Saturday, November 17, 2007

Weekly Round-Up

I thoroughly enjoyed my week in the newborn nursery. We had four babies to take care of on my call night. I took all of them straight from the OB's hands and helped check them out. One of them was only 33 weeks old, and he needed some breathing help, which I got to do with a mask and some oxygen. Also spoke some very out-of-practice Spanish with the parents when the interpreter wasn't around!

As part of my rotation, I gave two presentations this week, and both went well. Friday morning, the consultant supervising the nursery team also watched me do a head-to-toe newborn exam, and he thought that I was doing a good job, so it seems like I'm acquiring the skills that I'm supposed to be on this rotation.

This coming week, I will have some shifts in the peds emergency room. I actually have Thursday through Sunday off, which is fantastic and way more than I expected! After that, my three weeks on the inpatient service start, and that will be much more intense hours-wise, with call every fourth night.

Jasper has begun spending more of the night upstairs in our room. He won't come near the bed, and he won't let us approach him up there, but when the alarm goes off in the morning, we can hear him chewing gently on his tennis ball toy. (This toy would squeak if he chomped on it hard enough, and we've tried to show him that, but he's never looked very enthusiastic about that noise, and I think if he ever made the toy squeak, the next thing we'd hear would be Jasper's head hitting the ceiling.) When one of us gets up out of bed, he leaps to his feet and runs downstairs, wagging his tail. This enthusiasm doesn't quite translate to getting out the back door efficiently...he's much better about that than he used to be, but we still have to put the leash on and coax him a bit.

He and I ran almost every day this week, since I was home around noon each day. Mostly he did well, though one very windy day freaked him out completely. He really is a lot like a pony sometimes, in terms of the things that spook him. He also has decided that he would really like to chase the geese at Silver Lake, who are all about as big as he is. "Heel" is an ongoing project. Though it definitely increases my pace when he's dragging me towards a gaggle!

Other than that, I've been able to do some more reading for pleasure. Last week was a nonfiction week, I finished up Once Upon A Quinceanera by Julia Alvarez and also God's Harvard. The Quinceanera book is about the Hispanic coming-of-age celebration, almost a mini-wedding, that is held for girls on their 15th or 16th birthdays. Julia Alvarez (no relation, teaches at Middlebury in Vermont) is one of my favorite writers. She's written several semi-autobiographical novels and a couple of wonderful books of poetry, and in this book she follows several girls through the leadup to their ceremonies. She explores the origin of the Quinceanera and spends a lot of time discussing whether these celebrations are good for the girls (a chance to collect everyone from the community who is invested in the girl's well-being) or bad (many of the girls end up pregnant in that next year, seeing their coming-of-age as permission to become sexually active, and also many families go deeply into debt to throw the parties).

The God's Harvard book was also very thought-provoking. It's about Patrick Henry College, which is a conservative Christian college in Virginia. Especially from my vantage point as a philosophy major, educated in courses where debate was required and no assumption was too basic to be questioned, it was really odd to read about an institution where certain viewpoints were simply not up for discussion. It's totally antithetical to my whole idea of higher education. Though, admittedly, Dartmouth's goals for its students are very different from Patrick Henry's.

Also, the creationist, not-believing-in-evolution thing drives me crazy. I'm a scientist, and part of being a scientist is accepting the best explanation of a phenomenon that we can discern from looking at the world around us. It's ruthless and often uncomfortable, but it's brought us delightful things like vaccines and antibiotics (and that's just in medicine, I'm sure Alex could come up with a bunch more physics/engineering examples). Besides, genetics is so intricate and awe-inspiring that it's a much cooler backstory than six days of finger-snapping.

Alex was telling me some interesting stuff about universities being hesitant to grant degrees to earth science PhD students who are six-day creationists, even if their theses deal with another topic. Now that's an interesting question about academic freedom...

Enough ranting for the evening! It snowed a little this morning, but not enough to stick. We're really hoping for a good skiing year, there are lots of great golf courses for cross-country. We're trying to figure out if skis would scare Jasper, or if he could come and romp around with us.

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