have to. We really, really liked the girl name we picked out.

My daughter is pretty much over the moon. She's been bouncing since we found out. Telling cashiers at shops and whatnot. I've heard "I can't believe I'm going to have a baby sister!" probably fifty times today. My son was a touch disappointed at first, but he seems to have gotten over it and now he's just happy he knows and can call the baby by her name. 

Now, I don't post my kids' names on here intentionally (less Google-able, not that this is by any means an anonymous blog considering classmates and real life friends read it) but I will share that my youngest daughter's initials will be M.E.D. (or just M.D. if you leave out the middle as many people do) and that was entirely, completely, unintentional. But we do think it's hilarious, considering she's actually going to be born at my med school, while I'm in med school. 

My initials are KMD and I think it's equally funny that I'm going to be Kay, M.D. soon, so I like fun initials things.

Now that that part's over with, it's just a matter of getting through the next five months of school and waiting before I get to meet her. A month of MF4 left, and then onto electives for just a few weeks, then into MF5. It's crazy how fast this is all going. 

Friday, 27 May 2016


This has not been a great week. It started on a high note but went downhill from there.

But I've got plans for us to end on a high note, anyway.

Today I'm taking the kids to a free community event after school (outdoor laser tag and rock climbing.) The city gives kids these little 'passport' booklets with a bunch of free activities, ranging from soccer and tennis to dance and paintball and my kids are really excited to take part.

But because it's Friday - effectively my day off - I'm trying to work myself up to doing all the cleaning I want to have done, but also don't want to do. Bird cages, laundry, reorganizing the master bedroom to make room for baby stuff.

Tomorrow is going to be a special day. I have an elective ultrasound scheduled (yes, I know these aren't recommended) to find out the sex of the baby.

We're doing it this way because we want our kids there to find out with us. They are both very excited to find out. The way it's typically done here is that you have your anatomy scan and then the report is sent to your OB who tells you the results, including the sex. Thing is, I have my anatomy scan on June 20th and then I see my OB on the 24th. He may not have the report back by then, and then I'm off to the Island for four weeks so I won't see him for another month anyway. There's no way we're waiting another 8-10 weeks longer than necessary to find out. The sibling bickering will drive us all mad by then.

My plans for the weekend mostly include studying for the CAE we've got on Wednesday, plus doing some more spring cleaning. It's not nesting. I wish I was nesting because nesting comes with a burst of energy to get things done. Right now, the energy part is completely lacking.

But I'd better be off to clean up after the birds since I only have a few hours before I have to go pick up the kids for our afternoon out.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Purple Daze

I'm sitting in my living room, surrounded by the smell of purple.

We have a huge lilac bush outside out living room window and it's in full bloom. With the windows open, the whole first floor smells of nothing but lilacs. Even when I was very young, I associated the smell of lilacs with the colour purple and they are inextricably linked in my mind.

The weather's beautiful but I'm having a rough day.

Apparently the weekend was too much for my son. He had an extremely hard day at school - and his before/after program - today and we're looking at the possibility he may be asked to leave the program. If that happens, it'll be... extremely challenging logistically. We've faced these sorts of things before and had similar panicky moments. We've spent four years trying to figure things out with both of us working (employment or school, I consider both work) but I think ultimately we're coming to the point where it's going to be necessary to have a stay at home parent.

Our son is bigger and stronger. Schools are less capable of handling physical meltdowns now than they were when he was in kindergarten. They are quicker to call us, more likely to call police (this is actually part of his crisis plan if he leaves the school grounds,) and just overall less able to deal with him. Kids don't grow out of autism, but schools do seem to grow out of their ability to tolerate the symptoms. He's actually gotten a great deal better at managing himself over the years, but the couple of bad days a month are too many.

I'm not angry, I'm just exhausted. I'm tired of constant calls and meetings and knowing that the school gets complaints from the parents of my son's classmates as does the non-profit that runs his before/aftercare. I know that other parents gossip about my kid, tsk-tsk and shake their heads about what a horrible, uninvolved, willfully blind parent I must be for my kid to still have such difficulty. Because, of course, the only reason a child might have self-regulation issues is bad parenting.

I know the other parents are saying these things because I've heard parents I know - lots of them - make these sorts of comments about other kids. I've heard parents say that they should just be thrown out. I had (now former) friends label my son a hopeless case.

We were thinking that my husband wouldn't return to work after his parental leave. It means no income at all for a year (from the end of his parental leave in June 2017 until I start residency); living completely off debt and student loans, but it'll be workable. Suboptimal, but doable. I think we've really gotten to the point where having a stay at home parent isn't really optional anymore.

So we need to get through the next five months, until the baby is born and my husband starts his parental leave.

Then, hopefully, having one parent home full time will help make these sorts of situations less stressful since the stability of our family won't be riding on them.

But, above all, I just hope my son soon has an easier time having good days. He has worked very hard; I hate seeing him so disappointed in himself. That's the hardest part.

Monday, 23 May 2016

Exhausting Relaxation

We planned to do some spring cleaning this weekend, and we did some pretty intense stuff, but the weather was too gorgeous to stay inside the whole weekend. We had to go do some fun stuff with the kids too. Particularly before the height of the summer when I'll inevitably end up extra tired from the combination of full time clinical electives and pregnancy and won't be able to tolerate many of our adventure days. 

So yesterday, we took the kids mini-golfing. That lasted approximate eight holes before my daughter absolutely refused to listen to safety rules (she was swinging the club around like mad and there were near-misses.) The place also had bumper cars, and my daughter was finally tall enough to do those sorts of things, so the both of them got to smash into each other for a while, getting out the sibling rivalry in a relatively safe, gas-powered manner. 

Today, we made a beach day of it. 

Now, the beaches around here are, I'm told, often not safe to swim at. Most areas are not doing water testing yet this year, so we decided to go to an area that is generally safe, and had a chance of being less crowded, and also allowed dogs. So we decided to road trip to Wasaga Beach! 

I had been there before with a friend (11 years ago) and when I realized it was only two hours from here, it seemed a good enough place. To spend the day. 

So we loaded up the cooler, packed our beach essentials, and went for it. 

I was underwhelmed. 

Every time I go to a freshwater beach, I remember why I dislike them so much. They smell wrong. The sand is never the right texture. There's no tide lines. No crabs. No jellyfish. No tiny crustaceans nibbling at your toes. The water's the wrong colour and there's no seaweed. 

Lake beaches like that feel almost bereft of life, this one in particular as a relatively touristy beach (I've almost always gone to 'locals' beaches down home.) I spent the day on the sand but came away missing the ocean almost painfully. 

Also, sunburnt, despite judicious application of SPF50 every two hours and staying under our sun umbrella as much as possible. 

The kids had a blast, though. My son considers the lack of jellyfish a perk and my daughter just likes a any beach she's allowed to play on. Our dog is virtually comatose and I don't expect to see her much for a few days as she recovers from all the frisbee and jumping around in the water. 

All in all, it was a successful road trip/beach day and a thoroughly exhausting weekend of family relaxation, but it ended up very much worth it. 

Friday, 20 May 2016

Electives Planning

Many of my classmates are already starting to plan and book electives, and so I'm doing the same.

I basically have room for nine two week electives (or ten, if I do two one-week electives, which I can do.)

This is what I'm thinking:

Nov-Dec 2016:
1. Reading elective (1 week)
2. Research, Rad Onc, or Reproductive Endocrinology (3 weeks) - Still trying to sort this one out.

Core: OB/Gyn

Feb - Mar 2017:
3. Family (community or rural)
4. General internal
5. OB/Gyn (MFM, hopefully)

Cores: Anaes/Selective/Ortho, Medicine, Emerg

July - Aug 2017: 
6. Emerg
7. OB/Gyn (general, back home with my family so that it kind of doubles as vacation-ish time for me while they get vacation time)
(This actually includes my two weeks of vacation time, but most Mac students work through that time and then take it during CaRMS, which is my plan as well.)

Cores: Surgery, Family, (CaRMS apps), Paediatrics

Jan - Feb 2018:
8. Paeds something (emerg, hopefully)
(2 weeks off for CaRMS)
9. Rural FM somewhere else (NOnt or back home, maybe.)

Final block: Psych core.

I'm trying to keep my options open, but it's hard when you have to 'show interest' in specialties you think you'll like for CaRMS apps, but you still want to try things out.

I went through the requirements for the programs I think I'll be most likely to apply to and I'm trying to make sure I'll have the chance to get the letters I need before CaRMS apps and demonstrate sufficient interest. It's hard to balance it all and make sure I don't box myself into something.

Because I only intend to apply to programs at 7 schools (MUN, Dal, and all Ontario schools except Toronto) I want to ensure I'm keeping my program choices as broad as possible to avoid ending up unmatched.

I've signed up for this clerk-to-clerk mentoring thing so I can discuss my options with clerks who are interested in similar areas, but we'll see. I'm really a bit overwhelmed by everything. to be honest. Because of the speed of Mac's program, I've realistically got 6-8 months to decide my future and ensure I get all my pre-CaRMS electives booked and the groundwork laid for my applications. It's a touch stressful.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016


I now have my class sweater and it is fantastic. I'm not entirely sure it's appropriate to post a photo of it here, though. It has a logo designed by a classmate on the left chest and then on the arm says 'Class of 2018.' It's big and comfy.

If it were cooler out, I'd be wearing this constantly. I got a huge one because sweaters should be gigantic and fuzzy. Plus I can wear it through my pregnancy. I'm very much showing now (well, to anyone who knew me before. Otherwise I could just be looking fatter, which is annoying considering I've actually lost weight) and there's no way I could wear anything but maternity clothes unless it's really oversized. 

To be perfectly honest, right now I am exhausted. I had a few weeks where I wasn't, but I'm back to being unable to get through the day without at least a short nap, but now it's because I'm not sleeping at night. I can't get comfortable at all. I've only had a full night's sleep once in the last two weeks and so I'm running on empty right now. It's bad enough that I'm considering buying one of those stupid-looking pregnancy pillows because I'm desperate for some good sleep.  

I have a huge tutorial tomorrow (we're taking up three cases) and I've barely prepared. I just can't focus long enough to get into the material. Fortunately a lot of it isn't new to me and I did a presentation on one of the disorders once, so I have some groundwork but I know I'm just not going to be as prepared as I'd like. 

The last week and a half is really just killing me. I'm so, so glad I'm not pregnant during clerkship; that would be utter hell. 

This is proving to be a particularly hard week. I've been reduced to tears several times and I'm just barely holding it together. I really just need a very long night's sleep, a massage, and for the whole world to just stop for one day so I can catch up with everything I have to do. 

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Half of Four

We're going into the halfway point of MF4 this week. Done immunology and entering neoplasia. 

Just wrote my third PPI as well. While my second one was basically the same as my first, I've shown a small amount of improvement on my third. Considering I wrote it with almost no sleep, I think I did well. I answered 130 out of 180 questions with 93 correct. They do an adjustment to the number you had correct (to account for chance) which means I end up with 84 "adjusted correct" for an adjusted correct percentage of 47%. 

Considering that is pretty much in range for a third year, I'm okay with my progress even though it's not a huge improvement over my first one. I came in pretty strong, knowledge-base-wise, and I'm more or less just fleshing that out and developing better understanding of the clinical decision making. Psych and pharmacology are two areas I really need to focus my personal studying on; they would be pretty high-yield for my clinical placements, I think, and for my practice. 

I'm getting a bit antsy about my summer electives. They're all booked and it looks like I'm going to be doing some fantastic stuff. Family med back home, dermatology, and interventional radiology. I don't have any real procedural skills (I'm all book smarts...) and I hope to be able to at least do some very basic stuff this summer. 

Because it is likely I won't be attending the clerkship skills days since I'll be very early in my recovery from childbirth, I need to get exposure to things like casting, IV insertion, (more) suturing, note writing, dictations, etc. I'm going to try to set up horizontals in these areas. Emerg is one, though it can be hard to get. I may try to set something up before the summer, or possibly very early in the year once I'm back since MF5 tends to get very busy very quickly and I'm going to be at the very uncomfortable/cranky part of pregnancy (right now I'm just in the sleepy/slightly dumb phase) so spending a long shift in Emerg is unlikely to be a great learning experience. 

The next few months are going to fly by. Clerkship is six months away - and kid 3 will be here even sooner - and I have so much I need to get done by then. 

Hard to believe I'm already halfway through MF4 and the 2019s are already filling out their paperwork. It can't have been nine months already, can it?

Still making lots of time for family stuff, though. We've got a day trip planned for tomorrow. (Don't worry, we did adjust my son's bike seat right after this photo was taken, I realize it's too low.)

Thursday, 12 May 2016


I'm eligible for OSAP this year. 

Normally, a student wouldn't be eligible for a different province's student assistance one year to the next, but OSAP allows married students to be considered a resident based on their spouse's province of residence for the past 12 months while not a post secondary student themselves. Since my husband will have lived in Ontario (while not a post secondary student himself) for 12 months as of August 1st, I can get OSAP this year. 

It works out nicely. Basically, between an increased eligibility for grants, and the fact that any loan amount over a certain value converts to a grant instead of a loan, I'll be accruing about $20,000 less debt this year. Plus next year, there's that whole 'free tuition' thing (which is actually just a different grant. It's not really free tuition.) Plus, receiving OSAP instead of my province's student aid means I may receive more school bursaries since a number are based on whether or not you're an Ontario resident, so that $20k value may go up. 

So, it didn't make much sense not to apply for OSAP.  

My documents are already all submitted so I'm just waiting for confirmation from OSAP of my assessment and that's that. 

I'm a bit sad to now be considered an Ontario resident instead of a resident of my home province, but ultimately, tens of thousands of dollars less debt kind of makes up for the fact. 

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

The Next

Well, today is decision day for Ontario schools.

While I've been incredibly busy today, I checked in and a lot of the people I was cheering for got in! I don't know about everyone yet but I'm hopeful. One of the people who stayed with us got in (I don't know about the other) and I'm absolutely thrilled for her.

The class of 2019 is starting to fill up which means we get to pass the torch soon. We'll help plan their orientation week, and I definitely want to help out though I'll be 30 weeks pregnant so I probably won't be one of the activities hosts who runs around with them.

I'm just so excited for this next wave of students. When they start, I'm no longer a first year. They'll be looking up to us; we'll help them out and guide them and they'll look to us for information about what's to come the way we look to upper years. I know I talk to 2017s fairly often about their experiences. It's helpful to have that guidance from a near-peer who is the closest to your own stage of learning as possible.

It's also a huge, monumental day in these peoples' lives and it's nice to realize that we'll get to share some part of the overall experience with them. I'm on the class of 2019 Facebook group to answer questions (I think about a third of my class is on there) and I've had messages on PM101 already. I'm eager to help people out, even if it's just deciding what school they want to choose if they received multiple offers.

It was only a year - well, not even a full year - that I was in their shoes. Glowing with pride and not a small amount of disbelief.

I hope all those receiving good news today take the time to really celebrate this massive achievement.

2019s, we're looking forward to meeting you guys in August. Feel free to message me on PM101, leave a comment here, or post on the Facebook group if you have questions.

Welcome to medicine.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Midnight Shift

My day started with chaperoning a field trip. Technically I was there just for my son as additional support for his needs, but as an additional adult (and one with vulnerable sector clearance at that) I helped out where possible. 

It was a long day. We were outside, hiking around all day. By the time I got back home around 3pm, my feet were killing me. 

But then it was 5pm before I know it - time for my L&D shift. 

I lucked out and managed to get an L&D shift last minute because someone gave hers up. So I dutifully showed up at 4:30 - to give myself time to get oriented - and then I met with the chief resident and PGY1. They were both lovely, eager to teach, and were great at showing me the expected workflows and documentation and stuff. A lot of students want to jump right into the patient contact stuff (which I do, to be fair) but also I'm really eager to get familiar with the documentation too. It's super important to ensure patients have complete, accurate charts, and yes, I actually do care about that this much. 

I'm also one of those really weird people who likes to fill out forms. I find it satisfying to ensure everything is filled out as it should be. But then I also like doing taxes, so there you have it. 

Obviously I'm not going to go into detail about the patients I saw, but it was a whirlwind. I did get to attend deliveries and that was really lovely. There is something immensely special about being there for the first moments of someone's life, for the moment someone's family changes forever. I was given (minor, obviously) responsibilities, and was given a lot of opportunities to ask questions.

I spent the evening wishing I knew more about how to prepare the paperwork so I could actually help out more - I was more of a time sink than anything, but I tried to do what I could. I wanted to stay longer, but my husband works in the morning so I won't get to sleep in much and I should probably be conscious tomorrow. 

I absolutely can see myself doing this as my career. There was nothing about this evening that I didn't enjoy. My feet hurt and my legs ached because I'd been on my feet, running around since 8am but it was so worth it. While every patient contact I have had so far has solidified my decision to go into medicine, this evening just clicked. It felt like that is what I should be doing. That was, for sure, helped by the fantastic physicians and nurses that I encountered, and the fact that tonight was lots of happy events and none of the sad, but I think the nature of the patient contact was a bit part of that. I've known that I'm interested in childbearing for many years and tonight absolutely did support that long held personal truth. 

I need more horizontals. 

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Looking West

I was meeting with my son's principal once when he told me, in a bit of an offhand comment, that about one in three kids in the school had at lest one parent working in Alberta, and most of them go through Fort Mac. Alberta has fed my home province for many years.

I have family up that way, in and around Fort Mac. Cousins. Neighbours. There are probably as many young Islanders out there as there are back home. 

For two years, the work that goes through that city put food on our table. If it weren't for my husband working out there, I wouldn't have been able to go to school. We would still be eking out a living from minimum wage.

I'm grateful for the fact that opportunity was shared, and it lifted us out of poverty. 

I can't do much from here besides chip in a few bucks and encourage those who are closer to reach out.

If you've got space, open it up. If you have time, lend a hand. If you have funds, send them. 

I don't use my blog as an appeals platform. I don't jump on issues-of-the-day as a general rule. 

But I can't not. I owe my success to the opportunities Alberta made possible for our family.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Planning Regrets

My commitments are coming home to roost this week. The charter for our QI project is due so my group and I are sending it in for primary feedback before we submit the final one. I have to finish the minutes for the group I'm on the executive for and need to arrange our short Skype meeting for this week since we have a big event on June 8th we need to really plan. I have my PPI tomorrow, and an IPE home visit on Wednesday. Plus several appointments, and our first CAE is on the 11th. 

I also need to send out another email regarding post-MF4 electives. I have one set up in derm, thanks to the help of my lovely advisor, and just need to confirm this last one (radiology) before I'm all set for the summer.

I'm feeling a little tired thinking about the busy week ahead, but it'll be worth it. While the things I'm doing are things I'm doing out of interest, I think they will be helpful for my CV too. I'll be able to show that I've been part of advocacy and leadership and improving medical education. Considering I'm just not going to be able to do very much during at least the first part of clerkship since any time I'm not working will be spent at home with my family, I want to do as much now as I'm able. I don't think I'll have the energy during clerkship to dedicate to doing that extra stuff that med students are expected to do to make themselves stand out for CARMS. 

It concerns me a bit that I won't be able to be competitive. I already know I'm going to be limiting where I apply for residency on a geographic basis - we don't want to go any further west than Ontario and while I do speak French, my husband does not want to live in Quebec - and so that may make it harder. There's really only 7 schools, out of the 17 in the country - that I'll even bother applying to. 

It feels a bit like every decision I make right now has to be strategic and that I have to be thinking ten steps ahead. It's a bit frustrating, really, since I feel like I have to make very big decisions with very little information. Guess that's what our advisors and all those career planning sessions are for.

I should probably go to those...