January 21, 2010

Grab Your Ankles

In the tradition of higher learning.

So imagine you landed the lead role in your high school play. Yippee, right? But now envision giving your lines on opening night without much practice, and as you make mistakes in front of everyone you get called out by your director. Oh, I forgot to mention that in this exercise of imagination, each goof-up puts someone's life in danger.

That's what it's like to be a resident learning procedures. I got a nice verbal equivalent of a paddling in the OR today. I know the Socratic method is "see one, do one, teach one," but how about 'see many, get hand-held through a few, and then do one'?

When I'm told that I am not good at something, and it's because I'm either inherently incapable of the task or that I'm a screw-up it's really hard not to cry. But that's the last thing I'm allowed to do. Plus, it makes all female doctors look bad.

I was feeling pretty down when I grabbed my lunch. Across from me was a surgical resident and as soon as he finished his sandwich an attending physician came in and started pimping* him. He didn't have the correct answer and the same thing happened. The poor guy was told, in front of everyone, that he really needed to wake up and start learning.

Frankly, there's not a seat soft enough for our bottoms today.

*This is the actual terminology for blasting your inferior medical resident/student with questions on the spot.

January 16, 2010

Booby For Life

I had to laugh when I read about this 'breast-feeding diet.'

Feed your baby the natural way and you'll look like Angelina Jolie! The bottom line from this article is the same ol' thing you'll hear in any diet debate: calories in needs to be less than calories out. The end.

I am not yet back to my pre-pregnancy weight. I have those last 10 pounds to go. When I was breastfeeding I did use that as an excuse to say, finish off an entire box of cookies, or more. Well, it's a new me and a new year. Time to get on the stationary bike and watch what I eat.

Getting thin is different from getting into shape. There are so many obstacles stacked up against mothers, though. We're extremely busy, have fluctuating hormones, and told "don't lift anything heavier than your baby" at discharge. -The perfect storm.

I've noticed that the first thing that goes is the lumbar/core strength, which is key for happy living. What's the number one reason for a doctor's visit? Back pain. How do we remedy that? I actually found the perfect solution online, no joke. If you follow these magnificent instructions from the Mayo Clinic I, Resident Mommy, promise you better quality of life.

Don't wait until you have spinal arthritis, I'm serious. Otherwise you'll see me coming at you with one of these.

January 15, 2010

Haiti Needs You

She needs all of us.

Haiti has had a soft spot in my heart for a long time. My father was born in Puerto Rico, which is the next island over from Hispaniola. I have always thought of the Haitians are my poor, neglected cousins.

We cannot look away anymore. The amount of suffering since the earthquake, which struck near Port-Au-Prince earlier this week, has caused unimaginable suffering. Of particular concern to me are all the orphans and injured children. No doubt there are many brain injuries and traumatic amputations that need medical attention now.

If you're looking for a place to donate, I'm a fan of Doctors without Borders.

Breast is Still the Best

Don't get me wrong from my previous post.

Breastfeeding is still the best choice for mother and baby. I would not have struggled as I did if that weren't true. Breastmilk gives babies their greatest nutritional support, decreases their chance of infection, while lowering mommy's cancer risk.

My goal was to make it to six months. Whenever I felt like giving up, I thought about the following two examples of perseverance:

  • Dr.W: Another resident mommy, pumped for months in between 4+ hour orthopedic surgeries. When she got engorged, Dr.W wasn't allowed to adjust her bra because not only was she 'scrubbed in,' she also had a lead apron on top!
  • Lanisa Allen: Had to sneak away to use a public bathroom to pump her milk and was fired for it. See her story here.

January 11, 2010

An Unfair Depiction

But I'm not tied down to my breast pump.

Y'know, when the Mormons were first asked to practice polygamy most of them went kicking and screaming into the practice. Then when they were commanded to stop, they had a hard time letting go. That was my experience with breastfeeding.

The gap in posts had to do with me being on my most demanding rotation while soaking in the reality of my academic situation. . . all the while working to save someone's life (I'll explain later, on 1/20/10). I had always said that I would stop pumping at the 6 month mark, but just before the finish line my supply went down. . . WAY down. It had to do with a ton of stress and my inability to find time during the day. I became all hung up on the idea of stopping on my terms, not because I was 'failing' to produce.

So I got all worked up, pumped more, fell behind in my work, this added stress, which produced less milk and the cycle continued! Until now, that is. Last week I produced 2.5 ounces, gave my boy this meager portion, and put my supplies away. The large box of nursing pads, bras, tubes, valves, shields, etc got sealed up and put into storage. Part of me was elated; the other part felt terrible for withdrawing this part of myself from my baby. The next week as my normal pumping hour approached I had pangs of regret and actually tried to collect whatever I could manually squeeze out. I came home quite upset when my husband finally said, "It's time."

He's right. 6 months of breastfeeding for a resident mommy is a lot. My baby is on solids now and I can help him to progress in other ways. I'm told I can still feed part-time, but the truth is I need every minute of the day (except for necessary sanity breaks such as this) to reclaim my life.