The Adventures of Medical Spouse

A Blogumentary on the life, issues, headaches and butt-aches of the Spouse, Partner, Wife and Computing Saviour of the Doctor in training as well as those of his close and distant relatives. I am compiling current views, (it's residency ya'll) stories from the last 8 years(admissions, placement, school, the match, residency and the search for real work) and advice for others in the same strange and (uh) wonderful situation.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Blog continued elsewhere

This blog will now be continued in my new blog "Yankee Family goes South"

Since we are really moving on to another exiting phase of our unknown destiny. There will still be posts on Medical Spousedom, but they will have a new and exciting southern bar-b-que sauce on them!

Monday, November 14, 2005

I'm surrounded...

I can't see the TV.

Is it because my child is in front of it or because it's turned the wrong way? No. It's because the table in front of the TV is piled with medical journals. Most people call them magazines, but in medicine they have journals. Every specialty has 9 or 10 of its own special journals and then there are the general medical journals of which there are countless numbers. These have names like
The American Journal of Bodily Biles (the AJBB) and The Dermatological Journal of Insect Infestations (the DJII) and the Catalogue Referencing Advanced Psoriasis (the CRAP) (now this one's for real) Dermlife, journal for the Dermatological lifestyle. Yep, we've gotten that one a few times.

Anyway, these come, unbidden mostly, in the mail. Sometimes my husband carries them home like ticks in the fur of an animal. And they pile up, and up and up. Sometimes, because it is required, he will actually read a couple of articles from some of these journals. Mostly they pile up until I heave them into a now unmovable box in the basement. I get behind though. Today they are on the coffee-table, and on the floor, and the couch and the counter and propped on bookshelves and in front of bookshelves. They are on the floor next to the bed, they are in the bathroom. They are on the computer and next to the computer.

We have a rule about the Derm journals. They are never to be left with the cover facing up. The kids get grossed out. (see previous blog, 'the yech factor'..)

The journals themselves have friends that come and join them. Medical texts. These are 50 lb. behemoths that usually come home after a drug rep dinner. (I guess the drug gets mentioned somewhere in them) These join the journals in a bacchanalian party on our floor where they wait for the unsuspecting person to come walking by and trip on them. And they don't budge. Many of them have blood on the corners from our toes. They are too heavy to put on a bookshelf, so on the floor they stay until again, I take them (one by one) and heave them into the bulging box downstairs. This act alone buys me 3 exercise points in weight watchers.

This is not to say I am blameless in the magazine department. I spent 10 minutes with a Borders cashier trying to find a good name for people who have magazine fetishes. We settled on Periodicalphile. My favorite is an English tome called
World of Interiors and each issue weighs about a lb. However I have to be picky about which ones I get because in the same trip to the bookstore I might pick up several knitting and fiberarts magazines, some children's periodicals, and a couple more mags on architecture and design. These are piled daintily all over our bedroom and catalogued in a closet. Mine, however, do not have to be stored face down.

It would seem we are doomed to walk the slippery path of periodicals until the day comes when finally we feel.......honey?...where are you? have you seen the kids under these?....

People Die

OK, not the most inspiring title for a blog, but perhaps educational for those along the medical path. I was inspired to write this after joining the discussion groups on the International Medical Spouses Network. (Hi everyone!) Especially for those who are in Med school and in Residency.

The medical field is not pretty, for all sorts of reasons. The diseases aren't pretty, the stress isn't pretty and your spouse, (or you) isn't pretty after a night of call or a stressful day. And the most stressful days? The ones where someone dies.

I guess this really didn't hit home to me, even as an adult, that people die every day, right nearby. Down the block. There they go. But, this is an 'In Your Face' fact of life in medicine. It doesn't really matter what specialty a person is in, if your dealing with health, your dealing with death as well. Even in Dermatology my husband has dealth with fatalities from necratizing fasciitis. Or he will get called in to make a patient dying of cancer feel better from the rash she has. Or a drug reaction will get out of hand showing first on the skin, and then all hell breaks loose.

When my husband was in Med School, he saw his first deaths and would cry. Maybe not right there, but that day. He would come home a mess and not be able to tell me why, he didn't want to go into horrible details. He would go through his rotations, perhaps leaving the ICU for Peds. He would keep track of his ex-patients by checking the obituaries, hoping not to see kind Mrs. so-and-so who was so sweet. He would rant against parents who were not careful enough, or the stupidity of guns and drugs. He has been the one to tell the family.

And speaking of family, there's the ones who won't let them go. Here is uncle Sandor, ready to die, he's 89, he's had enough, he's on his way and ain't coming back. But someone in the family feels that there is something more the doctors can do. Something that will somehow cancel the lung cancer, kidney failure, old age and keep him alive. Instead of letting him go in peace with support, they rant to the doctors, they beg and they threaten, right there, in front of Uncle Sandor. I understand the desparation, the fear, the grief. It's going to happen. And the doctor has to deal with this as well.

It took a while for me to understand what was going on when he came home wrecked and not speaking. Finally I convinced him to confide in me, and I sucked it up and was as solid and supportive as I could be. Sometimes he still won't say. That means it was really horrible. He still cries.

I'm not sure if people really realize this about doctors. The shows on TV get it sometimes, but often they make it seem like there has to be a huge drama around death, where there often is very little.

In the end I'm thankful for the education this has given me. Really, we humans have strength beyond what we realize considering the strange and wild world we live in. We heave up huge amounts of that strength when called upon to do so and we go on living and finding joy in things, planning, looking forward. And people live and people die.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

We've got the Job!

Long, long ago, in a time far far away when Robb was applying for med-school, we said;
"We are never moving south of the Mason-Dixon line."

Long ago, when applying for residency we said;

"We are never moving south of the Mason-Dixon line."

Months ago when we were deciding where to go as a real Doctor, we said;

"We are never moving south of the Mason-Dixon line."

We just decided to accept a position south of the Mason-Dixon line.

We had been visiting friends just north of Chattanooga, TN. We had a wonderful time, very relaxing. We didn't really consider moving to the area. A few days after returning, I get a phone call:

"Mrs. Ecker?, This JJ, have you heard of Chattanooga Tennessee? We have a position for a Dermatologist there."

"Who is this really? Jane, is that you?"

"Jane? No this is JJ from Dr. placement people. Are you familiar with Chattanooga?"

"Um, we were just there last week..."

So off we go back to Chattanooga for an interview (they wouldn't let us just send Robb), where we met wonderful people, saw nice places to live and found a really good practice for Robb, run by terrific people. And TA DA! We are now moving to the
South. (ba ba ba bummmmm)

My friend from England said he had seen the news reports that the Civil War has been over for some years now, however little bits and pieces do seem to still crop up. The flying of the Confederate flag is still pretty common and there are some in the South who still regret not being able to secede from the Union.

Religion is somewhat of an issue, seeing as we are Jewish and there aren't many members of the tribe down there. However the Jewish community is very close knit and truly welcomes newcomers in like family. (This could be good or bad...) We know there is still alot of ignorance and bias about minorities of any sort, but hey, ever travel to rural Wisconsin? When the welcome wagon lady came to visit us right after we moved to Waunakee, Wisconsin, she asked what church we might like to be affiliated with. I told her I was Jewish and her response was, and I quote;
"Well, I don't think we have that kind of church here in Waunakee?"
However we have found folks to be mostly open to learning something if they wanted or if a situation came up with the girls at school.

On the other hand, we found that people really were warm and friendly in the South, and we ran into generosities and kindnesses we had never found in the North. Things move more slowly, sometimes infuriatingly so, but once you get into the rhythm of it, there is far less stress. My doctor, who lived in Memphis for some years, told me I would have to learn to speak much more slowly and some folks down there said our accents hurt their ears. Frankly, the feeling is kinda mutual, but I suspect we will all get used to each other.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

No I haven't seen one of those before!

As part of medical training it is inevitable that the aspiring Dr. will have to work on a real person eventually. This does not present a problem in most cases, like drawing blood or minor surgery, hey, what is your study group for? While the library and classroom will suffice for many of these, it is not the place for one particular procedure. The Gyn Exam.....

A person, and by that I mean a woman, might wonder where her doc is going to get training in this particular area, assuming that their spouse or partner is not crazy enough to let them practice on them. One might think that in the students' OB/Gyn rotation they might get some experience in this practice, however, women are given the choice of whether to have the student in the room or not and whether the student is allowed to try their amazing exam techniques (that they read about in a book other than playboy). With male docs, it's mosly not.

Well, mystery solved. The medical school my husband attended tackled this problem by hiring very brave and knowledgeable nurse-teachers who not only let themselves be subject to an exam, but also coached the student through the procedure while it was going on. I hope these women were paid really really really well.

Though nerve racking and embarrassing this works well for the majority of students. However, we did have a friend we will call Greg. Greg was approaching his first subject, shall we say, with trepidation. The Nurse/Teacher was coaxing him into the exam area saying,

"Don't be afraid, you've seen these before in your life haven't you?"

His answer? "No actually! I haven't!"

Did I mention Greg's partner, Doug?

Greg went into psychology.

We're all glad.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The Dr. and the Guinea Pig

We have several pets. These pets are small and either non-allergenic or a good practice pets. A practice pet is one that is low on the food chain, fairly indestructible, doesn't bite and will happily be ignored for long periods of time. Our's include fish and a guinea pig. We also have two birds, but they are higher maintenance and stay away from the kids. (they're very intelligent those birds...)

Our guinea pig is named Pandaba. Our younger daughter takes him out of his cage and dresses him up. She also carries him around in a baby basket and makes small houses for him to inhabit. Then she throws him back in his cage when she's done and he seems no worse for wear.

The animal lives in our living room and so is regularly examined by the dermatologist in the house. Apparently he doesn't have enough to keep him busy. Anyway, Robb spotted a fungus infection on the 'pigs back and began treating it with fungicide, (a proud tradition also carried on by the Derm who baby-sat the 'pig).

This week he found a knot of hair on his backside - the pig, not my husband. I mean the husband found the knot on the 'pig not visa versa. Anyway, a full exam went into force where-in the animals butt was closely examined, and some sort of waxy substance was found. The 'pig was then washed thoroughly in the sink. When this failed to remove said stuff, he was then trimmed while #1 daughter held him down on the floor. Somehow he took all of this with grace and aplomb (Pandaba not Robb) and was eventually returned to his box. Having survived the full medical treatment most humans dread, exposing your privites and then having them washed and clipped all in the name of science.

When I arrived home from work Robb was still fretting about this knot and what caused it. I'm sure Pandaba will now be looking forward to several more examinations and treatment in the near future.

My younger daughter no longer wants to be a doctor.

I've hidden the sutures.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Finding a Real Job Part II

Part II - Deciphering the job descriptions

Here we are with a list of 100 positions open to Dermatologist that mostly fit our criteria. (Not Florida or Detroit) They are lookin' good. Mainly because we have been living off of nothing for years and anything that contains numbers with an extra zero looks like cake. Now you have to eliminate some of the contestants.

The one that says "Be an assistant to a Plastic Surgeon" (Slave) must go.

The one offering well under the going rate who thinks this is the best offer ever, no.

The one who wants someone 1 day a week to empty the trash, Hmmmm no.

OK here is one, offering an OK rate with 2 weeks vacation and call every other night, no insurance coverage, bring your own support staff when you come, and partnership in 12 years. Hey, we didn't just go through 8 years of hell to take 2 weeks vacation and have call every other night, plus what kind of place has no support staff?

New York City. For some reason NYC positions are way underpaid. We can only assume that they feel it is a privilege to live in the city, why pay more?

Finally, a good rate, partnership in 2, 4 weeks vacation, well run, support staff, good facilities a nice location and a real need in the community. The list might have 20 of these.

Now we start calling around and sending out Robb's CV. This is when the real fun starts because you never know who is going to call. Sometimes we get a search firm, sometimes an actual Doc from the practice, sometimes someone speaking Korean. We take the Korean position immediately only to find out it is really for a Nail Salon. Darn!

Finding a Real Job Part I

Part 1 - Deciding where to live.

Ok, so now we've entered that next chapter in our lives where we decide where to live and what kind of practice Robb will be part of. In our family this consists initially of staring at the map of the US for long periods of time. We have also tried the technique of closing the atlas, closing our eyes, turning the atlas round and round and thinking, "Where would be best for our family", and then opening the atlas without looking and pointing to a point somewhere in the US. This technique, though entertaining, has put us in the Atlantic AND Pacific oceans several times as well as in the middle of Detroit (no offense to you in Detroit but it's not where we want to live) and in the middle of no-place USA.

So much for that. We then decided we would be near friends and family. This is fine if there are jobs there. Also there are several very attractive spots in the US that we would really love to live that are not near anyone. So we've narrowed it down to about 100 places. A reasonable amount to begin sending resume's to.

Not everyone has to go through this, but we need to make this as difficult as possible because it builds character.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

The Match

If you are not a doctor have you ever heard of 'The Match"? I didn't think so. And if you are a doctor or med student, what emotional reaction does this phrase cause? Fear? Stress? Pain? Yep, that's the match. For you outsiders, the match is the process between med school and residency where you are matched with your future residency program. Depending on your specialty this is life and death. O.K. so let me go through the steps.

  1. During your fourth year of med school you decide what specialty you want to go into and what residency programs you will then apply to.
  2. You fill out your application with a great deal of emphasis on the personal statement and whether you belong to any honor societies. You also include your board scores.
  3. You send these out to a central publishing system which then distributes them, for a price, to your selected residency programs.
  4. You wait and wait for the phone calls from those who actually want to interview you.
  5. You interview, 2 days for each program.
  6. You then rank the programs for your first choices in location and program.
  7. The programs rank you in their choices of candidates.
  8. All of this data is sent to a big computer which uses complex equations to match you and your program according to the rank from your side and theirs.
  9. Your school will have a match day where everyone is gathered together over cheap cookies and bad coffee to see where they will be going or even if they matched at all.
  10. Everyone goes home and either celebrates or cries.

Now this list doesn't even begin to cover the actual stress that goes into this process.
Depending on your choice of specialties, your chance of getting the program you want is either good or nil. Let's say you are the smartest person in your class, your board scores left people speechless, you're a very kind family man and you're really cute with an eagle tattooed on your back. You want to become a family physician in Alaska. NO PROBLEM! They will send a limo to get you. (O.K. so I actually knew this guy)

How about if you are a really cool Native American chick with a penchant for sniffing out injustice and a talent for offending your administration? (not sure on the scores or anything) Wanting to take the Native American Doctors tract? Again, no problem, (Hi Lise and Cheech!)

OK, now you are a white middle class, middle aged family guy with good board scores, no honors but a really personable bedside manner and a mean surgical stitch who wants to go into Dermatology. Ha! get real! There are 1000 applicants for 250 positions and you are competing against the best and brightest because Derm don't take just anybody. Well there is always a small chance, but you had better have a back-up plan like family med or internal medicine.

Not getting into the program you really want can cause big stress. Maybe the one that accepts you is 2000 miles from your family and your husbands career? Maybe you get the one you ranked last and really hated due to personality conflicts. Maybe you get into the only program available and it's in the backwoods of icktown USA. Maybe you didn't get the specialty you wanted and have to 'Scramble'.

Special definition: The Scramble is when you didn't get into a program and you have to have you administration call around to any programs left open in any specialty to see if you can get into it at the last minute. The med students nightmare.

Oh, and how about couples match? You both decided to become Docs, he's in one specialty and you're in another. You apply under couples match to any hospitals that have both programs. You let it be know that it is a couples match. Even though this special case does get special consideration, there is no guarantee you will both be in the same place! How's that for stress?

It's a wierd system and no one has come up with a better one that provides a fair chance for as many docs as possible, but it is still an aweful process to go through. Getting an actual job at the end of residency is far easier. Even getting into med school is easier on the emotions.

So to all you students getting ready for the match, get good grades, get on honor roles and get an Eagle tatto on your back...otherwise, I'm sorry.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Take your audolaryngynoscope and stick it

(sorry about the weird formatting, I'm getting used to the publishing site)

Every family has fights. Partners get angry. This blog is about being angry due to
the job. However I can't begin there. I have to begin with egos. Most doctors (I'm not saying all mind you) have pretty big and bruisable egos. You have to. There is so much competition, so many people watching your every move, so much needing to prove you're good that a tiny ego just wouldn't stand out enough. After the 4 years of med school, and past "The Match" into residency most docs have survived the equivalent of the perfect storm. The result is extremely capable (in most cases) very knowledgeable people who can enter a patients room exuding command of the disease, condition, pregnancy etc. That's what we all want to see on our doctor. On the other side of the white coat is someone who jumps ten feet at the sight of criticism and who puts EVERYTHING behind the job.

It's when this monster rears it head that I get really pissed. Beyond reason. And phrases like "You are a very mean man" come out of my mouth. I had several opportunities recently to attempt to stick his instruments in holes that were not meant to contain metal.

Like when he had to think over letting me have the cell phone while driving on icy roads in the middle of the night because he might get a message to go to the hospital. Mind you, he was at home, with a home phone on which to recieve this call and I'm not sure who he thought he might call on the road to the hospital after he confirmed the call. My point? He had better damn well hand over that phone so that if I when off the road I could dial 911 because the people in Madison have a rich tradition of something called

Wisconsin translation alert:
Roadies are the martinis you make at home and put in travel cups to drink on the way to the bar. The bar and the roadies are exeedingly popular here. But then, so is Mourning Dove and Ferril Cat hunting.

So, here a person is on a snowy country road possibly surrounded by people drinking roadies on the way to or from the bar. Makes you want to learn to fly.

The other issue we face is sick days. My husband is expected to show up sick to a point. That point being when the patient doesn't want the doctor anywhere near him. Occasionally family members also get sick including the spouse in charge of other family members. Last time this happened I had the flu. AND my asthma kicked up. I woke up in the morning and said I was really sick. The DOCTOR said,

"Oh just stay on the couch all day, Cedar can watch TV"

I said, "No you stupid asshole I'm REALLY sick as in not breathing! Get me to the damn doctor or I'm going to eviscerate you..."

It took a little while for that to sink in by he eventually realized that if he didn't get me to the ER and then stay home and help he wouldn't be staying home again. Ever.

It is all due to
the job. This is not to say only doctors do this, it's to say, know when you're being stupid and unreasonable to your family, if that is, if you actually want to keep your family. I've met heart surgeons who have been married and divorced five times. The minimum seems to be twice in that specialty. And really, these people are maniacs about their job and you kinda want them to be when it's you under the knife. Some of it is personality, some of it is colleague pressure, some is the specialty and some is perceived pressure. That's the one to watch out for.

Anywho, I've got to go pull that audolarynynoscope out...

Monday, April 11, 2005

Why we love (or hate) Pharmaceutical reps

I want to be a Pharmaceutical Rep when I grow up. Really.

Here in Wisconsin it is a thankless job since they are so regulated. However, they do make a good living and must, as part of their job, live the good life. If they want to make a presentation about a new product, they do it in the best restaurant, that way, the luxury deprived residents will be sure to show up. Or they might sponsor a lake cruise, or a spa trip, whatever. But they know the best of the best. I can do that and I'm a good sales person. Bring it on.

Residents and Med Students have a love/hate relationship with the Pharmaceutical reps who lurk ceaselessly in the corridors and offices trying to hand out samples and put in a good word for some skin product.

The reps are usually very friendly people who love to chat. They can then insert into the conversation little facts about what they are representing and give out a few samples.

Rep: So how are you guys? (buy beauty face) How is the family? (buy beauty face) Did you enjoy the cruise? (buy beauty face) How about a sushi dinner next week? (buy beauty face) By the way, here are a few more samples (buy beauty face) for you. Enjoy!

And I, being the only one in the house who uses beauty products, get a very nice kit with all the newest (buy beauty face) products. This is to make up for all the dinners and cruises I've missed out on.

It is at conventions that drug reps rule supreme. Here is a description of a dinner that my husband had at one of the most exclusive restaurants in

1. An 8 course meal
(buy skin clear)
2. Moet (several bottles)
(buy skin clear)
3. VSOP brandy at command (buy skin clear)
4. $40 dollar cigars after dessert with aperitif and coffee (buy skin clear)

And get this, he didn't want to tell me about it because he thought I might take it hard. I didn't take it hard. No, I took it hard when he wanted to get Sushi for the second time this month the night before leaving on a trip when we weren't even packed. THAT I took hard.

However, these folks, who as I said, are really mostly very genuinely nice, also form a network on which residents can pass messages and get information. They are the guys who know a guy and everybody has got to know a guy who knows a guy. It is through this network that residents might find an opening for a position in just the right spot. And luckily in dermatology, the products being insinuated on you are really very good, and not dangerous or untested, so there is very little cause for moral concern. Which is something I can't say for all Pharmaceutical products.

So for all the Derm Pharm reps out there providing my husband with dinners and me with samples, thanks and stay on the good side of the Force.

Friday, March 18, 2005

My Job

Why am I now working in a retail store instead of having a day job in computers? People who know me ask this alot. Actually it has to do completely and fully with Robb being a resident.

We are in a very strange situation. We don't have relatives in the area who can help and Robb really can't take any time off unless it is a huge emergency (like me grabbing him by the cajones and saying, "I can't get out of bed I am so sick so you had BETTER be staying home today!)"

Things like that. It has to be really extreme and there are only so many time you can call on friends before they tell you they are leaving town. So, who is on call when either kid gets sick? You got it. What if something is needed at school for DD1? Me. If I get sick? Me. So actually keeping a day job, even if I earned enough to pay to daycare would still require me to be the one on call. And as the ultimate catch 22, the more daycare the more nasty sicknesses for everybody. To illustrate this, I once worked at DD2's daycare so she could be around other kids for once. In 4 months we were gone for a total of 2. Eventually, they asked me to leave because they needed someone with more consistancy (Imagine!). So what would a nice big juicy company do? And work at home? Forget it. DD2 is amazingly high maintenance and never stops talking. And she expects an answer damn it. I'd go mad.

So, I needed to seek out employment that allowed us to switch off with the kids, employment where the owners knew my situation and didn't mind being flexible. Enter...Retail. So, I found me the nicest clothing store in town and got me a job with some of the best people in town. It's a really good match since I love well-made things, especially in fashion, which allows me to sell pretty well (although I'm still a beginner) from shear enthusiasm. The owners are good at giving tips on the business and they understand that I may have an inconsistent schedule. The customers are great. They know the store and the staff, since it's been around for almost 100 years in one form or another. (The store's name is Woldenberg's by-the-way, hi Mike)

Some of the customers are fascinating like the thoracic surgeon with 8 kids, or the owner of the big grocery nearby or the family who own a very large hotdog company whom I probably can't name but "You wish you were an ***** *****wiener..." Also the local Demi-God himself, the coach of the University football team. Believe me when I say, he gets a better turnout than God at his games. I enjoy collecting stories and the folks who come in are a gold-mine of interesting histories and tales.

My favorite part is selling suits. You get a fellow coming in, say, just out of college and he's going for his first interviews and he owns a total of 3 torn t-shirts, one pair of jeans and couple of surplus sweaters. Maybe a pair of shoes... but not always. After we've finished with him he is walking out with a Boss suit, nice tie, beautiful shirt and some shoes that are so fresh from Italy they are speaking Italian. And he looks gooood. The other best thing is dressing a woman for a formal ball. It's just the feel and look and smell of that gorgeous full length dress with all the fixins'. I can't buy one but I can sure spend other people's money with taste and finess, it's the next best thing. Yes, I do buy something once in a while, but it has to be really timeless and wearable for several years. (OK so the bright yellow skirt that looks like a raincoat was an anomaly but it's so cool) Also it doesn't hurt that one of the owners is so funny she makes you snort pepsi out of your nose and the other owner was one of the baddest boys in town and every once in a while his friends still try to get him to come out and play.

So that's my job and, actually, I don't think I will go back to IT or anything heavily computer related. It's interesting dealing with the public, and working in the world of high fashion, where the clothes and cosmetic actually appear in Vogue. The background work and the buying are fascinating. When I grow up I wouldn't mind owning a really nice store with really nice stuff. So, out of the side of my mouth I might actually say, "thanks medschool" for once.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Let me practice this on you...

My 4 year old daughter (hereby known as DD2) gave me a check-up this morning.

When Dad was leaving for work she ran and got her Dr. kit and came up to see why Mom was still in bed. This morning Mom was in denial and had a sinus headache. I was hoping somehow that the leprechauns would magically bring me a couple more hours of sleep and DD2 would somehow be occupied. No such. Instead I got an almost complete physical. My ears, eyes and nose were checked. Then my heart and my teeth. She said she was just a beginning Dr. but she was doing a pretty good job up till this point. Then she pulled out the reflex hammer and proceeded to give me a couple of hearty wacks. Needless to say, I was awake now.

DD2's technique with the reflex hammer is not unprecedented though. For the last eight years Dad's been gently experimenting on us with check-ups etc. His one weakness in all this is the reflex hammer. I'm not sure if it is because we are family and he is too gentle or what, but (and he really hates when I tell people about this) he cannot find our reflexes to save his life. When this first happened he said, and I quote:

"You have slightly unresponsive reflexes, you must me a-reflexive..." (ok, something like a-reflexive)

Then he checked DD1, hmmmm, she also was a-reflexive. He hammered away for a while on both of us until we couldn't take it anymore. Well, it must be genetic mustn't it? It worried me a little since I have hypothyroidism and this can affect reflexes. However next time I went to the Dr. she was able to find my reflexes with one try, each leg, no problem. Same with the girls.

When I came home and told him about this he was in denial. This was actually 5 years ago and I think he is still in denial. (Did I mention that he REALLY hates it when I tell people this?) (Hi Sweetie!) I'm sure if he tried now he would hit it right on. Not that I would let him try, medical egos are reactive things. (more on that another day)

But aside from that silly reflex hammer, everything else seems to work well. So well, in fact, that the girls and I have all learned various techniques. I now know what walking pneumonia sounds like in the lungs, how to use the ear flashlight and what an ear infection looks like, the names of countless skin infections and their causes and various other procedures. I have read journal articles to Robb while driving in the car, thus expanding my knowledge to the point where I could correctly spot a carcinoma in a co-worker which she did need to have removed. And DD2 knows exactly where to put the head of the stethoscope to hear the heartbeat. Cool.
In case anyone was wondering, he never tried to draw blood or give us shots. That's what other med-students are for.

As I mentioned, medical education is a family affair. Except for the reflex hammer.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Yech! Factor

O.K. so Robb, the doctor in question is a Dermatology resident. Now you can flash to Seinfeld, yep, get it out of your system.

"Your not a REAL doctor..."
"The cancer, I forgot about the cancer..."

What this means in real life is that he deals with some of the most horrible visible conditions plaguing the human race. Sure, there are lots of things in our bodies that can go wrong. Lots of those conditions have outward manifestations. Also, There are seemingly endless painful, awful and sometimes deadly things that just start at the skin and besides the acne, warts and hair loss that walks through the door every day there are also the cancers, skin eating bacteria, drug reactions where the skin just decides to leave the body, Bott fly infestations etc. So that's the Derm people's reality. So in case someone is reading this and wishing they could get into a Derm residency, beware, 'cause this is a bad area for even the slightest weak stomach.

So right now my DH is preparing a presentation for an event called Wisconsin Derm. This is where all the Derm people in Wisconsin get together and show each other the most disgusting pictures of actual cases they are working on right now and report on what they are doing for these poor people. Now, I have watched surgery, I'm not queasy about blood and gore.

However...we all share a computer. So here is Robb, fixing up his report unbeknown to me. I sit down to innocently check e-mail and click up the browser and ...

holy christ, mother mary....god awful....... my eyes my eyes-- what in the hell is that!" yeeeech, bleh, urg....

How often does this happen? Oh, a couple of times a week at least. The worst is when the girls are standing nearby.

"Mommy, what's the
MATTER with that person's arm!?" (stomach, back, head, leg)

"Just a rash dear, Dad put some cream on it so it will get better" (boldface lie)

"Mommy, where do we keep our cream for that?"

"In the first aid kit"

"I'm going to go get it OK?"


Sometimes Robb will leave a journal sitting around and the kids just stare at it transfixed until I grab it and put it away.

"I'll get the cream," I say.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Why this Blog? The Mid-Life-Crisis

My husband began his mid-life-crisis when he was 21. It came and when through several careers, including waiter, bar-tender, actor, artist, bum and then finally bio-chemist. The bio-chemist lasted almost 10 years when the next wave of discontent hit. This time, it was serious. He pulled out the "What Color is Your Parachute" and painstakingly worked through all of the exercises until he hit on DOCTOR. bum bum bum eeeeeek

This blog is really to allow me to vent, tell stories and possibly educate and enlighten others on the adventures awaiting the family (and believe me it is the whole family) who enters medical school. It is not a journey for the weak of heart, weak of stomach, or weak of mind for that matter. These stories are mostly from the point of view of myself, x-computer nerd, mother, wife, coach and a host of other things like "Person deeply concerned over the Spirituality of Humanity". (That's a whole other Blog) However, there are a few stories from friends collected over time that really exemplify what is facing the unsuspecting into the wonderful world of medicine.

It is amazing how little I knew about the forming of a Doctor. What happens behind the white coat, beyond the little examination room, how this person wielding a stethescope got to wield that cold little instrument and other cold little instuments for that matter. I've found that, just the opposite of the sausage factory and children, it's been really good to see how a doctor is made.