Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Say It Ain't So

            So I hate to say it but I’m going to have to be a quitter.  It is something that I really don’t like to do and something that I feel I do far too often.  But unfortunately, despite the fact that I proclaimed it in cyberspace, I will not be running the Country Music 1/2 Marathon this year. 
Running has always been something that I love.  Ever since high school when I discovered that you don’t need to be able to catch or hit a ball to be a varsity athlete, I have been running.  I run to get away from my stress and to clear my head.  It is something I do when I don’t want to think about anything at all.  It’s my therapy.  That was until I started training for the 1/2 and my runs were no longer filled with fresh air and peace but instead were consumed with times and mileage and aching knees.  I worried and fretted when I wasn’t able to run and was so exhausted after the long runs that I felt I deserved to be comatose on the couch for hours.  And then I fretted and worried because my hours on the couch had replaced hours in the library and thus began a vicious cycle.  And as you know, THIS girl, with the over active imagination and the unreasonable amount of unfounded worry, doesn’t need anything else to add to the pile. 
            SO…I hate to disappoint but for the sake of my sanity, my knees, and my love of running just for me, I will be gracefully bowing out of this year’s race.  Who knows, maybe next year my life will be a little more under control and I will have the guts to actually do it but I’m not making any promises J The thought was fun while it lasted, right?

Oh, and don’t worry!  The shoe purchase was not in vain as these puppies have endured many miles on the treadmill and the side walk and are a fan favorite of the girls at VCH!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Another Ball Family Birthday!

            Today marks the anniversary of the birth of one of my favorite men in the entire world.  My dad!  Though not many people may realize it is his birthday because he tends to downplay this day.  Never wants any presents or a big celebration.  So I am going to celebrate him in blog-world where there is nothing he can do about it!  My dad is a pretty special guy.  For those of you who know him, you know that he can captivate a room full of people and he is the kind of person that everyone wants to get to know.  He never forgets a name and makes everyone feel important.  He is the most hard-working and loyal person I have ever met in my life.  Just some of the qualities of his that I strive to emulate…except maybe I won’t work SO hard J  So here’s hoping that he will be spending this Friday night far away from the office and all things stressful, with a drink in his hand (Macallan 12 on the rocks for this guy), and family and friends by his side!  Happy Birthday Dad!

Thanks for passing on the great hair genes, Dad!

See what I mean about the hair?!

Starting 'em young ;-)

I think next year we should all celebrate your birthday here!


            On a typical weekend, now that I am a grad school grandma, one of my favorite routines is my Saturday trip to Target.  I will go even if I have nothing specific to get and usually cannot get out of there without spending $50.  Kind of a problem.  But you can never have enough seasonally themed dishtowels or under $10 DVDs right?  Last weekend, however, my shopping list was a little different than usual.  Because one of my clinical placements this semester is in the Mama Lere Hearing School, I am constantly planning preschool-aged activities that have to be fun yet completely goal-focused every step of the way.  That means a lot of manipulatives, toys, and games have to be redesigned for the purpose of targeting “wh” questions, final consonant deletion, correct “th” production, etc.

            Vanderbilt’s Bill Wilkerson Center, which is home to the Mama Lere School, is wonderful and has closets full of such toys and games; however, the students don’t exactly get priority.  We are not allowed to take materials off of the floor and we cannot get into the clinic on the weekends, which makes planning a challenge.  Also, you never know if “What’s Inside Ned’s Head?!,” the game you had chosen to use for therapy to target adjectives, categorical sorting, and object identification, will be snagged up by another clinician right before your session is supposed to begin.
            SOOO…on my last trip to Target I decided to peruse the toy aisle.  Luckily, they have some inexpensive items, (the dollar books are my personal favorite), that will work for therapy.  Though this shopping excursion was not nearly as exciting as those that result in a cart filled with new running clothes, make-up, and random craft/school supplies, these items will certainly come in handy the next time another clinician runs off with “Guess Who?” right when I need it!
I can't even handle how exciting my life is these days...

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Payoff

            The amount I’ve had to memorize in the last 48 hours is just plain ridiculous.  Have you ever wondered why all of the anatomists, scientists, chemists, and all of the other –ists decided to label all of the body parts with the most confusing and unintuitive names possible?  I mean, come on.  What about the name quadratus lumborum indicates that it is a muscle anchoring the lower ribs against the lifting force of the diaphragm?  That’s right…nothing.  So because these are the most confusing names and concepts known to man, this is where I was parked, overdosing on Pandora and caffeine, for the last two days and up until 11am this morning when I attempted to spit all this information back on paper. 
The jury’s still out on how that one went.

            BUT…I walked out of the Bill Will at 2:30 this afternoon to gorgeous sunshine, bright blue skies, and 75 degree temperatures.  So I guess all of the studying was worth it since the payoff is spending the rest of my Friday afternoon right here…

Catching up on some non-school reading…

And enjoying a perfect day-before-the-first-day-of-Spring kind of snack!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


            As many times as I have heard a doctor on Grey’s Anatomy yell “stat” or “get a crash cart,” I have never heard those frantic statements at Vanderbilt Children’s.  Though I am only there one day each week you would think that I would have experienced this sort of thing.  But thankfully, I haven’t.  Well, that was until today.  This morning I observed two swallow studies, one with an 11 year old who chokes on solids yet today did perfectly, and a four month old with severe shaken baby syndrome.  That one was absolutely horrible.  But she’s making incredible progress and though she will be dealing with the residual effects of the unthinkable actions of her father for the rest of her life, she is doing remarkably well.
            Next we headed to the floors and saw the most adorable 12 month old, diagnosed with severe respiratory distress and croup.  He was dressed in Batman pajamas and had the biggest blue eyes I have ever seen.  His dad claimed that he is 10-0 in staring contests with those things J  

            But despite his smiles and all of the cuddles he was giving my supervisor as we took him for a walk around the unit, the poor thing sounded like he could barely breathe.  The doctors reported that his airway had been reduced to the size of a pinhole and he was receiving breathing treatments multiple times a day just to keep it open.  After taking him for a walk we told Mom and Dad that we would be back to try a feeding with him in a few hours.  We then moved on to check on some other patients. 
While in one of the cardiac pods we heard an alarm go off and a “stat” was called for the VCH 8th floor.  My supervisors face went pale and she said, “I hope that’s not our baby.”  Sure enough, the little one in the Batman pajamas had crashed and the emergency ICU team went running past us towards his pod.  The doctors here are the best at what they do and this routine is old hat for them but that doesn’t mean that my heart didn’t drop into my stomach when I saw them racing to little Batman’s room.  Luckily, they were able to get his breathing and heart rate under control and they made a plan to move him into the PICU.  Though this may technically be a step backwards, he will now be monitored closely at all times and they will hopefully figure out how to help him breathe more easily.  Despite all this drama, we ended the day on a high note after stopping by to see a NICU baby with a cleft palate and we watched him eat by mouth with relative success after many, many failed attempts!
Despite the hard stuff, it can be a pretty magical place sometimes!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Case of the Mondays

            Any time I come back to school after a break I know that the first Monday is going to be rough, so I was fully expecting to be relatively miserable today.  Especially because my body was so off schedule and confused by time changes and daylight savings that I woke up every hour on the hour from 2am on in a complete panic that I had slept through clinic.  The fact that it was still pitch black out when my alarm finally went off at 6am didn’t help much either.  Then, I got ready for the day and had to rush out to move my car from my coveted parking spot to a much less desirable one a block away because while I was gone for the week a giant, scary, hot pink sticker appeared on my windshield threatening to tow my car at my expense.  And to top it all off, I arrived at clinic only to find out that it had been canceled at the last minute.  So I headed home to catch up on some laundry and unpacking and restart the day.
Really Nashville?  You've got to be kidding me.

            From that point on it was a pretty typical Monday, finished off with a little anatomy lab to make sure that I was really exhausted.  Because we hadn’t been in the lab for the past two weeks the stench was especially unbearable and Bubba was looking a little….well…crusty.  Before heading out for break we were told to remove the lungs from our bodies.  And as I told my parents, our body had the biggest lungs I had EVER seen!  Though they were quick to point out that they were also the only pair of lungs I had ever seen, (minus the lungs at the Bodies exhibit at the Franklin Institute), you get the idea.  Those suckers were huge.  And it wasn’t all that comforting to walk into the lab today to find the lungs floating in a plastic bag of water that was gingerly placed between poor Bubba’s legs.  Yuck.  Our task for the night was to dissect the muscles of the neck and if there was time, to move on to the face.  Needless to say my lab partners and I made sure to take our time and put off revealing Bubba’s face for one more week.  And though I would normally say that I would get back to you all with details of the looming face dissection I have a funny feeling that I might end up with a sudden stomach flu on that day.

A Couple Spring Break Highlights

Dinner at Raw with favorite girlfriends

Some things never change

Busy 30th Street Station heading for DC

Missed these two so much!

Unexpected Chi O reunion in Georgetown

Friday, March 12, 2010

And the Crackberry Comes in Handy

          I swore I would never be one of those people who blogs from their blackberry but it has been almost a week since I've posted and I'm feeling a little guilty. So here I am writing to you from the good old R5 as I head into the city to catch my train to DC. Unfortunately, the train is packed this morning and I was forced to sit in the seat by the door so every time the conductor peeks his head into the car to announce the next stop, which is about every three minutes on the R5, the door slams into my seat. Not the most pleasant thing in the world. Also, there is a sickenly lovey couple sitting across from me. The only thing that is saving this train ride is the fact that the boyfriend is whispering sweet nothings to his girlfriend with the most extreme lisp I have ever heard. So I've been entertaining myself by trying to identify the type of lisp and stifling my giggles as he tells her she looks "tho beautiful.". Guess I should be a little more mature about it since this is my job security staring me in the face but sometimes you just can't help it.
          Spring break so far has been less than thrilling although I can't claim that things have been dull. It appears to be the end of an era in the Ball house. When I got home from the airport on Sunday I was dumped directly into an episode of House Hunters and Designed to Sell all in one. That's right...837 Maplewood went on the market on Monday. And though I will be the first one to admit I have an HGTV addiction, its much more fun to watch the cleaning and organizing and agonizing over details on tv than to actually do it yourself.

          But this week hasn't been completely boring. On Tuesday my mom and I walked into the friendly village for dinner and a movie - Alice in Wonderland in 3D. I highly recommend it. And last night I met Haley and Netty in the city for dinner at a sushi place called Raw. We ate our weight in sushi and spent hours (literally) catching up on everything that's been going on in our lives since our last dinner date over Christmas. I've missed these girls so much since I've been in Nashville but its so nice that despite the fact we haven't seen each other in months when we finally get together again its as if nothing has changed. We are right back in high school only with better clothes and real IDs instead of the fake ones we used to use at Swanky Bubbles. Sorry mom. Well, that's all for now. I apologize for the delay in pictures. They're coming soon but I couldn't figure out how to do that on the crackberry. Have a great weekend!

Oh and P.S. Just realized I booked my train ticket to DC for 10:30pm instead of 10:30am. FML.

Saturday, March 6, 2010


          I guess you could say I’m a little bit excited.  Though this year is certainly a different kind of spring break, as I am not gallivanting through the Bahamas with 25 sorority sisters like last year but hey, spring break means no school, no clinic, no homework and hopefully, no stress.  So it’s sounding pretty good to me!  Keeley, Leslie, their boyfriends and I started off the weekend with a trip downtown to the honky tonk last night which was tons of fun, the highlight being the Wild Beaver Saloon which provides giant hula hoops for the patrons that are quite entertaining after the crowd has had a few drinks.  Oh yeah, and Leslie and I performed a stunning rendition of Brandy and Monica’s “The Boy is Mine” at the karaoke bar.  It was…special J  But the night has left me recovering all day today and grateful that I am now spending my evening babysitting. 

Hula Hooping in the Bar!

Karaoke was interesting...excuse the profanity :-)

            Though I was definitely feeling the effects of last night, today was an absolutely gorgeous day in NashVegas and everyone was taking advantage.  The sun was shinning and the temperature never dropped out of the 60s.  I celebrated the sunshine with another run in Centennial Park and wandered down into Hillsboro Village to grab an early dinner (Mediterranean salad at Fido – yum!) before babysitting.  All of the outdoor seating at Jackson’s and Fido was packed and there was a little string band performing on the sidewalk for everyone to enjoy!  Just one of the many reasons why I love this town…

            Tomorrow I head home to (still) snowy Philadelphia to spend a few days with family.  I am looking forward to seeing my brother play hockey and eating lots of home cooked meals.  On Thursday I will be making my way down to DC for a few days to see my fabulous sister and my very best friends from Wake.  I probably should have thought this through a little better and put my DC weekend at the beginning of the break so that I would have some days of R&R before heading back to school but oh well…can’t have it all!  Stay tuned for pictures and all the details of my spring break adventures.  

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Sleep is Overrated

            So I’m heading into my eighth consecutive hour of studying and going strong.  It is looking like my bedtime will be around 3am with a 5am wake up call.  Not exactly ideal but hey, when you have seven different dysarthria types to memorize and learn to classify you need all the time you can get!  Luckily, my roommate has a painting due tomorrow for her art class and is nowhere close to finished so she is pulling the all-nighter with me.  We’re getting a little punchy and have resorted to the old song and dance technique to memorize all of the dysarthria characteristics.  We’ve also already made one Starbucks run (there may be more to come thanks to the 24 hour SB on West end) and are starting to feel the caffeine kick in…or maybe that’s the delirium.

            On our way back from Starbucks we made a pit stop at the newest, most controversial landmark to grace the Nashville skyline.  It is lovingly (or loathingly) named Mt. Richmore.  It is the home of John Rich, of country duo Big & Rich, known for their hit “Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy.”  Mr. Rich is not, however, such a big hit with his neighbors on Love Hill.  Love Hill is located right behind Vanderbilt and provides one of the most beautiful views of the city.  Well, that was until Mr. Rich decided to build a monstrosity of a home on the side of Love Hill complete with fluorescent lights that shine throughout the night, obstructing the view of the city and disturbing the neighbors with seemingly constant “daylight.”  Just the other day the neighbors staged a protest by standing outside the singer’s home at night shining flashlights into his windows.  Hoping to work the “how do you like it?!” angle.  Though they made a statement, clearly nothing has changed as the house was still glowing brightly when we drove up tonight.

Ashley and I had heard the hype about these lights and Mt. Richmore but wanted to see it for ourselves.  So after grabbing our late night Starbucks we drove up Love Hill and found the house to be just as heinous as we had imagined.  It is a glorified concrete block with near blinding lights that make it impossible to see inside the house, let alone the skyline.  Word on the street is that City Council has gotten involved and Mr. Rich may be violating city ordinances with those lights so we will see how long it takes until someone can pull the plug on the mansion on Love Hill!

Alright…enough stalling.  Back to the books.  Sweet dreams everyone!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Birthday to YOU!

            So last week it seemed as though I had tons to talk about and was fighting the urge to blog more than once a day!  What a change a week makes.  It’s midterm time in grad school land, which means that my weekend was spent chained to my desk, drowning under a pile of flashcards.  My goal was to finish my aphasia take home exam and to be nearly finished studying for motor speech and aural rehab by this point.  And the results?  Aphasia is finished and I am not even close to knowing all I need to know about motor speech and aural rehab.  This wouldn’t be such a problem if tonight wasn’t going to be filled with anatomy lab AND the Bachelor finale.  What’s a girl to do?
            Though my life isn’t all that exciting right now, today is a very special day for the prettiest 26 year old I know.  It’s my sister Katie’s birthday!!  I wish that I could be in D.C. tonight to celebrate with her but I am counting down the days until Spring Break next week when I plan to sleep for hours on end and party with Katie to celebrate her birth…only a few days late J  Happy Monday everyone!