Sunday, February 27, 2011


Two short weeks ago, I was standing in a dark parking lot waiting for this:


I had tracked the truck online as it made the trip from Alabama and was eagerly counting the minutes until its arrival.  I had a harness in my hand and I was unsure if it was even the right size.  After all, I had never seen her in person.  Several other people stood nearby and anxiously discussed their newest family members.   

Will they look like they do in their pictures?  Will they be as loving as we hope?  Will they be scared?  Oh my, will they be cold?!

And then it appeared.  The truck pulled up and the crowd quickly huddled around the side door.  Terrified dogs emerged one by one.  Some were placed directly into their new owner's arms and their worried puppy eyes looked out at the spectators.  Others walked out, sat down, and fearfully refused to move.

I waited toward the back of the crowd; I didn't want so many people staring at me as I met her.    Finally, I handed the woman her paperwork and all of a sudden a flash of hair emerged.  She darted out of the truck faster than I had expected.  She was barking incessantly.  Her body was wiggling a mile a minute.  She didn't even notice that there was a person on the other side of the leash as she started running around in circles.  To my disappointment, she didn't even look at me. She didn't kiss me, she didn't snuggle.  She just flipped out and barked...and barked...and barked.

Woah, what did I get myself into?

I put her into the car, gave her water, and started the long drive home.  The rescue staff had told me that she "rides great in the car," so I hadn't thought much about the trip back.  It turns out that "rides great in the car" really must have meant "isn't afraid of the car."  She tried to climb on the dashboard and side door to look out the window.  She darted from seat to seat.  That apparently wasn't working so she climbed into my lap. She tried to put her feet up on the driver's side dashboard.  I prayed for my life.

Again, what did I get myself into?

I got home, walked her around the block, and struggled as she pulled ahead of me.  When I brought her inside, she sprinted from room to room, sniffed every inch of the apartment, and again, did not really look at me.  It was pretty late at that point and I couldn't help but cringe as she barked and barked.  I figured my downstairs neighbors were going to hate me.  She excitedly ran into the crate that I had set up with toys and bones and she emerged with a stuffed frog in her mouth.  As she ran through the apartment flinging the frog from wall to wall, I decided this was the time for me to sit down and try to get her settled.

I felt uneasy.  I thought perhaps I made a mistake and this dog was going to be too much for me to handle.  I sat on the couch desperately trying to show her how to be calm.  I let her approach me and she finally stared at my eyes.  I told her to sit and she promptly sat.   

I got ready to sleep and she marched right into her crate.

I tossed and turned all night.  She snored for 10 hours.

When we awoke, it was like she had been in my apartment for 10 years.  She was calm.  She was quiet. She was loving.  She was snuggly.  She was AMAZING.

For the past 2 weeks, I have been getting to know Libby.  She has learned her name and she is the sweetest, cutest, calmest, and most well-behaved love-bug ever.  Libby adores everyone and climbs into any lap that is in her path.  She sometimes sleeps upside-down with her feet straight up in the air.  She loves children and she is excited to meet every dog she sees.  Her favorite place is in her crate (I'm serious) or on the back of the couch staring out the window.

So, let me formally introduce you to Libby.
(Apologies for the iphone pictures)



Welcome to the family, Libby.  We love you!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Before Deployment...

You go to work, you smile, and you pretend.  Sometimes you speak of the deployment, but usually you don't.  It's easier to forget.

You come home and trip over combat boots. Your home is overflowing with camouflage; it's a constant reminder of the upcoming year.  Your dog lays atop a pile of Army t-shirts and the irony makes you laugh.

You cry when you are with him but you cry more when you are alone. You don't want to make him feel guilty for doing his job.

It feels like all you do is talk about deployment, yet at the same time all you do is avoid talking about deployment.

You learn about Power of Attorney, wills, and health care proxy.  You wonder when it was that you became an adult.

You act excited about the larger paychecks.  Really you would prefer to be dirt poor.

Every late night at work, schedule conflict, or errand to run becomes another missed moment together.

Every Army obligation becomes another stolen moment. You try not to feel resentful.

You watch him while he smiles and try to memorize that precise second.  You wish it was possible to record a smell, a touch, or a hug.

You sit together silently.  Your minds are consumed with similar thoughts.

Someone tells you about a party, a wedding, or a concert and you know you will go alone.

You drive him to the airport for another two week training.  People stare as you hug your Soldier in uniform.  You can't bear to think about the next goodbye.

You glance out the window and for the first time in your life, you wish the snow banks wouldn't melt.  It  means winter is ending.

You can't decide whether you want to rewind time, pause time, or fast forward time.

You talk to him about the mission.  
You see his deep passion for the job.
 You admire his sacrifice.
You remember the good he will do and the people he will help.
You realize it will only make you a stronger woman.
You know surviving the distance will bring you closer.
You feel overwhelming pride.
You feel unfaltering love.

But you still cry.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day

I know, I know...everyone is posting on Valentine's Day but I just can't help it.  Guess what I got as a surprise gift from the Mister?

A kindle!

And now I'm reading one of Cesar Millan's books because....

She's here!

Thanks for all the name suggestions.  We have named her Liberty and we are calling her "Libby" for short.  She's amazing.  More to come on this...

Now I'm off to cook lamb chops for my wonderful husband. Wish me luck!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Other Kind of Pimping

If you wander through the hallways of a hospital, you may overhear seemingly inappropriate statements from physicians:

"Man, all Dr. XYZ does is pimp all day long."
"Yeah, I got pimped hard the other day."
"I just stood there and got pimped."
"Did you hear how much I got pimped at conference?"

Don't worry, your doctors are not working in the sex industry.  The term "pimp" is part of everyday language in medical education and no one even thinks twice about its alternative definitions.

I'm not sure if anyone really knows where the term came from. Some people will tell you that it stands for Put In My Place but apparently the practice has been referenced as far back as 1628In 1989, Dr. Frederick Brancadi published an article in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) entitled "The Art of Pimping." He defined pimping as "whenever an attending poses a series of very difficult questions to an intern or student."  More specifically pimping involves asking seemingly unanswerable questions for the purpose of maintaining the distinct seniority ladder.

Medical education is kind of like the military but without the push-ups, guns, and MREs.  It is deeply rooted in hierarchy and respecting the order of things.  Medical students are the bottom of the totem pole, followed by interns, residents, chief residents, fellows, attendings, department chiefs, chairs and so on.
Brancadi sarcastically elaborated on his definition:

On the surface, the aim of pimping appears to be Socratic instruction. The deeper motivation, however, is political. Proper pimping inculcates the intern with a profound and abiding respect for his attending physician while ridding the intern of needless self-esteem.  Furthermore, after being pimped, he is drained of the desire to ask new questions - questions that his attending may be unable to answer.  In the heat of the pimp, the young intern is hammered and wrought into the framework of the ward team. Pimping welds the hierarchy of academics in place, so the edifice of medicine may be erected securely, generation upon generation.

Dr. Brancadi's commentary on pimping is legendary and has sparked numerous follow-up pieces from other physicians.  Even though he wrote his article over two decades ago, all of the general principles still hold true.   It runs so rampant that there are actually entire books devoted to surviving pimp questions:
In my opinion, the worst pimpers are surgeons. I think this is because they have you physically trapped with them for hours at a time.  You stand in one place and you can barely move for fear of  contaminating something.   You have to pee, your stomach is growling, and the only thing you have for entertainment is to stare at the surgeon's hands.  You hold the retractors until you think your own muscles may just fall off.  Just at the moment you feel like you may not survive, the surgeon looks up at you and says:

Surgeon:  "Med student...(something unintelligible)....?"

Dying Med Student:  "I'm sorry, Sir. I couldn't hear what you just said."

Surgeon:  Dramatic sigh. "I said, what is this artery?!"

Confused Med Student: "Oh, umm, well I honestly can't see inside the surgical field but I'm guessing it's the external carotid?"

Surgeon:  "You're guessing or you're telling me?"

Uncomfortable Med Student: "Well, I'm guessing because I can't see the artery from where I'm standing."

Surgeon: "Oh. Well, it's the .........(something unintelligible)...artery.  It's only seen in less than 1% of the population."

Surrendering Med Student: "Oh ok, sorry.  I'll have to look that up."

This video sums up the surgery experience pretty nicely:

There's a big distinction between teaching and pimping.  One involves important information, applicability, and good intentions.  The other involves obscurity, randomness, and alternative motivations.  This, among a gazillion other reasons, is why I love emergency medicine. There is very little pimping in emergency medicine because emergency physicians have virtually no attention span or patience. The only thing that matters is what is relevant. 

Therefore, I can honestly say that I don't care who invented that piece of OR equipment, who is singing the terrible song on the stereo, or why some organs are paired and others are not. 

It doesn't change my management of aortic insufficiency if I can't remember never used eponyms such as Landolfi's Sign (alternating constriction and dilation of the pupil), Muller's sign (pulsations of the uvula), or Becker's Sign (pulsation of the retinal vessels).  More importantly, I'd hope the ridiculously loud heart murmur would have tipped me off a little earlier.

When I grow up, I will be an attending emergency medicine physician and I will not pimp you.  

Please don't take that the wrong way.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

What's In A Name?

I'm nesting.  Nope, I'm not pregnant.

I'm getting a dog!

I grew up with a constant herd of animals including horses, dogs, and cats.  Some highlights:

  • "Ronald Reagan Cat," who was obviously named for his wrinkled appearance.
  • "Tuesday" the one-earred cat who happened to wander on to our property on a Tuesday.
  • "Mickey" the shelter dog who frequently made guest appearances as Superman at family functions.
  • "Twinkle" the burping dumb-as-a-stump sweet Samoyed.
  • "Cocoa" the Alf-like pony who was blind in one eye and always looked like he had a saucer stuck sideways in his belly.  
  • "Rocky" the horse with the shoe-box head.
  • "Medford" the miniature schnauzer who was found on the streets of Somerville, MA.  This is really close to Medford, MA which just seemed like a better name.  He sometimes sleeps upside down with his legs straight in the air and he loves to howl at fire engines.

These are just a few examples of the many, many pets that I have loved along the way.  I believe the total comes to 6 cats, 6 dogs, a lizard, 3 hermit crabs, and at least 8 horses.  Unfortunately, I have been without my own furry friend since I have been out in big girl world.  Life just hasn't felt the same.

The times they are a-changing.

Hubby and I are a family now and getting a pet is the next logical sequence in our life together.  In addition, I felt strongly about getting a dog to keep me company while he is overseas. 

Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce you to our new family member and my new deployment battle buddy:

(photos from petfinder website)

She is a 3-year-old Schnauzer mix, possibly Yorkie or Silky Terrier, who is coming to us from a rescue in Alabama.  She was abandoned at a vet's office and has been patiently living in a foster home.  If all goes well, she will be getting on a dog transport truck and we will have her on Saturday. 

We're doing a foster-to-adopt program which means we are fostering her for two weeks with the intent to adopt.  This just seemed like the safer option since we can't meet her until her arrival day.  In reality, she sounds amazing and it would take a lot for me not to keep her.  It would have to be something intolerable like aggression towards children.  I'm pretty confident she's here to stay and I am so excited for her arrival.

We set up the crate, put out the toys, and organized the dog food.

There's just one more important thing - we need to name her.

Lovely readers, we need your help.  What would you name this cute little girl?