Friday, June 29, 2012

Two Days To Go

Two more night shifts as trauma intern stand between me and becoming a PGY-2.  Words cannot even begin to do justice to how ready I am for intern year to be over.  This past three month stretch of trauma ICU, general surgery, and trauma floor has been exhausting both mentally and physically.  It's a good thing I chose orthopaedics, because if I knew my future was anything like the past few months, I'd quickly be reassessing my career choice.

My life has become a constant repeating sequence of workouts, work, and sleep.  Food has become an after thought and I don't remember the last time I prepared a real meal.  Instead, I've depended on Earth Fare's salad bar, smoothies, hummus or peanut butter sandwiches, or salads from the hospital cafeteria.  I'm desperately craving a big hearty meal fresh off the grill enjoyed at a relaxing pace without worrying about the ten other things I need to cram into the hour left in the day.

My favorite meals include bites of lots of different salads.

My attempt to de-stress after a long day with sugary snacks

Pasta salad, Kale, Egg, and Pears
Random, but a satisfying meal

A raspberry smoothie bowl topped with Chia Charger and raisins
I have a feeling the next two nights could be brutal.  Friday and Saturday leading up to the July 4th holiday just screams "get drunk - drive a car - shoot people - assault your "friend" - and do lots generally stupid things."  In other words, do everything in your power to make the trauma intern's life a living hell.  To top it off, I got less than 5 hours of restless sleep today, so my enthusiasm is quite low.  The only saving grace is that it's 105 degrees outside.  Charlotte, just stay inside and lay low these next two nights.  Please, and thank you.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lessons From The Trenches

Today I thought I'd share just a few tidbits I learned while working nights this weekend.  I don't necessarily recommend that you adapt these to your own lives.

1.  Liquor-cycles, aka motorcycles and mopeds, require that that the driver have a minimal blood alcohol level of 250 to start the ignition.

2.  A 40-year old man who jumps head first into a pool will earn himself a giant scalp laceration, an hour spent in the OR reattaching the scalp to skull, and a giant hospital bill all in the spirit of celebrating his birthday.  Next year you might want to leave out that case of beer or develop better judgement with regards to the impact of gravity, a concrete pool bottom, and your noggin'.  

3. If you spray gasoline on your legs and then proceed to light brush on fire, some singed legs hairs will be the least of your worries.

4.  Personal hygiene is far under-appreciated.  The medical staff cannot take care of you if we ourselves become trauma patients after passing out from your horrendous body odor.

5.  In Charlotte, we have very classy ways to demonstrate appropriate child rearing.  When one mother disagrees with the parenting skills of another mother, she goes into her kitchen, grabs a crock pot full of boiling oil, marches back outside, and tosses the oil at the other two adults and their four children.  Congratulations, you may consider yourself a great Mom, but you just ruined six people's lives.

6.  The smell of burnt flesh will be embedded in your nose for days.

7.  Ninety-two year old demented ladies may quite possibly be my favorite trauma patients.  Their biggest concern is being covered in blankets to keep them decent.

8.  The combination of sleep deprivation and trauma patient number 22 in a twelve hour time-span will make you scream.  And then you'll laugh at yourself, because this stuff doesn't even happen in the movies.

9.  Sunday morning's hot shower followed be curling up in bed was worth a million dollars after the hellacious night at Charlotte's Miracle Center.

10.  Seeing the bright smiles and well rested faces of the new intern class is priceless.  Life as they know it is about to change - and they have no idea what's coming.  My life is about to change as well, and I can't wait to pass the baton and welcome them to the world of general surgery trauma in 2 weeks!  Good-bye gen surg, hello ortho!

10.  Taking the time to prepare a home-cooked meal full of delicious garden produce, fresh wild salmon, and hearty bread reminds me of the great life that exists outside of the hospital.  Now if only I actually got to spend significant time outside of the hospital.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Happenings

The upside to shifting from working days to nights is that it leaves me a full day to enjoy to myself.  One thing I haven't done a lot of recently is cook.  Last night I took the opportunity to put a little extra effort into dinner.  

I purchased several baby taro root last week at the farmer's market and they had been sitting in my pantry waiting for a creative recipe idea to strike me.  It seems most recipes involve frying the taro root, and I knew that wasn't in the cards.  Instead, I elected to incorporate the taro root in homemade chicken tikka masala.  For the taro root, I cleaned, peeled, chopped, and then boiled it for thirty minutes.  In the meantime, I sauteed onion, garlic, and bell pepper with salt and pepper.  After putting the onion mixture to the side, I sauteed cubed chicken breast in the same pan for a few minutes.  Then, I seared the previously boiled taro in a pan with coconut oil.  Finally, I combined the onion mix, chicken, and tarro in a saute pan and added a sauce of tikka masala spices + vegetable broth + cornstarch.  I allowed it to simmer for a few minutes to blend flavors and then plated it up.  

The verdict?  Taro root is rather flavorless.  
It has a similar consistency to sweet potato, but I can't say I'd purchase it again. 
My favorite part of my rare days off is the morning.  This morning I enjoyed a lovely nights sleep sans alarm clock and then laid in bed reading a book for an hour before prying myself from the sheets.  I mosied downstairs about 8:30am and prepared a lovely almond milk latte that I sipped while watching The Today Show.  What does everyone think about the Lance Armstrong accusations?  I really hate to believe that his successes could be marred by allegations of doping.  

Eventually, my stomach started to rumble and I set out to whip up breakfast.  This bowl included layers of yogurt (plain greek and lemon), cranberry granola, puffed kamut, pineapple, and blueberries. 

I enjoyed my yogurt bowl on the deck while admiring my vegetable plants.  They continue to grow like crazy!  I've been eating lots of cherry tomatoes, picked my first banana pepper yesterday, and am anxiously awaiting the baby squashes to grow a bit larger.

Baby Squash and Squash Blossoms.
I need a good recipe idea to utilize the squash blossoms. 

Banana Peppers

Cherry Tomatoes
Today wasn't all laziness and eating - there was work to get done as well.  Fortunately, I have a pretty good system of top to bottom cleaning and I cranked it out in less than two hours.

Mid-afternoon I spent an hour on the deck soaking up the sun and reading a new book - Cutting For Stone.  I contemplated passing out and napping, but knew I needed to get to the gym for a swim workout.  3000 meters later, mission accomplished. 

Now, it's suddenly 6:30pm and I have to be at work in 40 minutes.  Where did the day go?  So much for taking a nap.  Hopefully Charlotte will play nice tonight and avoid the shootings, car accidents, assaults, and falls so that I can catch a midnight nap.   Highly unlikely . . . 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Twist on Grilled Cheese

Do you have specific meals from childhood that hold a special spot in your heart, or more accurately, in your stomach?  Two of my favorites that I remember my parents preparing quite frequently are grilled cheese and fried egg sandwiches.  Our family's grilled cheese sandwiches were prepared on Nature's Own wheat bread and slices of Kraft American cheese.  On the side, Mom and Dad would have a bowl of tomato soup, while my brother and I enjoyed chicken noodle.  Of course no grilled cheese was complete without a giant puddle of ketchup for dipping.  Fried egg sandwiches were my Dad's specialty, and we all loved when he offered to whip them up for a simple dinner on a lazy night.  There's something so delicious about the combination of soft fresh bread, over-medium fried eggs, and salt and pepper.  And the best part - the drippy yolk that was perfect for dipping.

Last night I was craving the comfort and satisfaction of one of those simple childhood favorites.  Since I'm no longer ten years old and know a thing or two more about cooking and healthy eating, I combined my two childhood favorites and kicked it up a notch.  Give this recipe a quick read, and then later this week when you're short on time or simply looking for a childhood classic, give this sandwich a try.

Sweet and Savory Grilled Cheese

1. Start by selecting two slices of hearty bread - my favorite is Great Harvest Dakota Bread.  On one slice spread a layer of Dijon mustard, and on the other, a generous serving of strawberry jam.

2. Next, layer fresh basil over the Dijon mustard.  On the opposite side, place several chunks of good quality rich cheese.  For my cheese, I chose Beemster Classic Cheddar.

3.  In a saute pan over medium heat, fry an egg.  To ensure that delicious drippy yolk, you'll need just a couple minutes to reach a doneness somewhere between over-easy and over-medium.  Layer the egg over the cheese.

4.  Flip your basil coated slice over to top the egg.  Grill the sandwich on a panini press or oven-top pan until the cheese has melted and the bread is toasted.

Is anyone drooling and already planning a trip to the kitchen for this grown-up version of a childhood favorite?  This twist on grilled cheese is a winner in my books, and will certainly be my new favorite lazy night meal.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Tri Latta Race Report 2012

Charlotte, NC

June 9, 2012
750m swim, 17 mile bike, 5K run

SWIM: 14:04 (1:52/100m)

T1: 2:17
BIKE:  48:46 (20.9mph)
T2: 1:46
RUN: 22:04 (7:07/mi)

FINISH: 1:28:55

PRE-RACE:  I can't believe this is my first triathlon in almost a year.  My last race was Westpoint Lake on June 23, 2011.  I expected a slight decrease in my training and racing volume with the start of residency, but I definitely didn't expect to take a year off.  Training has continued during this roller-coaster of a year, but the quantity and intensity has been highly variable.  I registered for this race about 2 weeks ago when I learned that I had finally been granted a requested day off.  Leading up to Saturday, I had worked three nights with only a few hours of sleep each day followed by a transition back to three long day shifts.  It's funny to consider how particular I've been with pre-race prep (nutrition, sleep, training) in the past, yet how completely unscripted this week has been.  Regardless of the chaos, I was filled with nervous energy on Saturday morning - extremely excited to be back on the starting line yet questioning if I had the ability to compete at the level I expected of myself.

SWIM:  Let me just start by saying that staring at a 750m swim course is so much nicer than 1500m or 1.2mi.  The course was an out and back lake swim with waves leaving every four minutes.  Water temp was 79 degrees.  Aside from the time-trial starts that I prefer, this was one of my better swim starts.  I found clean water pretty quickly and settled into a rhythm.  There was congestion at the turn around point that lasted for 150 meters or so, but then it was clear to the finish.  I was expecting to exit the water at roughly 12 minutes, so I was surprised to see 14 minutes on my watch.  Even the fastest times of the day were slower than expected, so I'm guessing the course was long.  Regardless, we all swam the same course, so distance doesn't matter.  My time of 14:04 was 14/183.

T1: Nothing too exciting here except a long uphill run into transition.  I was in and out pretty quickly without any hiccups.  2:17, 16/183

BIKE:  Leaving and returning from the park we were on a narrow single lane road that was 1.5 miles long, scattered with speed bumps, and in bad need of a new layer of asphalt.  Once we were out onto the main road I was able to settle into a rhythm and focused on keeping my HR up with an appropriate effort for short course racing.  95% of my bike training happens on the trainer at 4am or 8pm, so it felt good to get back out on the road.  Things were going well until I turned back onto the park road and found myself faced with packs of bikers spread four wide across a single lane all trying to dodge speed bumps and pass each other.  After that little joy ride we were back into transition.  48:46, 18/183

T2:  Since the run was only 5K, I opted to go without socks, which saved me a few seconds.  1:46, 13/183

RUN:  The course was advertised as packed gravel and dirt trails with rolling hills. I'm not sure who came up with the definition of "packed" gravel, but the more accurate description would be boulders.  Let's just say racing flats + tired legs + giant rocks make for an interesting combination.  I stayed upright, which is more than I can say about several people around me, but it wasn't pretty at times.  Once I found my running legs, my pace picked up and I negative split each mile, running the last in 6:26.  22:04, 12/183

Overall: 9th OA (5th amateur), 2nd AG

Recovering with an afternoon siesta in the sun and Mix1
I can't begin to say how happy I am to be back in my element and racing again.  This past year has been a crazy mix of ups and downs. In a lot of ways, my commitment to training has been my source of stress relief and aided in keeping a smile on my face.  My conditioning and fitness isn't near where it was one year ago, but I'm happy to have had a respectable race and look forward to what the rest of the season has to offer!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Taste of Charlotte

I discovered about a week ago that Taste of Charlotte was happening this weekend.  Being a lover of all things food, I knew immediately how I would be spending my Saturday afternoon.  Here is my agenda for a lovely Saturday away from work:

  • Tri Latta Triathlon - 1st race in more than a year!  Race report coming tomorrow.
  • Laundry - ugh
  • Taste of Charlotte
  • House Supplies: Has anyone else noticed that you coincidentally run out of everything at once?  Literally, I'm out of paper towel, glass cleaner, toilet paper, dish detergent, and garbage bags.  How does that happen?
  • Nap Time/Laziness/Blog
  • Ortho Chief Roast
Now, onto the food.  Taste of Charlotte is an annual event, very similar to other "Taste" events in major cities, that showcases the food from many of the Queen City's casual dining restaurants.  Unlike Taste of the Nation that I attended a few months ago, this is an casual outdoor festival that is free to the public.  To "purchase" food at a particular tent, you need to stop by a coin booth and buy a cup of coins.  For $20, you'll receive 15 coins that you can exchange for food.  Items cost either one, two, or three coins. 

The festival was packed with people

Live music entertained the crowd

An absolutely beautiful day in the Queen City

I love that the Uptown Charlotte area is new, clean, and filled with great stores and restaurants.

One of my favorite natural grocery stores, Healthy Home Market.

Taste number one came from Cafe Sienna.  The Sea Bass Cake with Chipotle Slaw cost 3 tokens.

Last year, this dish one for best taste.  The cake itself was a little heavy on the breading and I would have loved some more fresh slaw, but it was certainly savory and flavorful.

Woodland's Indian Cuisine prepared one of the few vegetarian selections, Vegetable Biryani with Chana Masala.
I was happy to discover something green among lots of fried foods and meat.

Newk's Favorite Salad, minus the chicken.
The bowl was a refreshing mix of romaine, artichokes, pecans, feta, cranberries, grapes, and a sherry vinaigrette.
I've heard great buzz about the fresh cuisine at Loco Lime, but have yet to make it over to Central Ave. to pay a visit.
Vegetarian Taco filled with sauteed zucchini, squash, onions, bell pepper, cilantro, and a duo of sauces.

Last, but not least, was dessert.  I had three coins left and debated between TCBY and a cupcake.  Ultimately, the cupcake won since it was more unique.

The fresh strawberry cupcake sounded perfect for summer.  It's currently sitting on my kitchen counter waiting for the perfect opportunity to be consumed.
Over, Taste of Charlotte was an enjoyable way to spend an hour on a beautiful Saturday.  There were a variety of restaurants being showcased.  Next year, I hope there are perhaps a few more vegetarian options.  If you're in the Charlotte area, the festival continues tonight and Sunday, so head on out and enjoy Uptown.  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Sunday Hike

 Welcome to McDowell Nature Preserve, an 1100 acre park along the banks of Lake Wiley in Mecklenburg County.  Despite being just 15 minutes from Uptown Charlotte, a ninety minute hike left us convinced we were far, far from home.

The plan for the weekend was to work on Saturday (me at the hospital, my parents painting my bedroom) and then have fun on Sunday.  Since I'd been busy working the during the week, I had never quite defined what our "fun" would be.  After a lazy morning and a tasty and filling breakfast (Gooey Banana Bread Batter Steele Cut Oats), I did I quick web search to find some local hiking trails.  I considered Crowders Mountain based on recommendations, but wasn't excited about the 35 mile drive.  Looking at a map, I discovered that Lake Wiley was just a 15 mile drive and shortly the plan was made - we were headed to McDowell Nature Preserve.

The weather could not have been any more perfect!  The combination of upper 70 degree temperatures, bright sun, and a light breeze left us feeling it was April.  We hiked for ninety minutes along trails that varied between narrow paths through thick forests and gravel pathways along the river.

We saw several trees with these huge knots in the side.  Does anyone know what they are?  I'm not sure if they are a natural part of the tree trunk or an indication of stunted growth due to some prior damage.

There were some beautiful homes along the banks of the river.  It certainly wouldn't be a bad location for a lake house.

Bailey had a blast running along the trails, sniffing out all of the scents, and then running back to greet us.  Here she is showing you just how much of a water-hater she is as she jumps back to avoid getting wet from the small ripples in the water.  Crazy dog!

The biggest thing that Dad misses from Florida is having is having a boat and spending time on the water.  He enjoyed watching all of the boats come and go from the boat ramp, but I know that what he really wanted was to be in a boat himself.

Here I am together with my partner in crime enjoying a break along the side of the river.  I love spending time with Bailey!  Her energy is infectious.

After our hike, we set out to find a picnic area to enjoy our lunch.  Not a bad view, right?

Lunch was a selection of refrigerator and pantry odds and ends.  We re-energized with hummus, home-grown cherry tomatoes/carrots/snap peas, rich and savory cheddar cheese, melt-in-your mouth pineapple, and Rice Works tangy barbecue chips.  It was a light, yet satisfying, lunch of munchies that were enjoyed while soaking up every minute of the glorious weather.

Don't think for a minute that Bailey was neglected.  Her hard work was rewarded with a bone and a carrot. She still managed to convince her Daddy that she needed more love and attention, so the following massage and pampering session took place.  She's got a really rough life!

The rest of our Sunday afternoon included a trip to the farmer's market, installing new light fixtures, replanting some vegetable plants, and a short run to and from Yoforia for a mid-afternoon treat.  

At the end of the day Mom, Dad, and Bailey packed into the car and made their way back to Atlanta.  I, on the other hand, hit the YMCA pool for a swim workout.  T-minus 4 days until I race my first triathlon in over a year.  Yikes!