Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Finally room to breath

After working 3 straight months of 80 hour weeks I am finally back home in the emergency department. We work 4-10 hour shifts (8am-6pm twice followed by 6pm-4am twice) and then have 2 days off. Life is good! I am rediscovering the joy of running with the help of the Mad-dog, and in turn I've been trying to introduce her to the fun of Colorado.

As you can see, she loves climbing:

Me too!

And can't get enough of hiking:

Speaking of Hiking, I got a hold of a new Timex Expedition WS4 watch last month (thanks to my teammate Roger Thompson for the help). I broke in this awesome toy with my favorite hike so far:

This is Spearhead Mountain. A big challenge at about 12 miles round trip and one hell of a steep climb, especially given the fact that you it's done without ropes or support. There are some dodgy sections for sure. But I always knew our exact altitude with the Expedition. So much fun!

Here's a pic of us (Deb, me and Anna) at the top with a great view of Long's Peak in the background!

I liked it so much I did the hike the next weekend with Roger and his son Willi. We didn't quite make the summit because we were caught in a bit of a snowstorm when we started climbing the steep part. But here are a couple pics of us at the top of Bierstadt on another ascent:

I had 5 layers on underneath that jacket. BRRRRRRR!!!

And Roger at the top:

Then my Dad was in town last weekend and we went to the Rockies/Brewers game

And then I tried to kill him by taking him from his home at sea level up to 13,000+ feet. We didn't quite make it to the top of Gray's peak because he got altitude sick, but we had some beautiful views nonetheless

And then we celebrated with some hot "Mexican Candy" out with my brother and his family for dinner. Notice the sweat on his head?

So things are good. Doing more running (just got back from 4-5 miles with the Mad Dog) and biking (mostly trainer) and trying to get back in the swing of life. Heading off Saturday on my first vacation of the year. Going to PANAMA! Can't wait!

Best of luck to my friends and teammates racing Kona. You guys rock!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Still working...

Just hopped off the trainer for a short spin on the Trek. Life has been more than hectic. I grossly underestimated how hard it would really be to work 80 hours per week and try to stay motivated for anything other than sleep! I have survived a month of surgery night float and a month in the Medical Intensive Care Unit at the University. Currently working medicine wards and about to start a 102 hour week working the graveyard shift at the county hospital. The bonus of working nights is the added training you can get in riding your bike to the hospital since it's always when the sun's still out.

Training has been pathetic, I'm afraid to admit. Things will turn around, for sure when I get to my on-service (emergency) months. I can't wait! I just happened to be very front loaded with my schedule. The bonus of that is I should be able to race early next season! I end my year with 4/5 months in the emergency department where we only work 60 hours per week. Yay!!

With my time off (we are mandated to have at least 4-24 hour work free days per month), I've tried to do a lot of cross-training. My workout of choice has been hiking. Two weekends ago Roger and I did 18 miles of hiking, climbing a couple mountains in Rocky Mountain National park. It was awesome!

This past week I had to take Maddie to the vet (found a 24 hour emergency vet) because she had developed what I thought was a swollen anal gland. Turns out it was a solid mass and I'm anxiously awaiting the results of the pathology. I'm terrified it's cancer. So over the weekend I took her out to Indian Peaks on a hike. She liked it so much that I think we're going to climb Bierstadt (14,000 feet) on Saturday if she's feeling up to it. I'm hoping to get ahold of the new Timex Expedition series to test it out. It looks sweet and even comes in orange!

Well, that's all I've got for now. Just trying to keep my head above water as an intern. I never fail to be inspired by my teammates at Timex ripping it up this year. I'll be back to the races eventually!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

My Day off

What I love about Denver:

Being in the mountains in 1 hour

Mountain fed lakes

Climbing to the top of a mountain

And relaxing for a bit

and Watching people ski on a 90 degree July day

Meeting new people every day that like to get out and be active

Things I hate about Denver...

These two not being here:

And missing my friends! Lanny and Kathy sent me the nicest housewarming gift today. I miss my riding, swimming, running, dinner and wine drinking friends!

Back to the grind...


Every week I have had the same Friday plan. Get home from work at 7am, take a nap and then get things done! Well, every week the nap gets a little longer. So yesterday the nap was just over 8 hours. Needless to say, I didn't sleep much last night. About 3.5 hours was all I could handle. So now it's 6:30am and I'm already through 2 loads of laundry, a load of dishes, a Monster energy drink, a walk with the Mad dog and I'm about ready to hit the roads for a run! Nothing makes you appreciate a day off quite as much as working your butt off all week. So not to waste a second of my day off I'm headed on a big hike in the mountains at 9am and then cookie making for the most fabulous nurses on earth and then maybe a ride on the trainer to finish off the night. Woohoo!

In other news, our official Denver Health EM scrubs arrived this week. We were told that they run very big, so I opted for the XS. Well, as it turns out all the scrub sizes run huge... except the XS. It's open season on booty when I have those things on. I'm using it as motivation to not gain any weight during residency. Although I have this fear that one day on shift someone is going to bring in treats and I'm going to have to use the trauma sheers to cut my pants off. I will have pics soon of the bootylicious scrubs with my Nathan race belt holding my 7 pagers. It's hot.

Training is a bit on hold lately, but I am getting very good at running through 2 hospital pavilions, 9 floors and a huge emergency department. I could also probably win the "answering multiple pagers at once" division at the local adventure race. I'm also getting much better at filling out the "death packet". Which will come in handy working in the medical ICU starting Thursday...

Ok, I'll try to put up some pics later of the big hike today. But I'll leave you with a pic describing the state of my life lately.

It really was quite organized. Before it collapsed. Ditto for my sweet over the door shoe rack. Before it broke....

Saturday, July 11, 2009

All work, some play!

My life is absolute crazy town right now! My muscles are getting flabby but my brain is getting a little less atrophied than it was 6 months ago. I got on the trainer today and put in an hour. And my legs felt like jello when I was done! So, so sad. But not to worry, My roommate and I are planning a big end of season race to keep us motivated! I almost guarantee a finish line puke...

Work is pretty draining. I work 80 hours between Sunday morning at 7am and Friday morning at 7am. The only thing I do between shifts is sleep! At times it is overwhelmingly stressful, and there are a couple rare moments of peace. I had to send patients to the ICU on two days last week. And another day I started the day with 5 consults (2 neurosurgery, 2 urology and 1 plastics) and ended it with 4 more consults (2 neurosurgery, 1 plastics, 1 urology). In between I tried my best to keep 100 floor patients alive. Ah, the pleasures of being an intern! It's so funny to me that just a couple months ago as a medical student I wasn't allowed to make any decisions... and now I'm the go-to person for dozens of people and am expected to be the front line doc for every guy who gets rolled in the front door with a head full of blood. I find something distinctly wrong with that picture....

I do get 48 straight hours off every week and have been really enjoying that time. Mostly because I love my roommates and my intern class is amazing!

Here is my Emergency Medicine intern class at our picnic:

And last weekend Roger came to visit. It was awesome. We went to Red Rocks for a concert, went to the Cherry Creek Art Festival, went hiking in the mountains and went to a nice dinner. Absolutely milked every second out of the weekend! Here are a couple pics from the top of the hike we did:

And then this weekend I gathered a bunch of the interns and we went out to dinner. The night ended with me, my roommate and my friend Kaite cleaning up after the over-imbibing of a surgery intern who shall remain nameless. We made the best out of the situation. And had a LOT of laughs.

So things are hard, life is stressful, but I am having a good time away from the hospital and learning a ton when I'm there! I have a ton of funny stories, but I'll leave you with one...

Last week I got a page from the Emergency Department to the Neurosurgery pager. It went something like this...

We have a patient of yours down here...

He signed out from the Intensive Care Unit against medical advice this afternoon (one of the many things I don't find out when I start my shift)

The Denver Police found him wandering the streets with his butt hanging out of his hospital gown, his IV still in place...

drinking a beer

Would you mind coming down to see him?

Sometimes I really do LOVE my job


Saturday, June 27, 2009

Welcome to internship

I started internship with one of the most demanding and scary rotations of the year. I get there at 5pm Monday thru Thursday and have 6 people hand me lists of patients that will be my responsibility for the next 14 hours (24 on Sunday starting at 7am). I carry 6 pagers that go off relentlessly all night with people looking to me for answers. And whenever there is a neurosurgery, plastics or urology consult in the emergency department I am in charge of the initial history and physical. I pretty much spend the night terrified. One day last week I went 24 hours without eating because I was too busy/exhausted. This week I have taken care of, among others, a murderer, a baby with an unexplained head bleed, a couple who rolled their car on vacation, a lady with a softball sized brain tumor, more people with appendicitis than I care to count and a man with the worst aortic dissection I've ever seen. But the beauty of this rotation is that when I leave on Friday morning at 7am I don't have to be back until Sunday morning at 7am. Days off rock!

My residency class is simply amazing. We are going to be a pretty close group. There is rarely a day when just one of us has the day off, so I was able to find a hiking buddy for today. My classmate Kirsten and I went up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a couple hours.

Other awesome things about Denver:

-My bike commute is great. It's mostly on a bike path that runs under the city. Looks like this:

Except when it rains. Because then the whole path turns into a whitewater rapid. I need to get a kayak for those days...

- I have family here. My brother Carey came up last weekend and installed a doggie door for us (our house kind of resembles a dog kennel). Then he had me over for a wonderful dinner. Bonus!

- Roger is coming next weekend! Going to Red Rocks for a concert and then I'm trying to decide between hiking and whitewater rafting for next Saturday. Can't wait! Just have to survive 80 hours of work in the next 5 days and then I'm good to go!

(*training is going to be a bit low this month, but there will be good months, I'm sure!)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Life as I know it is about to end

I made it to Denver this week. My roommates are amazing as are all the people in my residency program. Just the most laid back, helpful, and fun group of people I could imagine, especially considering how high achieving everyone is. The dogs are getting along well. We have 3 bedrooms, 3 girls and 3 dogs. It's not as hectic as it sounds. Especially since we'll barely see each other this year...

I got my schedule for the month.

I am terrified

On Tuesday night I start a month that will probably be the hardest month of my residency. They changed the way they run the surgery department here because of a hopeless string of work hour violations. I will be the very first night float intern at Denver Health. As far as I can figure, this will be my schedule:

Sunday: 7am to 7am (24 hour shift)
Monday: 5pm-7am (14)
Tuesday: 5pm-7am (14)
Wednesday: 5pm-71m (14)
Thursday: 5pm-7am (14)

This follows the work hour rules to the letter. 80 hours per week with 10 hours between shifts and at least 24 hours off. I'll be carrying 7 pagers and taking care of over a hundred surgical patients and doing all the consults for plastics, neurosurgery and urology.

I am going to learn so much. As terrified as I am, I came to Denver because this is what I wanted. I came to this program because they train phenomenal Emergency Physicians. And it is in large part due to the rigorous training. The Chief resident gave us a talk yesterday. He told us to never lose sight of one thing: "We are lucky to be doing this." So that will be my new motto. As hard as my life will be this year, as little as I will be able to do the things in my life that I have grown to love, I am truly fortunate to be here and to be getting this kind of training and to learn to take excellent care of patients.

And yes, I'm terrified.

But when the going gets tough I have my two loyal companions:

My Maddie and my Trek. My running buddy and my riding steed. The Trek is already set up on the trainer. I do have to get Maddie back into the running routine. She kind of looks like a potato with legs again. But with the small amount of time I'll have to myself we'll spend some quality time and both stay in shape :-)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

What TIME is it???

I am in a jet-lagged stupor at the moment! Vacation was absolutely fantastic. 9 days of complete and total relaxation. This is the first time I have taken 2 weeks off training in the last 4 years and I was totally ok with it! It helps that the heat index was over 100 degrees by 9am every morning. We did a ton of scuba diving and snorkeling but joked that neither of us got our heart rates above 100 for the whole vacation. That is, except the 10 minutes I spent in their smoking hot sauna where my heart rate was probably 150 just laying there. Not sure why you even need a sauna at the equator...

Lessons learned in the Maldives:

- SPF 30 is not sufficient at the equator
- Bumps and rashes are common occurrences on tropical islands. I am on high alert for the onslaught of cyclical fevers though....
- No matter what anyone tells you, scuba diving at night is SCAAAAARY! Especially wreck dives!
- Corona's ad campaign is brilliant!
- Mystery vacations are the best! Being an obsessive compulsive planner it was absolutely liberating to get on a plane with no idea of the destination.

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the trip. More later once the brain starts to function again. The time difference was 10 hours!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Short greeting from the Maldives!

Recovering from the Triple T is best achieved by a surprise vacation to a tropical island and doing the following

- scuba diving with sharks, eagle rays, sea turtles, maurey eels (sp?) and millions of fish
- dinners on the beach
- afternoon coronas on a hammock
- kayaking around a tiny island
- hand line fishing
- lots of sleep
- massages and pedicures

The above also constitute a great way to relax before intern year!

Pics later! It's beautiful here!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

American Triple T Race 4: The Death March

I finished!!!!

Going into this race I honestly thought my chances of finishing were about 30%. I had been slowly and steadily rehabbing my knee from the injury I sustained during the Cali 70.3 but not at all confident in its ability to take me uphill 13.6 miles and downhill 13.6 miles in 3 days. Miraculously, thanks to ice baths and TP massage, when I woke up on day 3 it wasn't hurting at all! Not to say I wasn't in a world of hurt. I spent the night tossing and turning from the soreness and the sound of my heart exploding in my ears. But that is to be expected coming off back to back olympic distance races in the heat.

We got to transition about an hour ahead of time and slowly got the transition area ready. People were definitely moving slower than the past few days but not quite the zombie walk that I remember from last year. One thing that was obvious, though, was there were not nearly as many people starting race 4 as there were at race 1. Curious to see the numbers...

Here I am putting on my race chip. Hurts to bend down a little. Not the best way to start the journey of 70 miles, but that's life.

The forecast was for rain, but there was not a cloud in the sky. I was really hoping for rain. The humidity was 92% at 5am.

Being goofy before the start:

The start of race 4 is pretty funny. Rather than a full on sprint into the water, most people leisurely walk to the first cone before slowly starting to swim. The contrast from day 1 is hilarious!

Doing my best to run in:

The swim went really well. It's the only discipline that doesn't suffer very much with fatigue. I'm not sure if the course was short or not, but when I looked at my watch on the exit it was under 32 minutes. Which would be a new PR!

Heading out onto the bike is when things get interesting. The course for race 4 is again very challenging. Near the start is a long 1.3 mile switchback climb. My rear derailleur wasn't loving my 27 tooth in the back and was trying to shift down. Making it to the top is a minor victory. It becomes major on the second loop... The descent out of that climb is very technical with several 90-150 degree turns. I am a big big wuss and always err on the side of safety. I'm sure I lose some time on these, but I'm a big fan of skin and collarbones, so it's all good.

Later on during one of the other long climbs on a single lane fire road an ambulance came screaming by. There wasn't room for him and us so I had to jump off my bike. I felt something give in my bottle holder but was more concerned with how on earth I was going to clip into the pedals in the middle of that hill. After walking for about 20 seconds I just gave it a go and was able to get moving again. Towards the end of lap 1 the legs were definitely starting to feel the fatigue. The hills just keep coming and coming. The only saving grace is the last 3 miles which are all downhill. It was getting very hot and I was really thirsty. I made the big mistake of trying to drink some gatorade while descending. So of course at 30 mph with my hand on my bottle in the aero position I hit a bump and the water bottle went flying out of my hand and down a steep ditch. DOH! This race is self supported and I just launched one of my 3 gatorade bottles. crap.

Headed into transition to grab my last gatorade bottle from the special needs table I noticed what gave when the ambulance went by. I managed to break one of my rear bottle cages. Double crap! I took one of HFPs water bottles that they supplied at the turnaround and just wished that it would hold:

And then ate a banana!

Loop two was pretty uneventful besides my rear derailleur having increasing testiness with the 27 tooth. Oh, and getting stung multiple times by a bee that got stuck in my singlet... Towards the end of the loop my legs were so tired I started to doubt my ability to get up over the final hills. It's a very lonely bike course, often going several minutes at a time between seeing another racer, so I was happy to have some company going over the final hill. We were all complaining about having to do that run. One guy told me that he was ok with it since he needed to finish in order to go to the Golden Corral to eat an entire carrot cake. I thought that was hilarious!

Coming back into transition was so bittersweet. Happy to be done with the hills on the bike, but REALLY not wanting to tackle that run course...

This was one of the last smiles in quite some time!

As you can see from the pictures, the rain and overcast day hadn't happened. The humidity was still in the 90's and the temps in the high 80's. At high noon there was no shade on that run course. And being in the middle of the woods there was also not a hint of wind. I simply could not believe how hot it was. I made a decision to allow myself to walk up the steepest hills. The problem was, every time I would walk I would get immediately hot, light headed and I thought I would pass out. Not good. The saving grace was the best volunteers on the planet! They would fill my Nathan bottle with ice and water and were so fast with getting us all the water we needed and even had some salt tablets ready.

I think that if the run course was designed in the opposite way there would be a lot of DNFs. But having the last 2.5 miles before the turnaround be all downhill is a nice boost. Coming into the turnaround I knew that I would finish, but also knew that it was not going to be fast. I told my mom not to expect me to finish quickly and headed back out. The best thing ever happened during loop 2. The clouds rolled in. The temperature dropped (slightly) and I stopped feeling like I was going to pass out every time I walked up the steep hills. To give you a taste of how steep some of the hills are, my heart rate never dropped below 165 walking up them. The run course is so brutal.

Getting to mile 10.5 is HUGE. From that point the rest of the run is downhill. The only drawback is that since you have already run countless hilly miles up to that point, every single step sends shocks of pain up your quads. Running downhill is killer on the quads, shins and knees. But at least it's not uphill...

I was so happy to finish I would have done a cartwheel if I thought I wouldn't faceplant.

The finisher's medals and T-shirts at the Triple T are more coveted than my Ironman finisher's stuff. I really think this race is harder. The courses are harder than any Ironman I know of (except maybe Silverman) and you have to pull yourself out of bed two mornings after racing, sore and beat up to start another tough day.

But although it is a grueling race, it is honestly the most enjoyable race I have ever done. The race organizers are absolutely top notch! HFP and everyone involved with the organization are the most positive, caring, adaptable and fun group of people putting on races. Their attitude is contagious and attracts a truly outstanding group of competitors. Everyone out there cheers on everyone else, regardless of whether or not the person who needs encouragement is your direct competitor or not. This race is a celebration of the sport of triathlon. A race that I think every triathlete should experience at least once. And then promptly say there is not a snowball's chance in hell they will do that race again. And then sign up for next year...