Saturday, February 28, 2009


disclaimer: if you have a weak stomach and don't like hearing about mucous, then stop now. I warned you. I took plenty of cold medicine today...

...our clan is sick.

About a week ago, all was going well until Julia came home from daycare with a runny nose. We have her in daycare just three hours, two mornings a week...just enought to innoculate her mucous membranes with the latest evil virus. She then promptly waltzes home and sneezes all over her baby sister. Mary's naive immune system lets the virus go hog-wild in her sinuses, and within 24 hours, we have two ornery, congested, snotty girls on our hands.

By then, it's only a matter of time. I usually give myself 72 hours before I too become a snotty mess. I never get sick from work. I wash my hands at least thirty times a day and I'm very careful about taking precautions around patients. When home, however, there's no avoiding it. All it takes is Mommy grabbing a half-eaten chicken nugget off of Julia's plate and popping it down the hatch. As I chew it, I remember that it probably has snot on it. Oh crap.

If I can avoid the Nuggets, I'm still not in the clear. Mary loves to snuggle, and who am I not to want to hold her? Then, she does her next favorite thing: suck on her fingers, and then stuff her whole hand into your unsuspecting mouth. Before you know it, her saliva is your saliva...and the rest is history. LIke I the sands of time....72 hours is what I get before I get to ride out the same viral crap. I have learned to pay attention to the course of the illness as it goes thorugh our kids. Some viruses come on suddenly and your nose gushes like a hose. Then, a day or two later, it's gone as quick as it came...and all is well again. This particular one hit our kids with progressive congestion over a day, then invaded their little lungs with the same snotty goo. They are both coughing snot and spurting snot out of their noses. Mary grinds it into the left shoulder region of all of my clean work clothes. Julia wipes her snot into her left sleeve...and by the end of the day, there's quite a collection of slippery goo on her clothes as you try and slip them off without getting the goo in her hair.

Like I said before, there's no way to avoid it. When your children fall ill, you are next. Maybe next time I should just put the snot on a piece of toast instead of waiting for the inevitable.

Here's to Kleenex, Sudafed, and Hot Tahti's...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Our dog needs some ativan...

Here's a little random story for y'all out there in blogland...

I spent yesterday afternoon in ortho clinic (sigh, it's still February) with the casting guy, Dave. His job literally consists of putting casts on folks postoperatively. That's what he has been doing all day, every day, for thirty years. So, needless to say, he's really good at it. He offered to teach me some of his mad casting skills, so after lunch I appeared for my lesson.

He showed me a short-arm cast by putting it on my forearm in a nice shade of bright purple. After sawing the thing off (my GOD..that part was terrifying...), he went to throw it away, but being the mom that I am, I decided to take it home and show it to Julia. What kid wouldn't want to play with a cool purple fiberglass cast?

I guess I did not think things through well enough. Julia did like the cast. She thought it was fun and tried it on, parading it around the kitchen. Psymuhn, however, did not like the cast one bit. It took me awhile to realize this.

Our dog is usually pretty sedate in the evenings unless we're in the kitchen with him. If you walk by, he'll come up to you wiggling his butt (he has no tail, so that's the best he can do.) He gets excited by visitors, running children, and meat. His most annoying habit is how he MUST lick your hands if you've put lotion on in the past five hours. Hand lotion is a doggie delicacy and needs to be consumed promptly. Other than that, Psymuhn spends his time on his cushion in the corner of the kitchen. He rarely barks or chews and doesn't drool.

Last night I was playing with the girls in the living room. We were home alone (papa was working), and Psymuhn started to growl. At first, I thought he might be dreaming about a Pit Bull or something, so I ignored it. When the growling grew louder and turned into deep, gutteral barking sounds, my "mommy radar" went off. "Oh Crap," I thought. "We have an intruder standing in the kitchen ready to do away with us."

I rushed into the kitchen preparing to club the jerk with a high chair. To my surprise, there was no intruder. Psymuhn was standing in the corner of the kitchen, squatting low to the ground with a terrified look in his eyes. He shot me a glance that seemed to say, "stay away from It. It's coming to get us. I haven't killed It yet." Yet, there was nothing even mildly scary or out of the ordinary in the kitchen. When I tried to pet Psymuhn, he jumped a mile and his fur stood on end. I was perplexed...did Psymuhn suddenly become psychotic? Were there voices speaking to him that only he could hear? I wonder if he was getting subliminal messages from the radio? Wait, No...he's deaf. That can't be right.

I looked around the kitchen for anything out of the ordinary. There was a piece of cheese sitting next to the high chair on the floor. Psymuhn LOVES cheese. Why hadn't he gobbled it up yet? Next to the cheese sat the purple short-arm cast. Was he afraid of the cast? I picked up the cast and set it in the middle of the room. Psymuhn growled and showed his fangs.


I could have some fun with this.

Instead of taunting my innocent psychotic dog with a piece of purple fiberglass, I set it down in another room. With the cast out of the kitchen, Psymuhn immediately turned back into himself, licked the lotion from my hands, and gobbled up the cheese.

After I had the kids in bed, I tried it again. Psymuhn was sleeping in the middle of the kitchen floor, so I crept up next to him and put the cast about an inch from his snout. I stood back and jumped on the floor. The vibrations caused him to open his eyes. Upon seeing the cast, Psymuhn's eyes shot open and he shot across the floor so fast that he ran right into the wall. I shot a few pictures of our dog as he glared at The Cast from his corner:

Animals are weird. I guess that when I want to punish the dog, I don't need to roll him over or "yell" at him....all I need to do is haunt him with The Cast for a few minutes. It will scare the living daylights out of him.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

the thrill of the hunt...

Last Thursday night, Mike and I were in the middle of a conversation as our minivan pulled into the Americinn parking lot in Wadena. We were there to interview at the hospital. I forgot what we were talking about at the moment.... All I remember is that a flabbergasted silence abruptly settled over our conversation as we noticed the hotel's marquee.

Perhaps there was different Mike, Sarah, Julia, and Mary who came to the Wadena Americinn on a thursday night in February?

More blogging to follow...

Thursday, February 5, 2009


When enrolled in a family medicine residency program, the first day of every month, regardless of what day of the week it is, is always a hesitantly anticipated time. We switch "rotations," on the first, with the expectation of pivoting on a dime and doing a 180 degree turn in what you do and what you are expected to know when you get up in the morning. So, on the second of February (I had the first off....SUNDAY), I pounded my coffee and checked my schedule. Orthopedic surgery. For a month....

Now, I'm not entirely sure why my program thinks that a whole month of orthopedic surgery is a necessary thing in a family medicine program...but whatever. I have never liked ortho. I spent a month in medical school doing orthopedics. I disliked it immensely. It doesn't seem very cerebral. However, it's kind of (ok, REALLY) important to know what to do with musculoskeletal problems, so I endured it, hoping that if I forced it down my throat for long enough, it would begin to grow on me. Unfortunately, it did the opposite. I was appaled to go into the OR suite and see little bits of Marrow launching out of the patient and sticking to the ceiling in a vibrant red spray.

So, Monday morning, I headed off to St. Mary's O.R. and threw on some scrubs. Our first case was "fixing" an unfortunate man's acetabulum. The acetabulum is the socket within the pelvis where the hip bone sits. This poor 64 year old man had decided to relive his youth and got a little too agressive on the snowmobile. His acetabulum was in six pieces instead of one and he needed to get a plate in it to stabilize his hip.

Orthopedic surgery is the ultimate "man science" genre of medicine. Most orthopods (orthopedic surgeons) are big, loud, tall, husky, low-voiced, deliberate men who like to "fix stuff." The operating suite looks like a scene from Menards: screws and drills, saws, hammers, chisels, fancy glue, and an instant x-ray machine called a C-arm, so they can monitor their progress while they are scrubbed in. (Contrast this to their intellectual, introverted, skinny, comrades in internal medicine, who carefully use medications and brain power to treat patients...)

Back to our acetabulum guy. I spent most of the duration of the three-hour surgery standing above the patient's head peering over the anesthesia curtain, watching the surgeons (four of them were working on this guy...which left no room for the Resident to scrub in). There was pounding of hammers and wizzing of drills, whirring of screwdrivers, and little bits of bone marrow flying out here and there, adhering to whatever was in its path. After an hour of standing there, I got antsy. After two hours, I needed to do something to keep my mind busy. Luckily, there was some excellent man-music playing while they were working. Old School Rock. Metallica, Poision, Grateful Dead. I was brought back to my seventh grade rebel days when I actually listened to this stuff. I began to mouth the dreadful words from under my mask. I swayed to the beat, bouncing a little to keep myself from keeling over onto the anesthesiologist. It was the ultimate man-O.R. and looked a little like a scene from a car fix-it garage: a bunch of burly men, burly tools, and burly music. Except, instead of having motor oil all over the place, there was.....


I still don't love orthopedics. Maybe I'll decide that I love it today. I'd be better off loving it, at least for now. It's only Feb 5th and I have a whole month to look forward to....