Friday, September 29, 2006


Hey Gang,

I am in transit…again. I left Calgary at 9:30, and flew to Edmonton, which is where I am right now. At 0:55am, I will board another flight which arrives in Toronto at 6:55 am. Then, I will find a taxi, or benevolent soul heading downtown. I will arrive at the hotel, and dispose of my cumbersome baggage, begging for the earliest possible check-in time. I will scrounge up some breakfast and then make my way to my brother and Turtlecats’ place. We have pedicures booked at 10am. The esthetician will undoubtedly react with complete revulsion when she sees my feet. They are battered from weeks of walking all over Calgary. A mild case of cellulitis on my right foot is almost healed up now.

I haven’t posted much lately. Truth is, I am so happy to be done this elective it’s not even funny. The past three weeks have been excruciating on the academic front. I take solace in the fact that the new elective student who came on Monday also commented that the doc I worked with for two of my three weeks seems like a weirdo. That is the understatement of the century.

Suffice it to say, over the past week, I’ve adopted a pretty defeatist attitude. There was nothing to do and everyone was preoccupied with the move to the new hospital. Imagine going to work everyday knowing that you will have no choice but to sit around with your thumb up your ass, and that at the end of the exercise, someone will be evaluating you for it.

All things considered, my evaluation was fairly good, if not a little banal. She didn’t say anything bad, but certainly was not singing my praises either. I had decided pretty early on that I wouldn’t be asking for a letter, so the fact is, I just didn’t care about her feedback. If I hadn’t had the elective student from Western to keep me company this week, I think I would’ve had a complete meltdown. He offered me a place to stay when I interview in at Western. I didn’t have the heart to tell him that my soul would die if I had to move to London, Ontario for any period of time.

I did manage, while in Calgary to get a good haircut. While the haircut was good, the cosmetic results are understandably intermediate. When you’ve been terribly disfigured with a very short mullet, you need to stop by intermediate on your way back to good. I wish Brittiny could become my regular stylist in Ottawa. Her hair vision and skill were noteworthy.

So, now it’s off to McGill for three weeks of psych emergency, with a pit stop in Toronto for the wedding of the century. I’m pretty excited to see the fruits of my cupidic labours paying off so nicely. I mean what girl doesn’t dream of hand picking her sister in law. Trust me, some of my brother’s ex-girlfriends have left a lot to be desired.

I think I mentioned that I am pretty sure about psychiatry now, more so with each passing day. This may just be cognitive dissonance theory at its best, but then again who cares. As long as the decision feels good and well thought out, I don’t really give a shit.

I can’t believe that I leave for Africa in a month, and everything that has to happen between now and then. Next week is going to be the week of CARMS. I need to get all of my cover letters out to people writing me letters, and by the end of the week at least have a first draft of my personal statement. I will spend TG weekend in Sault Ste. Marie.

God….at the time that I booked my flight, it seemed so smart because it was cheaper and I would not have to book a hotel for Thursday night in Toronto. Now, as I prepare to take a nap at the airport, I feel like I should write myself a little memo about how much this sucks, and how good I’d be feeling if I were tucking into a soft warm bed with chocolates on the pillow and bottled water on the night stand.

Oh by the way, I had a long wait in Calgary after the shuttle dropped me off at the airport and I was starving, and a little parched. So I decided to branch out from my normal Timmy Ho’s dinner, and went to Montana’s where I could have a beer, burger, and fries – pure decadence.

Well, the service was probably some of the worst I have ever experienced. I came within a whisker of storming out and making a big scene. But then, I was so tired, and the beer, when it finally came, tasted like pure joy. My burger was also delicious, but the fries were grotty. So, I only got partial satisfaction after stepping so far out of my travel food comfort zone. I hope I do not suffer from intolerable flatulence on the plane. There is just nothing worse than holding in farts for like 5 hours. The pain is unbearable.

I hope all of my friends are doing well. I miss you – a lot. Hollycat, I’m sorry I did not get around to calling before I left for Calgary. I am brutal sometimes.

Xoxoxo Tabby.

ps - i saw a young woman on the bus this morning who was looked exactly like Ally Sheady in the Breakfast Club. It was uncanny.

Friday, September 22, 2006

quick note

Buh-Juh Everyone,

Here I am, procrastinating from the hellish reality of CARMS. It’s like applying to university, or medical school all over again. It’s an administrative nightmare and I am considering hiring a personal assistant to help me out. I may also need a life coach to help me write a good personal statement

Today was another gong show. I showed up at the hospital at around 8am and was done my work by 11. I had a brief chat with my preceptor and she told me she was planning on heading over to the new hospital site. (the children’s hospital in Calgary is moving to a new building across town. The move is a huge process, and is happening in phases. It’s in full swing right now and the outpatient nephro clinic moved yesterday. There have been no clinics this week, and I think there’ll be none next week either. It’s making things a little slow on the learning side). I don’t know what in God’s name next week will be like.

So today I was done at like 11ish and then Hammie (as I affectionately call my preceptor), said she was thinking about heading over to the new hospital and I said that wanted to hang back because I really had my heart set on going to child psych rounds (in part because of the free lunch and also because I wanted to be among my people – even if just for one hour of the day). Yesterday I made the mistake of going with her to the new hospital and I ended up spending 4 hours unpacking her office for her and listening to her incessant bitching about how unhappy she was about her new office. It was to the point that when I left her for the day, I turned and said “chin up hammie, everything is going to work out. This office is fine.” So you can appreciate that I wasn’t up for a second dose of that today.

So there was nothing going on at our hospital. All of the patients were on simmer. Everyone was fine and there was nothing to be done. I said to her, “did you want me to just stick around here in case something happens? Or…..”

I was hoping for her to say something like “why don’t you go home after rounds? I’ll page you if anything comes up.” But she didn’t say anything like that. She said “yeah, stick around here.” So, I spent the afternoon watching Annie and having a nap in the residents’ lounge. Not very productive is it. At 4 pm, I said to hell with this and walked home, picked up my dry cleaning on the way.

Tonight we ordered Thai food for dinner and when Lee and I went to pick it up, we got stuck in a bit of traffic. We were chatting and slowly coasting down the road when I looked up and saw Hammie sitting in the window of a Shawarma and Falafel shop. I mean schlock, how many people live in Calgary? Just over a million or so? What are the chances that I would drive by and stop in front of Hammie’s dinner venue?

I averted my eyes and cursed my bad luck. The thai food was very delicious though.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Fettucine Marinara

Yesterday afternoon my preceptor and her husband took me out for a sightseeing tour of Calgary. They picked me up here at the house, drove me around some neighbourhoods, showed me the downtown, and took me out for a latté etc. It was one of those gestures (we’ve all been on both ends of this scenario), where someone offers to do something they don’t really want to do, but feel somewhat obligated to do. The receiver of the “kind deed” also has no interest in participating, does not really want to accept, and in this case might even have a pathological level of anxiety about it.

So that’s how it went. She phoned on Saturday afternoon to see if I was interested, and I told her that until the weather improved considerably I would not be leaving the comfort of the house I was in. Having braved horrific weather on Friday night, I had no intention of heading out for some street shopping in the slushy, torrential, freezing cold rain. I mean crimm, even the dog was apprehensive about going out for a piss.

By Sunday I felt I had to accept the offer. She was being very persistent, which I just don’t understand since she seems to really dislike me. It wasn’t too bad actually, and they did give me some scoop on where to shop, and showed me the theatres and such. Also, I was able to turn the conversation to cheese whenever things were getting dry. After a couple of hours, they were talking about heading home, so I told them I would stay downtown, do a bit of shopping, and then just walk or bus home.

It was a very long walk, more than 60 blocks (probably half of it uphill). I like walking and could do so for hours, but I was stupidly breaking in a new pair of boots, which ironically I had bought at Feet First for the comfort factor. I have seldom felt pain like what I experienced on the last 25 blocks of that walk. At first it was just my right foot, and then slowly I became aware of a rubbing, jabbing pain on the medial aspect of my left foot as well. As the walk progressed so did my discomfort. It got to the point where every step was like having a knife jammed into my foot. Those last 30 blocks I was walking like a 10$ hooker in cheap stilettos with a bad case of the clap. I wanted to lie down in the grass and cry, but it was too cold to stop moving. Worse still, I had to take a detour to go to the grocery store so we could have lunch this morning. My friends were away for the weekend, so our nutritional needs for today were riding entirely on my shoulders.

A thorough examination when I got home revealed 2 badly macerated feet. Even today, I was walking funny at work. Just add that to the list of things that make me stand out.

I was asked to see a consult in the ICU this afternoon. It was a nephrology consult, but the patient had been admitted for bad congestive heart failure (like there’s any other kind). It occurred to me as I was examining her that this girl, despite being in severe heart failure with some kidney failure, requiring oxygen, and having profound cyanosis (like blue up to her elbows), had warmer extremities than I did. She kept asking me why my hands were so cold. I told her I was a giant freak with Raynaud’s and that my fingers were often purple just like hers. The nurses were laughing their arses off.

When we finally reviewed the consult, of course it was not up to snuff. Even though I had tired really hard, I had obviously omitted something that my boss thought was important. She has this way of making me feel inadequate that turns into a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. I was talking about this with my friend tonight. She agrees and had a preceptor that made her feel dumb once too….more on that some other time.

I took my hosts out for dinner tonight and we went to this tiny Italian little restaurant in strip mall, next to a used tire shop in Calgary. Because I know about 7 people in Calgary, none of them all that well, I wore my crappiest jeans, and did not bother styling what has recently become a mullet. With the exception of little pink, everything about me was unkempt. Well, fickin’ guess what…of course we ran into this couple I know from Waterloo…actually, I only know the guy, his wife I recognized but was never friends with. What are the odds? Also what are the odds that I would run into them looking like a Calgary Flames 3rd string farm team member after practice? Shit….

At least our food was very good, the weather is improving….and my eye is no longer in jeopardy….

I’m going to bed now. More tomorrow. I have to see some kid with hypertension, and try to figure out what the hell is going on in his blasted kidneys…

Much love

Thursday, September 14, 2006


I’m pretty sure I have GERD. My preceptor this week is not very nice. She eyes me with absolute disgust. It is not only very cold in Calgary, but also slushy freezing rain is falling incessantly. Today I ate a half bag of Doritos in the residents’ lounge. They were not my Doritos. Also, they exacerbated my GER.

Yesterday morning my left eye remained nearly swollen shut. I had to steal some Benedryl from the poor little muffins on the pediatric ward. It remains slightly edematous at this moment and smaller than the right.

This has been the longest week of my life. Tomorrow afternoon can not come soon enough. This weekend I am going to go shopping for some party shoes, and work out some CARMS business. Between now and then, I just need to get through tomorrow morning’s clinic, which has three new consults. This means that I will be very busy. It also means that I will have to dictate 3 clinic letters. This would not be a problem, except that my preceptor insists that I dictate the letter with no notes, and that I do it perfectly, and that I get it done at warp speed in between patients. WTF lady? Do you have any idea how stressful it is to recall every frickin’ detail of a nephrology consult, including specific lab values, imaging, past medical history, medications, allergies, and family history – and then top it off with a well-organized impression and plan for future investigation and follow-up? It’s not a skill people were born with. It takes practice. I pride myself of my dictations, I think they’re usually pretty good, but I need a bit of privacy and more than 30 seconds to recount the entire story of a child’s life.

That’s all for now. More depressing drivel tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006


I can barely see as I am typing this. My left eye is swollen shut and rather than ask my very kind and generous hosts if perhaps they have some Benadryl and/or maybe a hit of Reactine, I am hiding out in my room, flushing contact solution into it, and hoping that a good night of sleep will erase my horrific, dysmorphic appearance. The people at the children’s hospital in Calgary already seem distrustful of me. I would hate to fuel their suspicions by walking in there tomorrow looking like I was in a bar brawl overnight. Truth is, I am just ridiculously allergic to dogs – well my left eye is anyway.

So there you have it. My first elective finds me out in Cowtown and doing pediatric nephrology for the next 3 weeks. It is super cerebral and generally right over my head. I feel stupid every minute of the day. This morning around 10:30 am, it hit me like a tonne of bricks that I do not actually want to be a pediatrician. Don’t get me wrong, I love the little muffins, and they seem to like me too, I just cannot bear the thought of doing a long residency, with ridiculous call, only to then have a lifestyle which is equally crazy in its’ own way. So, this week I am pretty sure I would like to pursue a career in child and adolescent psychiatry. I reserve the right to change my mind at a moment’s notice.

Calgary is pretty nice, though they are calling for rain and even snow by the end of the week. I am staying with 2 of my good friends out here. It’s pretty great being able to stay with people you know any like, especially when they are super kind and generous. It must feel like quite an imposition to have someone stay at your place for 3 full weeks, and yet they’ve been super cool. They also have a very cute dog, Clara, whom I will not be touching again during my stay here, unfortunately. I am debating walking to the store in my pyjamas. My eye is a slit, with a puffy, edematous golf-ball looking lid. There is sticky discharge.

The bed I am sleeping in is very comfortable and the neighbourhood is super interesting. But I miss my roommate, Bobcat. Plus, I feel like I have shit to do back home. Whoever said fourth year is fun was stupid and wrong.

I have to order my grad photos by tomorrow and they are a complete travesty. I can hardly bring myself to look at them, much less pay money to have them enlarged. I’d rather be paying to have them disappear.

That’s all I’ve got for now. I’m sure I’ll have some good stories over the course of this 3 weeks. Like this morning, when I looked at the sleeve of my cream coloured jacket after about 4 hours of clinic, and realized it was absolutely covered in some sticky brown material that smelled like banana, but looked like poo. Everyone had seen it hours before exept me. I wanted to die.