Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Never a Dull Moment

Yesterday was another crazy day in the Children’s Hospital.  We started off the morning with our usual swallow studies, seeing a little girl with Cornelia de Lange syndrome and a 7 year old boy who refused to chew his food which resulted in his swallowing huge bites and choking.  When asked why he does this and if he thinks that swallowing food whole rather than chewing it was a good idea he responded with “I don’t know.”  Greeeeeaaaat.
            After providing his mom with some strategies to use at home before jumping into therapy, which included having him eat in front of a mirror to watch himself chew, we headed upstairs to check orders and start making our rounds to see the patients on the floors.  We saw a 15-year-old girl who has atelectisis, a pneumothorax, and had a recent bout with meningitis (and by the way, Microsoft Word doesn’t think these things even exist).  She participated in a swallow study on Monday, which revealed that she was silently aspirating every time she swallowed liquids and as a result was put on a mechanical soft diet and was now only receiving fluids through an NG tube.  But this was a girl after my own heart.  We had given her ice chips and told her that liquids were strictly forbidden but when we turned to walk out of the room she held her cup of ice up to the light in an attempt to melt it so that she would have something to drink.  The poor thing was so thirsty and we were the mean SLPs who told her she couldn’t have anything to drink.  Though we had to take the cup away and gently reprimand her for trying to melt the ice, inside I was thinking “girl, you melt those ice chips…I would do the same thing if I were you!”
            We continued our rounds, stopping to check in on some of our cardiac babies, before heading down for two more swallow studies.  One with a 36-month-old baby with achondroplasia (aka. dwarfism) and one with a 13-year-old boy who shoved a cupcake down his throat at school along with the plastic Hello Kitty toy that was originally stuck in the icing and was now stuck in his esophagus! 

            But it was the next patient we visited that stole my heart.  For the purposes of this post I will call her B.  B has been in and out of the hospital since she collapsed at her elementary school last March and doctors discovered she had a ganglioglioma (a scary, cancerous, tumor) on her brainstem.  Though doctors did their best to remove the tumor it had become woven into her spinal cord and they were unable to get rid of the whole thing.  She has since had multiple rounds of radiation and on Monday she received a tracheotomy.  The trache was put in to help her breathe more easily but because it is below the level of the vocal cords, air no longer passes through the larynx and she is no longer able to speak.  Unfortunately, her parents did not completely understand (and therefore did not explain to B) that when she woke up from surgery she would not be able to talk.  You can imagine how this sweet little girl was feeling when we went to see her just 24 hours after the surgery.  But we were there with good news for B.  We were not there to poke or prod her but we were there to tell her that in just one week we would begin to help her learn to use a Passy Muir speaking valve on her trache that would allow her to talk again!  I don’t think she completely understood what the valve would allow her to do, especially since we were able to read her lips when she mouthed, “a valve?!” with a look of terror in her eyes.  But we comforted her and let her know we were there to help her get her voice back and pretty soon she was smiling and showing us her new Glee DVDs.  I can’t wait to be there when she is able to tell us out loud how she is feeling and her parents can hear her voice again!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Beautiful Weekend in Nashville

            I have determined that I have Seasonal Affective Disorder.  Not because I am exceptionally sad during the winter months but because I am SO much happier when it is sunny and warm out.  This weekend was spring in Nashville.  63 degrees and sunny and I could not have been happier about it.  This has been an exceptionally cold winter here in the buckle of the Bible belt and I am over it.  I am ready for warm weather, long days, and endless sunshine.
            To celebrate the gorgeous day yesterday I decided to run outside.  Though the Y has its perks with all of the different machines, classes, and the plethora of sweaty, attractive men walking around there is nothing like running outside when the weather is just right.  So I decided to run at Centennial Park and I have now determined that it is one of my favorite places in this city.  The park was packed yesterday with families, dogs, and far too many couples canoodling on park benches but even this didn’t bother me because on a day like this, who could really blame them? 

Centennial Park has a giant pond in the middle and is surrounded by fields and playgrounds but the feature of the park is the Parthenon.  Yep that’s right.  Nashville decided that they would try to replicate one of the architectural wonders of the world right here in the park.  And to be honest, though it does look a lot like the real thing it also looks pretty out of place here in this honky-tonk town.  But hey, I guess it just adds to its charm?  

While I was running and enjoying my view of the Parthenon, I noticed a large crowd of photographers lining on side of the pond.  It looked like they were staring at something…or SOMEONE!?  I’ve had a few paparazzi sightings since I have lived here but have never seen an actual celebrity.  This could be my chance!  Could it be that T. Swift or Keith and Nicole were enjoying a day in Centennial Park too?!  I nearly fell into the pond I was so excited at the thought of stumbling upon such a celebrity sighting.  That was until I realized that the photographers were just trying to capture the perfect lighting as sun began to set behind the Parthenon.  Wah Wahhhh.  Here’s hoping that this weekend wasn’t just a tease and that spring is really on its way!

Keith and Nicole in Centennial Park on July 4th, 2009...stole this picture from the paparazzi :-)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Finally Friday!!

Okay, so I’m exhausted.  I know this is pretty standard for everyone around 6pm on a Friday night but I used to have stamina.  Just a year ago I went out three nights a week, went to class, got decent grades, had a part time job, was a die hard Chi O, and managed to maintain that whirlwind pace for four years.  Now I go out one night a week, maybe visit the gym every once in a while, and live and breathe school/clinic.  So why am I so tired?!  I guess that’s why college is only four years.  Your body, (and specifically your liver, as my mother likes to remind me), can only take so much.  Then you become a real person.
            But I got a little boost this afternoon because it is Friday AND because I arrived home from school to find a package on my doorstep.  And I love love love getting mail.  Real mail.  Emails are nice but there is nothing like getting a card or a letter that someone took the time to hand write, remember your real address, and literally drop it in the mailbox just for you!  The package was from my Nanne who I miss so much now that I no longer live just thirty minutes away from her in North Carolina.  Inside the package was a pair of vintage scrubs!  Turns out someone besides my parents is reading this blog J This pair of scrubs had not yet graced the halls of a hospital but instead, had accompanied Nanne down the Colorado River as her pajamas!  You might be wondering why in the world she would have saved the scrubs after her trip in the wilderness but then again, maybe you haven’t met Nanne.  She saves EVERYTHING!  But as she will tell you, you never know when things will come in handy!  And these scrubs certainly will.  Though they are a little on the short side, I will be sure to give them a spin at VCH very soon!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Today I spent my clinic hours working with some of the most adorable children, I’m convinced, in the entire world.  In addition to my clinical placement at Vanderbilt Children’s I work at the National Center for Childhood Deafness and Family Communication on Thursdays.  All of my clients are preschool-aged and they either wear hearing aids or have received cochlear implants.  We work with them on various speech and language activities ranging from specific articulation tasks to functional classroom language development.  And though I know I am supposed to treat all of my clients in the same way and not have favorites….well…I have a favorite.  Due to privacy concerns I probably shouldn’t tell you his name so I will just call him RC.
Some of my little friends at the Mama Lere Hearing School 

            RC is four years old and Asian.  Okay, so maybe it’s not politically correct to just come out and say that he’s Asian and even more un-PC to say that this only makes him that much cuter, but I’m saying it anyway.  Because it is true.  RC has a unilateral hearing aid in his right ear and as a result he has trouble with articulation as well as a general language delay.  And little RC is a “no R” kid (or in SLP talk he demonstrates the phonological process of “gliding”).  So when you ask him what his name is, his reply is “Wajuh.”  So freaking cute…and I bet you can guess his name now!
            Today, RC came in with a new haircut.  He told us that his mom had cut his hair and he liked it because it was “fancy.”  Well, RC’s mom should not quit her day job.  His hair looked as though she had just chopped off his bangs, straight across his hairline.  It was the kind of look that only this adorable little guy could pull off.  During therapy, RC and I worked on 5 critical element directions, using attributes, categorizing, and identifying sounds in initial, medial, and final word position.  It’s not so much what RC says during our activities that makes me love him but his little side comments and the hysterical questions he asks that make me what to put him in my pocket and take him home with me.

Just a few of my favorite interactions with RC:

RC:  “What are these?” (rubbing his hand on my tights)
Me:  “They’re called tights, RC.”
RC:  “Hmmm…I think they are long socks.”

Me:  “Hey RC.  What’s up?”
RC:  “Good.” (WH questions are a challenge for my bud)

RC:  “I like dogs because they have ears.”

Monday, February 15, 2010

Happy Day-After-Valentine's-Day!

Valentine’s Day is supposed to be fabulous and filled with love if you have a significant other OR absolutely miserable and filled with man-hating movie marathons, lots of chocolate, and maybe an “I hate Valentine’s Day” party complete with piƱata heart bashing if you are a single lady…or Jessica Biel.  But I think this is a stupid rule.  I don’t think that just because you don’t have a man in your life you can’t be spoiled and you have to spend the day hating on everyone who is in love.  Don’t get me wrong I found myself gagging a little bit as I watched the couple in line in front of me at the movies drool all over each other, whispering sweet nothings into one another’s ears, but I managed to have a really fun Valentine’s weekend minus the man.

Valentine's Day Breakfast at the Pancake Pantry...A Nashville must-eat!   

            I felt like I was entitled to indulge a little.  Hey, just because I didn’t have a boyfriend buying me chocolates doesn’t mean that I can’t eat them anyway!  I also went to see Valentine’s Day along with the rest of the world and ate a delicious plate of blueberry pancakes at the famous Pancake Pantry…also along with the rest of the world. 

          Another plus of a single Valentine’s Day was that I saved a lot of money.  Instead of wasting my money on a gift that a boy would never use, I put it toward something that would certainly not be wasted.  New blazer from Urban Outfitters?  Don’t mind if I do.  And though I was definitely enjoying my single lady Valentine’s Day, I am certainly not one to pass up the chance to meet a new man every now and then.  So if you happen to know of any cute males between the ages of 20 and 30 (can’t be too picky here), living in the middle Tennessee area, preferably employed (and struggling musician doesn’t count), feel free to send them my way!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Blogging About Blogging

            I have a friend who started her own blog after graduating from Wake about her journey through pastry school in NYC.  When I first heard about and read her blog I found it completely entertaining and I loved reading it but I also thought it was a little bit creepy that she was chronicling her daily life in cyberspace for the whole world to see.  I also thought it was a little narcissistic.  But now that I have my own blog, I see why she did it.  It is kind of therapeutic.  Though it still may be a little narcissistic, I like being able to write about what’s going on in my life.  I like that I can look back on it and remember how stressed I was about that anatomy exam that, in retrospect, was not so bad after all.  I also love an excuse to write something that is not being graded.  It is kind of liberating.  Though I am certain that my blog has maybe three regular readers (all of which are immediate family members), I have kind of gotten into the “blog scene” these days.  I have started following other people’s blogs…some of which have authors that I have zero connections to and found perusing friends’ blogs/facebook pages.  Creepy?  Maybe a little.  But I have included some of the blogs I am following these days in the right margin of my blog so that you (whoever you are) can also check them out! 
            You may be wondering why all of the blogs I am liking these days have to do with cooking, decorating, or other things about which I have little to no talent or knowledge.  Well, I dream of being domestic one day.  Being able to cook delicious meals with exotic ingredients like my sister and being able to decorate and throw a great party like my fabulous friend Staver (think Samantha from Sex and the City…only more outrageous if that’s possible).  So I’m reading up for inspiration!  I will be sure to provide photo documentation if I ever attempt such feats on my own!

Friday, February 12, 2010

No More Excuses

So we are officially a month into the semester.  I have been working hard, staying (relatively) focused, and having some fun too!  But the one thing I haven’t been doing is running.  And may I remind you I have committed to running 13 miles in just over two months in the Country Music Half Marathon.  AND have purchased a new pair of shoes just to get myself going.  Well…I haven’t exactly gotten going yet.  Though I ran competitively in high school and realized that it was the one sport where I actually had a little bit of talent, I have found it hard to make the time to run now that it is no longer required.  I am the queen of excuses.  Its too cold, the Y is too crowded at 5pm, I stood over a dead body for 2.5 hours during anatomy lab tonight.  But this is the end of those excuses.  Though today I’m only planning to run a couple of miles, it’s a start right?  If you don’t hear from me in the next few days it is safe to assume I am passed out somewhere along West End avenue!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Love a Good List

I have compiled a list of pros and cons about where I live.  As I am reaching the 6-month mark I am fully settled in and have had some time to reflect on my new home in the grown-up world, which is conveniently (and not so conveniently) located next to an uber-busy hospital campus.  I decided to go with the old pro and con approach for two reasons.  One, because I am a sucker for a good list.  And two, because I am too exhausted to actually form real sentences.  So this is what I have come up with:


o Immediate access to emergency facilities in the event of an accident…I am relatively accident-prone though most of my brushes with death are minor scrapes and bruises enhanced by my mild hypochondriac tendencies.

o The short walk to school which comes in handy on those mornings when I hit the snooze one two many times (or when I forget a crucial assignment and have to run home at lunch)

o Close proximity to a multitude of handsome and single (here’s hoping) doctors and med students

o Safety that is ensured by Vanderbilt 5-0 who constantly patrol the neighborhood and tell the local dumpster divers to keep it down when things get a little rowdy in the alley behind my house

o Just a hop, skip, and a jump to Hillsboro Village which is convenient for occasional after class happy hour at Sam’s and Girls Night Out at Cabana

o Potential for celebrity sightings as they are often visiting the hospital to perform and visit with patients


o Sirens.  Enough said.

o Having to interrupt phone conversations (or much needed sleep) due to the fact that my windows are rattling and the floors are shaking from the LifeFlight helicopters that constantly land just a few hundred yards away

o The constant reminder that there are far too many people who are sick and hurting in the buildings just around the corner from my cozy little home

o The tendency for the crazies who have just been released from the hospital, usually in the wee hours of the morning, to stroll home right down Capers Ave. on their way to the Edgehill neighborhood or the local drive through beer supplier.  Whoever thought this one was a good idea is beyond me but that’s beside the point.

o The fact that, despite the noticeable police presence in our neighborhood, it took them 15 minutes to get to my house last semester after two pickups slammed into the dead end of my street.  I guess living next door to a level one trauma center we were not their top priority!  How rude!

By my count, it looks as though the pros outweigh the cons so I guess I’m doing alright!  Now I’m heading off to bed and sending my love to everyone in the snowy North (especially to my grandparents buried under 4 feet of snow in a house with no heat :-).  Stay warm!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Small Victories

When I moved into my new house in August, I was so happy to be living in a place so close to school so that I wouldn’t have to spend money on gas all the time.  I could leave my car parked in my little garage or the parking area right outside my front door.  It was going to be ultraconvenient.  Yeah, so that didn’t really work out as I had planned.  Turns out my room in the house is much bigger than my roommate’s and my closet is the size of a small bedroom (aka heaven) so in order to compensate I felt like it was only fair for her to have the garage.  No problem, I can just park in the spots right in front of the house, I thought.  So I parked my car and left it there for a few days only to return to a large note in the center of my windshield.  It was from Marge, president of the homeowner’s association, and it stated that if my car was not moved by the next day it would be towed.  There goes my ultraconvenient plan.
            After searching around the neighborhood for the best alternative parking location I determined that I could park up the street, just a block away.  This was a great plan during the day but when I would come home from the library at two in the morning it was less than ideal when paired with my overactive imagination and fear of the dark.  So I would park…and RUN home.  (Yes, I am 23 years old.  Don’t judge me).  This was my routine until one day I discovered the crown jewel.  A parking spot directly across the ally from my garage.
            The reason I had not noticed this spot before was because it was always occupied by a silver pickup truck, which I assumed had rightful ownership over the spot.  But that all changed when I looked out the bathroom window one night only to see 4 Vandy students pile into the truck and drive off.  This was my chance!  So I took off running (it was dark) to get my car and steal the spot.  Ever since that day, those four Vandy boys and I have been involved in a silent battle for the parking space.  I’d say that spot changes ownership two to three times per week.  And though I’m sure they are very nice guys, each time I drive up intending to pull into MY parking space and that truck is there I curse them…often out loud.  But, I am proud to say that my car has been sitting in that space for FIVE days straight and I’m not planning on moving any time soon.  SO THERE!


P.S.  Though at first we thought that Marge was an evil woman for threatening to tow my car but it turns out that she is actually really sweet and waves to me each morning through her kitchen window as I head off to school.  I like to think of her as my Nashville grandmother J

Friday, February 5, 2010

Much Needed Weekend

Funny how after I write a post about procrastinating I don’t write another post again until almost a week later!  But it has been a busy couple of days around here.  My test on Wednesday was a little rough but I think in the end we all came out alright.  The rest of my week consisted of clinic and class with some homework on the side.  Clinic was interesting as usual though I did spend some time thinking about whether or not I am really cut out for the pediatric acute care environment.  Though I love the fast pace, the medical setting, and the diversity of patients seen on a day to day basis, it is hard to see these patients at their very worst, only to have them discharged three days later and move on to a rehabilitation hospital.  Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely wonderful every time a patient is discharged because it means that the focus has shifted away from the life and death concerns to getting the patient back into school, work, and their regular daily activities.  I find it challenging though, to say goodbye to these individuals and never know how they fare in life and whether or not they are ever able to fully recover.
            About a year ago when I was making my decision about where to go for graduate school a good friend told me he thought I would be great at my job but that my biggest challenge would be getting too close to my clients and not being able to separate myself from their struggles.  In the pediatric acute care I see myself doing just that - thinking and worrying about the patients for the rest of the night, long after I have come home and taken off my fancy new scrubs.  Though I am sure that this inability to detach myself is exaggerated, being that this is my first experience with this sort of thing, I think if I were to spend my entire career working with trauma patients in the acute care setting I may be emotionally exhausted ALL the time. 
            So I have been thinking more and more about working in a pediatric rehab hospital.  This is where the patients come after leaving the acute setting, and it is where they make their greatest strides toward recovery.  It is also the place where the patient and family’s relationship with the speech-language pathologist is crucial.  So perhaps this is where my need to work with, relate, and attach to people could be an asset rather than a hindrance.  Such heavy thoughts for a Friday night…so now I am heading out for the night!  Happy Weekend J