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the happy haps (no. 3)

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A much delayed, but also very happy, communication of the most recent happenings in my life! When I last chitchatted at you, I had just finished neurology (hurrah) and I was on to the most medical school-esque (and probably the most difficult) of clerkships: internal medicine. It proved to be a doozy and really did a number on the past two months of my life (evidence: total lack of posting, total lack of crafting, total lack of many things). I feel like I have to confess that for the first two weeks of the clerkship, I had a literal temper tantrum every morning before I had to go to work. It was not pretty in the slightest. After having a completely undignified emotional breakdown in front of my attending one weekend, I managed to turn my ‘tude around. I don’t actually think it got any easier, but I eventually got into a groove.

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The medicine clerkship, as I previously bemoaned, was really tough, but I also learned a lot. I can manage things like GI bleeds, and hyperosmolar hyperglycemic state, and serious infections. I know how to talk to difficult, angry patients (hoo boy, did I get a lot of experience doing that). I can dose insulin and opioids with reasonable certainty (but don’t ask me for any drugs, har har). I have seen people who are sick, who are dying, and who deal with these things in incredibly different ways. I have spent hours trying to get venous access on a patient, and hours (and hours and hours and hours and hours) with medical records from other hospitals trying to get them to fax me pieces of paper that no one will ever read. I spent so much time with my team that it no longer feels weird or fake to call us a team, because that’s the only way to describe it. People taught me, supported me, and inspired me day in and day out, from 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM. And I have worked with some pretty phenomenal, inspiring women. Most of my many attendings over the past eight weeks were women, and fairly young ones at that. With a rotating cast of mostly female residents, it was really two months of #girlbossing around in the best way.

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Regardless of what the past eight weeks of work were like, the past eight weeks at home were phenomenal. David was an excellent force of goodness and magnificence and did such a great job taking care of me by doing anything from listening to my miserable ranting to prepping my lunches and dinners to getting up at 5:30 AM just to talk to me while I got ready for work. The guy is a champ. I did get to have SOME fun over the past two months, too. (Mostly thanks to David.) That fun mostly involved eating (I am a slug) or lying on top of my cats (again, I am a slug). But there were definitely bright sunny moments. My post-clerkship celebration involved a makeover at Sephora (see below, in my first-ever selfie sans cat) and visiting my excellent human of a younger sister at U of I.

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ANYWAY. This long vague introspective post about me finishing my last third-year clerkship also means something: I AM A FOURTH YEAR MEDICAL STUDENT! If it wasn’t totally obvious, I couldn’t be more excited about this. I have the month of May “off” to study and take another part of my boards (it never stops), and then I dive right back into a summer of pediatrics: PICU, my sub-internship, and electives in cards and heme-onc. But first up – some crafting!

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the happy haps (no. 2)

And let me tell you, this may be the happiest of haps I have been in a while. Why? Neurology is over!*

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The shortest of months has also been one of my longest: I am getting exceedingly sick of winter. Alas, alack. On the bright side, I have a really wonderful fiancé and two very snuggly cats to make up for the slush and cold. And some really great pairs of long underpants, which I stole from David. They remind me of my Opa (a big fan of the momo hickeys, as he liked to call them), who passed away last fall, and wearing them reminds me of him and makes me happy. I also feel very cool in them and I am trying to get my cousins to help me start a fashion movement called Opacore. So far we don’t have very much momentum but with the colossal readership of this blog, I’m hoping things start to take off. In crafting news, I have been reaaaaally into making teeny tiny mochimochi lately. It’s a bit of an affliction, but at least I am putting these gnomes to work. On the other end of the crafting usefulness spectrum, I finally finished giving the bedroom a little facelift and I am slightly obsessed with it in a way that I have never been obsessed with a room. I will have real posts on both of these things soon!

*See the second-to-last photo? That’s what I’ve been studying for the past 4 weeks. My tepid enthusiasm for neurology might be better explained after that image. And the last photo? That’s my next eight weeks (internal medicine)! I’m just two months away from being done with the third year of medical school (:

the happy haps (no. 1)

Hi there! Now that I have two cats* (double the fun, double the photos, and quadruple the mischief), a smartphone, and I spend a lot of my time doing other non-knitting/sewing things, I thought I’d just do a non-crafty blog post every now and then to keep my loyal readers (aka, David and my mom, who already get excruciatingly detailed breakdowns of my daily activities) up to date. These posts can be broken down into a few categories: things I petted, things I did, things I made.

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I just wrapped up a month-long elective in pathology (hence the microscope picture). I loved some parts that I thought I would hate and I was kind of traumatized by some parts that I thought I would find interesting (autopsy pathology, I’m looking at you. That was rougher than I anticipated). I was inspired to do the rotation partly because of my first real career ambition (besides that of Barbie house designer) – a county medical examiner. God bless my parents for loving and supporting me even though I was basically a miniatures-loving Wednesday Addams. But anyway, the whole month was really fun even if I couldn’t ever talk about it at the dinner table (not that I’m ever allowed to talk about work at the dinner table). If peds ends up not being the place for me, then I think pathology is where I’ll end up. I missed interacting with patients, which is why it’s not my first choice, but the beauty of the human body and the constant pursuit of knowledge is very appealing to me. Also, pathologists are awesome. I loved absolutely everyone I worked with. Yay!

*Yes, you read that right. We have two cats now. We have had Bess for about a month now. We had actually been talking about getting a second cat for a while, and with a lighter month of work for me in January (coupled with David having some time off in February), it seemed like now was as good a time as any to accrue another cat.  This time our furry little friend came from Tree House Cats, which is a seriously amazing no-kill no-cage shelter on the north side. I forgot that younger cats (she’s 9mo) are cute forces of wanton destruction – Bess is SO mischievous (as in, we come home to the bathroom garbage strewn all over the bathroom, lamps knocked over, etc etc) but is also very adorable! And she and CeeCee are getting along quite well.

 

son of a nutcracker

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What an excellent seasonal oath. ANYWAY! It’s almost Christmas! Thank goodness: I was in desperate need of a vacation. I’m at my parent’s house right now, but very soon I’ll be in California frantically trying to acquire all the Vitamin D I’ll need until May. I was weirdly busy on psychiatry, but David and I still managed to do some fun stuff in December in spite of that.

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The only holiday decor DIY I did this year was an advent calendar. Instead of little tchotchkes and chocolates, I had each day correspond to an activity. We went to Chicago’s Christkindlmarket, watched A Muppet Christmas Carol, and drank a LOT of eggnog. Mmmm. However, my favorite activity by far was the one in which David and I rewrote the lyrics to popular Christmas songs so that they were CeeCee-themed. I’ve pasted some of our creations below for your enjoyment and my own embarrassment.

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“Me Cleanin’ CeeCee’s Caca” – (to the tune of Mele Kalikimaka) – words by David

Me cleanin’ CeeCee’s caca is the thing to play
On a cold Chicago Christmas Day
That’s the prying feeling of a sticky poo
On the bottom of a litter tray

CeeCee knows that scooping takes all human might
Toxoplasmosis dust fills all the air in sight
Me cleanin’ CeeCee’s caca is the thing to play
To fill our plastic sacks with poo

Me cleanin’ CeeCee’s caca is the thing to play
To say Merry Christmas
A very hairy Christmas
A very hairy dusty airy Christmas, to you!

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“Santa CeeCee” – (to the tune of Santa Baby) – words by Ellie  

Santa CeeCee, just bring a clicky pen into bed for me
Wrestle it while I snooze, Santa CeeCee
So hurry down the hallway tonight
Santa CeeCee, a permanently clean litter box too, no poo
‘Cos we scoop all the time, Santa CeeCee,
So hurry down the hallway tonight
Think of all the puke I wiped
Stepping in your messes gave me such a fright
Next year I could be just as good… if you don’t puke purely out of spite
Santa CeeCee, I wanna cuddle, really that’s not a lot
Been so snuggly all year, Santa CeeCee,
So hurry down the hallway tonight
Santa CeeCee, one little thing I really need…
No kneads, on my boobs ev’ry dawn, Santa CeeCee,
So hurry down the hallway tonight
Santa CeeCee, fill my stocking with string and shiny plastic bling,
Pigeon wings on the top, Canta CeeCee,
And hurry down the hallway tonight
Come and wreck my Christmas tree, strew the decorations far as I can see!
I really do believe in you,
Let’s see if you believe in me
Santa CeeCee, forgot to mention one little thing… a milk ring,
I don’t mean for your hand, Santa CeeCee
So hurry down the hallway tonight
Hurry down the hallway tonight,
Hurry…tonight!
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Now, if you made it all the way to the end of this weirdly long post, here’s a picture of CeeCee gnawing on our Christmas tree as a little present. Happy holidays!! (:

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hey hi hello hola

One of my least favorite things about blogging is reading a post in which the content is only a half-assed apology about not posting more/explanation for the blogger’s radio silence, and a promise to do write more frequently. Yawn. But after two months I’ve gotta start somewhere.

So since we’ve last talked (or I talked at you, to be more correct), lots has happened on the personal and academic fronts. I finished the surgery, primary care and psychiatry clerkships. A few shocking things have happened: I loved surgery* **, and I did not love psychiatry. When second year ended, I was pretty sure that psych would be my destination, career-wise. I love talking to patients and spending time understanding them, but psychiatry involves so many medicines, and talking about mechanisms and side effects of different drugs is basically a fast-track to my brain entering an alternate orbit.
Speaking of my brain being in alternate orbit, another thing that happened has been…
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Yup. Almost a month ago, actually. I totally did not see it coming (even though David and I have been dating for over five and a half years), but of course I said yes (: Focusing has been difficult lately. I alternate between daydreaming about sewing my own wedding dress and freaking the eff out over the idea of having to plan a wedding.
Crafting-wise, I’ve been in a bit of a dry spell. I have finished (or almost finished) quite a few knitting projects, but because they’re ***seekrit*** Christmas gifts I don’t want to post about them here (just yet). Spoiler alert, though: I am obsessed with gloves. So tedious and nitpicky!! My favorite kind of project.
Oh! Also. I finally joined the world of modern technology and left my trusty 4.5 year old “dumb phone” by the wayside. This means that I now have an Instagram account, which is 50% crafts and 50% my cat. So check it out and we can ogle each other’s yarnstagrams.
* Definitely not going into surgery, though. I love to eat, urinate, and occasionally sit: these are luxuries not often afforded to surgeons. Also, waking up at 4:15 AM for the indefinite future is not a sustainable habit conducive to happiness of any kind.
** The last case of my surgery clerkship brought with it probably my most favorite memory of medical school thus far, and possibly one of the high points of my life. as I brought the patient into the OR for their hemithyroidectomy, my attending, who had mocked me so much for the whole month, turned to me and said “Ellie, I chose the music for this case especially for you.” He then proceeded to play the entirety of the soundtrack from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. He also called me Hermione for the duration of the case. Needless to say, I was floating about four inches off the ground the entire time.

knitting and the gym: strange bedfellows

I bring you an interruption from the regularly scheduled programming for a short anniversary celebration – and some reflection (what would a blog be without some sort of navel-gazing? Nothing, I tell you).

Two years ago this month, I started two new hobbies – knitting and exercising. One of those hobbies receives a lot of air time on this blog; the other one not so much.  I mostly save stories of my workouts, yoga practices, and gymnastics classes for my boyfriend, who by now has lovingly suffered through more jokes about how “swole” I am than any person should ever endure in a lifetime. As different as they are (and even though I very rarely discuss my fitness-y life with the internet), I love both of these pastimes equally, and over the course of two years they have taught me more about myself than I ever could have imagined since the day I picked up a set of needles and popped a workout video into our DVD player (not at the same time of course – I may not be a doctor yet but I would feel safe betting that that is NOT recommended by any physician). As my grasp of the English language is dwindling to robotic and unconscious utterings of medical acronyms and mnemonics, I’m going to continue this post in list form. Feel free to read on, or roll your eyes at another blog about self-discovery written by a 20-something and click back over to Twitter.
  • After 21 years of allowing myself to think that I am incapable of waiting, it turns out I have a level of patience most saints would envy.  (Okay, maybe not saints, but the beatified probably wish they could tap into my reserves of composure.)  If I could spend hours upon hours untangling knots without being driven to insanity, or do hundreds of crunches and not immediately look like a Bowflex ad, then I could definitely not fly off the handle for minor inconveniences.
  • I have limits. But I learned how to push them safely.  Due to some overly complicated medical history stuff, I always assumed that I would never be able to do things like run long distances or do long workout classes without getting sick, so I just didn’t do them for fear of being the “wimp” who took too many water breaks or passed out in public.  Now, I’m better at deciding what I can and can’t handle, and finding safe ways to push myself.  The same goes for knitting! I used to think that I was just afraid of trying new things, but it turns out that’s my absolutely favorite part of knitting – picking up a new and confusing pattern and gaining a new skill.
  • In that same vein, I learned when to walk away. This was a particularly hard lesson for me, and one on which I need to take a refresher course from time to time.  Nothing is to be gained by pounding yourself into the ground (whether that is a literal pounding, with countless numbers of power squats because you feel lazy and slow, or figurative, with a freaking sweater that will not freaking unfrog itself without becoming tangled eight freaking million times – ahem). Things will still be there when you come back in a better frame of mind.
  • You can always find a way to express yourself, regardless of the medium or situation.  When I first started working out and knitting, both of my forays into those worlds were pretty cookie cutter. I ran a couple times a week and then did weird stuff on top of an exercise ball; I knitted a scarf. I liked both of those things, but when I really started to get excited about both of my hobbies was when I found a way to bring my other interests into the equation.  This has helped me a couple of times in medical school – I get to do my anatomy doodles, and sometimes I even throw in a really cool powerpoint.

In some ways, I know that I’ve got a long way to go when it comes to being well-adjusted and normal, but hey – at least I’ll squat and knit my way toward it. (: