Residential Space A creative outlet during residency, turned ongoing virtual soap box

Caroline joins our family  0

Posted on October 3rd, 2009. About Baby Dodds.

We welcomed the newest member of our family, Caroline Erin Dodds, on Friday, September 25, 2009 at 3:43am. She weighed 7lb10.5oz, and measured 18.5” long (and arrived complete with dark red hair)! She is a sweet, wonderful addition to the Dodds household, and we are delighted that she is finally here.

Caroline Photos:

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Gabriel is an excellent and enthusiastic big brother and seems very taken with his baby sister. We’re all doing well and resting when we can!

Senator Joe Wilson makes himself known to the country  3

Posted on September 9th, 2009. About News and Politics.

As Evan and I watched President Obama’s speech to Congress tonight regarding his healthcare plan, an interesting point arrived during which Obama claimed his plan did not provide federal coverage for illegal immigrants. Suddenly, this shout from the audience of “You lie!!” erupted. We looked at each other and had to spend a few seconds, baffled at who could get elected to Congress, and then be so low class as to shout this at the Commander in Chief. Then, I wondered if potentially it was not a member of Congress, but some heckler who had found a way into the Chamber past security.

After the speech, my question was answered with this article. Wow. First, South Carolina elects Senator Jim DeMint, who has definitely made headlines for himself as – well, anyway, I’ll move on. Let’s just say he has been noticed, even out here in Seattle. Then, the state’s governor stole headlines for over a week with this bit about the Appalachian Trial-turned-trip-to-Argentina, not allowing the story to die (even with the death of Michael Jackson filling the air waves) because he kept holding mea culpa press conferences. Now this. WOW.

What makes “this” even more significant to me is that this guy represents the district where I grew up. He was a SC state senator when I was growing up, and I shook his hand at many a Chapin Labor Day parade. He attended our town’s high school graduations and awards ceremonies. When our long-time U.S. representative, Floyd Spence, passed away in 2001, Wilson was elected to replace him.

Apparently, fact checkers have confirmed since the speech that the healthcare reform proposed by Obama does not provide funding for those in the U.S. illegally. Regardless of how one feels on this particular subject, why would you yell “You lie!” at the president when he makes this claim, especially when it turns out the president was the one telling the truth?

WOW. How can South Carolina, a fairly small state, produce so many politicians that grab national headlines with such frequency?

What have I been doing for the past few months?  1

Posted on September 8th, 2009. About Ramblings.

I have neglected my blog since the end of June, and I confess – I have missed it. The major highlights of this period of time have included:

  • Experiencing Gabriel’s second birthday and watching him grow into his newly acquired “two year old” title. The language acquisition from week to week is astounding, and now he sings along (real time) with his music. The only thing he wanted for his birthday was “ice cream and cake.” He has also transitioned to the “big boy bed,” but still does have some difficulty remembering to stay in it. This will come. Overall, it’s a great age!
  • Beginning my vascular neurology fellowship in July; so far it’s a very worthwhile experience. I know I’ve really made it because I have an office and a desk. I don’t mind the lack of air conditioning or sharing the office with two lovely other people – just having a place to keep my stuff rather than carting it back and forth to the hospital each day is extremely satisfying. I have clinic two half-days each week, which tends to spill over into other days as I return patient phone calls, complete paperwork, and follow up on studies. I have also already seen a lot of stroke cases and am developing in my subspecialty. I am pleased to have stayed on for the extra year of training.
  • Growing a new baby! Our second child is due at the end of September, and we are becoming more eager to meet her (and more desperate to get our place organized in anticipation of her arrival).
  • Traveling to SC for my brother, Tim’s, wedding. The weekend started at the beach; Gabriel had a blast in the waves and building sandcastles (or rather, just doing a lot of digging while we showed him how to fill the sand molds for castle construction). After a few days, I settled into my role as a pregnant bridesmaid, and we enjoyed a terrific experience as Gabriel gained an Aunt Channing and I got to see my brother truly happy.
  • Enjoying a month-long visit from Evan’s sister, Catherine. She is in her fourth year of medical school in NYC and spent the month in Seattle doing a dermatology clinical rotation. It was wonderful to get to know her better (we’ve always been separated by significant geographic barriers), and for Gabriel to bond with his aunt. We indulged in many blackberry-heavy fruit salads after picking them by the buckets behind our building – what a great crop this summer for Seattle!

I’ have also been reading voraciously over the past six weeks or so and have fallen short in posting my usual reviews. Here are my reads with reviews of five words or less for each one:

  • The House of Hope and Fear by: Audrey Young – great read; the Harborview experience!
  • Exercising Through Your Pregnancy by: James Clapp, MD – ehhh, so-so.
  • The Telephone Gambit by: Seth Shulmann – intriguing possibility!
  • The Omnivore’s Dilemma by: Michael Pollan (still in process of reading) – excellent and infuriating

The tub now drains!!  1

Posted on June 25th, 2009. About Conservation.

…and I did not have to use Drain-O or another toxic chemical formula to do it. Check this out.

The water had been draining more slowly by the day, troubling me as I faced the decision: living near Puget Sound, home to whales, salmon, and other amazing wildlife, did I really feel right about pouring toxic chemicals down my drain to clear the blockage? I have in the past, but the four years of living in Seattle had finally gotten to me – the guilt was too much. Surely there was a way to clear this in a non-offensive way.

I went to the internet for advice. Universally, sites encouraged me to clear the blockage mechanically. I unscrewed the plug in the tub to find grating beneath it, and yes – there was a lot of gross stuff that I will not describe, but definitely a proximal blockage. I tried bending a coat hanger to get through the metal slats to break it up and dislodge it, but I only retrieved about 20% of it. I thought maybe I had destabilized it, and perhaps it would clear now just with water. After running water through it, things still drained slowly, and nothing budged.

Next, a website suggested something interesting – pouring 1/2 cup baking soda down there, waiting 15 minutes, and adding 1/2 cup vinegar. Hmmm…okay, I thought, picturing the experiment in fifth grade with the volcano “erupting” as a result of this chemical reaction. BUT IT WORKED. After giving the reaction a few minutes to work, I then poured water down the drain, and it very rapidly disappeared. Mission accomplished. And two months later, the drain is still beautifully clear!

True Green Home  1

Posted on June 25th, 2009. About Conservation.

I just finished the brief book/monograph, True Green Home: 100 Inspirational Ideas for Creating a Green Environment at Home. It included some interesting points about how to conserve environmental resources (ie, energy, water) at home in daily life. Some points I had not previously considered:

  • The concept of “gray water” and reusing it around the home. The idea is to take water that has been “used” (ie, shower or bath water) that should not be used for drinking water, but can potentially be reused for purposes where perfect water is not required, such as watering a garden or yard, or recirculating it to the toilet for flushing. Redirecting this water seems reasonable from a conservation standpoint.
  • Unplugging electronic devices when leaving for a prolonged period – ie, unplugging digital clocks, computers that may be in standby mode, etc. The authors go further to say that, when leaving for a vacation, empty the fridge, unplug it and leave the door slightly ajar. I don’t think they are implying that we should throw away perfectly good food to do this, but perhaps over a 1-2 week period prior to leaving for a trip, consuming the food in the fridge such that it would become empty as one is leaving town. It is quoted in the book that a fridge with a freezer uses ~1,800 kWh/year (an average family uses ~11,000 kWh/year – so the fridge consumes a significant amount of a family’s household energy). Other tips for reducing the fridge’s energy use include keeping the coils behind it clear of dust and debris for more efficient cooling, making sure the temperature setting in the fridge is not so cold that temperatures are near-freezing, and ensuring that the door seals properly when shut.
  • According to the authors, a typical bath uses ~70 gallons of water, versus 20 gallons for a shower. Just thinking about these numbers, if one switches from a daily bath to a daily shower, the amount of water saved totals 18,250 gallons.

Anyway, an interesting and quick read with many bullet points about being a better environmental steward in the home.

I graduated from residency!  3

Posted on June 19th, 2009. About Ramblings.

Last night, I graduated from the University of Washington’s neurology residency program. After four years of being on call, running back and forth from the ICU to the ER, giving talks, and honestly – having fun (did I just say that?) – residency is over. Well, unless one includes working next week and taking three more calls before June 30th. 🙂

It’s hard to believe that, after a twelve year road, I’ve reached the end of my training. I’m thrilled to be staying on for the next year at Harborview as the stroke neurology fellow, to continue treating patients while devoting more time to reading, working on various projects, giving talks, writing papers, and transitioning further into that independent role as a practitioner.

Here’s to the next 30 years!

My latest beef with US Air  0

Posted on April 14th, 2009. About Ramblings.

Having lived near Charlotte, NC for many years prior to becoming a Pacific Northwesterner, I flew on US Air flights not infrequently. Evan was even one of their preferred (I don’t recall the specific title) Dividend Miles customers because he flew with them so frequently on business trips out of Charlotte. When Gabriel and I recently were trying to get back to Seattle from Charlotte after a trip East, US Air and I experienced a painful break up.

I initially flew to Charlotte on a Continental flight as we got a great fare (of course, I later realized why – the connection was through Newark). In any case, the return flight was cancelled, and Continental placed us on a US Air flight from Charlotte to Houston, followed by a Continental flight from Houston to Seattle. After being booked, we walked to the US Air counter, where no one was available to assist us with getting boarding passes (the automated kiosks did not recognize our information). Finally I called a woman over to help us, and she rudely informed me that I needed to use the kiosk. When I explained that our information was not in there because we had been re-routed, she then told us Continental should have dealt with this. I explained to her that the flight from Charlotte to Houston was a US Air flight and we needed boarding passes from US Air.

Then came the baggage check. Gabriel and I were both fully ticketed passengers – we paid for two tickets. However, for ease of travel, we consolidated our items into one large suitcase. The suitcase weighed 57 pounds, seven pounds over what they allow for the $15 charge for a single checked bag. I asked how much I owed per pound over, and she informed me it was a $50 fee for any amount over 50 pounds, be it an extra half of a pound or 20 pounds. I wondered if this was an issue with workers not having to lift bags that are too heavy, but no – if you’re first class, your bag can weigh up to 70 pounds, free of charge.

Next came the obvious question – since we paid for two tickets, but were only checking one bag, could she just charge me $15 as if we were checking a second bag that weighed seven pounds? No, she told me. The rules clearly state that I had to move seven pounds from one suitcase into another bag. But why, I asked? It’s easier to have it in one bag, and I’ll just pay you $30. No, she replied, it’s our policy that any amount over 50 pounds for cabin passengers is an additional $50 charge. At this point, my mother, bless her heart, lit into her, and an impressive verbal exchange took place between the two of them. Eventually, we took seven pounds worth of stuff out of the suitcase and left it with my mother in Charlotte. Then, to find that US Air did not carry milk on their flight from Charlotte to Houston was absurd! With all of the children flying, and not being able to bring extra milk through security, how can they get away with not providing it on the planes, even at a charge? Continental had it and was happy to share it.

Flying used to be fairly simple, and fun at times. It has gotten to be so miserable. Between this episode, having to leave a secured area in Houston to travel between terminals and then re-endure security with a toddler for the second time in a single day, getting to Houston and realizing that every single food service place had closed by 6PM and food was nowhere to be found (fortunately my cousin, a flight attendant, was able to buy food for us and bring it to us), and having my son’s little plush puppy taken from him in Seattle to be examined by security while he cried helplessly, I was ready to be finished with air travel. However, because we live 3000 miles from my family, air travel will remain part of our lives, despite my disdain for it.

Book #3 for 2009: The Diving Bell and the Butterfly  0

Posted on March 17th, 2009. About Books.

This is a short composition by Jean-Dominique Bauby (although I’m sure writing it was intensive) from his rehabilitation hospital in France after he became locked-in from a pontine stroke. Bauby gives a remarkable account of how active the mind remains after the body stops working. He “dictated” the work to his assistant through eye blinking, letter by letter, until he had nearly 140 pages relaying the details of his daily life as one unable to “speak” or move. A beautiful work, and a must-read for all neurologists and stroke victims.

Book #2 for 2009 – Sometimes Madness is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald – A Marriage  0

Posted on February 28th, 2009. About Books.

This biography by Kendall Taylor marks my second book read of 2009, and it was a very fascinating and entertaining adventure. The book is well-researched, and I came away from it feeling like I understood so much more about why these two people basically self-destructed. Both intelligent, beautiful, with the world at their feet, they blew opportunity after opportunity, making their lives quite tragic.

My experiences in studying F. Scott Fitzgerald taught me that he was this brilliant author who drank too much, and that his wife, who was crazy and reckless, really dampened many of his chances at further success. This biography argues (effectively, I think) that Scott would not have been the writer he was had he not known Zelda, as he used many of her journals to create the heroines that made him famous. I do think Zelda inspired his writing in his early career (even later, when he wrote about mental illness).

Overall, a great read – highly recommended!

What do Iraq and the economy have to do with one another?  0

Posted on February 28th, 2009. About News and Politics, Ramblings.

I posted this blog commentary in September 2008, venting my frustration that the war in Iraq and the economy in crisis had been separated by the media and politicians as separate issues. Estimates indicate that anywhere from $1-3 billion (maybe I should write it as $1,000,000,000.00 to $3,000,000,000.00 for emphasis on how many zeros are present in these numbers) is being spent per month on the war in Iraq.

A member of my family forwarded an email that is circulating currently, which is currently sparking a familial discussion about whether the stimulus package is too expensive, whether it will work, etc. The focus of this forwarded message goes something like this: A billion is a huge number. A billion seconds ago it was 1959. A billlion minutes ago Jesus was alive. A billion hours ago no creatures walked upright on this planet. It then went on to outline how unfair this person thought it was that, of the 400,000-plus residents of New Orleans, the region is requesting so many billions of dollars, which works out to over $1 million per household when divided evenly. Then, at the end, there a not-so-poignant remark about how irritated the author is that he/she still has to dial “1” for English. I’m not sure that adding the issue of immigration into the message helped to illustrate the main point (it’s not the fault of immigrants that a billion is a large number, right?), but in any case, it was there.

My first reaction to this is – this is being circulated by someone out there critical of the stimulus package who thinks the government is spending too much. Does this same person recognize that he/she was (likely) in support of an overseas conflict costing $12-36 billion yearly? Many estimate the total cost of the war will near $1 trillion ($1,000,000,000,000.00) when factoring in disability payments for veterans, healthcare and psychiatric costs, rebuilding efforts, interest on the loans we have taken to pay for the war in the first place, etc.

At least the stimulus package gives us infrastructure we desperately need. It makes our buildings more energy efficient. It funds education. As someone in Washington state, I’m pleased that it replaces our volcanic monitoring equipment, despite how Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal may feel. My point is – we get something from the use of this money. Tangible things in the U.S., built by people living here. We’re investing in children who will make the country better. The $1 trillion to be spent on Iraq when all is said and done does what? Demolishes and then rebuilds a foreign nation that was never a threat to us? Pays to rehabilitate and care for returning veterans who should not have been sent into harm’s way in the first place? People who support the latter and don’t support the former are using a line of thinking which I cannot understand (unless the one arguing in favor of spending in Iraq is a stockholder in an energy company enjoying a no-bid contract over there).

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