Tuesday, June 29, 2010

back by popular demand ...

So, I have taken a bit of a hiatus from blogging for awhile! You know how you get in the habit of doing something ... and then you get out of the habit of doing something .... Well, that's what happened with blogging for me. However, I happen to be home for a visit to Iowa for the past few days and actually had several people mention my blog to me (Thanks, Mom, Scott, & Amy) and figured I could try to give it another go :)

For the past 1.5 years, life has been good. I relocated to Denver last June to start my Clinical Genetics & Metabolism fellowship. The 1st 6 months was all Genetics and I really enjoyed it. The 2nd 6 months was all Metabolism, and while I found that I was very glad to be learning what I was learning, it is not where I see my future career going. But, fortunately, that's perfectly fine! Most people who complete this type of fellowship usually end up picking either one direction or the other and no harm done. Now, starting this July, I'll be re-focusing more on Genetics which makes me happy.

I've enjoyed Denver and all that it and the surrounding area has to offer. Now that my schedule is opening up a little bit more, I'm excited to take advantage for the rest of the summer. I have to admit, though, that everyone talks about Colorado for the winter sports (skiing, snowboarding, etc) but I really enjoy the summers better. I like hiking and getting into mountains when its not icy, or when you're less likely to be caught in an avalanche. I enjoy the really moderate temperatures to get out and bike and play tennis, volleyball etc.

I feel like this move to Denver sort of solidified my entering into life in the real world which is both good and bad. Good in that my schedule is better and I feel much more like a normal person. Bad in that with every move I've made in the past, I have had a sort of built in social network (with medical school, then residency) and felt really connected to people quite quickly. I did know some people in Denver already (Eileen & Andy, Jared & Brooke among a few others) which helped but haven't developed a large friend network like I've had in the past. I think this is the way it is for most people when they finish college and get a job but I've just delayed that transition significantly. I have not been completely socially isolated (despite my lamenting), however, I was fortunate enough to meet Ryan, whom I've now been dating for close to 8 months. (He doesn't even know this blog exists!) That relationship is going well. I've also joined a book & movie club that meets about once a month which has been really enjoyable.

So looking into the future, things look good! I'm excited for some upcoming travel to Idaho and Vancouver for some weddings as well as Toronto for a conference and Northern California/Napa for a visit to wine country. Hope this gives all of my adoring fans an update. And if 3 people read this, that will be a success!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

One thing at a time

Do you ever feel like "if I just get through this one more thing, then I'll finally be able to relax?" Yeah, so I've felt like that for oh, about 9-10 years. Most of its residency related, then I take on extra crap for research and that takes up a chunk of atime as well. Then there's moving and getting life all figured out for that. I guess getting through one thing at a time is what life is! Soooo ... the "things" in my life recently have been numerous. No surprise or I wouldn't be mentioning it, right?

I just finished a record-breaking month working in the ER. One day, we (not just me, of course) saw 106 children and the place averages 60 children a day. I'm not sure exactly what's going on because I don't think there is any particular epidemic or anything, its just been busier! I start to feel like when any pediatrician or family doctor in Indiana can't figure something out, they say "go to Riley!" Then we get the kids. Guess its great for learning but challenging as well. I of course, contracted a pretty bad cold towards the end of the month but that's not surprising. I don't think I've made it through a month there without getting sick, but am fortunately almost completely recovered now.

On top of that, I also moved out and closed on my condo at the end of last month! Things went better than I could have anticipated. I was really worried about having to have it on the market when I move to Denver in June. But now that's all done, I'm all moved into my friend, Jen's house holed up in her spare room with the majority of my belongings in the garage. She's great to live with, but honestly, I miss my own place.

Upcoming things on the horizon for me include completing my 4th and last neonatal intensive care unit rotation of residency this month (YEA!!!) and attending a medical genetics conference to present my research in Tampa at the end of the month. After that, I'll really start to think about moving out to Denver in June, planning to go to visit in April to find a place to live.

Though I may sound like I'm complaining, in all honesty, I'm not happy unless I'm busy so I guess I get what I ask for. I'm really pretty lucky and am looking forward to all the changes going on in the next few months. Hope you're all doing well and keep in touch.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Kenya pictures

I finally got around to uploading some of my kenya pictures. Follow the link below to check them out!


It's been a good couple of weeks

So an update from my last post ... it looks like Joyce from Kenya is being considered for the Gift of Life program at Riley Hospital where they will fix heart defects for children from other countries (and provide for the expenses). We're also working on getting a plastic surgeon involved to repair her cleft lip/palate at the same time. I'm really excited because it should hopefully happen while I'm still working at Riley so I should get to see her while she's in Indy.

In other news, I've told a lot of people, but maybe not everyone, but I'm going to be moving to Denver in June to start a Genetics/Metabolism fellowship at The Children's Hospital which I'm excited about. Given the poor state of the market right now I put my house on the market when I left for Kenya and I just sold it last week! Not only that but 3 other units a lot like mine were on the market before mine was but mine sold first! I credit it all to watching a whole lot of HGTV and learning how to "stage" my house :) I didn't make as much money as I would have liked but I'm not going to have to bring any money to closing and will make a little bit of money when the mortgage is paid off. In this market, I look at that as a big plus. I'll be moving in with a fellow resident who has a spare bedroom for the rest of residency.

Finally this week, I traveled to Strasburg, PA (which is near Harrisburg) to meet with a group of researchers that I've been collaborating with on a genetics project involving the Amish community. The area that I visited in Pennsylvania is in Amish country out there as well. I stayed in this adorable bed and breakfaast which even had a fireplace in the bedroom I stayed in. I've decided that will be a must in my dream home someday so that I can get ready in the morning with a fire going :) I've been working with this group via email for the last 1.5 years so it was great to finally meet with them in person. Not only that but they had some great news ... they've identified the gene that causes the new syndrome we've described in this population! It's a big victory and I think the things we've learned about this syndrome are going to impact the types of treatment and screening we choose immediately. I love genetics but one of my biggest dislikes is how esoteric it often is but I feel like with this project we may actually be able to make a different in the quality of life for these families. Now it will be a whole lot more work writing this up and submitting it to a journal. I'm also going to get to present this work as a poster at the American College of Medical Genetics conference in Tampa, FL in March.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Joyce - please help!

Made it safely home! Ironically, the journey from Nairobi to Indianapolis, while long, went pretty smoothly. It was only in Davenport, Iowa where I ran into a hitch! On the drive from Indy to Ames (to spend Christmas with my parents), there was some inclement weather and icy roads. After passing multiple accidents and seeing about 5 ambulances pass me on the interstate, I decided to stop in Davenport and get a hotel rather than ending up upside down on the side of the road somewhere. I picked a hotel near the mall and got some much needed Christmas shopping done while killing time and got home without too much drama the next day. It is good to be back!

One part of my trip to Kenya that I haven't written about yet is my experience with a patient on our medical team at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. The little girl above is an approximately 16 month old girl with a cleft lip and cleft palate (obviously) who was in the hospital for failure to thrive (failure to grow and gain weight appropriately). Despite hospitalization for 3 months, she continues to not grow. This could have been due to any number of reasons including her cleft lip and palate. The hospital staff was not equipped to perform the intensive feeding that she would require to get enough calories. While we were there, however, we noticed she seemed to sweat a lot with her feedings (that's not normal) and suspected a heart defect. We obtained an echocardiogram and yes, she has a ventricular septal defect which means she has a hole between the two lower chambers of her heart. She will not be able to grow adequately and eventually, her heart will fail because of the size of this defect. Her only solution is a surgical intervention to correct this. This will be difficult because the funding to perform this surgery does not exist under the current medical system in Kenya.

So now you know, her medical background. Joyce is a beautiful, happy little girl who was, unfortunately, abandoned at the hospital because her mother didn't feel she had the ability or resources to care for her. Joyce plays peek-a-boo, is desperately trying to crawl but doesn't have the strength since she is the size of a one month old, mimicks sounds (her favorite "word" is "gooley, gooley, gooley, gooley," loves the mobiles that hang over her crib and in general is pretty much one of the sweetest children I have ever encountered. One of the medical students and his wife (Don & Crystal) who were there during my time in Kenya pretty much fell in love with this adorable little girl (okay, I did too). They are spear-heading a fundraising effort to provide this life-saving surgery for Joyce. They have set up a Paypal account at the following address for people to contribute.

If you have a few extra dollars to donate during this Christmas season, that would be wonderful. I assure you that all funds will be going directly to medical expenses or travel expenses related to Joyce receiving this surgery. We are still working on whether she would get this surgery in Nairobi or perhaps travel to the United States. As events progress, I will continue to provide updates on this blog. And if you have any other questions, please let me know!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A great weekend and looking ahead ...

This weekend, we went to Masai Mara which is a national game reserve and the best place to safari in Kenya. The Mara is a approxmiately 500 square miles of open land where animals such as lions, leopards, elephants, many variety of antelope, hyenas, warthogs, hippos etc all reside. We saw literally hundreds of elephants and unlike our previous safari saw far more than two lions. One of the highlights was watching a group of five lionesses stalk and attempt to kill a poor warthog. It was fascinating how they worked together though spread out across a field and used strategy to try to prevent the warthog escape. Amazingly, the warthog managed to get away though we all thought he was a goner. I've always heard that warthogs are incredibly stupid though obviously the lions (and we) had underestimated this one.

As this week winds down, we're getting ready to leave Eldoret and spend a few days at the beach in an area south of Mombasa called Tiwi Beach (on the Indian Ocean). I'm excited to begin the journey home as well. Don't get me wrong, every day with temperatures in the 70s is great but I have to admit I love the seasons and am looking forward to it actually feeling like the holiday season. I'm also anxious to get back to Ames for Christmas for the first time in 3 years. This has been quite an experience. Its made me very grateful that I've had this opportunity to be here and I know its something I'll reflect upon for a very long time. Perhaps I may even return here if I feel there is something more than I can offer. Who knows?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Brave .... or Stupid ...?

My friend Jen and I were walking around in downtown Eldoret today doing some shopping. Downtown Eldoret is one of these incredibly busy places where the sidewalks (that's a term applied loosely) are packed shoulder to shoulder. People walk up and down the streets as well and there are no such things as traffic lights or cross walks. Well, actually, that's not entirely true, there are traffic lights, they're just more decorative and non-functional. At some point in the near past, they installed traffic lights at several busy corners in town. Apparently, people decided that "red" meant "speed up" or just ignored them all together so after about a day, they were shut off and have been decorating the landscape ever since. Anyways, so Jen and I are standing in the middle of the street, having crossed half of it, waiting for a break in traffic. We're standing with half a dozen other people and I'm positioned just a little behind her. Suddenly, I glance over and notice the guy right next to her is oh so casually unzipping her purse. Unfortunately for him, the only thing in the pocket he would have obtained was her chapstick. However, I didn't know that either, so I proceed to lean over and shove the guy away from her. Hmmm, maybe not the smartest thing in the world but it was effective. The funny thing is, after I shoved him, he shifted over about 6 inches, but still had to wait to cross the street with the rest of us. He just sort of looked away and pretended it hadn't happened. I think he would have started whistling if it had been a t.v. show. Only in Kenya, I guess!