Letters from the Hospital

To My New Favorite Resident-

Thank you. Today you entered uncharted territory, you broke new ground, you boldly went where no MD has gone before. When the aide and I were getting our patient off the bedpan and you just happened to walk into the room, you came on in and then helped us roll him.

Because of this, I forgave you when you rewrote your orders approximately seven times, leaving me with the most confusing insulin regimen I have ever encountered (luckily you also don't mind being called at home). Was that 53 units of 70/30 insulin BID, or 50 units of 70/30 insulin AC HS, or was it 57 units of 70/30 TID? And what about all that Aspart?

You will go far.

-The very tired nurse

To the leeches across the hall-

Dear friends, you have made my day so very entertaining. What could compare to the shrieks I heard when your nurse found you had dropped off the appendage you were supposed to be perfusing and instead were crawling across the room, leaving a bloody trail snaking around the laundry cart? On pediatrics they have furry dogs, but in orthopedics our animal companions are you, my slimy friends: the leeches.

All day, I was able to watch you swimming in your specimen vial. I like to imagine you in the leech farm where perhaps you hatched. I especially like to imagine your large tank in Pharmacy, swimming on a shelf somewhere between lactulose and levofloxacin, only to be caught in a small green net like a demonic goldfish and then sent upstairs to us.

All due affection and revulsion,
-The nurse with the twisted sense of humor

To my final exams-

You thought you would win, but instead I conquered you. Never tempt my wrath again.

Pure hatred,
-Your avowed enemy

Writer's Block: Taxmen and Poetry

It's Tax Day in the U.S., a day when the mind might be too occupied with deductions and long lines at the post office to think about poetry. But let's try: what's your favorite line of poetry? Song lyrics count.

"Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastwards, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings."

--Gerard Manley Hopkins

"But yield who will to their separation,
My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation,
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one
And work is play for mortal stakes
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future's sakes."

--Robert Frost

I am very very tired.

Thursdays (today): Up at 0530. On campus by 0730. Homework. Class at 0830 until 1115. Doctor's appointment at 1120. Class at 1200. Out at 1400. Homework. Homework. Grocery shopping. Home. Dinner. Homework.

Fridays: Up at 0445. Hospital by 0630. Work. Irritated by bodily fluids. Work. Scarf lunch. Work. Give pain meds. Work. Out at 1930 (if lucky). Home. Eat. Pass out.

Saturdays: Same.

Sundays: Same.

Mondays: Up at 0500. Out of the door by 0600. Drive. Clinical by 0900. Patients. Patients who really don't need antibiotics. More patients. Out at 1800. Drive to friend's house. Eat. Try to do homework, read a crappy romance novel instead. Sleep.

Tuesdays: Sleep in until 0700, otherwise same.

Wednesdays: Same, but drive home, arrive late, eat dinner, fall asleep.

Thursdays: Start over.


1.) Grades are in, and I totally PWNED my finals- papers, tests, etc. This is regular agony for me, as we are KICKED OUT for two final averages less than an 83. This isn't two per semester- it's two EVER. (The med students are pass-fail, with their pass set lower than an 83. Cue BITTER WHINING.) Every semester, I feel huge relief that I will be allowed to continue.

2.) 2 days of hospital orientation down, 0 to go. 1 day of Central Nursing Orientation down, 2 to go. 0 weeks of full-time floor orientation down, 10 to go.

3.) 3 semesters as an NP student down, FOUR TO GO.

4.) Direct deposit, check. Parking pass, check. Union membership, CHECK. Joe Hill would be so proud, and so is my AFL-CIO-working father.

5.) Christmas knitting projects: 2 down . . . a few to go.

6.) 2 members of thesis committee down, 1 to go.

7.) 2 chapters of thesis proposal written, 1 to go.

8.) I am leaving for Maine on SATURDAY! I desperately need this vacation.

Updates in Hilarious Diagnosis.


Come on, say it. It may be spelled with an 'a' instead of an 'i,' but isn't that word inherently hilarious? Picture me learning this word while holding a patient's leg in the air, and suddenly bursting into giggles.

"I think you've got some ridiculopathy going on there."

"Oh, stop it, you're being ridiculopathous."

"Diagnosis: ridiculopathy."

Granted what it means isn't very funny; it's disease of the spinal nerve roots. The kind that causes sciatica.

But still! Made my week. Radiculopathy. Teehee.


I have a job! I'm to be a per-diem orthopedics floor nurse at the big hospital here.

I've never had a particular interest (or disinterest, for that matter) in orthopedics, but when I interviewed on this floor I was struck by the friendliness of the staff. That in itself was enough to make me feel enthusiastic.

Further, due to marvelously flexible scheduling, I won't have to alter my Christmas plans! I'm still going to Maine for two weeks. I don't know if another floor would have accommodated this.

Now I must learn to juggle my 10-week, full-time orientation to the floor with my full-time grad school schedule. It will be a challenge, but I am bound and determined to succeed. Wish me luck.


I love words, and I like finding the beauty in practical, everyday things. Somehow I'd never paid attention to the way words and text come together.

I think most people can tell when a word or page is beautifully laid out and when it looks sloppy. Having the words to articulate what makes text beautiful, though- that is an entire realm of knowledge.

For some time, I've been using a professional typesetting program (LaTeX, for those who care) to write my papers, because it yields such a beautiful, polished result. I was curious about why it looked so much more beautiful than documents produced by a word processor. So now I'm learning: it's all in the details.

One of those details is called kerning, and it is best described by an illustration. I snagged the following two examples from Dario Taraborelli's very beautiful article on LaTeX, and I hope he doesn't mind- I'm still figuring out how to make a graphic out of my PDFs.

This word was created by MSWord, a program which cannot handle kerning (nor can almost any word processor). Notice the unsightly gap between the capital T and the lowercase a. This, is Ellen Lupton points out in her book Thinking With Type is a type crime. A detail, but one that the eye unconsciously picks up. Part of what makes a page seem 'sloppy.'

Here is the word properly kerned, as produced in LaTeX. The T and the a snuggle together. The spacing is much more even. Beautiful.

That was your irrelevant knowledge for the day. Do with it what you will.

(no subject)

List of dorky things that drive me crazy about UVM:

1.) No 11x16 paper in the photocopiers, anywhere. Copying an article out of a textbook or journal is therefore ridiculously difficult and takes twice as long as it should.

2.) The linux machines in the library do not allow access to the command line. Tell me, WHAT IS THE POINT?