Monday, April 30, 2007

Hopefully we won' t have much post-op pain

Keep your eyes peeled for upcoming changes on this site. With help from my very engineery and technologically superior Gringito Mio, my blog is going under the knife. In celebration of our six month blogiversary, Blog and I decided she’d get a brow lift and a jowl tuck. I rallied for the liposuction, but Blog here thought that having a big ass builds character…so she vetoed the idea. Gawd, she can be such a bitch.

In all seriousness, there are some serious html shenanigans and hullabaloo goings on back here behind the curtain. And, if we press all the right keys, we’ll have a new look and even a new, exciting masthead…with a real life picture of an identifiable part of my person!! For those of you who follow along here regularly (and I think there are seven of you now), you’re probably thinking that part might be my ass. You’re mistaken. (Though not mistaken for thinking I actually considered it!) (I did.) (But even I have standards of decency.) (Ha!)

Keep your fingers crossed that we don’t somehow manage to html ourselves a big, red, blinking delete button!

Jetlagged? Or just the usual tomfoolery?

We were stopped at a red light when a slightly disheveled woman crossed the street using the crosswalk just in front of my car. She looked to be young, mid-thirties maybe, and was carrying a tattered, balled-up, wooly blanket. It struck me as odd because she was carrying it much in the same way one might carry a swaddled infant, or a full porcelain punch bowl, across a room.

“Hmm, that looks a bit peculiar, don’t you think?”

The Brit brought his head forward off of the headrest in my front passenger seat and opened one eye to look, first at me and then at the woman. Having just arrived back from his two-week business trip the day before, his body was still on China time.

“What do you suppose she’s carrying in there? A baby?”

He opened his other eye. “Hmm. That…or maybe a small dog. [Pause.] Or a great big bunch of vegetables.”

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Cigarettes & Alcohol

No one was coming for his heart or his liver, and it was clear why. No sooner had we taken a scalpel to the skin over his abdomen…my attending starting down by the pubis while I started from up under the xiphoid…we met at the navel…we got through the even poorer protoplasm below it and entered into his peritoneum to find a belly full of ascites fluid. His bowels, thin, pale and filled with air and succus, bobbed up to the surface of the yellow fluid. I placed a suction device deep into his abdomen and watched as the fluid drained out, much like it would from a bathtub with the drain pulled. Liters were drained and what remained were the sad contents of his jaundiced abdomen. The now visible liver did not glisten as expected, and it certainly wasn’t its usual color. It was cobblestoned and knobby, cirrhotic, tortured by this man’s very close and very daily relationship with alcohol. No. We wouldn’t be touching that. Or his pancreas, which was nearly calcified through and through likely from several bouts of alcoholic pancreatitis. His blood vessels, conduits which should be smooth and elastic, were crunchy...hardened by his slavery to cigarettes. Attempts to cannulate them revealed rinds and rinds of yellow, cheesy, calcified atheroschlerotic plaque, filling in the lumen, obstructing blood flow. It was a wonder this man’s legs were getting any blood at all.

We were only there for his kidneys. Kidneys that were risky to take, having come from someone in such poor shape. Kidneys that someone in a nearby state desperately needed. Kidneys that this man’s wife had graciously signed the consent form to donate despite the grief she must have been feeling after loosing a husband who, just three weeks prior, had decided to give up both cigarettes and alcohol. A hypertensive hemorrhagic stroke robbed him of his chance to try out his new life. He was only 51.

Far too young if you ask me.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

I'll try to get through this without throwing up a third time

Get your barf bags ready for the second installment of Teenage Turmoil…
March 22, 1991

Dear Diary -

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, OH MY GOSH!!!! You will never believe what happened today at school. Before I tell you, I have to say it was the best day I have had since the beginning of this quarter!
Consider that, prior to this, my best day ever was the day I got a new pair of pink and white British Knight sneakers, that should put things into perspective for you.
Anyways, I’ll tell you now. Oooh, I’m getting butterflies in my stomach just thinking about it. Ok. Let me calm down...

God help me if I ever have a daughter who doesn’t go straight from 8 years of age to 24. Because if I have to deal with this kind of silliness, I fear there will be a lot of eye rolling and vomiting. On my part.
Alright. At the way beginning of the school day when I first walked into school, this little short kid came up to ask me if I would go out with Peter.

Yep…this is back when boys knew how to really charm a lady. They’d send a messenger. Or, alternatively, pass a note in class that said:
Do you like me?

Hope so.
Love, Peter

The men of my age group today could really learn from the 13 year olds of my past. They were truly well versed at the art of wooing.
And I said “Why, did he ask you to ask me?” And he said yes. Then I said “Well, if he really wanted to go out with me he would ask me himself.” So then the boy said ok and then left and I went to my first and second period.

Nice. Check me OUT! I was girly (and vomitously so) back then, but at least I had balls. Or, descended ovaries, rather. Whatever.
Then, during the break, I was so nervous and I didn’t know what to say if he asked me so Miss Legs For Miles and I and Heidi went walking around. Then we arrived at the lockers just as the bell rang. So that was a relief.

I know, ‘cause PHEW! I might have, like, totally passed out or whatever if he’d actually asked me out. Totally. Like, for real.
Then we went to English. (Oh and by the way during break Shauna pulled me aside and said “I wanted to tell you this before you found it out the wrong way from someone else. I went up to Peter and asked him if he was going to ask you out and he said he was. And I said ‘Good, because I want to be there when she rejects you.’ I meant to say ‘IF she rejects you.’ I’m sorry! Because now he’s mad.”)

Eww. I just threw up in my mouth a little from how sooo 90210, The Early Years this is. Gawd!
Ok, anyways, Paul looked mad and I have English with him so that was kind of bad. I had such a bad stomach ache. But I lived.

Ya don’t say.
Then next came math. And I have that class with him too. In that class (Shauna is in it too) Shauna apologized to Peter about saying that. And he still looked mad.

Lunch was next. I went to my locker and met everyone there then we all went to the lunch area and…ate! Then when we all finished, we went to the PE area because there was a basketball game between the teachers and students. But when we got there and we’d already watched part of the game I had to go to the bathroom. So Miss LFM, Heidi and I departed from the group and went to the “little girls room.”

Ahh yes…the Must Pee In A Pack Syndrome. I remember this. It is widely known in the scientific community that the females' adolescent urethral sphincter can only be coaxed into relaxation, so as to allow micturition, while in the presence of at least two other female friends. Something occurs in the early twenties…oh, I don’t know, something called Growing Up, that eradicates this Syndrome.
Then since lunch was almost over and I wanted to go find Paul because I wanted to tell him that I didn’t tell Shauna to say that we went to the lockers. And as usual he was there with all his friends. So I said “Peter, I didn’t want or tell Shauna to say what she said.” And he said “Oh that’s okay don’t worry about it.”

Among the many things that make me want to hurl about this embarrassingly long play-by-play of the faux mating rituals I participated in as an adolescent, is the pure disdain I seemed to have had at the time for proper punctuation. Dude, seriously. Where are the commas? (I’m sure that when I’m re-reading this blog when I’m 80, I’ll be like, “Dude. What's with all the sentence fragments?”)
So then the bell rang and Shauna and Lana showed up. And ofcourse they were asking Peter if he was going to ask me out. And I didn’t hear him all the way but I think he said something like “The girl hates me.” And Shauna and Lana were saying “No, no, she told us she was seriously considering it.” And Peter didn’t say anything, he just kept nodding or something like that. So I just turned around and said “Yes, I am considering it!”

[Leans over to barf in emesis basin strategically placed an arms length away in anticipation of the nausea this diary entry would elicit.]
And Peter looked at me kind of shocked and said “You…you are?”

So I smiled and then took my books out of the locker and put them in my book bag. Then I was just standing there waiting for Shauna who was still pestering Peter (we had next period together so that’s why I was waiting). So then finally Paul just looked at me and said “Will you go out with me?” And I said “Let me think about it over the weekend ok?” And he said “Ok.” And then we went to our separate classes.

Let me think about it? After all that, after all the build up and the butterflies and the barfing (oh, wait, that was just now, not then), I said Let Me Think About It??? What a dweeb.
Then at the end of the day he waited up for me and we walked to the bus together (but we ride separate buses).

So it was a short walk. Regardless, I’m sure, in my adolescent peabrain, I’d already decided I wanted to have twelve of his blue green eyed babies by the end of it.
Exciting day wasn’t it? I think the answer I’m going to give him is quite obvious, don’t you?

[Barfs again. Then dry heaves for a while.]

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

I don't have children yet...

…so you, my dear fortunate five readers, get to hear about my plants.

I’ve always loved plants. They’re not unlike babies in that they’re pretty and they thrive on little more than fluids. Unlike babies, though, they don’t cry, they don’t chap your nipples, they don’t poo, and they photosynthesize. Which is handy. I haven’t reviewed my plant biology in a while, but I’m fairly certain that, in addition to converting CO2, they also convert the noxious methane gases that are expelled in our household into sweet, sweet oxygen. Bonus!

I’ve recently taken an interest in succulents. Mostly because they are flawlessly symmetrical, captivatingly beautiful, and incredibly low maintenance.

But also because the word "succulent" is such an enjoyable word to say out loud. Say it with me…


Kinda feels like you’re saying something naughty. But you’re not! (Bonus!!)

The word "succulent" is gettin' so much play in my house right's all "Check my succulents out!" here and "Wanna touch my succulents?" there and there's even a little bit of...

My succulents bring all the boys to the yard, and they're's better than yours...damn right, it's better than yours...I could teach you, but I'd have to charge...

Okay. I’ll shut up already.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Apparently I’m a glass 95% empty kinda gal

Never to be underestimated is my consistent ability to hone in on that which could potentially be spilled.

Within the last 48 hours, I’ve managed to…

…empty the very red, and very carpet-staining contents of an entire glass of wine onto the carpet in my bedroom.
…topple over a freshly opened bottle of beer, also onto the carpet in my bedroom (though, sadly, not in the same location as the red wine…that might have actually helped dilute out the cabernet).
…drain my travel mug of nearly every last drop of my morning green tea into the small compartment in my car that holds my various hospital ID badges, assorted pens, my pager, and a few old triple A batteries.

And I was sober for every single deluge.

I think I missed my calling as the fourth of the Three Stooges. Either that, or I am just not cut out to be an optimist.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Supporting evidence for the argument that I have bad wazoo karma

There are two people who I don’t particularly enjoy visiting. One is the dentist and the other is the gynecologist. This has largely to do with the fact that the dentist tends to stick cold, metal instruments into my mouth and the gynecologist tends to stick cold, metal instruments into my wazoo.1 If I had to rank how I’d prefer to spend my time, spending it with either of these two individuals would go right under performing a trapeze act while suspended from fish hooks looped through my eyelids…which, incidentally, I haven’t tried yet, but only because I’ve been a bit busy. I hear it’s a total rush.

The only reason I bring this up is because I had to visit the gyno last week for an annual exam. Apparently, there were many a ladyfolk in stirrups that morning, as there was a bit of a wait for the doc. And as I lay there reclined on the cold, disinfected (I hope!) exam table, naked except for a remarkably large paper napkin, I looked back on all of my gynecologic experiences over the last decade. As luck should have it, all of my gynos have been almost exclusively men. And not for any particular reason other than they always seem to have more
appointments available. Which is not surprising…women tend to want to see women for matters of the snatch. Me? I’m simply not that discriminating.

It’s a wonder, though, that I’m not…especially when one considers my very first experience with a male gynecologist. It still goes down in history as one of my most embarrassing moments ever. I was 19 and similarly reclined on a similar table in a similar exam room with the same Eau D’disinfectant. The paper napkin was much, much smaller, though. (Lucky for me, so was my ass.) I don’t think I breathed during the entire exam. The resulting cerebral hypoxia, coupled with the vivid images conjured by my gynecologist’s lengthy explanation of how he thought we should shove a few trocars into my abdomen to laparascopically diagnose the endometriosis he thought I had, culminated in me passing out. I came to with the paper napkin having flopped completely open (rendering me completely exposed) with my right upper and lower extremities dangling limply over the side of the exam table (crotch facing my gyno’s direct line of sight), with the nurse shoving smelling salts up my nose. They might have presented me with the Award for the Patient With The Most Theatrically Impressive Nude Syncopal Episode had I ever gone back to claim it. I didn’t. Ever.

For several years after that, just for the sake of convenience, I went to the gynecologist who my mother worked for as a nurse. At first, I thought it might not be the wisest idea, given that my mother would have easy access to my medical records. I was sure she wouldn’t be able to resist the temptation to take a peak into my sex life. So I repeatedly assured Dr. Williams that when I went out hooking on Friday nights, and then on to my sex show at Whips, Chains & Trapezes on Saturday nights, I’d always use protection…he nodded, unphased, and noted it in my medical chart for her reading pleasure.

Then, I started residency. And, again, for the sake of convenience, I thought it best to just go see a gynecologist who worked in the clinic building adjacent to the hospital where I worked. That way, I could just pop over in between OR cases. This seemed like a good idea at the time. It ceased to be a good idea about six months after the appointment, when I was scrubbed in on a complicated colon cancer case. We called an intraoperative OB/GYN consult for some input on a rather suspicious looking ovarian lesion on the patient who’s colon cancer we were resecting. And who scrubs in but the very gyno who ventured down into my nether regions just six months before! This would have been fine, except he kept looking at me from across the OR table. After about five minutes of curious glances, he finally said, “You look extremely familiar…have I met you somewhere before?” My general surgery attending peered up from the fungating colonic lesion in his hands and, despite the mask over his mouth, I could see the smirk in his eyes. Likewise, I was fairly sure that my crimson face could be seen despite my mask. After a few seconds, during which I regained my composure, I looked at our consulting gynecologist and said, “Yeah, I think you gave my cervix a clean bill of health about six months ago. I'm flattered I was so memorable.”

So, that was the end of that! And last week, as I lay there on the exam table waiting for my new, and hopefully more tactful, gynecologist to walk in, I crossed my fingers in the hopes that the visit would go seamlessly, and in the very least, without a syncopal episode.


In walked perhaps the best looking gynecologist on the planet. Dark hair, dark skin, light eyes, chiseled face, medium/muscular build. NOT the middle aged, mormon, paternal dork with 9 children I was hoping for. For the love of crotches, this guy shouldn't BE a gynecologist, he should PLAY one on TV.

Me and my vagina just don’t have very good luck with gynecologists.

1. Wazoo – one of the many non-medical words for vagina that I consider an acceptable substitution. This one came from a friend of mine who, incidentally, is a gynecologist. His daughter had to stand up in front of her kindergarten class to say what her parents did for a living…when it was her turn, she stood up and said: “My mommy stays at home to take care of my sister while my daddy looks at bellies and wazoos all day long.” Needless to say, her dad had the most impressive profession out of all her classmates’ parents.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Sweet, sweet nothings via text message...

The Brit’s away on business yet again…this time in Korea and China. Given his tendency to partake of the varied gastronomic wonders that are sold by street vendors (wonders like deep, fried, breaded bee larva and mystery meat product on a stick) it’s not surprising that the text message from him after his first night in Shanghai came with news of an entire night spent perched atop a toilet in a fecal meltdown.

I got to play doctor via text message and give him a few recommendations for medications. Mostly he needs to just stay hydrated. (And beer doesn’t count if you’re reading this, mi Gringito Lindo!!!) Then I told him that I love him and miss him and hope he feels better soon.

To which he replied:
As much as I like seeing new places, I would much rather be with you.

Then a little later:
Just took the bund tunnel. It was in that Chinese film we saw about a year ago. All psychedelic lights. Pretty cool. Poo getting a little more solid.

To which I replied: of the many reasons I love you…you always say the right things! XOXO

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ohhh, dear Peter, you're mediocre but I love you...

I was recently going through a stack of boxes searching for a particular Special Pan, my designated Cuban Flan Pan. Given my knack for organization, I found it right where anyone in their right mind would have put it…in the same box with an old set of markers (last used when I was approximately age 12) along with enough unopened orca-sized maxi pads to give the Hoover Dam a day off . Given my knack for labeling boxes only on their tops and my other knack for then stacking them on top of each other, (I’m knacky, what can I say) I had to go through several boxes before I found what I was looking for. This explains how I stumbled upon the long forgotten box filled with a 15-year-old Ziggy doll collection and an anthology of my old journals, some of which date back to 1989! It was all there…from the heartbreak of not being allowed to shave my legs right through to the torture of being, like, so…totally misunderstood! Imagine my glee upon uncovering this pubescent treasure! I was happier than a gonococcus setting up shop in a virgin vagina!

And thus, I welcome you to the first installment of Teenage Turmoil. Join me as I microdissect the hormonally charged, emotionally misguided, synaptic misfirings that I managed to jot down using barely legible pink ink and deliberately bubbly letters. Today, we shall look back on my 13 year old feelings regarding sex and a boy named Peter…
March 10, 1991

Dear Diary -

Just last Friday was Miss Legs For Miles’ birthday sleepover party and since we stayed up til 1:30 AM gossiping and listening to music, I learned a lot of things that night. One thing is Miss LFM likes this one kid named Kevin. He’s kind of perverted and he’s not all that cute but he sort of likes her – at least we think he does! I didn’t know until that night and it was kind of a surprise. Anyways, more on Kevin later.

Here we learn that apparently Miss Legs For Miles (who, incidentally, I am still very close friends with) (and who incidentally DOES have killer legs) (and who I, incidentally, resent slightly for that to this day) and I didn’t have very high standards. Kind of perverted?? Not that cute?? I mean, honestly, sounds like he could have picked his nose and eaten his boogers out by the tetherball courts and we still would have dug him.
I also found out some disgusting news about Tina and Mandy. Heidi was telling us that she went over to one of their houses and they were talking about they had had sex before! That is really gross. Miss LFM and I promised Heidi we wouldn’t say anything to them.

Ahh…it is here that we see the manifestations of my parents’ many chit chats about the importance of abstinence. (And by “chit chats” I mean “stern, scary ditto presentations with schematics.”) Considering the fact that not a day passed by that I wasn’t reminded of the fiery pits of hell that awaited me should I engage in the unforgivable act of premarital sex, I pretty much thought a penis was akin to Satan with one eye. I got over that a few short years later. Nevertheless, I must say, if I ever have a daughter, I think I will start teaching her all about Satan The Firebreathing Penis when she’s about three.
Ok, now I guess I could get back to Kevin now. Kevin is this boy who hangs around with this other boy named Peter. Peter is also perverted and slightly immature but he likes me.

Gosh. Doesn’t he sound dreamy? Sigh…
In fact he went out with Liz only to get closer to me.

Ok. We should clarify something right here. “Going Out” when we were in middle school meant: exchanging sidelong glances at each other in Ms. Kheuler’s class, hanging out by each others’ lockers during the lunch break, and generally just standing around in awkward silence, kicking pebbles and staring at everyone but each other. Sometimes the guy in the relationship would let the girl wear his jacket…you know, so that all the other boy puppies would know that this particular tree had been peed on. So, in other words, Peter let Liz wear his jacket for a while. They TOTALLY dated. It was serious.
He’s always staring at me in English, Math and Social Studies, the three classes I have with him. He’s not really that cute but he’s not terribly ugly. He’s got really cute blue green eyes.

I love this part. Again, aiming low! He’s SO “not terribly ugly” that I haven’t even looked at him long enough to know his true eye color. I’d actually written "blue" and then gone in later with a green pen and written “green” over it!
He’s told Lydia that he likes me. I like him but I don’t want to show it but I do in a way. I don’t because I’m always telling Miss LFM that he’s a jerk and that I can’t stand him. The reason why I sort of do want to show it is because Miss LFM told him that I don’t care about him liking me when he asked what I think of him. And I think that might ruin how he likes me!! What should I do?

Oh, the tortuous rapture that is teenage love! First, I didn’t really like him because he wasn’t “really that cute”…but then he beamed his baby
blues greens over at me in English class and he, like, TOTALLY swept me off my feet. Dude, I’m half proud of the fact that I wasn’t all about looks, but half disappointed that I was that easy to win over at the unripened age of 13. (This noxious combination will prove to be to my detriment in future dating fiascos.)

Stay tuned for next week’s installment to see if I
get to wear this guy’s jacket "go out" with this guy.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Sometimes things happen that render you paralyzed with the horror of it all, speechless with its senselessness, dizzy with the Why of it, and nauseated with the thought that there may never be an answer. When things of this variety come wheeled in on a gurney through the hospital emergency room doors, I have endogenous adrenaline to help override the otherwise innate desire within me to make sense of the situation. When there is a patient with severe closed head injuries due to a high speed car crash and another patient next door with a pneumothorax, a long bone fracture and a blood alcohol level triple the legal limit, it simply doesn’t matter in the moment of their arrival that the drunk patient is the driver of the car that caused the accident. The only thing that matters is timely and appropriate care. That’s what I’ve been trained to do, and so I do it.

When things of this variety happen in a small community of which I am not directly affiliated…there is no adrenaline, there is nothing for me to busy myself with, and I am allowed to sit, in stunned silence, to take it all in…and to wish, like the students and faculty at Virginia Tech and like the rest of the country, that things like this didn’t happen.

If there’s anything I’ve come to appreciate in my line of work, it’s that life is fragile and tragically fickle…but the human soul and spirit can sometimes be unimaginably, outstandingly valiant and invincible. I just wish it didn’t take tragedies like this to make the world realize that.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Old habits are hard to break

My cell phone rings. It’s Mamacusa.

“Hey Ma! What’s up?”

“Nada, I just wanted to thank you for the lovely package full of gifts from Japan!!!! THANK YOU SO MUCH!”

“Glad you like it! Were you surprised??”


“You like how that works?”

“Do I like how what works?”

“The surprise! See how much of a surprise it was when the surprisER doesn’t call the potential surprisEE beforehand to tell them to expect a surprise in the mail???”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. I always ruin surprises. I can’t help it…I just get so excited!”

“I know. It’s fun to give presents.”

“Yeah, so anyway. When are you and The Brit coming up to see me next…I’ve got some GREAT presents for you…”


“…I just did it again didn’t I?”


Monday, April 16, 2007

Our growing compendium of incidents involving automotive retardation...

Heretofore, it was thought, even proclaimed!, that I was a bad driver. I think it bears documenting here and now, that I am not alone in my vehicular ineptitude.

The Brit, using the precision and exactness acquired from years of pulling out of the same driveway every morning for five years, recently managed to scrape and then yank the rear bumper off of Vinja’s car with the front end of his Mini.

This would be considered a momentary lapse in a previously impeccable driving record…except he’d, just months before, careened right into the driveway gate, thus successfully and permanently dislocating its several rusted joints.

Prior to that, he’d destroyed the front bumper of our rental car while pulling out of the carport of our lodge in Namibia.

Prior to
that, he’d lurched headlong into a deer on the freeway.

I’m not saying I don’t deserve being mocked for cracking my driver’s side rearview mirror while pulling out of a parking garage or for denting the passenger side of my car with the driver’s side rearview mirror of another car while attempting to parallel park on a hill…but I’m just saying…

Take a bow with me, my dear Brit!

It’s a wonder either one of us manages to get out of the driveway most days.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The best of both worlds

My usual week at the county hospital, a hospital I spend much of my time in as a surgical resident, involves a number of things that may seem overwhelming to one who might work a standard 9 to 5 office job (particularly when that office job rarely involves blood, pus or excrement of any kind). Things like…

…a work day that starts around 5 AM.
…a work day that ends anywhere from 5 PM that same day to noon the day after.
…an average of 80 hours a week at work and four days off a month.
…a fair amount of sleep deprivation due to that which is listed above
…an even fairer amount of blood, pus, excrement (and a myriad of other bodily fluids for that matter).
…at least once a week, no less than one categorically drunken, drugged-out patient either spitting at me or, equally as charming, calling me a bitch.
…patient upon patient with bullet wound after bullet wound…with bullets that sometimes, oftentimes just by luck, have just grazed the skin…others that have penetrated through the sternum right into the left ventricle of the heart…still others that have miraculously managed to hit a rib anteriorly, ride it all the way posteriorly, and lodge themselves right by the spinal cord without any injury to any organ system whatsoever. Not surprisingly, the latter is the least common of the three listed scenarios. And sadly, there are infinitely more scenarios.
…swollen ankles from hours on end of standing in the operating room.
…ultimately, and what makes me do it, the satisfaction of diagnosing an operable disease, and performing the necessary procedure to take care of the patient (regardless of whether he or she spat at me or not). (And usually, even the spitters are grateful once the anesthesia has worn off.)

It goes without saying that the job is somewhat demanding. And after three solid years of working 80 hours a week, I was very much looking forward to the “break” that a stint of research would give me. Last July I signed on for a two-year leave from my usual clinical schedule to do breast cancer research. Cancer, for reasons near and dear to my heart, is something I’ve had an interest in helping abolish since early on in my medical education. Surgery can be an effective cure, and it’s certainly very satisfying when it is…but oftentimes it’s not. So looking for the reasons for this and finding ways to anticipate and prevent them, is very exciting to be a part of. The breast cancer research community as a whole, a community that spans the entire globe, is at a very pivotal point right now…and participating in it all is fulfilling in a way that is much different from my usual day at the hospital.

Plus! The added perks of a research job are things like…
…a work day that starts around 9 AM.
…a work day that ends anywhere from 5 PM to 7PM.
…an average of 40 hours a week, evenings and weekends off.
…a fair amount of sleep.
…absolutely no blood, pus, or excrement.
…a sheer lack of obscenities being screamed at me by patients
…no bullets
…ankles that do not protest when I attempt to zip up my boots!
…time to do other things…like visit friends and family, dance, and write this blog!

This is temporary…as I’ll go back to my usual clinical schedule in June of 2008. And I suspect that by then, I’ll be ready to jump back in to the chaos of it all. Afterall, I already miss working closely with individual patients and I certainly miss operating. And, sometimes, strangely enough, being screamed at, spit at, or called something profane at 3 AM by a perfect stranger, is more awakening than a stiff cup of coffee!

1. Yes, this means some of my shifts, usually around one to two a week, hover around 30 hours long.
2. To which I usually reply, “That’s ‘Dr. Bitch’ to you, Sir.”

Thursday, April 12, 2007

In which even MY high standards of vulgarity are trumped...

It’s not too often that I am NOT the most obnoxious person sitting at the dinner table, but I daresay I was recently, even if only temporarily, trumped…

…and by a Brit! Not The Brit of course, the pillar of politeness that he is, but A Brit nonetheless. I should have known that if anyone were going to make me spray a Napa Valley syrah through my nasal passages, it would be this particular Brit.

The Storyteller, one of The Brit’s close childhood friends (and, incidentally, the brother of one of my favorite bloggers), blows through town every so often on the wings of a Virgin. While mounted on said Virgin, he offers up the best “First Class Cart Tart” service (as he endearingly refers to it) at approximately 30,000 ft. While dismounted, and safely at or around sea level, he offers some of the best gay company on this end of SF (and by “gay” I mean both “merry” and “homosexual”). All of this simply goes to say that his brief visits don’t go a single minute without an entertaining story of some sort, all of which result in deep belly laughter and, ultimately, syrah through the nose. I should just stop taking sips when he begins to speak, really.

At dinner the other night, we stuffed ourselves silly with divine food and drink, all the while disturbing the peace with our raucous laughter. As per usual. Our dinner plates were cleared, just in time to spare me the embarrassment I would have suffered had I given in to my urges to lick up the remnants of my seared scallops and potato puree. Then, our attentive waiter handed us the dessert menu.

“Room for dessert?” the waiter asked.

The Storyteller’s response: “I doubt I could even fit so much as a cock in my mouth right now, no matter how much I might want to!”

I’m assuming the restaurant has stain remover for their white tablecloths.

Hope so.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The kinds of things I think about while jogging at the outdoor track...

Damn, I hate it when I forget my Ipod. It’s SO boring to run without musical accompaniment…

[several minutes of running in silence]

I don’t think you ready…for this jelly…I don’t think you ready…for this jelly…

Nope. Just not the same without Beyonce.

Ooh! That guy’s got a nice ass, lemme go run behind him.

[slowly but surely change lanes to the innermost lane behind Beautiful Butt Boy]

Crap. He runs too fast.

Before I know it, he’ll come up from behind me and be looking at MY ass.

Which would NOT be good.

As I’m fairly certain there’s a good amount of jiggling going on back there.

Which is WHY I’m running in the first place.

God, why did you have to make cheese so delicious?

So sinfully delicious??? You put crack in it, didn’t you?

[slowly but surely change lanes to the outer lane where I started out]

Mmmm. Cheese.

Ok. We’re here to focus.

Think about running….R-U-N-N-I-N-G.

Not smoked gouda.


Your pear apple smoked gouda butt is depending on it.

I don’t think you ready…for this jelly…

God, running is soooooooo boring.

Maybe if I pretend there’s a piece of cheese at the end of lap 5, I’ll get there fast--

OUCH! Diaphragm cramp!!

Friggin’ smoked gouda.

Monday, April 9, 2007

No shits, no giggles

Dear Editors of the Fine Publication that recently published the article "Was Castro Good for Cuba?" -

I sincerely thank you for publishing this piece, as it raises a number of important issues. These issues, for reasons personal to me, my Cuban parents and my Cuban grandparents, will always be a topic of discussion around our dinner table. I am privileged to be am
ong the first generation of our family born in the United States, and thus was able to approach the article with a bit more of an objective stance than the older members of my family. Even still, however, there were elements to the article which were difficult, if not absurdly impossible, to swallow.

Most glaringly, having a Spaniard defend the argument for "yes" introduced perhaps the single most damaging inaccuracy in the entire piece. While I can appreciate that a well-seasoned, widely read journalist and writer such as Ignacio Ramonet might be able to craft some intelligent reasons for such an argument after a few visits and so many hours of interviewing Castro, the argument for "yes" would have been far more powerful had it been made by a native Cuban who lives in Castro's Cuba today. At first I was puzzled by the choice of a non-Cuba
n author because, though freedom of speech and of the press are not amongst the liberties that the citizens of Cuba currently enjoy, I would imagine that Castro might make an exception for a press document that would eulogize him. I wasn't puzzled for long, though, as I realized that one would be hard-pressed to find a Cuban citizen, living among the economically and politically cachectic people of Cuba, who would sing the praises of a man who has allowed a once glorious country to crumble into heaps of rubble. Indeed, it is much easier to find someone who enjoys the liberties of a country in which he does not need to give up simple pleasures like toilet paper, steak, or the right to accumulate wealth. It is much easier to find someone who enjoys a medical system in which he does not need to keep the equivalent of $6 USD (which amounts to anywhere from 1/3 to 1/2 of one month's salary) stashed away for cab fair in the event of a medical emergency because one cannot depend on an ambulance. Yes, much easier to bring in Ignacio Ramonet…a Spanish author who does not even see the irony in the question that he, himself, posed in reference to all of the pro bono cataract surgery that Cuban surgeons are offering to the poor of other Latin American countries: Is seeing one's children and the landscape of one's homeland not a fundamental human right?? Yes, Mr. Ramonet, it is. However, Cubans don't get to enjoy that right as they do not have a functional, much less a comfortable, transportation system in which to tour around their homeland. And even if they did, they couldn't afford to use it. And even if they could afford it, they're not allowed to stay in their own country's hotels, eat in their own country's restaurants, or bathe in some of their own country's beaches. So, while Cuban infants may indeed benefit from a lower infant mortality rate, the trade-off is surviving to live a restricted, albeit educated, life on an inescapable prison island. To support this political and economic system, and furthermore, to argue that Castro has the support of the majority, requires all the intention and focused energy of a toddler who, in the throws of a temper tantrum, has his eyes clenched shut and his fingers jammed snugly into each external ear while humming loudly. Only then can the reality be sufficiently drowned out. It is frankly disappointing that an intelligent man like Mr. Ramonet subscribed to such techniques to arrive at his conclusions.

Despite the fact that the harsh realities of life in Cuba precluded the ability to find a Cuban author for the "yes" argument, the discussion did not suffer from a lack of impassi
oned opinions. It was a lively discussion, each author having facts and statistics of questionable validity to support his argument. As a physician who knows full well that one can scour the medical literature to find data and statistical evidence to back directly opposing treatment options for the very same medical malady, it is with a grain of salt that I take in each side's supporting arguments. However, no matter how many political prisoners and extrajudicial murders there have been or have not been, no matter how many uprisings have occurred or not occurred, no matter how much Cuba's average annual gross domestic product has grown or not grown…there are at least a few simple truths, all of which rise above the distraction created by the data-wielding on each side of the argument, to suggest that when all is said and done, Castro has NOT been good for Cuba.

And those simple truths are as follows:

Castro assumed power four decades ago by means of violence, and has since never offered the people of Cuba an alternative option for leadership by any other party or any other leader.

The people of Cuba want change. They want change so desperately, that thousands and thousands have risked, and continue to risk, their lives to escape to a better place.

This is hardly a legacy to be proud of.

And so we wait. Here in the States and, surely, in Cuba, we wait and we hope for a truly "Cuba Libre.”


Friday, April 6, 2007

Just for shits & giggles...

For the five of you who follow along here semi-regularly, you know by now that I love a good laugh. And, considering that I don’t mind when that laugh comes at even my own expense, it certainly doesn’t bother me when an appropriate opportunity presents itself to laugh at the expense of someone else. Especially when that someone else is our country’s fearless fearful leader.

So, with that, I give you this:

George Bush slips and breaks his neck, back, leg…

It went around via the email circuit last year some time (it's also a very popular screen saver, apparently), but I dug it up after his most recent impromptu press conference to have a go at him. I’ve wasted spent so much time enjoying this…mostly because when he gets stuck, you can use your cursor to pick him up and fling him around or drag him through impossible crevices…it’s just gool ol’ fashioned fun! Enjoy, if you haven’t already. (And even if you have, it’s just as fun the second, third, fourth… time around.)

Thursday, April 5, 2007

The definition of High Maintenance

I went with Dochechka to pick her Mamichki up from the airport last night. Afterwards, the three of us went to dinner. What ensued is not at all atypical of an evening out with Mamichki. She’s like a second mother to me, so I mean this in a very loving way: Mamichki can be a royal pain. And if Dochechka ever gets a bit grumpy or indecisive, I just remember that she got half her chromosomal matter and all of her mitochondrial matter from this woman…

Mamichki looked fleetingly at the menu and then tossed it over by Dochechka, “You peek for me. I dun’t know vhat I vant.”

“Ok. Well, what do you feel like?”

“I dun’t know. You peek.”

“Ok. You want the duck?”


“You want the Ahi Tuna?”

“No. I don’t vant ze fish.”

“Okaayyyy. The Shrimp?”

“NO! I don’t vant ze FISH! I had big fish vhen I was in ze Spain…you cean’t even imagine how big! No fish!”

“Well, shrimp isn’t really fish, but ok. How about the chicken?”

“Fine. I vill have ze shrimp.”

“Are you sure? Is that what you want?”

“No. I dun't know.”

“Well, Mamichki, why don’t you look at the menu and pick something out for yourself.”

Without looking at the menu, “Fine. I vill have ze chicken.”

“Good. Ok.”

Mumbling under her breath, “But I dun’t really vant ze chicken…”

“Mamichki, just look at the menu!”

“No! You peek for me!! Why you don’t order me same sing as vhat you get?”

“Because I’m having the tuna.”

“I don’t VANT FISH!”


Blissfully unaware the potential peril of entering the conversation, the waiter arrived, “Are you all just about ready for me to take your order?”

“Yes," I said. "She’ll have the duck."

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie

If you’d have told me back in high school that one of the best dates I’d ever go on would involve a protractor and the actual exercise of measuring out precise angles, I’d have peered at you from underneath my near unibrow, rolled my eyes at you (which you might have missed…my eyebrows were that unruly), and then said something classically indecipherable in a way that was, like, sooo totally pubescent. Something along the lines of: “Pffft.” This is Teenagerspeak for: “Not only are you out of your friggin’ mind, but you’ve probably never heard of Color Me Badd, both of which mean you have no idea what cool is. Take your protractor and shove it.”

And yet. This is exactly true. The Brit, in a way that is so endearingly engineering-y, gathered a moon chart, a protractor, and a google map of the city of SF and figured out the exact path that the full moon would take when it rose the other night. This explains the sunset drive over the Golden Gate Bridge…the ascent through the gorgeous hills of the Marin Headlands nestled just behind the bridge…the staking out of The Perfect Spot to set up the camera and tripod…the waiting, waiting, waiting for twilight…the last minute scramble a little further up the hill to reposition the camera (our math had been a little off) …and last but not least…

Suck on THAT, teenage version of me! (And for the record, you really should have done something about those brows back then.) Who’s cool now, eh? (Hint: It's NOT Color Me Badd)

*Many thanks to The Brit for letting me display his lovely pictures!

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Paying it forward

The lovely, superbly extraordinary Catherine…who wreaks the best kind of written havoc that can be wreaked over On the Banks of the Rio Grande…the kind that makes you feel like you should go out and wreak some actual havoc of your own…has awarded me a Thinking Blogger Award. Wow!!! Thanks Catherine! Truly, I’m flattered and honored! Woo hoo!

Wait. I think I am!?! It occurred to me, upon receipt of this award, that I had no idea what I’d just been awarded. This got me thinking…Does it mean I make my 5 readers think as I blog? Or does it actually signify a subtle hint that I should think before I blog? God, I hope it’s not the latter, because I rather enjoy posting about depthless, hollow things like clitoral stimulation during childbirth or like how my boyfriend is slowly trying to kill me with lethal auditory doses of movie scores and soundtracks. I’m thinking Catherine probably meant more of the former…mostly because I know that deep down, she truly enjoys my content. And by “content”, I mean “boobs.” (Which I’d like to go on the record and say that I am A-OKAY with. Stare all you like, folks. That’s what they’re there for.)

Regardless of what it really all means, I’ll happily make a list of five bloggers who I like and who make me think (or, alternatively, who make laugh so hard that I sometimes momentarily lose urethral sphincter control and wet myself just a little). (Both are equally admirable accomplishments in my mind.) So, here goes:

Nicki in Positano – Her brother, who is one of The Brit’s oldest pals, sent me the link to her blog late last year. Through her candid tails of love, loss, motherhood, and life in Positano…she invited me in, not only to her world, but to the world of blogging. I have yet to meet her, but judging by her blog and her brother (who is an absolute riot), she’s got to be a real scream!

Waspgoddess in England– This sassy lassy is the first official blog-amiga I made. I like to think we’re homies that go way back now. She’s one of my blog-peeps. She’s funny, witty, and thoughtful. Her writing spans from the whimsical and silly to the tear-jerking and philosophical. She’s been a real gem to get to know!

Mr. Poopie in DC – Now THIS guy is one of my actual peeps with whom I really do go waaaaaaaay back…back to the pimply, bushy eye-browed days of high school. He’s probably one of the funniest guys I know, and perhaps one of the ONLY people I know who is decidedly more obnoxious than me. Be sure to do some Kegel exercises to strengthen your urethral sphincter (or at least get yourself some Depends) before you head on over to this guy’s blog. He’ll surely make you wee.

Mist in the Dirty South – Another blog-amiga made via the series of tubes that is the internet as we know it. I first stumbled upon her blog when she’d just written "Indoor kids" on March 8th of this year (do you not have permalinks woman??), which JUST about killed me. No seriously. I was drinking really hot coffee when she made me snort with laughter. (Ouch, by the way.) After my 2nd degree nasal mucosal burns healed, I was left with the scars of deep, devoted blog-love. She’s frank, she’s vulgar, she’s divine.

Jay in Canada – I happen to know she’s already received one of these, but there’s nothing in any made-up rule book that says I can’t give her one all over again. I found this gem of a goat killer because she was one of the privileged few to get nominated for this prestigious award. She’s fantastically witty, highly entertaining, and full of goaty goodness. (Which, incidentally, is an essential part of a well-balanced breakfast.)

So there are my favorite thinkers and jokers. (I’ll leave it up to y’all whether to pass on the award or not.) Thanks again, Catherine…I’m so happy to count you amongst my few new blog-world friends!! And thanks to all of you who share your world with me!

Monday, April 2, 2007

Evidence that I've been hanging out with The Brit for far too long...

The Brit and I had a weekend getaway this past weekend. In celebration of the fact that this was the first time we’d both be in the same place for two consecutive weekend days since we were in Japan together, we decided to head down the coast four hours to the town of San Simeon. It’s a small coastal town just north of Cambria (which is, incidentally, a waaaay cuter coastal town), just west of Paso Robles (where there is wine tasting that rivals that of Napa & Sonoma), and just minutes away from Hearst Castle (where I’d never been). Yep. We had BIG plans. Plans involving sleeping for shameful amounts of time and then hanging around in bed until we absolutely had to go out (probably when one of us got hungry). With the exception of one to two hours which we’d planned to relegate to eating and wine tasting, the goal was basically to see how much we could accomplish in our underwear. (And if wine tasting were an experience that could be delivered via room service, I daresay we’d have ordered it. That’s how serious we were about this goal.)

We set out for the four-hour drive a bit later than planned on Friday evening. And nearly the entire drive down, The Brit tortured me with his “most frequently played” list on his Ipod (for which his car “conveniently” has a plug-in). Now, if you know this much about The Brit, then you know what I mean by torture.

What actually transpired is still a bit hazy, but I believe that after about two solid hours of movie score after movie soundtrack (most of which was John Williams’ ET, Star Wars, Indiana Jones…) I finally had a grand mal seizure and then remained in a dazed post-ictal state for the rest of the trip down. When we finally got to the hotel in San Simeon, it was almost midnight and some good, solid sleep (sans Ipod) was much needed.

We hit the sack and a few brief, blissfully silent moments later, our next-door neighbors turned on their TV (to a volume of 11 on a scale of 10) and then proceeded to go at it like a couple of sweaty baboons in heat…

“Grunt!! Grunt!! GRUNNNNNNNT!!!!!!!!!” he’d grunt.

“Shriek!! Shriek!! SHRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEKKK!!!!!!!!!” she’d shriek.

“Blare!! Blare!! BLAAAAAAAAAAAARE!!!!!!!” the TV would blare.





“SHRIEEEEEEEEK!!!!! Shriek! Shrie—”





This went on. And on. And on. But it only took a few minutes of listening to this pornographic symphony to put my finger on exactly what we were listening to. I was sure of it.

“Hey, Brit, isn’t that The Last of the Mohicans they’re watching?”