Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Monday, September 29, 2014

Baby Flying Squirrel

My boyfriend was coming in from taking out the trash last night and encountered a tiny creature on the porch. At first he thought it was a bat, then realized it was a baby flying squirrel, probably fallen from its nest.

While he googled flying squirrels and determined it was about six weeks old, Cecelia declared, "This is absolutely the cutest thing I've ever held in my entire life!"

S ran to the grocery to load up on pine nuts and sunflower seeds while C and I frantically tried to finish her 3D DNA helix made with twizzlers and colored marshmallows and toothpicks and e-mailed her science teacher hoping she would take the squirrel off our guard. We got our reply this morning.

"A flying squirrel will not fly with the school but here is a list of Pulaski County Wildlife Conservationists to contact."

So we are contacting but still no word. In the meantime we are the hit of the new neighborhood. The kids really want to keep it for a pet, but we explained to them that it was illegal. "Remember Ivan?," I told Jack - referring to the book we read last year called The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate. "Gorillas and squirrels need space. We need to get this little one strong and healthy to live a happy life in the wild where it was born." Plus we have a cat. Not compatible.

S wondered aloud last night at being lost in the forest someday and the flying squirrel recognizing him and showing him the way since he saved its life. C and I laughed and then I said, "No, you will be running in the forest being chased by a cougar. An army of flying squirrels will descend upon the cougar and reduce it to bones in a manner of seconds just as it aims for your jugular. Then the squirrels will swoop you up and take you home to safety."

I didn't even know they had flying squirrels in Arkansas. Hopefully now we all have good squirrel karma.

Caption: Jack holding Drizzles (as Cecelia dubbed him this morning)

Caption: Cecelia with Drizzles

Interesting facts about flying squirrels: They like pine nuts. I freaking love pine nuts - S calls them my drugs because they cost so much. They are nocturnal (squirrels not pine nuts) - big cute eyes! I hear they also like peanut butter (who doesn't?).

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Moving Misadventure

Read it at MiM.

Thanks to stepmom Rachel for the title idea.

Ha, I just thought moving was nightmarish in my last post. I had no idea what I was in for.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Moving is Truly Nightmarish

Especially when the packers pack your cat food and wine and bedding and food and the book I'm reading that I bought in the Atlanta airport (why oh why I asked myself didn't I pack Fizzy's book? I thought it would take me all weekend to finish mine and read four Rolling Stones but I slept very little and was a reading machine) and then it rains for two days. Everything gets postponed. We are camping in our old house. I guess packers don't take people and cats into consideration - they are just packing machines. I didn't know that; this is the first time I have ever hired packers.

Highly recommend The Round House by Louise Erdrich. It's pretty intense so be prepared for that.

I got these pictures from Aunt Effie in Boston over the summer. I decided to post them tonight because my children look truly powerful and invincible and tonight, in the words of The Flight of the Concords, I'm feeling "vincible." They say death and moving are two of life's biggest stressors and to deal with both in one week has been hard.

Caption: Cecelia with sparklers

Caption: Jack with sparklers

I missed this at the event we were attending I think I was inside scarfing guacamole. Figures. These kids are on fire. I need some to get through the next few days. At least I'm not going through a divorce like I was during the last move four years ago. This is easy compared to that. Having help helps much (Thanks S:).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Another Rant

I was getting utilities and mail transferred the other day. House is mostly packed for move. High adrenaline time.

I stopped by the post office last week to fill out change of address form - I'm a pro have done this many times. They advertised that it could be easily done online at Excellent. Easy. I thought.

The other day I went to The change of address form was easy to fill out, but then they vaulted me to voter registration change of address. As many times as I've moved in the past 17 years (8? 9?) I've never had to re-register to vote. I registered at 18. I'm 41. It's always been cool. But now I have to sign on for a form to officiate my change of address to maintain my voter registry (!!??!! New laws rear their ugly head).

I get vaulted to this page that requires me to choose one of twenty corporate owned national stores for coupons in order to get access to my voter form so I can download and send it in to maintain my ability to vote. Target. Restoration Hardware. I click on one I have never heard of (Horchow?) and nothing happens. I try to select the button at the top that says select one but it is grayed and unclickable - the only one available to my pointer says "Select All Deals at once!"

Um, really? In order to maintain my right to vote I have to subject myself to an onslaught of e-mails from various corporations? No freaking way. Apparently so.

I finally get my vote form by e-mail and spend twenty minutes unsubscribing to a million undesired sites that have just obtained access to me so I can vote. What the hell is this country coming to.

When I got the e-mail to access the form to send in with a stamp so I can vote it gave me limited two week access with a password. I downloaded it, printed it off, and mailed it in. November is looming.

My partner tells me I am lucky. When he moved he found out at the voting site he had to fill out a new form. "It took forever. Luckily it wasn't crowded, or it would have been a big problem. They are really trying to make it harder and harder for us to vote."

I'm a professional with constant access to a computer and the internet. It was still frustrating and confusing. I cannot imagine the voices we are squelching with our new laws. I think this is only the tip of the iceberg. It makes me so angry.

Sweet Jane

Life is fleeting.

We lost a big one today, suddenly without warning.

I realize, belatedly, that I spend more time with my co-workers than I do with my kids.

Work is family. As much as your own blood. Maybe more.

R.I.P. to the best Jane I've ever known. Love you.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Col. Bruce Hampton Ret. and Late Bronze Age - Arkansas promo

9/6/14 - Northside Tavern. Atlanta, GA

So excited bro. Documentary was bizarre.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

This Was Not in the Job Description

When I arrived at work today a little before 8 am I learned that the bulk of my work, about 100 slides, would not be ready until 2pm.

I busied myself. Took care of a pile of bills. Made some mind-numbing phone calls for sold house/new house stuff. Passed the morning productively. I glanced at the bottom shelf over my left desk that was filled with taped up memos. One caught my eye, and I decided to take care of it. It was from the head of cytology.

March 27, 2014

All pathologists need to go to Employee Health to be fitted for an N95 respirator mask and send the results to us for our records by the end of 2014.

It's only September, I thought. I'm jumping the gun.

I wandered over to the adjacent building and took the elevator to Employee Health - I was there a couple of weeks ago for my annual (negative again!) TB skin test. I take those a little more seriously. The receptionist told me that the person in charge of the respirator fitting was luckily available - "Did you call and set up an appointment?" she asked. I didn't know I needed too, and told her I was close by I would be happy to return at his convenience. "It's ok, he's here."

I was led into a small office and after we chit-chatted about why we both wondered there were three fire trucks outside the hospital (one of the girls up front was drooling over them - she declared that the only good reason a man was allowed to wear suspenders was if he was a fireman) he showed me the mask. It looked like any cup-shaped over the nose and mouth mask I have worn many times in my career. "Have you ever been fitted?" He asked. I said, "No."

He gave me a tutorial about how to place a mask. There were two elastic strings - he told me you place the first above the ears behind your head and drag the second down on your neck for the most secure fit. Then, importantly, you squeeze the aluminum inserts around the top of your nose. I watched, copied successfully, and wondered aloud, somewhat muffled, what comes next.

He handed me a large HazMat head piece (think E.T.), and asked if I was claustrophobic (Um, no) before placing it on my head. I could see through the sheer plastic face shield. There was a hole near the neck; he told me he was going to insert aerosolized sweetener (don't worry it's patented he assured me) into the hole to fill my small space.

"Read this passage." He handed me a piece of crumpled paper. "If at any time you taste the sweetener while you read it's an indication your mask is not fitting right." I glanced at the passage and laughed. He said, somewhat surprised, "It's designed to test all of your mouth movements to make sure anything you might do behind the mask will keep you protected from whatever you are exposed to." "Like Ebola?" I quipped. He sighed, "I hope it's not coming. But yes, this will be a first step if it does."

I've worn these masks sporadically, mainly in the presence of reading smears in radiology for TB patients. But I've never been fitted until now. I started reading.

Rainbow Passage

When the sunlight strikes raindrops in the air, they act like a prism and form a rainbow. The rainbow is a division of white light into many beautiful colors. These take the shape of a long round arch, with its path high above and its two ends apparently beyond the horizon. There is, according to legend, a boiling pot of gold at one end. People look, but no one ever finds it. When a man looks for something beyond his reach, his friends say he is looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

At the conclusion I declared that I did not inhale any sweetener. He looked satisfied and started filling out a card. "Here this is to remind you that when you need an N95 respirator to ask for the Model: 1860 Size: Reg. If you get the small you will automatically know it is not the right fit. These are available in surgery and radiology and on all the floors. Always throw away your N95 after each use. Whatever you are protecting yourself from is all over the outside of the mask. Don't try to reduce waste with these things by reusing. It would be very dangerous. Any questions?"

"Can I have a copy of the Rainbow Passage?"

"I've never been asked that before, but here you can have this one, I can print out a new one."

"I'm just wanting to show it to my kids, thanks."

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Aliens are Coming

Boy sleepovers are much different than girl ones.

Case in point:

I was leaving the Arkansas Skatium (roller skating) Saturday night with a car full of nine year old boys.

"Do you see those lights in the sky?"

"Yes, I think they are spotlights. I saw them last night."

"Well I think they are aliens. You need to get us home right away."

"You are right, I'll step on it. I might look like Jack's mom but I'm really a warrior queen. I can get us home safely from the aliens."

"Are they really aliens?"

"No, we are having fun. They are just spotlights."

Much discussion ensued as I was driving down Chenal Parkway to the interstate.

"All the buildings have force fields around them, they are safe from the aliens. As soon as you get us home we will be ok. But you have to move quickly. Your name is Burn."

"I love it, yes I'm Burn. Burning up the road to get us home safe. You can trust me I'm moving as fast as I can."

"Burn baby burn."

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday Night Comic Relief

Oops. It's past midnight. Saturday morning comic relief.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

HIgh Plains Drifter

I've been listening to the Beastie Boys album Paul's Boutique for the last two days. It reminds me of my first two years of college - within a few weeks I moved out of the dorm into my boyfriend's rent house. His name was Paul but everyone called him Snake. I can't remember how many roommates he had - it seemed to change over the 48 months - but Baker (Colt 45), Boardman, and Collier were ever present. They were all addicted to the Oakland Raiders. Whatever happened to some of those guys I still wonder. I need to look them up on FB.

I stirred the conservative community at Hendrix College when I moved out of the dorms - it was a liberal arts college but we were also in the South. A couple of peers admonished me for my decision; including one that had more sexual partners in the first six months of college than anyone I knew, but was still putting up a moralistic facade. I think you are the one that needs to slow down and think about what you want in life, I wanted to tell that person, but I held my tongue and assured them that my situation was fine. I'm no judge. We all have to figure out our path in life somehow or another - rampant promiscuity was never on my agenda but to each his or her own. I won't judge you - just don't pull that church business on me when you can't look at yourself objectively.

My roommates worshipped the Beastie Boys - the albums were on repeat on the large floor to ceiling stereo system. It liked it much better than their Metallica. I shared my tastes - Poi Dog Pondering to James to Alice In Chains to Camper Van Beethoven oh I could go on and on. For a while there was a pet tarantula, I forgot its name but I remember letting it walk on my arm once; it felt like Q-tips had come to life and were inching across the surface of my skin. I remember a lot of Twin Peaks parties, and Northern Exposure. David Lynch movies. Falling asleep on the couch and waking to groups of barely grown men lighting farts (I pretended I was still asleep). I had a girl friend or two during this time period, but mostly it was this tight knit group of guys who somehow magically accepted me as one of their own and they were funny as hell.

Then when Snake and I broke up I had to re-group and find a new network. I maintained a loose friendship with a couple of them the last two years of college - concerts, catching up at parties, but the magic was gone. And I learned that overall, loyalties went to my ex - it was kind of shocking and heartbreaking and lonely for a while but natural in retrospect. We were just kids. They had formed friendships in high school; I was just a fleeting member of their flock. But it was a privilege to be there for that short period of time.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Poodle

Sometimes active colitis looks like:

Caption: Pic I saw last week on the wall at my training institution that I think I remember taking (it was my job, always, media girl) when I was a resident.

Architectural distortion and crypt abscesses.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


I was visiting with my esteemed colleagues at the University last week. Dr. Quick (he was behind me in residency. And now he is an attending. Ugh I'm old) was showing me a cool gyn case when I noticed this on his door.

Caption: Clinical History: Biopsy Proven Pathilloma

I laughed and asked him where that came from. "One of my colleagues at Brigham where I did fellowship. That was really written on the clinical history, can you believe it?"

I think that next time I am not sure of an answer in the radiology suite on smear I might say, instead of 'Atypical' which draws much ire, "I think it's a pathilloma!"

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Suicide Med

I've bought it, but haven't read it yet. I'll write a book review when I get to it. Fizzy's new book! Getting fantastic reviews! Get your copy on (cough I know there's been a lot of controversy there I read it in the news but oh well) amazon.

Caption: Suicide Med book - my copy. Currently using as bicep builder. Will graduate to reading soon.

Had a fabulous bday weekend at Stoneflower (thanks S). 

Caption: main floor of Stoneflower

What I wouldn't give to be back there lounging on those couches sipping wine and watching movies. Faye Jones is a genius with good timing. The kids loved visiting from dad and stepmom's lake house and checking out the ground floor stone grotto that made us feel like we were in an Austin Powers movie and needed to be wearing bell bottoms. If it wasn't 100 degrees outside and the wall air units weren't desperately trying to keep up despite the heat. We adjusted. It was perfect.

Caption: Ground floor of the three story Faye Jones house exactly one half the size of Thorncrown Chapel up in Eureka Springs. Supposedly this was his inspiration for the famous Chapel. It's delightfully creepy at night.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Monday's Child

August 20, 1973 was the day I was born. A Monday.

I remember reading this poem when I was a child, being fascinated by it. I think is was in a Brahms nursery lullaby book that I read over and over. My daughter was also born on a Monday. My son was born on a Friday.

Monday's Child

Monday's child is fair of face,
Tuesday's child is full of grace,
Wednesday's child is full of woe,
Thursday's child has far to go,
Friday's child is loving and giving,
Saturday's child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.

I'm glad I wasn't born on a Wednesday.

 Fur Elise. I tried so hard to play this well in elementary school. I think I did a great job at the recital but I was so paralyzed in performance anxiety I needed my teacher's reassurance. She was so amazingly calm she told me I stole the show.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Spiny Creature (A Self-Portrait Haiku)

Stick appendages
Gingerly traverse the Earth
Inside a bright shell

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sunday Afternoon

Peds mom, tentatively: Hello?

Me: I am so glad you answered the phone. Gizabeth here.

Peds mom: Oh! I didn't know who it was. Somehow my kids managed to erase all of the contacts on my phone.

Me: Oh no. That's awful. I'm here shopping with Cecelia for dress shoes and was wondering if I get navy or black flats or either. The thought of trying to find the dress uniform code on my phone was giving me a pre-anxiety attack.

Peds mom, laughing: Only black allowed. No navy.

Me: Any other restrictions? Bows? texture?

Peds mom: No just black.

Me: Whew thanks. We are here in the store and I know they have school pics Wednesday so it's crunch time. We stupidly got pedicures next door right before shoe shopping she's trying on gingerly but it's working.

Peds mom: Glad I could help.

Me: Now you can plug me back into your contacts. Good luck with all the others. I'll let you get back to your Sunday afternoon.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Self Portraits (Jack)

My boyfriend discovered a bunch of these on his iphone early this Summer. We were blown away. Here are two of my favorites.

Man those files are gigantic. S explained the technique Jack intuited (he's a photographer in addition to an architect but it all went in one ear and out the other I've got no space in my brain for new material but way impressed with all the fancy terminology).

Great job Jack.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ice Cream Scientist

Caption: Aunt Effie, Jack, me and C. No Atlanta Uncle Chris that is not a full cup of coffee Jack is about to tip over we are in no immediate inherent danger.

My daughter wants to be two things when she grows up. An Ice Cream Scientist and a Rock Star.

Her Aunt Effie works as a food scientist for Dunkin Donuts and Baskin Robbins, so we were over the moon to visit the headquarters in Boston this summer. Last year on professional day for school, Cecelia made a cool felt ice cream cone with sprinkles to safety pin over my lab coat.

We entered the lobby and there was an ice cream station loaded with 12 or 16 different flavors. All the staff could scoop their own ice cream whenever they wanted throughout the day. Surprisingly, most of the BMI's were normal. If I worked there I think I would be a whale. Aunt Effie said, "Just like anything, you get sick of it."

Caption: Jack, Uncle Mike and C scooping their own flavors 

After getting an initial fill we headed upstairs to the staff cafeteria/Dunkin Donuts area. There were walls of coffee and donuts. I excitedly got a big coffee while Jack ate a donut - Cecelia was saving her appetite for the lab. As we walked into the lab I became nervous holding my coffee. "Do I need to set this down somewhere before we go in?" My brother laughed. "No Giz, this is not a micro lab. It's a food science lab."

We met Effie's co-worker who was perfecting a color for ice cream. We saw lots of ice cream cake prototypes and oohed and aahed. We went into a room where there were cutting edge about to be released flavors and Effie pulled out some spoons. We moaned in ecstasy and thrilled in being let in on company secrets.

Caption: Jack in the lobby. This pic captures the ecstasy that lasted throughout the afternoon.

Caption: C's holding up the fort now so J can ham and me and bro can suffer the photo knowing we will look back and be glad we have the memories.

After the lab we got to see Effie's cubicle and the kids thrilled in seeing pics of themselves and playing with her desk top novelties. We went into the international distribution room - Effie introduced us and the kids expressed jealousy that they got to travel for their job. They smiled and said, "No, we handle everything from here. We work with these computers. It's your Aunt Effie who does the traveling." 

She's in Japan this week. 

Happy Birthday last week Aunt Effie and Uncle Chris and Aunt Annie and Aunt Gretchen! Hope you all got lots of ice cream brain freezes.

Movie NIght

The Kings of Summer. Highly recommend. For older kids.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Many Shades of Black

I freaking love this song, probably posted it before. Happy Friday finally no brain frozens in my immediate future thank goodness!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Some Other Planet

The summer before my Senior year of high school, I took Scuba Diving at University of Arkansas at Little Rock. I was 15. I got a hardship when I was 14 to help run my little brothers and sister around, so I had already been driving for a while.

I signed up for the class to avoid taking P.E. at my high school. I had procrastinated P.E. because I detested it when I was little. At Montessori, there was a hard core teacher that made us do crunches and play dodge ball and I sucked so bad at team sports I was never picked. I felt humiliated and I thought the same thing would happen all over again. Plus I heard the coaches (all male) would line you up and measure your fat with this pincher thing and keep tabs throughout the year. I already had enough complexes about my weight - which was completely normal but still. I'd rather be tortured in Hell.

It was pretty fun to take a course full of college students. And I would be NAUI certified - they help arrange certification for Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, NASA. Way more sophisticated and intense than PADI. There was a lot of math, physics - we had pressure and depth changes to memorize with clinical consequences at each step. We first tested our skills out in the pool.

After the class was over - it was a night class 6-9 if I remember correctly a couple of days a week - we would all head over to Zack's Place across the street, instructor included. They would order pitchers of beer and I would eat fried snacks and sneak an occasional sip. No one was really watching. We played pool - I got pretty good. I was treated as a pet novelty - this 15 year old kid out past her bedtime. I beamed in their adoration. They were protective of me and kind and I felt safe.

Our open water certification was a camp weekend. We went to Greer's Ferry Lake. I was serious about it - packed all my garb and drove there with a girl friend from class. We were going to camp together - I brought a tent and pitched it near the others. It was still afternoon when we arrived and our open water certification dive wasn't until the next day. I put on my swim suit and found a great perch - a rock overlooking the lake. I sat and basked alone staring at the sky and water until the sun wore me out and I went to bed. Earlier, my friend told me she wouldn't be spending the night with me after all. I told her I would be ok alone.

It was tough getting to sleep because everyone was partying; there was a big bonfire. I wanted none of that because I was nervous. I had pre-test jitters. One girl partied so hard she couldn't take the test the next day (morning campfire drama she had apparently puked all night and was sleeping), but I was ready first thing after a decent night's sleep.

Despite visibility being only two feet, I managed to complete all the tasks required of me in the half day grueling ordeal. I was super proud when my teacher lauded me for successfully completing the navigation course. We had to aim our compass at a flag across the lake, go underwater, and navigate to the flag. I was the only one to surface right in front of the flag. I felt like I won the lottery.

On the drive home I asked my friend what happened to her the night before - she showed up fine for the certification and we were both celebrating our success with loud music and singing. She said, "Remember that guy who wasn't in our class who showed up to take the open water certification with us?" Um, who wouldn't. He was military and super cute - I didn't talk to him but watched him out of the corner of my eye some. Looked like he was in his early 20's. Dark hair, crazy light blue piercing eyes. "Well, he saw you sitting on that rock and came over to ask me who you were. I told him your name, smiled, and said you were 15. His face fell. He said he wanted to invite you back to his cabin but no jailbait for him. I told him he could take me and pretend I was you. It was one of the best nights of my life."

That was one of the first times I can remember feeling beautiful as a young woman.

Greer's Ferry was my first open water dive experience, but I had many more and I revel in the quiet and alien feeling of being deep in the Ocean. It's been over 15 years. I think I'm going to try to get back into it in the next year or so.

Caption: Open Water Certification Card.  I just took this pic - I still keep it in my wallet like a trophy. Hadn't pulled it out in a few years.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to School!

 Caption: Jack and his new teacher, Third Grade

Caption: Cecelia heading to (Ack) Middle School

Finally launched. Prep for middle school is rough compared to lower school. Had a few bumps but overall success. 

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

More Brains

I was inspired by Cutter's latest Mothers In Medicine post: (Don't) Hide Your Kids. Stepmom Rachel was going to take the kids to work with her Monday, and post-call Dad was going to take them on Tuesday since he was off. I switched plans at the last minute. "Why don't I take Cecelia Monday, and Jack Tuesday to work with me? The office next door for the part time pathologist is vacant they can scoot the odd chairs together, we'll bring pillows and blankets and ipads." I had only taken Cecelia to work once last Spring in my seven years here. Before that I snuck them in on the odd weekends. I was hiding my kids.

Cecelia's day was magical - we went to lunch with our friend Padma and had time at the end of the day to shop for gifts in the gift shop before meeting their new dog at dad and stepmom's. Jack was a little more enamored since it was his first full day. Both kids loved meeting all my co-workers - they haven't been totally absent, they knew a few, but this was pretty big for them both.

Jack watched a movie and finished a back to school project due tomorrow (procrastinator like me) and played internet games. Padma took him to the histotech lab to show him the ropes there and to the gift shop to pick out truffles. While in the histotech lab he met a path assistant. "Mom, she told me there was a foot in the gross room. I think I want to see it."

It was the end of the day so I tied up my work and he packed up his things then we headed over. C wants nothing to do with the gross room ("Ewww Mom I'll meet the people but that's it no body parts!") but he is fascinated. He wandered over to the path assistant's work station to survey the foot - it was a partial amputation with just toes. The path assistant showed him the toes and the gangrenous ulcer - the reason for the amputation. I monitored his reaction - he looked nonplussed. "That isn't the grossest thing I've ever seen."

The lead path assistant - an ex/currant-hippie wearing black scrubs and a black bandanna called us over to his table. He used to be a criminal defense lawyer so he has a flair for drama and take what I report that he says here with a grain of salt.

"I've got something you might like to see." Jack was curious. The lawyer reached down to the floor behind his grossing station and pulled out a bucket. I pointed out the facetious name on the bucket to Jack. "Abby Normal." it was written in Black Sharpie all caps. I said, "Get it Jack? It's a made up name based on the word abnormal."

The lawyer said, "See if you can guess what it is when I pull it out of the bucket." Jack was staring intently. As soon as the specimen left the opaque white bucket he stated, "Brain." I said, "Good Jack, that was quick." Jack asked, "So, it's a whole brain? Is that for a brain transplant?"

The lawyer didn't blink an eye. He was running his gloved finger along the sulcus and rotating the brain to expose the cerebellum and the stump of spinal cord. "Well, I don't think they have quite perfected that yet. Nope this is an old brain from an autopsy. It got lost down here in the buckets in the corner and now we just pull it out occasionally for show."

Jack stared for a minute or two while the lawyer was describing the anatomy and suddenly announced, "Ok I'm done with the brain."

The lawyer respectfully and quickly returned it to the bucket and I told Jack I wanted to show him the microscope where I read the frozens and the bat phone to call the OR. Jack said, "Yes, I think I am ready to see a microscope." I said, "Well, if you ever turn into a zombie, now you know where to find a brain to eat. In that corner." Jack smirked.

I am impressed how well he processed it. Any worries I had about destroying his thirst for science were quelled tonight at dinner while he manically tried to explain some sort of titanium substance that is incrementally colder than dry ice - I wish I was paying attention more but I was busy getting things ready for first day of 3rd and 6th grade tomorrow.

Thanks Cutter. The experience was indescribably rewarding and I'm looking forward to more in the future. Not too much, but enough for my kids to know what I do. Their life is not a mystery to me but mine has definitely been a mystery to them. We all gained a helluva lot from the experience.

Monday, August 11, 2014


Caption: Summer Shack Boston July 2014 - Jack holding lobster

Caption: Jack and new puppy Coco at Dad and Stepmom's this afternoon

Caption: Cecelia at Summer Shack with lobster

Caption: C with new puppy Coco

Caption: New puppy Coco with Jack and C's little sister Rennie (mini C in my opinion Stepmom Rachel says mini J. It's definitely a mix and jarring and reminiscent and wonderful. I love holding a baby again and getting to give her back to full time caregivers not me been there done that ha ha)

Guess which critter C and J are more enamored with? Coco number one lobster a brave novelty.

Rennie is no critter but she definitely steals the show.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Brain Frozen Moon

That's what my path assistant called it. I promise I'll stop talking about these after this blog but really? This is so unusual. After two late ones last week I was on the hook for three hours Saturday night (luckily they did not need me to come in after all - lucky for me and patient). Watching horror movie Oculus while waiting for a possible brain frozen hit a new level of exciting anxiety I have not yet hit in my lifetime.

This morning I slept in until 8 and went to dad and stepmom's to get the kids. I was hugging them after not seeing them for two weeks - and my pager went off. Guess what? Another brain frozen. I'm a pro now.

I've never been so excited about a post-call Monday.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

I'm Not Ready

My daughter is 11. She had a play date with a good friend a couple of weeks ago, and her friend let C try on her glasses and took this pic. I was so alarmed I asked her friend to send it to me.

So when did my daughter go from 11 to 17? Ugh. She reminds me a little of Lisa Loeb in this pic.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Belly Button Lint

Not that I've ever had any.

Work today was so freaking crazy it felt like a full moon. It started off smooth but the Gods were conspiring against me and I'm too tired to blog about it tonight. One article I read at NYTimes over lunch today helped me laugh through the madness. Something David Brooks wrote (I either like or hate his articles) about introspection vs. narcissism. He says something to the effect of when you can view your life from a distance as a landscape rather than getting embroiled and angry in the moment it helps. So today was just a blip in the arc of the Universe.

I just talked to my kids for an hour I miss them so much it's been almost two weeks with camp then their trip to Florida with dad and stepmom. I can't wait to see them but we will be in a flurry of preparation for school Wednesday. I've got a 6th grader and a 3rd grader. Bizarre and wonderful.

Full work day tomorrow but no early OR to cover so I'm going to sleep in a bit.

After work I ran to the grocery store my cart included: three six packs of diet Snapple, 20 Vitamin Waters, cat food, and toilet paper. The essentials of life.

One of my biggest pet peeves in life is when people make a mistake and try to blame you for it and, insult to injury, suggest you pay for it. So goes the way of fixing up new houses. Stand firm with support. It works.

When my cat is in a really playful mood and I'm exhausted she likes to sneak bite my toes - not too hard but surprising. She also lays in the middle of the kitchen floor or circles my legs, effectively making me trip, while I am trying to make a soothing plate of nachos. I don't get out the squirt bottle of water often, but tonight I did. Luckily she is chilled out sleeping by my feet now.

I'll leave you with one of my faves from The Art Institute in Chicago back in May. I've got a treasure trove of pics that was a crazy manic day of discovery.

Caption: The Gambler. Richard Lindner American born Germany 1901-1978 Assemblage

It's heat lightning tonight in Arkansas it's gorgeous. Hope the storm that was supposed to come last night comes tonight I'm ready for a break in the humidity.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


If one more person calls to remind me about my massage/dentist/daughter's orthodontist etc. appointment and leaves me a message to take time out of my busy day to call them back to confirm an appointment that I've already made and is sitting in front of me on my desk calendar (cause I see your number I know it now I've got you memorized and I don't answer anymore), especially after I have signed up for the text messaging reminder option at least three times - on text message and in person and on the phone - in order to avoid blowing up at random desk assistants in fits of barely suppressed passive aggressive anger, I think I am going to explode.

I recently made an executive decision to completely ignore these phone calls and their plea for engagement. What the hell are they going to do give away an appointment on 24 hours notice?

Oh and by the way don't robocall remind me at 3 am or send me an e-mail to click on a website and confirm an appointment either. I'm not listening or clicking anymore. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Is That a Condom in Your Pocket?

I was walking through the transcription area today on the way back to my office after discussing a difficult case with a colleague. The lead transcriptionist stopped me.

"Dr. Shyder? We are all wondering. What is that in your pocket?"

I was taken off guard. What was she talking about? I was wearing light blue scrubs - they were so worn and thin. I've been wearing them for six years.

"Do you mean the stain?" I was embarrassed I know it looks funny to have a light brown stain on my back pocket. I intentionally wore a light jacket over my t-shirt today to try to cover it up. "Sometimes I put my vitamin in my back pocket because I don't like to take it before I eat - it makes me nauseated. Then I forget to take it once I get to work and it ends up in the wash. It eventually washes out after two or three washes. I can imagine what you think a brown stain back there might look like, you don't have to tell me."

"No, not what is on your pocket, what is in your pocket."

I felt my pocket and remembered the pony tail holder I put in it this morning anticipating another busy day on call. Yesterday there were twelve frozens between 8 and noon. Today was quieter, but I had another late brain frozen tonight that never happens twice in one week. The pony tail hadn't happened yet this morning, but it was imminent.

I pulled it out to show her. "Just my pony tail holder see? What did you think it was?"

She whispered conspiratorially. "I'm scared to tell you." She paused dramatically. "We thought it was a condom."

I laughed so hard. It was a nice release. "Oh that's funny. If only! I'm not that cool. But it's nice you thought I was. The unmarried doctor with the condom in her pocket. Headed to the Dr.'s lounge to scope out a partner for a midday release in the call room. Ha! Sorry just a ponytail holder." They laughed and I headed back to my office.

As I walked I was thinking if I really was looking around here I would hit up that support staff in radiology first - don't know his name or what exactly he does but he looks better than anyone I've seen in the Dr.'s lounge. But there's some good candidates in the lounge too. If I was that type of girl, but I'm not. That's fantasy fodder. I'm a serial monogamist, to borrow a term from my favorite hairdresser and good friend.

Man I loved Monsters in my Pocket. I remember a guy I thought was really cool in college was walking home one night in his trademark burlap sack dress. He was a hulk of a guy with pale skin and red hair. As the tale goes, he was stopped by the Conway cops. He was stone cold sober. They asked him if he had anything in his pockets. He said, "Yes, I've got Monsters in my Pockets." You can imagine that going over well by some gentle giant college punk to a couple of small town cops. He was let go after they saw the tiny soft plastic monster figures.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hotel Hospital

Today I was leaving work around noon to pay the guy that cleans my house every other week and dole out his birthday bonus - I should have written his name on my arm in permanent marker like I was telling myself on the way home from late frozens last night. "No, you'll remember in the morning." We are all self delusional. So after 5 hours of OR coverage and 10 frozens this morning I raced to my house. It was nice to get out of the hospital for a few minutes - my head was spinning - I was excited to grab my lunch in the freezer that was also forgotten.

As I was exiting the doctor's parking deck I approached the armed entrance (one of those same construction arms I encounter on the walk to my car that I fantasize might fall on my head only when I go under this one I'm in the car so less anxiety). I stopped right before I got to the trigger point to plug in my Spotify and hook up my phone to the speakers. A hospitalist who owns my second to last house in my former marriage walked up - I had already opened the window. He smiled in recognition and asked, "You coming or going? I've got a great spot right next to you you can have it if you want." I smiled, "No thanks, I'm going to run an errand. Just trying to get some music going. It's more complicated than it used to be, but it's worth the instant gratification."

He walked over to his car and having completed my mission, I pulled up to the trigger point. The arm did not raise. Backed up and tried again. Twice. Nothing. Unprecedented in my seven years here. The hospitalist got out of his car, having witnessed my plight, as I was now trying to manually raise the arm or find a bypass switch. He said, "I think we're stuck. I'll try the security phone."

After he called he informed me, "They said they'll be right here. This is crazy. Like Hotel California - 'You can check out any time you like but you can never leave.' Maybe this is why every other year you see the arm is torn clean off - someone must have gotten frustrated and plowed through." I laughed, "Yeah, imagine this happening in the middle of the night. When you were trying to get home and get to bed." We both went back to our cars.

Five minutes later nothing was happening and I was getting frustrated. I was so busy with frozens this morning that I had a lot of casework to come back to. I have a four wheel drive, I could go around the arm but it would require jumping three big curves and the first level of that deck roof is low, would I shave the top off of my car?

Another doctor walked up - he is tall and thin and youngish with dark hair I recognized him but have no idea who he is or what he does. He saw me sitting there, surmised the situation slowly, walked to his own car and back to my window. I told him, "We called security five minutes ago they should be here soon. I'm kind of nervous to jump those high curbs. Do you have a four wheel drive want me to back up behind you so you can get out?"

He said, "Your car is bigger than mine. Here I'll help you I think you can make it." He stood in front of my car and directed me as I slowly and bumpily made my way around the arm and over the curbs. I hesitated and glanced up at the deck overhang while I was in the middle - I was so close. I glanced at my helper who saw my concern and looked up to assess then gave me visual confirmation that I could clear it. He stepped out of the way and I waved my thanks and drove on.

When I left again today at the end of the day the arm was parked up. I hoped my fellow prisoners didn't have to wait too long.

Monday, August 4, 2014

OMG Brainfreeze!

I was thinking of the name of Cecelia's ice cream company for our contest in Boston while I was freezing a brain biopsy tonight on call. I just got home about an hour ago.

It takes me a lot longer than it did in residency - I only do it every few months. Late frozens are usually performed when the on call path assistant is there until 7. This one didn't go until after 8. She offered to stay or come back - I told her I might make a phone call to help her talk me through the freeze process so I didn't screw up the tiny biopsy but once I loaded the chuck on the machine to cut it I would be fine.

While I was cutting I was having problems getting a nice thin three micron sheet of ice and tissue - I got a little frustrated but figured I just needed to cut deeper into the block. My hand was getting cold. Then I realized that the lesion looked dark - it must be hypervascular and so it wasn't cold enough (thank you residency experience doing lots of frozens). I got the cryostat - sprayed a blast on the surface of the tissue, and voila. Three fantastic sections later, each carefully applied to the slide with a pointed probe, I was ready to stain with the slides in alcohol. I ran them down the stain line, applied the glue (I forget what it is called just now love the smell so much) and slide cover, and looked at my handiwork proudly under the microscope. Called the OR with the diagnosis. Cleaned up, melted the block and put the tissue into a biopsy bag then a casette, and poured formalin into the container before closing the lid.

I remember we used to sing this in residency while we were cutting autopsy brains.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Design Your Own Converse

More Boston Fun. Just delivered by mail.

Jack's Design. He takes a fraction of the time on his art and trumps us all.

My design. Upgrade of college faves. Airbrush branches are much more sophisticated than Sharpie smiley faces.

Cecelia's design. She's a fashion genius.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

Use Your Brain

I'm showing you this breast core biopsy because I got it at noon and I don't want to order a stain. It's Friday and it's late. I think it's B9. You are the least likely partner to order a stain.

I agree. Adenosis with central scarring and florid ductal hyperplasia of the usual type. Use your brain not a stain.

That's exactly what I thought. Scary lesion though right? Morphology trumps technology any day.


I got into a conversation at a bar tonight at a popular restaurant in town with an 80 plus year old. It was delightful.

We exchanged names. My dinner date was well into conversation with his acquaintance - they had mutual friends. He was a retired lawyer.

Me: "I'm a doctor. We tend to shy away from you guys. I don't recognize your name, but I'll bet we know a lot of people in common."

Him: "What kind of doctor are you?"

Me: "A pathologist."

Him: "Well you deal with dead people. Not much danger from my type there. I know a lot of pathologists, but they are retired."

Me: "I recognize those names, retired or not. I know that group it is a good one. I've got friends there."

Him: "What do you know about the Ebola Virus?"

Me: Dished out everything I read years ago in a historical plague book. Told him all about my job as director of microbiology.

Him: "Are you married?"

Me: "No I'm divorced."

Him: "Good because I just fell in love with you."

Me, laughing: "That's dangerous. I don't live well with anyone but my kids. I get along much better with my ex now that we aren't living in the same house."

Him: "I was married she's passed. I get along better now too."

Me, still laughing: "Now why are you so interested in Ebola?"

Him: "I just follow that on TV."

His acquaintance, having exhausted her conversation with my cousin: "It's time to go. I'm going to get the car."

Him: "Well I'm not leaving I just fell in love."

Me: "And you are telling this to your girlfriend??!!" She was a cutie. She looked twenty years younger than him.

Acquaintance, sarcastically: "I'm not his girlfriend, I'm his mother."

She left to get the car. My cousin and I helped him up - he had canes - and opened the back door of the patio for him. I watched my newfound short-lived and wholly unrealistic but so much temporary fun and flattering relationship walk out the door. I let go. I was excited to catch up with my cousin over dinner.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Elevator Conversation

I stepped onto the hospital elevator today between two people. The woman on my left wore a white short coat and a nutritionist name tag. The man on my right carried a tray of fancy desserts. They stared at the front wall in silence. The door closed.

The woman said, "--- went to get her shots today. She was by herself."

I wasn't sure who she was talking to at first. Me? She talked so low I almost didn't hear her. Then the man on my right grunted in acknowledgment. They knew each other, I surmised.

We rode the rest of the way down two floors in silence. The elevator stopped. A bell dinged. The doors started to open.

Woman on left: "--- attempted suicide last night. She is in the hospital."

Man on my right: "For real?"

It was as much of a statement as a question. We walked our separate ways.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Knowledge Loopholes

I went down to the basement with my partners to a reception today. It was reminiscent of the one two weeks ago where we grouped together and traveled down in a pack to attend a farewell reception for the CEO of our hospital - he had been working there for over 30 years. I went to high school with his daughter. Today it was time to usher in the new CEO and COO.

The mood again was festive. We are so busy we rarely have time to get together. We joked and laughed as we took the stairs to the ground floor and walked through the cafeteria to the reception hall. We had planned a time earlier in the day - I was the ringleader calling and reminding everyone of the 4:30 event.

As we walked in it was immediately apparent that the crowd was smaller, but the event was still young. Our goal was to mingle and dole out our congratulations then get back to work. I was trying to find the new COO - I used to live down the street from him - he is a boyishly handsome man with a nice smile that shows in his eyes more than his mouth. I located him and noticed with a partner that he wasn't as surrounded as the new CEO. "Let's go surround him" I said, and marched in his direction. My partner agreed and followed me.

As I walked up to shake his hand and congratulate him he introduced the guy standing next to him, who frankly dwarfed him and myself and most of the room. "Of course you know Keith Jackson." I was within less than a foot of him, and cranked my head up to peer into his face. I tried to place him but couldn't, and I felt embarrassed. Where should I know him from? I hadn't seen him around work. I smiled and shook his hand and introduced myself. My megalomaniac sports loving partner and jazz musician laughed behind me. "You really don't know who this guy is, do you?" He apologized to the man. "She doesn't know sports at all. Please forgive her."

Then my close girlfriend partner walked up and unknowingly added salt to the wounds. She reached out to him to introduce herself and shake his hand. "I don't follow sports and I'm not from Arkansas but I of course know who you are and it is my great pleasure to meet you." I was dumbfounded and chagrined. I started laughing, what else could I do?

He was so calm and gracious in his reaction to my ignorance. "Around here I am known best for being my Mother's son. She worked here for 30 years. It is a pleasure to be here and to meet you." He turned to my partner. "I'm happy to meet you too. Where are you from?" She smiled and told him, "Virginia Beach."

On the way out the door, after we greeted and congratulated and ushered in the CEO, my jazz/sports partner was laughing so hard he was annoying me. "I hate these things but that was so worth it. I can't believe you had no idea who he was." I replied, "Well, I don't know sports at all. I feel bad that I didn't represent." He said, "Oh, don't worry, he is pretty laid back, I'm sure you didn't ruffle his feathers. But did you notice the Superbowl ring on his hand?" Ribbing me, laughing again.

"So I guess that means he is/was a football player?"

Caption: Keith Jackson

Sleigh Bells: Comeback Kid

A Scientifically Stellar Lunch Date

Where I talk about eating lunch with my senior year high school physics teacher.

Read it over at MiM.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ice Dream Contest

Last night in Boston: In this contest, everyone is a winner.

First we made up ice cream company names. Effie was the judge, so she was exempt.

Then we started the creating process.

Caption: The Template

Effie brought home some new Baskin Robbins flavors from her food scientist job at their headquarters. I would tell you the names but then I'd have to kill you because they have yet to be released. No matter though, we had lots of toppings from the local ice cream store and Whole Foods to make them our own.

Caption: Jack scooping

Caption: Jack stirring. Notice the repeated arm blur. All action.

Caption: Cecelia creating Schlag. That's the fancy name for homemade whipped cream (Uncle Mike taught us that)

Caption: It's a collaboration, not a competition (Um, Cecelia? Uncle Mike?)

Then we showcased our creations.

Caption: Giz's Creation from the company Dancing Daisies Ice Dream. It is a mixture of birthday cake (loosely) ice cream with cookie dough, Japanese rocket candy Effie brought from a trip (think best rock candy you ever had) and maraschino cherries. The inspiration was Uni Kitty from The Lego Movie. Winning Category: Texture

Caption: Jack won for appearance. Bits of waffle cone butter cookies graced vanilla ice cream dotted with mini chocolate chips. His company name was Freezer Overpowered.

Caption: Uncle Mike won for darn I forgot. Because I hate to lose anything to him. His company was Fabulous Frozen Foam aka My Three Schlags. I'm going to screw this up royally, but he flavored schlag in three different amazing ways and did some caramelized sauce that smelled and tasted incredible over vanilla ice cream. He is a freaking trained chef and food scientist so he had a big handicap. We made him work only with his feet. Kidding.

Caption: Cecelia's OMG!!!!Brainfreeze trademarked creation. The oreo cookie schlag on top was good, but the ice cream mixed with natural peanut butter and oreo cookie bits and mini Reese's pieces stole the taste category. I gained five pounds on this trip darn you all and swam a mile yesterday to try to begin to burn it off.

It was the best last night of a trip I've ever had. And the fullest. What's a competition without a subsequent gorge?

Caption: The Competitors 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

World's Worst Mom

Last year, my boyfriend and I were completing a 20 mile bike ride on a Saturday and I got a phone call. My kids were the last ones left at their week long summer camp. I thought the pick up date was Sunday. We sped like banshees to retrieve them almost two hours after the last campers left - they were mad we had returned so soon they were soaking up the one on one attention from the staff and the Lord of the Flies atmosphere of having the solo run of their camp.

This year was a big time crunch. I arrived 5 hours late from Boston Thursday night, and had to prepare them for camp before drop off on Saturday at 3. We needed lots of errands and packing. I group texted a Peds mom and an OB mom Saturday morning - their kids, friends of ours, are also going to camp this week.

Me: Happy Camp Day! What time is your drop off? Ours is 3:00. Just wondering if I'm going to see you there.

Peds mom: We are dropping at the same time. We usually meet at this parking lot at 1:30 to caravan. You guys game?

Me: Sound great! See you there.

Peds mom: Peds spouse and I are both working clinic today. We have a lot of packing to do.

Me, alarmed: Oh my good luck. We are doing Target run do you need anything last minute?

Peds mom: Two loofahs. That is a huge help! You rock!

Me (laughing at the term she used that we call bath scrubs with C): That is on my list too no prob. I'll drop on your porch.

OB mom: Sounds good! We will see you tomorrow.

Me: OMG I thought it was today ha ha whew I can breathe.

Peds mom: At least you are ready for tomorrow!

Stepmom on phone after hearing my mess up: Ha better day early than day late like last year:)

Peds mom today: Hey Giz - it's today!

Me: Oh no I dropped them off in the night. Where the heck were y'all at 1:30 am in that parking lot.

Caption: Captain Jack in his bunk with his Minecraft Trunk

Caption: Kids headed to week of hedonism

The Bird Protector

My trip to Boston to visit bro Mike and his amazing wife Effie was so full and wonderful I'm going to have to dole it out slowly.

Caption: Photo of George Washington Statue I thought was Paul Revere

We took the train into Boston last Sunday to eat at Sportello (my daughter still remembers the amazing pasta from two years ago) and wander around the parks and shops downtown. Advantage of Little Rock over Boston: there are bathrooms they let you use in the stores. You don't have to go to that one Starbucks two blocks away and stand in line for 30 minutes to use a bathroom that disgustingly rivals the worst back town gas station bathroom you have ever been to. Good for Starbucks though - after that long wait you are willing to wait another 30 minutes for a coffee to wake you back up so you can shop some more.

Wandering around a park - I dunno which there were people riding swan boats and statues of George Washington (that I mistakenly thought was Paul Revere until I read the plaque), we encountered lots of birds. The kids were fascinated but not so much Aunt Effie. "I don't like the birds they freak me out. They are so unpredictable." So my son took it upon himself to chase all birds out of Effie's way for the entire trip. The Bird Protector, we called him, even though the Aunt Effie Protector might have been more accurate.

Caption: Jack waiting on pasta at Sportello

He really got into his role for the rest of the trip. On our last night we went to The Shake Shack - my foodie bro gave me all of the back history. After our burgers and dogs and fries we headed back to the car. Jack spotted two small birds and ran screaming and waving his arms to clear the way for Effie. We all smiled at the spectacle.

Me: "Jack, you are The Bird Protector. Thank you for doing your job."

Mike: "Yes, it's nice to have a break. When Jack is not around that's my job."

Me and Cecelia laughed at the thought of Uncle Mike screaming and chasing the birds away from Effie.

Effie, laughing: "It's true, he does that for me. It's a little weird, but he and I don't worry about anyone else's opinion but our own."

Caption: Aunt Effie and Cecelia