Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Hockey Pool Update

Is visible below.  Gerty-Z had her best week to date and was able to propel herself out of last place (just barely).  Lavaland is steady as she goes. Looks like Bob is now getting Alyssa's title from last year as that Damn Bob.  He had the second highest points total and is keeping a small lead on Thomas.  Sorry Thomas, but getting the highest point total didn't help you :).  Chall and myself are doing way better than last year, bunching in the middle of the pack with Cath and Ricardipus, though Cath is doing her level best to put some distance between us.  Lets see how this week's race goes :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hockey update TBA

sorry, it was a late start to the day so the hockey update will be late. probably late PST. sorry :)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A long awaited recap

Okay so this is a recap of my comprehensive exam.  Which means the first thing I have to admit is, she was right. Yep. My PI did a good thing by pulling the plug. In the extra time, I didn’t study anymore or learn anything new.  Well, that’s not true. She did give me one paper to read, that I hadn’t already read and which was helpful in connecting some dots.  Yes I did tell her she was right. She laughed and was just happy that I was happy.  She really does amaze me with how gracious and kind she is.   Back to why she was right. I was terrified of not doing well. As you all know, I suffer from imposter syndrome and if I had the exam in July, if the committee asked me something I didn’t know, it would’ve terrified me and made me panic. As it happens, when I was asked something that I didn’t remember I just said, had you asked me 1 hour ago I could’ve told you. Seriously I could have. I knew this because when my professor had asked me the week before I gave the “are you really asking me such a basic and simple Q” look. I could tell you where on my notes I had the information. I just could not recall it.
In hindsight, she pulled the plug not because she didn’t think I would pass. I would’ve passed at that point, but it would not have been the way I passed this time. I rocked it. It was a HUGE confidence booster as I was not panicking, I was confident about what I knew, was able to think about alternative approaches and argue with my committee.  I walked out, not thinking OMG thank god that was over, but walked out thinking, uhm really? That was like an extended committee meeting. I was joking and laughing with them. When they asked if I could get a hold of a hypermorph of my gene of interest, I told them the truth. Nope the bastards aren’t sharing.
Yes I swore and yes I argued with them, are you really that shocked.  I knew my shit and when they disagreed with my interpretation of the data or didn’t think my data was showing what I said it was. I told them how and why they were wrong. 
The comprehensives are not supposed to tare you down. They are supposed to boost you up.  Now don’t get me wrong. I was pushed for depth and breadth of knowledge, but I wasn’t devastated by not knowing. Mind you, I’m pretty OK with admitting I don’t know as that’s the only way I can be open to learning.
So what did I learn from this experience? The most helpful things for me were:
our weekly journal clubs. From my awesome labmates I learned how to critically analyze figures. Determine what is important information to give and what controls to ask for.  More importantly, we went over important papers in our field so when I got down to learning the nitty gritties, nothing was foreign to me.
Closer to the exam, I gave weekly lectures to my labmates instead of journal club.  I practiced utilizing a wipe board to convey important concepts.  The lectures were followed by a Q&A session, to once again practice conveying and synthesizing information.
Practice exams.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

How sexism leads to bad medical care.

Before I get into the whole fucked up medical care I experience, I wanted to give a short blurb on the personal  front, if you're not interested in that skip ahead to the third paragraph

Sometimes all one needs is a little perspective. Sometimes its a little rest. Sometimes its a bit of both.

I'm visiting the middle of Canada right now, yep Can-tario is where I am at. Kitchner/Waterloo specifically. I'm visiting a dear friend who is giving me ton of TLC. I'm sleeping in, lying on the couch, drinking beer and wine, generally being a single childless women.  Except I miss my boys, terribly. I ache for my child to come into my bed at 4 in the morning and steal my pillow. I miss Mr.SM's stupid jokes and funny smile.  At the same time, I needed this time.

We're stepping back from the brink. Which is nice. Its not just a step back, but a good walk away. We have work to do. Neither of us communicated well these last few weeks. We've both been so caught up in our own hurt, pain, stress that we have not been able to be there for each other.  Mr. SM lost his grandfather. His grandfather wasn't just any man, he was the father figure in Mr.SM's life. He was the one who took him to all his games, talked to him about the 'why'. Why what Mr.SM did was wrong, not just telling him the actions were wrong. I lost the only grandfather that lived in the same country and city as me. My child lost his great grandfather.

Nor was it an easy loss. We had to choose not to give treatment. Which is a painful no win choice to make. But it sucks doubly when information that is needed to make the decision is not given freely. We often talk about how sexism in any profession hurts other in the profession. Rarely do we talk about how it hurts the by standers. I am an educated intelligent woman. Any one who is capable of being rational, analysis of information would have been able to understand our grandfathers condition if they were given the information.  When doctors are conscending, elitist, sexists assholes they withhold information make decision for us and ultimately cause more pain to their patients and the patients family.

When I arrived in the hospital I tried getting information on my grandfathers condition. I was shown X rays because as the elderly prick doctor stated "I had a spark of intelligence about me". I refrained from saying FUCK YOU asshole because I needed to put my GF first.  All he told me was that my GF's bowels had burst and he needed surgery to survive. When I asked what type of surgery and the risk of surgery I was told that it was surgery or death.  The type of surgery was not explained and I stupidly did not ask. I should've. I assumed (which was a mistake) that the surgery would be stitching of the torn bowels.

Six hours later, the surgeon came down. PO'd as all hell and was angry that we were doing the surgery. When I asked what my options were, I was told to "close the book" on our grandfather. Let me tell you that is not how you talk to the advocate. The surgeon explained that my grandfather could die on the table (always a risk at his age) and would be on a ventilator.  I'm looking at him, thinking yes but he would be ALIVE??? He will heal and he will be fine. When I asked the internal medicine doctor, the one that thought I had the spark of intelligence, he said normally these types of surgeries have a 1% risk of death and with my grandfathers age and health it was about 20-30% more.  70% chance of LIFE? of course we would choose that.

Thankfully GF's general practioner came by and had my GF transferred to the main trauma centre. Once we got there, the amazing doctors actually explained what was happening. The surgery was not a stitch'em up and go surgery. It was major surgery, complete removal of the bowel and placement of a stoma so that my GF could poo into a bag that he would have empty out.  Yes the surgery they do as a treatment for colitis.  Shocking isn't it? Our grandfather was 81. How do you think he wouldve adjusted if he had the surgery and survived. Thats not an easy surgery for a 25 year old. I know, I've witnessed friends go through it, let alone some with my grandfathers heath problems.  He suffering from arrhythmia. His heart rated was fluctuating from 96 bpm to 117 bpm, he had COPD.  These are major warning signs against the use of anesthetist.  Oh and yeah at this point, >12 hours later we found out our grandfather had a 10% chance of survival and what did we want to do? The doctors at the trauma centre were amazing. Kind and  compassionate, taking time to explain treatment options, risks associated with each.  They were honest and open about what was happening and they left the decision making power in our hands. They did not make the decision for us.

Why didn't this conversation happen at the hospital in my grandfathers town, not one that was >1 hour drive away from ALL our family. He could've been kept comfortable in a hospital he knew, where family could easily be around him, where his grandchildren could've been with him when he died.  None of that happened because the asshole doctor didn't think I could handle, understand or need the information. Apparenlty his old white ass was better equipped to make decisions about whether we should / want to do surgery then my brown illiterate self.  We should've been given all the information at 10 am in the morning at the first hospital, had the pro and cons of each treatment option, the risks associated etc. We should not have been told the information

I think we made the right decision for our grandfather. It was a shitty spot to be in though, his mental facilities were intact and he knew he was dying. And Mr.SM and I didn't know how to be there for each other.  We're working on that. We've been hit with alot. Thankfully my comps went well and has been a turning point for us. Hopefully we can keep walking away from that brink.  Next post will be a summary of my exam.

Many thanks to all of my readers. Lurkers and commenters alike.