Checking In

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Hello! Breaking out of my sleep deprived phase to check into this space. My brain feels like I'm back in intern year mode again- the overall hours are WAY better but switching between 3 pm- midnight and 10pm-8 am shifts is really putting my circadian rhythm through the ringer. LOL. Oh well. Here's a mix of things I've been reading about/thinking about lately.

Upsetting piece from Vice on coerced sterilization of indigenous women in the U.S. and Canada. If you think mistreatment of Native peoples of North America is in the past, this article is a sad reminder that this is simply not true.

On the positive side, stories like this one remind me that it's not all bad news out there. Amy Yeung is doing amazing work both on the sustainability front and keeping children from going hungry in Navajo reservations. You can shop her store- a mix of upcycled pieces, unique vintage and hand-crafted Native American jewelry and arts- online here.

Interested in working towards a more planet-healthy diet and don't know where to start? Tania from recently published a guide on her experiences. Her instagram is full of great recipe stories and some favorite vegan restaurants around London and beyond. Even if you don't feel like you're up for the challenge of going completely vegan, have a look around- swapping out even a couple of meat-based meals per week for beans, pulses or other veggie options can make a huge difference in your health and the health of the planet. P and I recently tried her chickpea curry and loved it.

On a similar note, this study has been making rounds in the news, and it seems like most outlets are focusing on the observations of increased stroke risk in vegans and vegetarians. Reading through it, it looks like the risk of stroke could be as little as 1.02 times greater to as high as 1.4 times greater risk, or roughly 3 more strokes per 1000 people. While they did adjust for fruit and vegetable intake, to me it wasn't totally clear if they were able to control for proportion of calories coming from processed foods (such as nut cheeses or veggie meats.) It will be interesting to see what subsequent studies show...

Unless you've been living under a rock, you are probably at least aware that Taylor Swift released a new album recently. Since 1989 came out I never know what to expect when she says an album is going to be different from her prior work, but this one is pretty great. May have cried listening to the title track (it's so sweet! Can't wait to go to a wedding where the couple chooses it as their first dance song and cry like a baby.) Rolling Stone put out this article ranking all her songs up through Reputation, if you're interested in a deep dive (I completely agree with their choice for number one track.) And you know you've got musical street cred when Pitchfork reviews not only your new album but 5 of your prior works (they also clearly recognize the lyrical genius that is Red, haha.)

And for anyone still hating on popular music (I'm going to go out on a limb and say that's pretty much nobody, haha), this meme dissection says everything I could possibly want to say on that as someone who grew up with a love for folk rock, classic rock, country and blues and zero interest in boy bands or Britney Spears. Music can move us in so many ways. We're not in high school any more, so you're not a sell out for loving different types of music. Neil Young's Ragged Glory and Harvest albums are just as genius as Jay-Z's Blueprint 3 and Iron and Wine's EP with Calexico. Its more fun that way anyways...

This is getting long and rambly! I'll blame the weird work/sleep hours. Happy hump day! I'm going to try and post a few more travel posts and a couple more personal ones in the next couple weeks. All depends on how my work/school schedule goes. :)

Maintaining Sanity on Night Float.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

My sister recently started her sub-internship on night float (side bar: my sister is in her last year of medical school?! Cue the quarter life crisis) and it brought me back to those good old days when I was a wee intern….

And didn’t sleep, froze my butt off every night, and jumped out of my skin with every page, even the ones that were just asking for a Tylenol order. 4 years later, I have a weird appreciation for working in hospitals at night- the quiet hallways, being able to chat with patients and their families uninterrupted, and getting so tired you start laughing at the most nonsensical things with your senior resident. I figured I’d write this out for my sister (if she reads this blog, she might be too cool for this kind of thing. LOL) and any other new interns or almost-interns about to dive into their first experience working nights at hospitals.

Get comfy. Night float shifts are often long, lasting anywhere from 10 to 14 hours. Many nights you’ll be on your feet a lot, and won’t be spending a ton of time sitting or resting, so good shoes are key. Many healthcare workers swear by Danskos; a well-fitting pair will last you for ages ( one nurse I work with has had hers for 7 years,) but make sure to try them on before you purchase, as each pair is handmade and therefore will fit slightly differently. I personally have loved wearing my Allbirds and have also used my running shoes in the past; both worked fine for me.

Another thing people don’t realize off the bat is that hospitals are cold, and they get even colder at night. I would walk into work wearing fleece leggings pretty much from August through mid-June. A fleece or zip-up jacket plus cozy socks and you have a semi-tolerable work environment. Some of my colleagues even had a hospital blanket stowed in their lockers.

Have a sleep strategy. I have never been a good sleeper. I am one of those people whose brain likes to play the game of ‘lets dive into your most cringe-worthy memory or deepest regret!’ as soon as my eyes shut, and breaking routine can really exacerbate my insomnia. I generally had two approaches to sleeping on call- I would prioritize trying to get REM sleep in at least once; at my hospital I had to follow up on midnight and 4 am vital signs, which meant I could sleep for 4 hours in between if my brain would settle down or I was tired enough. If sleep wasn’t coming easily, though (like, say, if I was having the recurring nightmare of the code pager going off and my legs turning to jelly. That was a fun one.) I would hammer out some work- either easy readings, life stuff that I’ve been procrastinating on, or mindlessly running through a few board prep questions. About half of the time these activities were boring enough that I’d eventually nod off.  

There were definitely nights I wasn’t going to be able to sleep; you just have to accept that you’re being paid to work no matter what, and that being paid to sleep is a kind of bonus perk that happens once in a while, but isn’t guaranteed. This mentality helped keep me from getting too stressed out if my grand plans didn’t work out.

Another semi-related tip for interns: do your own night rounds. You certainly don’t have to see every patient, but walk through each unit shortly after nursing sign out to check in, see what’s going on, provide updates and change or correct orders as needed. I would even bring a computer around with me to change orders in real time. This does two things: first, it shows the nurses that you are attentive and care about their contribution to the patient’s care plan. Getting friendly, recognizing names and faces and even engaging in small talk really does go a long way. Second, it reduces the number of pages you will get at 2 am to change that Tylenol from round the clock to as needed, or other non-urgent matters. 😊

Time your caffeine boluses. I tended to be sensitive to caffeine. It made me jittery and jumpy, and would occasionally exacerbate an essential tremor that came out of nowhere in residency. I would usually drink a half cup of coffee before work, then, depending on how the night was going, either plan to lie down and sleep and have another coffee or tea before signout, or on PICU nights when I knew I’d be up, time an 11 pm- midnight coffee to keep me going until signout.

Maximize your home rest. I think of this as two parts- creating a cozy environment to sleep in regardless of time of day, and balancing the need for sleep with the need to maintain a normal circadian rhythm. For me this usually meant blackout curtains and ear plugs (you’d be surprised how noisy it can get during daytime hours at home) plus a 3-4 hour nap, then getting up to do errands or enjoy some sunshine, have dinner, and go to bed early so I was rested enough for the next day. I always found days that I slept much longer than 4 hours led to trouble sleeping later in the evening that could worsen my insomnia for days.

Others I’ve worked with have used working out right after call to ensure they get really good sleep, taking melatonin, or just pushing through the day and going to bed early in the evening. The bottom line is you have to figure out what works for you, but in general if you go into REM sleep for too long, your brain is going to be confused and think you need to be awake every night.

New Year's 2016, celebrating with sparkling grape juice in the pediatric ICU
Have fun. No, really. While there are definitely plenty of rough nights to be had in residency, there's also some true camaraderie to be had on night shifts. Some of my deepest conversations with colleagues and coworkers occurred on night float. Some of us had ‘family dinners’ where all 9 people on the floor teams at night would order Thai food and hang out/chat for half an hour. Sometimes we got together and watched Harry Potter marathons on the fuzzy-screened box of a TV in the heme/onc signout room. A curmudgeonly older nurse would break character on Saturday mornings and make French toast at 4 am for anyone passing by. For one intern’s birthday, we raided the supply closet, made her a birthday crown out of the weirdest supplies we could find, and celebrated with ginger ale mocktails served in plastic pink cups at midnight.

Hope this is at all helpful to someone, and best of luck to all the new interns who started this summer and the sub-interns trying on this role for the first time!

Israel: Jerusalem

Monday, August 19, 2019

After a long and

I was operating on less than 2 hours of sleep for our day trip to Jerusalem, so I'll keep this one short, mostly because I don't remember much of it, haha. I think the smartest thing we did was get up at crack of dawn to catch a 'sherut' (shared taxi or van- more here on different ways to get to and from Jerusalem) into Jerusalem in time for a 7:00 am divine liturgy at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. To participate and receive holy communion, watching tendrils of smoke lace their way through light and darkness in the lofty Greek chapel, was something I'll never forget.

The rest of our time at the Holy Sepulchre was a mix of fascinating, reverent, and feeling like we were being herded around like chattel. There were SO many different groups of pilgrims it made it hard to move around, although it was nice to see so many people coming to worship and pray. If we had one take home lesson from our experience, its that a lot of these religious sites should be visited as early as possible. By 9 am it was hard to feel serene with the level of crowds that had amassed.

Other than the massive crowds, our experience was great. Jerusalem is definitely a less secular city than Tel Aviv, and we really enjoyed wandering through the various quarters and exploring a place that's been occupied by people for so many millenia. My only other piece of advice is to do research online- this trip was a last-minute tag along for me to one of Peter's work trips, which meant we didn't know a ton going into it. For example, we totally missed out on seeing the Dome of the Rock because there's only a couple short periods each day that its open to non-worshippers (you can find the hours here.)

Hopefully someone finds this interesting/useful for their upcoming visit to Israel and Jerusalem. I'll try to post one more time before my classes start up again.  

Small Changes

Saturday, August 17, 2019

About 3-5 years ago talking about 'clean living' and 'single use plastic' would get you immediately pinned as 'crunchy.' Fast fashion like Forever 21 and Zara was at its peak popularity, and no one thought twice about that straw in their drink. Even I would have looked at you sideways if you told me plastic-less soap was the way to go.

Thankfully, its become more mainstream to be conscious of the environment and the rapidly developing climate change. People are realizing, slowly and inconsistently, that the consumer, need-to-have-it and buy-what-I-want attitude, is not sustainable. Over about a year, I've been trialing a few small changes in our lifestyle to lessen our impact on the climate. We are FAR from zero waste, but we are trying, learning, and striving to be better, and every little bit helps. Here's what we've done that works well for us; maybe some of these things will fit in your lifestyle, too:

- Adopt the planetary diet. This one wasn't a stretch for us. The Orthodox Christian diet typically cuts out meat and dairy about half of the year, and the times we do eat meat it's rarely beef, lamb, or other types of meat that have heavy carbon footprint. Also, the planetary diet is just good for you- the majority of your plate really should be leafy greens and vegetables, whole grains, and non-dairy proteins such as beans and pulses. Plus it's partly based on the Cretan diet, which my husband and I are obviously big fans of :) Here's a little more information, if you're curious. And if you're up for going completely vegetarian or vegan, great! Even better. Just make sure your diet is balanced, and talk to a nutrition specialist to make sure your diet contains all your needed vitamins and minerals.

- Reduce single use household items. This one definitely reflects a "do what you can" approach for our house. Both my husband and I work pretty long hours, so making our own cleaning products wasn't really an option. But we could easily replace our paper towels with reusable cloths, plastic ziplock bags with glass tupperware and wax cloth wraps, and also stopped using plastic when shopping altogether. Its been a process- I don't always remember to bring the small bags for fruit and veg to the markets. But anything was better than doing nothing altogether. We got these cloths, these wax wraps and pretty much all of our bags come from Trader Joe's :)

- Let go of fast fashion. This was a hard one for me. I grew up in an affluent community. Shopping was the reward for good grades, the way we killed a Saturday afternoon, and a form of stress relief when things weren't going great. I started small- I started paying attention to labels; I stopped buying non-organic fabrics or clothing that I couldn't guarantee was ethically sourced and fair trade (The Reformation, for example, or Amour Vert. There are literally dozens these days.) This year, I made a resolution to only buy used clothing, and only when I needed it. This has been amazing for my physical space and for our budget. My closet isn't filled with things I haven't worn in years, and I only make a purchase when its really necessary and/or I've slept on it for awhile. Do a quick google search for the nearest Goodwill or vintage shop in your area; there's also a few instagram accounts that sell vintage clothing online.

- Don't get it to go. This one's hard. Sometimes you just get a straw without asking, and if I'm working an overnight shift and forgot my traveling mug, not purchasing coffee just isn't an option. But we try to remember to specifically ask for no straws whenever we can; I have a few metal ones at home and this great portable one was a gift from a coworker. There are also awesome travel bamboo cutlery sets which I highly recommend :) And if I'm meeting someone to sit down for coffee, I either bring my own container for iced drinks (I don't know why you can get a ceramic mug when you sit down at a coffee shop but all iced drinks come in plastic??) or just skip the drink altogether.

- Green your vacation. This is a tough one. Peter and I love traveling, but flying and many other aspects of travel really aren't that green. Taking more local trips is a great way to avoid the impact of flying and get to know your area. When we did take our big trip to Hawaii, we made a point to volunteer. We attending an event for the Ocean Friendly Restaurants foundation, and tried to eat only at restaurants listed on their website. There's also a couple of great nonprofits that host beach clean ups, you can check them out here. And we ultimately volunteered at a sacred historic site with Maui Cultural Foundation. We found all of these nonprofits through Instagram and a quick google search; I'd highly recommend taking a look before you travel and seeing how you can lessen your trip's impact on the environment.

- Get politically active. This is something we need to be better about. But I try to keep abreast of political issues affect the environment by following this person on instagram, and donate to our parks foundations when we can. I also follow a few Native American activists, since some of the biggest threats to public lands are often occurring on sacred land. While we usually can't travel to protests, we try to keep abreast of big issues affecting sacred land  and sign petitions when they're circulating.

- Think about the next step (but don't get overwhelmed.) We recently switched to plastic free shampoos and conditioners, but when I looked around for container-free stores the nearest one was an hour away. We'd love to own a hybrid or electric car, but since I just finished payments on my current car, so that will have to wait a few years. If you looked at this whole list it probably looks really overwhelming. But we started doing these things a few small changes at a time. If you're interested in doing your part, don't get overwhelmed- just think about what changes will be feasible, and start there. You can do it :)

If you're not sure where to start, here's a couple of bloggers I find very helpful and inspiring:

- Joy Felicity Jane - great vegan recipes and good tips about sustainable living in the city
- Michelle for Good-  a mix of lifestyle content with ethical fashion and sustainable living
- The Good Trade- great general resource for sustainable fashion, lifestyle and home tips.

Hope that was helpful! If you do something else to leave less of a carbon footprint, please feel free to share in the comments. We can all learn from each other.

PS none of the links above are affiliate. These are just products I've really liked using and people/websites I've found useful in the path to live more consciously.

Israel: Tel Aviv

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Back in December I was stressing out about a number of things that in retrospect probably didn't matter that much ( this is my M.O., if you're new to this space,) when, in a last-ditch effort to cheer me up, Peter suggested I tag along for his work trip to Israel. It didn't take much convincing for me to say yes, so off we went a few weeks later...

I landed in Tel Aviv airport after a red eye and from there headed straight to Tel Aviv. We only had a few days total in Israel so I didn't want to waste any time catching up on sleep; instead we walked from our hotel on Rothschild down to the seaside towards Jaffa Port.

I have to say as far as trips go, this was one of the least planned out ones we've taken overseas. Usually one or both of us has some sort of bucket list of things we absolutely want to see/would like to check out if we have time. Unfortunately, 5 days was not enough, especially factoring in jet lag. But we did our best, had a blast, and soaked in the beautiful sunshine, so I'd still say it was worth it!

Jaffa and Tel Aviv are interesting bedfellows. One (Jaffa) is a town so ancient it's heavily featured in the bible, while Tel Aviv is a relatively new city, growing upward and outward from an old fishing village to a huge center for technology and culture in the past century.

Most of our time spent in Tel Aviv was just walking through beautiful neighborhoods- Rothschild Avenue for its beautiful bauhaus architecture, Florentin for cute cafes and an artistic/hipster vibe, and Neve Tsedek for beautiful houses and instagram-worthy doors. We tried to visit Carmel Market, only to find it was closed for the Sabbath (these kinds of mistakes became a trend on this trip, haha.) A lot of sites (less in Tel Aviv but moreso in Jerusalem/Nazareth) kept surprisingly short visitor hours, so if I could give one piece of advice for someone spending any amount of time in Israel, it would be to research opening hours for Markets, Churches and other religious sites you're interested in.

We were pleasantly surprised by the collection at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, which has a great collection of Impressionist and Modern paintings.

The city as a whole is quite beautiful. I was impressed not only by all the natural greenery and parks, but also by how clean everything was. It was a stark (and saddening) contrast to the coastal Cretan towns where I spent my Fulbright, where the streets are rife with crude graffiti and litter. Obviously the financial and political climate in Tel Aviv is quite different, and they do a fantastic job of keeping the city clean and beautiful.

Where we stayed: The Diaghilev Hotel had been pre-booked by Peter's job, so we added a couple of days to the reservation. The location right by Rothschild avenue was super convenient, the rooms were clean and spacious, and the breakfasts were great (wish I had taken a photo, Israeli breakfast is so. delicious.)

Where we ate: We went based off of quite a few sources for this trip. A friend of mine had lived in Tel Aviv for 4 years, so for food and drink we mainly relied on a list she sent us, along with this post from Les Flaneries D'Aurelie blog. A few favorites were North Abraxis for amazing farm to table food with a menu that changes daily, the Old Man and the Sea for some truly amazing fish overlooking the old port (the colorful photo of a dozen or so small plates, above, is from that restaurant), and we got some incredible Falafel in Jaffa's Flea Market area (Falafel Danny.)

For Nazareth, a former colleague who is Palestinian and has quite a lot of family there gave us some great recommendations (more on Nazareth/Jerusalem later.) And of course you can't go wrong with a Lonely Planet Guide :)

Ok time to run catch another plane! Will post the rest of the photos some time this week :)

Just Things

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Hi! It's been a minute, hasn't it? Getting back to work after a long time away can be quite a jolting experience, one that pulls me from this space for awhile. The fact that my mood correlates so strongly with the temperature doesn't help, though I'm thankful the New York winter decided to show its ugly face as late as it did. Oh well, it had to start some time, right? And we've got an unusually busy travel itinerary the next few months, which is great- it's always nice to have a warmer climate to look forward to this time of year. Here's a few interesting links and articles I've been discovering lately.

Our first trip this spring is Israel- not a destination I felt super strongly about visiting, but since diving into books and articles about the country's rich and sometimes turbulent history and culture, I'm wondering if the 4 days we tagged on to Peter's work trip will be enough! I suspect the answer is no...either way this brief article about Tel Aviv, sold me on a city I really didn't know much about before this trip. Most vegetarian-vegan friendly city in the world? I'm in!

This piece on surviving the cold on Man Repeller was a refreshing break from prior pieces on the subject. I'm all for hygge and koselig, but sometimes you just need to have a margarita themed dance party and use blankets as a fashion statement (the people of Lesotho are exceptionally good at the latter, as exhibited here.)

Not sure where this stained glass art trend came from, but I'm into it. Colorful macaw wall hanging, anyone? Also loving this beautiful, less expensive piece (especially if you're on the hygge bandwagon!)

Also on the topic of hygge and home, I've been on the hunt for a vintage pendleton blanket for quite a while, mostly to save money but also because I kind of love some of the older designs. If I were to get a new blanket, I love the line designed by Native American artists (this one's my favorite) with the National Parks line being a close second

Speaking of National Parks, I'm so grossed out that the shutdown led to atrocities such as this one. Can't believe someone thought this was ok!! Here's an article on how to help the parks get through the shut down (hint: it starts with not marring the landscape and cutting down trees and ends with just don't effing litter, ok? Jeez it's like people were raised without common sense or decency...)

It's not to late to get a flu vaccine if you haven't already! It's not just about you, you know- this youtube video has a great explanation about how your life choices impact the lives and safety of others. And while your at it, if  get your goddamn measles vaccines too!! Seriously can't believe we're even talking about this in the 21st century (this applies to those who haven't gotten them :)) but we've had so many cases in the New York area due to under-vaccination and loss of herd immunity. Bottom line: vaccines save lives. Just get your shots!!

Lastly, this global eclectic Bahamas house is design goals for me! Wood + persion rug + lots of green accents = swoon-worthy home, IMO.

Ok that's all for now. Will try to throw another post up next week. Have a good one, y'all!

New Year's Day

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year's! Hope everyone had fun and stayed safe. Party animals that we are, the husband and I (well, mostly me) fell asleep at 10 pm after a game of scrabble and 1 hour's worth of the Godfather Part II. Can't complain though- that's about as exciting of a New Year's as I want these days. I guess it means I'm getting older?

We had a merry little Christmas down in Florida and are now back up North. I'm not usually one for New Year's goals and resolutions, but this year I definitely had more free time to reflect on where I've been and where I'm going. I was waiting to share more when I knew more about my new position, but I'm very excited to be moving to Boston next academic year to accept a position as one of Boston Children's Hospital's Global Child Health Fellows. Finally getting that position that I've always dreamed about feels pretty surreal and amazing, and since it's been a working goal of mine for the past 10 years I feel incredibly excited, satisfied and proud all at once. Between that satisfactory feeling and being a lot less sleep deprived than last year (thanks residency!), the idea of trying to accomplish some goals is more exciting than daunting. Here's what I've come up with so far

  • Read a book every month- the year Peter and I started dating I set this goal and really found it to be very rewarding/enriching during my Fulbright year in Greece. I've already read so much more this year than I have since starting my medical training, and forgot how relaxing/enthralling it can be to curl up with a hot cup of tea during the winter, bundled in the coziest socks and blankets, and diving into another world. This time around there's a lot less fiction and more nonfiction/memoirs on my list, but I'd like to tackle some classic lit that I missed during my Bachelor's degree as well (looking at you, massive Shakespeare anthology.) Other authors on the list include Tara Westover, Garth Nix, Paul Farmer, Ursula LeGuin, and maybe some C.S. Lewis
  • Get proficient at another language- I haven't decided yet if it will be Greek or French, but since the new job will likely take me to Haiti (although that's not yet official), French would be the natural choice. I haven't studied French in close to 10 years but I'm hoping my 4-odd years of foundational high school and college classes will have laid a solid enough foundation that I'll be able to catch myself up to speed quickly enough.
  • Eat healthier and exercise- this is a big/broad one. I'm in now way in terrible shape, but I am the heaviest I've ever been and more sedentary than I've been most of my adult life. During residency longer workouts and runs just proved to be too daunting to even come close to tackling, so for now I'm committing to eating out once per week or less, no processed sugar and no alcohol outside of vacations. More importantly I'd like to exercise a little bit every day, or at least 6 days a week. I've found a couple 20-30 minute targeted workouts on youtube that I can do at home, removing the 'it's to cold to go outside' excuse that I've clung to for the past 3 years :) I may also start to try and see a therapist for the next few months, to help curb some of the built up anxiety I've accrued the last few years of adulthood. We'll see if I have time for that one...
  • Discover new music- Nothing against the top 20 charts, I just feel like I've missed out on quite a few years' of new rock, folk and alt country. I was a bit inspired by this post by the Larson house (link here) to stop listening to the same few pop songs over and over again. This year I'd like to spend more time discovering new artists and albums in some of my favorite genres. I made the below playlist out of some old songs I've had for ages, but it's time to find more new artists to get excited about. Open to any suggestions in this area if y'all have some!
I think those are the big ones. Overall there's a lot to look forward to in 2019- more traveling, a big birthday (I'm turning 30! ah!) and a bigger career step that's both terrifying and exhilarating at the same time. What are your goals for the new year?