Friday, August 28, 2009


Wednesday marked my last day at the nursing home. I went out in burning glory too. I was scheduled to work on west, which is the coveted unit, but when I arrived at six a.m. my coworker cheerfully informed me that I'd been bumped on the schedule to the north unit, because she needed hours but couldn't work on north because "it drives [her] crazy." I responded that north drives everyone crazy and walked away. North was nuts, but not anymore nuts than normal. I had section 3, which was 10 people and two showers, but I was magically able to get everything done, and at a fairly high level of quality (just getting stuff done quickly doesn't mean you're doing a good job).

I don't think I've really written that much about the nursing home, which is probably a good thing as far as HIPAA goes, but it really has been an influential job in my life. It has opened my eyes to the unpleasant crevices of healthcare (no pun intended) and made me have a lot more respect for the infantry of aides and nurses that keep so many sick people alive. I learned a lot about compassion and kindness and back-breaking work (rolling a 400 pound person on their side really can break your back, especially if you're tall like me). I definitely will miss some of the residents there, like Marilyn from south, whose Elvis Presley and "Give Said the Little Stream" serenades will always make me chuckle, or the time she stuck a cup of blue jello down her pants. "Can I have a banana? Banana pudding? Dr. Pepper?" I'll miss Ellis, who passed away a while ago. He sung to me in the shower and cracked dirty sailor jokes. I'll miss my more recent friend Bernice, a loving grandmother with an addiction to Rush Limbaugh.

I won't miss the poop. Or the showers. I won't miss the frantic running around, the chaotic stress of answering call lights while trying to remember the growing mental list of tasks and requests. Did I mention I won't miss the poop? Being a nursing aide is hands down the most feculent job I can imagine. I look forward to only changing my baby's diapers from now on.

Monday, August 24, 2009


A lot of crazy crap happened this last week, and I'm just now getting a second to write about it.

Early Monday morning (like 5:45 a.m.) I took off to Park City for the Society of Invertebrate Pathology annual conference. Last year it was in England, next year it's in Turkey. Lucky me, I got the year it was in Utah. Actually, that's probably the main reason I got to go.

We arrived at the Canyons Grand Summit resort in time for breakfast, a wonderful buffet. The week would be filled with such buffets. I was a basketcase because my presentation wasn't done and I had to present my research at 3:30.

My research. Last September I started working in Dr. Byron Adam's lab. The Nematode Evolution Lab. We study worms. It sounds really lame put that way, but it turns out nematodes are one of the most important and abundant lifeforms on the planet. Back in October I started on an RNAi resistance project. We ordered a bunch of mutant C. elegans strains that are deficient in the RNAi pathway, and therefore immune to the effects of RNA interference. I've been culturing these strains since then and trying to determine how fit the mutants are compared to the wildtype. I've been able to show that there seems to be a fitness cost to the mutants, more or less. This is good because it will keep the mutant alleles very rare in the natural populations . . . ya da ya da ya da. What a snooze, right? This might all be over your heads, but it was pretty elementary at this research conference. I sat through countless lectures of bigwig professors, doctoral students and postdocs with super impressive powerpoints and years of extensive research (and hundreds of incomprehensible bar graphs). When it finally came time to give my presentation I felt like I was giving a science fair project.

I was the only undergrad to present that day, and one of two total undergrads at the conference. So even if my research wasn't earth-shattering, it was still a feather in my cap. I can now put "presented original research at an international conference" on my resume. So that's pretty cool.

Tuesday was a bunch of lectures and a 5k in the afternoon. Byron was in charge of the 5k so we got the privilege of setting up the trail and directing traffic so people didn't get lost on the mountain. After a brief barbecue Ashton picked me up and we headed to Bountiful to participate in Seth's setting apart as a missionary. That was neat.

Wednesday morning we went out to eat at Mimi's cafe for breakfast before shipping off Seth. That place is good! Even though he was in his suit and tie and all packed up, it still didn't hit me that he was really leaving until he stood at the door of our house and we both started tearing up. I just wanted to keep giving him hugs, to talk a little bit more about his novel, to go for another run on the river together. Two years is a long time. I've managed to get married and have a kid in two years. The next two years will be really exciting for us, I'm sure, as we head off to medical school. But for the most part it's business as usual, only now there's a void that Seth left behind. At least he gets the benefit a completely different life for the next two years. That definitely makes it exciting. I'll be chronicling his mission on a blog for him:

I felt guilty leaving the research conference early, since Byron had paid so much money for me to be up there, so I left early Thursday morning to head back up. I got there just as breakfast was ending, and my fellow labsters were surprised to see me there. They informed me that they weren't going to the morning lectures because they were boring and about fungi. Instead they were going to take the morning off and go mountain biking. This made me feel even more guilty, since I had left Ashton with Samuel, who had been pretty colicky lately, with the intention of getting more out of the conference. Byron rented me a really nice Trek mountain bike and we got gondola passes and spent the morning on the mountain. This was my first time mountain biking, and it was pretty intense on some of the trails, but after a couple hours I got the hang of it and was cruising down the mountain pretty confidently. It's definitely something I would like to do again.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Yesterday Seth gave his farewell address before he takes off to New Zealand. It was really bizarre to see my little brother talking from the pulpit like some experienced evangelist. I pictured him when he was a lot shorter, and cuter, and blonder, and we went fishing for my birthday. I thought about my awkward early pre-teen years when he and I would spend hours setting up armies of action figures or lego fortresses, only to never start a battle. I remembered sharing a room and laying in bed at night listening to scripture stories on tape, because he insisted we do it, but secretly I wanted it too. That's how we became such accomplished scriptorians. I saw us playing basketball on the driveway, when I could still drive past him and make a decent layup. I remember before my mission getting him started on the guitar, and playing beautiful Shins duets for my grandparents. I came home from my mission to a punk kid who was better on the guitar and better at basketball and a raving success with the ladies. He didn't need his big brother to show him what was cool anymore (although I can still teach him a thing or two about quality music), and he had become his own man. I wonder if he realizes how much more manliness he's going to acquire over the next two years. And how much hair he's going to lose.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


I'm not sure what to title this photo. I thought "Summer Reading List" would be funny. I wish. "Bibliophile?" How about "Moving Day?"

Today Lauren and Jesse came down to swap spaces. They are being very gracious and letting us take the upstairs, so we can have a separate bedroom for Samuel. We personally think they're insane, but we're not about to talk them out of it! We'll have triple the space and a lot more windows, so we're pretty stoked.

A lot of other things of note happened this last week. Ashton got her gall bladder out. Yuck. She went under the knife early Tuesday morning, and she was out of the clinic three hours later, walking around and ready to take on the world, or at least the growing mess our house has become since Samuel joined us. Everyone kept telling her to sit down and take it easy, but she can't stand a dirty house. The Percocet definitely helped, but she went off that the next day, no problem. The doctor sent home some sweet pictures of her gall bladder, before and after the cholecystectomy. They cut it open to see how many stones were inside. It was pretty packed! Ashton thought it was beautiful enough to hang on the fridge.

On Thursday I floated the Provo River with the boy I mentor. It was pretty hysterical. Pretty much every great activity I come up with blows up in my face, but I barely scraped by on this one. Right off the bat we hit trouble when we got to a point where the river narrows between some concrete slabs. The increased velocity of the river sucked us right into some low hanging branches (and these weren't twigs, mind you) and although I tried to push off them with an oar, the impact flipped our raft over. I frantically grabbed for Marc before the river washed him downstream and held on to his flailing body by his wrist. I finally got him to stop panicking and stand up (the water was only about 3 feet). He continued screaming and sobbing with tears and snot pouring down his face, while I righted the raft and tried to calm him down. I finally got him to climb back in the raft and we continued down the river. We hit some pretty fun little rapids, and ticked off just about every fisherman we passed. Marc kept calling out to them, "Isn't the water too cold?" "I wish I had caught all those fish!" "We don't want to run into you!" He has the social graces of a walnut. I had my cell phone on me in a ziplock bag so I could call Ashton when I was done. Unfortunately some moisture still managed to leak inside, and my phone stopped working. Curses.

Friday was Fisher's wedding. I got to go up to the sealing, which was performed by Vaughn J. Featherstone. He's a friend of Drew's grandmother, apparently. The sealing was lovely, and afterward I headed across the street to visit my dad at work. I picked a good day, Bagel Friday. We had a nice chat over Dr. Pepper and then I headed back to the temple to see if they were done with photos. I got there just as they were taking the last group shot, and they yelled at me to hop up the stairs. Following the photos was a wonderful luncheon at the Lion House. I sat at the "friends" table, which had seats for six people. Three of them were friends of the bride, a bunch of giggly airhead barbie dolls, and one of them had her husband with her. The other seat was occupied by Mike Polkington, an old friend of Drew's. He's a super nice guy, very fun to talk to, but he acts like a five year old most of the time. Drew's other friends Kelly, Branson and Branson's girlfriend J-Shawn showed up later, and to the dismay of the plastics, we insisted that they sit at our table. The Lion House staff wasn't thrilled, but they relented under Mike's authoritative demands. Our nine person table became a little rowdy, and we missed most of the program, including an epic poem read by Drew's brother about the Andee/Drew saga. Ashton came up later that night with Samuel for the reception, which was in a very nice backyard. There were peacocks caged up near the wedding line, and peacock feathers everywhere.

And Saturday we moved. We're still moving. It might take a while.

Monday, August 3, 2009


I think it's amazing how life can so dull and ordinary, with nothing exceptional happening for months, and then out of nowhere a million crazy things happen on one day. How do they converge like that? Friday was my one year anniversary, but that's definitely not the only thing of note that happened that day.

The morning started with me being really sneaky and leaving some beautiful flowers and a child's craft table (which Ashton has been talking about for months) at the kitchen table before leaving at 6:30 for work. Naturally that went over well.

After work we took Samuel to the doctor (or mohel, if you're Jewish) to snip off his Gentileness. He handled it like a champ. He didn't even start crying until after the surgery when the nurse unwrapped him. He really doesn't like being naked. The doctor was really great and answered all of our questions really well. On a whim I asked him about Samuel's jaundice, since his last reading had been a little high, but not over the line of danger. He recommended we check his blood again, and we were a little dismayed to find that his bilirubin had actually gone up, instead of down. They immediately sent over a bilibed for him to sleep on. Apparently the blue light modifies the bilirubin in a way that's easier for him to metabolize it. He had to sleep on it for three straight days, and he was not fond of it. It was pretty lousy.

Friday night my mom watched Samuel so Ashton and I could go do some errands and "celebrate" our anniversary. We just went to Target to buy more diapers and stopped at Sonic for some Oreo Shakes. We didn't want to be away too long; strange how becoming a parent does that to you.

Around 11:00 p.m. Ashton had a super painful gallbladder attack, and we didn't hesitate to get to the ER. She'd seen a specialist on Wednesday and he'd indicated that she should get it out as soon as possible, because an ultrasound showed that her bile duct was distended. At the ER we had to wait a bit in the waiting room, which is why I hate the ER anyway. We finally got back to a room and had to wait even longer for the doctor. As we sat in the room we could hear all the techs and nurses outside our door laughing and chatting like they were at some social event. I peeked outside through a crack in the door and saw a stumpy figure with its back to me in teal scrubs participating in the revelry. I hope that's not our doctor, I thought to myself. It was.

He finally came in and very candidly assessed the situation. As soon as Ashton told him she'd have pizza, he immediately pinned that as the culprit and in an almost condescending way chided us for being so careless. He didn't seem concerned about the gallstones themselves. His one mission was to "stop the pain cycle." All he wanted to do was flush some narcotics through her and send her home. We weren't there to stop the pain, however. We wanted to make sure this wasn't a more-dangerous-than-normal attack. Besides, we'd waited to see a doctor so long, the pain was already subsided. He ordered some bloodwork to make sure the hepatic and pancreatic ducts weren't plugged by a stone in the common bile duct, and sent a nurse in to administer the pain killers. When the nurse came in, Ashton told her she didn't want the pain killers, because then she'd have to wait a day to nurse Samuel. The nurse wasn't convinced, apparently, because she hooked her IV up anyway and started a saline drip. We waited for over an hour to have the doctor come back in, tell us the test results were fine, and try to get her to take the narcotics. She still didn't want to, and she insisted she wanted to go home. The doctor acted like we were crazy, but finally consented to her discharge. We went home more than a little irritated.

I know this is my second negative post about physicians. Don't worry, I still want to be one. I'm just learning what kind I DON'T want to be.