This flow chart is from Cait Flanders’ book, “a year of less”. The book wasn’t what I thought it would be about, so I don’t recommend it, but I liked the flow chart. After coming back from Tanzania, I have been thinking about my resources. I had this quandary with paper towels. I was down to my last few sheets on the roll and I wondered if I needed it. Could I use towels instead of being wasteful? I don’t own cloth napkins. Paper towels creates a lot of unnecessary waste and I need to rethink my use of them. I waited two weeks before buying my resupply. In the end, note to self, I think paper towels can be replaced if I had cloth napkins.
Here is a photo of me cutting cardboard in Tanzania. They re-use cardboard from packaging as paper to write patient prescriptions, payment balances, and other critical information. This experience of cutting cardboard into small pieces, reminds me to use all my available resources fully.
I am well – I have nothing to complain about except for want of a farm table and my shorts from last summer do not fit. I must be watching too much Fixer Upper… because I really want a farm table. Not to entertain but I want a 8 ft. long table to study, like the tables at the school library. I want to spread out my laptop, textbook, notebook, paper… all at home. This is what is missing from my life – a farm table and a bench.
As for my shorts, I was more active last summer leaving San Francisco to Durham. Can you believe that was just last summer? I have been thinking of San Francisco lately, missing the fog and the bike ride through the Panhandle to Golden Gate Park on the way to archery practice. I miss those experiences but have traded them in for much more. In the first five months of this year, I have learned about maternity & pediatrics, observed births, and traveled to Guatemala and Tanzania for global health trips.
This summer, having only one class means I have time for many things like reading all about the royal wedding. I loved that they donated the flowers from the ceremony to a local hospice. Her bouquet, per tradition lies on the tomb of an unknown solider. In lieu of gifts, they asked for donations to their favorite charities… the only foreign charity they choose was a non-profit in India providing menstruation pads to young girls. This charity – the founder and director is a 2016 Duke undergraduate. She’s 26 years old and going on to her PhD at Stanford in pubic health. I’m not even invested in the wedding but I read all details avidly like it was my best friend’s wedding.
I go to the gym most days, working on being more active and healthy. I have time to do laundry, clean my house, meal prep & cook my weekly farm box share. I’ve eaten a lot of lettuce in the last two weeks. I read a non school related book and have been watching my Netflix queue. If you haven’t seen the Ali Wong, Comedy Special – you need to watch it. She’s a comic who is doing standup while pregnant – talking about all things motherhood related. If you don’t have Netflix, you can watch her briefly on the Ellen show.
I have spent time catching up with friends (local and far), and made summer plans to see them. I’m visiting Kris in Cleveland, meeting her fiance and seeing her home. Marissa is visiting me for a week. I’ll try to go up to NYC for July 4. I’m traveling with Betty to Ireland mid-August for my first true vacation in a long time.
Class is going ok thus far, no exams yet to report back on. I have tons of support from faculty and staff. I meet with individual faculty twice a week, mostly for accountability. I think everyone is afraid that I’m not going to have community or feel alone/isolated being between cohorts or forget everything, but secretly or not so secretly I am loving the downtime. It’s really what I needed to refresh and recharge.
We are in week 3 of 12… 9 more weeks of summer class to go. I interviewed for two summer jobs – one research oriented position and the other clinical with patients. There was a recommendation that I needed to find community and do something in my spare time, but upon interviewing for these roles, they were full time positions and I wasn’t interested and/or able to devote 40+ hours a week to a job. At most, I was willingly to work 2-3x/week. The part time jobs posted were mostly admin and my time is more valuable than $10 of admin work to just fill time. I was interested in some other clinical roles at the hospital but it would take too long for certification and the application process. I was willingly to entertain a research or clinical position where I could practice my clinical skills.
I volunteered at an outpatient GYN clinic for women in a substance abuse recovery program last week and felt slightly traumatized by the experience. I was expecting to triage, take vital signs, maybe observe a patient-NP exam. I did triage, but I wasn’t expecting the hands on practice. I was shown how to do a breast exam on a patient. I was told you take the pads of 3 of your fingertips in a circular motion, then a press down again, in a deeper circular motion on each breast, traveling up and down the breast like a lawn mower. I’ve never mowed a lawn before, but I think that means you press up and down systematically rather than go sideways.
I ran the speculum under warm water and put lube on the top and bottom of it for the pelvic exam. I handed the NP other items too. It was at this point that I felt most uncomfortable. I was working with the NP, but I hadn’t built up any rapport with patient. Here she was, on the scoot-scoot table, completely undressed and vulnerable and I felt so invasive. I wish I had known that I would be going into the patient room and I would have spent more time with her before this point in the exam. It’s not the experience I would have wanted for myself or anyone else. I can’t do anything about this experience, but learn from it for the next time I volunteer next month.