Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas 2010

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday with your family, and friends, and that everyone had safe travels.  The doctor and I had an absolutely wonderful Christmas. 

Mr. D's program is organized so that the residents either get 4 days off for Christmas or 4 days off for New Years.  He was extremely lucky, because despite being low-man on the totum pole (an intern) he got his break over Christmas.  We tried to appreciate every moment, because I don't know if we'll be so lucky the next several years!

We had a wonderful time spending time with family, laughing, eating and relaxing. 

It was a much different Christmas from last year.  I seem to have tried to forget last Christmas until Mr. Dawkter reminded me of some of the events.  Not only was I uptight last year (stressed with the upcoming match), my head just wasn't in the right place because I was so worried about where we would be next Christmas, and whether or not we would even be able to celebrate with family.  Having a worried state of mind coupled with my uncle and cousin getting into a wrestling match, and my uncle making two of my Aunts cry (on Christmas Eve), waking up to strep throat and going to the E.R. on Christmas morning, and then on our drive home sliding on an icy road into a construction barrier and then into a ditch made last Christmas not exactly one I want to remember.  

Looking back we have been beyond blessed, as doc matched at a program in the midwest, which was pretty high on his list, and also gives residents four days off either for Christmas or New Years.  This is such a relief because it means that we should be able to see family around the holidays, regardless of whether it is on Christmas or not. 

This Christmas, was much lighter, more uneventful (thank goodness), and I embraced the fact that we are with a program that will allow us to be with our families on the holidays. 

Not to mention the doctor and I got some pretty great presents too!  We both got fabulous North Face coats to keep us warm this winter. I got some boots, an apron, and a Vera Bradley bag, to name a few things.  Mr. D got some medical tools (a pen light, and one of those reflex hammers) and some much needed, underwear, clothes, and belts.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas as well! 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Bathroom renovation

So the bathroom is just about finished - just need to put the trim back up, put down a threshold and touch up a few spots with paint. 

So here it is BEFORE (when we first moved in). 
Note the plastic fake-wood trim around the shower door.  That didn't last very long before I ripped it off.

Then here is a picture after some of the demolition had begun (you can see in the mirror of the shower door that the medicine cabinet has been torn out).


The very functional, but not-so-attractive light

Old mirror


Tile floor




And..... ta da! 
Our updated bathroom (a.k.a. "our vacation/reno-cation")
designed by myself, and done by Mr. D with the help of his cousin Jake, his Dad, and my cousin's hubby John (Thanks guys)!

New shower curtain

I'm so proud of my husband, he has never done tile floor before but he did such a great job!

The pretty shower curtain and tile (trim will be put up eventually)

The "over-the-john" which provides additional storage

The new, more attractive bathroom light!

I love the granite countertop!

Another view of the vanity

The awesome custom mirror Jake made us!

and yes that is an outdated intercom, which will be updated eventually, but it's not in the budget right now!  Above the intercom used to be a small medicine cabinet, and a hotel hair dryer; again functional, but not-so-attractive!)

I absolutely love how the bathroom turned out!  It makes me want to re-do our master bathroom and our kitchen, but there is simply no money to do so.  Hopefully in due time we will be able to make additional updates, but for now, this will have to do!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas cookies!

This is seriously the funniest Christmas cookie I've ever seen! (Thanks Joyce! They look so pretty I almost don't want to eat them!)
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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Best three syllable word:


Yep, a few weeks ago (yes, I'm behind) was Mr. Dawkter's first vacation of residency; and it was wonderful! Mr. D's hospital gives him three weeks off a year, and this first vacation couldn't come soon enough! I had been missing my husband like crazy! Our vacation wasn't really much of a vacation however; it was more of a "stay-cation" or "reno-cation" because we stayed home and Mr. D renovated our guest bathroom.

Just so you know, the bathroom project was not my idea - it was doc's idea. He thought, "why don't I re-do the bathroom on my vacation." And shortly after he suggested it, there was a fantastic sale going on at the home improvement store. And so the project began.

With the help of Mr. D's cousin, and my father-in-law, the demolition was done prior to vacation week, so that his time off was spent on reconstruction. Although D didn't have any experience, with the help of his Dad and his cousin, he was able to redo our flooring, vanity, patch the walls, and give us an entirely new bathroom (with the exception of the bathtub).

Mr. D's cousin also made us a custom mirror for the bathroom. He just finished the mirror this weekend so all that is left is to hang the mirror and over-the-john. I'll post some before and after pics once the bathroom is complete.

While I absolutely love our new bathroom, I will say that it will be our first and last big DIY project. As Mr. Dawkter's vacation was coming to an end we both had some feelings of "It's over already? We didn't even do anything fun!" As a result we had some regrets, but did spend his last day of vacation having fun around town, shopping, and going out to eat. We have since decided that all future vacations will not be spent working. Our next vacation is not too far away (February) and it will be spent relaxing in a warm climate!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Tis the Season

for cold and flus! Yuck! Unfortunatley this has caused me to fall out of blogging. Two weeks ago the doctor was on vacation, and last week I was sick... so I really need to get back into the bloggin thing. This is me getting back on the wagon.

It's also the season for cookie making, hot chocolate, present wrapping, Christmas cards and SNOW! Lots of exciting things going on!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

This morning . . .

I did a little happy dance. I went to get dressed and thought I would try on some of my work pants (that I haven't fit into for several months) and sure enough, they fit! I've have a good couple of weeks and the weight loss has clicked again, and it feels great to finally be back in my pants! I still have several pounds to go, and the pants don't quite fit perfectly yet, but they zip, and they aren't obscenely/offensively tight! I'm bottom heavy so when I gained a few pounds during our spring move, it all went to my hips, legs and butt. In the summer it wasn't too big of a deal because I could wear loose fitting skirts and dresses, but now that fall/winter is here, I needed to slim down so I could wear my dress pants.

Which brings me to a brief update on my weight loss and running. I stopped logging in my weight loss a few weeks ago because I seemed to gain, lose, gain, lose. I was extremely frustrated. I finally went and spoke with my weight watchers meeting leader and shared my struggle. It made me realize the obvious: that it was the weekends I was really struggling with. So much so that I wasn't tracking at all on the weekends. (With weight watchers each food has a point value, and your supposed to track everything you eat. You get a certain amount of daily points, and then 35 extra points you can use whenever you want during the week). The other problem was that I was using about 5 of my extra weekly points a day which meant that when the weekend rolled around I only had about 10 extra points left. My meeting leader pointed out that if I want to splurge on the weekend I need to stick to my daily points during the week, so that I have 35 points to splurge on the weekends. Although obvious and simple, it was exactly what I needed to do. And surprisingly sticking to my daily points has been easier than I thought. Here's to hoping that the weight loss continues and I eventually meet my goal.

And in regards to running, I haven't advanced much, but I've remained steady. I'm running about twice a week, and between 2.5 and 3.5 miles at a time. I enjoy running in the summer, but I have a habit of quitting when fall comes along because my asthma makes running in cool/cold weather a challenge. But this year I have access to a fabulous indoor track thanks to Mr. Dawkter's health club discount for being affiliated with his hospital. So I am trying to keep up with it, and just move it inside. So far so good, just hoping to eventually increase my mileage now that it's becoming a little easier (knock on wood). I'm still hoping to run some kind of race in the spring. I'm hoping that if I set a goal like participating in a race it will keep me motivated over the winter months.

So after a few weeks of feeling like I was treading water, I finally feel on track again. It's wonderful to look in the mirror and feel good about myself again. I forgot what that felt like! For those of you trying to meet fitness goals, or lose a few pounds, stick with it, and try something new if you need to. It doesn't come easy, but it's definitely rewarding!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Pumpkin Obsessed

I've noticed that I don't have any recipes on my new blog so I am going to try and do something about that this week!

For the last few weeks I've been enjoying various PUMPKIN recipes. One of my favorite new recipes are for these light/low calorie pumpkin muffins by Angela Liddon author of the website: Oh She Glows . Although they are "healthy" I didn't think that they necessarily taste like it! I added a few semi-sweet chocolate chips on top of mine - and they were delicious! Seriously, they are wonderful, you need to try them!

I'm hoping to share recipes for pumpkin martinis and a pumpkin cream pie later this week!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Month 4, PGY-1

Is October over already? It's hard to believe winter is just around the corner, and we've already survived four months of residency. October was Mr. D's first month on neurosurgery and it actually wasn't too bad. It definitely was our hardest month thus far, but that was to be expected.

There were several things that made this month more difficult.

The first being hours. Doc had some seriously long days. For the most part I didn't mind, but there were some nights where I got extremely frustrated because I missed him. But on those late nights he was there for important reasons so this is something that I will just have to adjust to.

Another reason the month was hard: the demands of the service. Mr. Dawkter found himself busier with more patients, more issues, and more complex problems, all of which were an adjustment for him. He came home the first two weeks frustrated feeling that he didn't know things as quickly or as thoroughly as he thought he should. I was constantly reminding him that this is his first month on neurosurgery, and that the other residents had been doing this for months and years. I know Mr. D felt like he wasn't keeping up with the other residents, but he couldn't have been doing that badly because he already got his monthly evaluation which included mostly 5's (of 5). So although he has room for improvement, I think he did well for it being his first month. I also know that he got here by pushing himself and he excels by being hard on himself.

The emotional aspect of the service was the third challenge that neurosurgery brought. Although Mr. Dawkter had experienced seriously injured and terminal patients, this month seemed to bring a greater number of sad stories and tragic cases that seemed to weigh more heavily on his heart. I don't know how he or other medical professionals and emergency personnel handle it. It made me realize that my "bad day," is nothing compared to his "bad day."

We are officially 1/3 of the way through intern year. Next up: trying to adjust to sharing my husband with medicine during the holidays.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Household chores

So I've probably mentioned this before, but I do a majority of the chores in our household. Mr. Dawkter leaves in the very early hours of the morning and usually doesn't get home until after 6:00 (at the earliest), and since I am really only working part time, it just makes sense. I selfishly want to spend time with Mr. D when he is home, rather than having him work on chores and whatnot. I also must admit that I prefer to all the financial stuff, simply because I don't know if I could trust my husband to take care of it. And as for the cooking, cleaning, and everything else, I kind of enjoy it because I have the time.

Of course if I was working full time, things would be very different. Mr. D and I would be sharing chores a little more equally. It's kind of fine line because I don't want my husband to think he gets a free pass because he is a resident, but at the same time, for right now I don't mind doing the chores and would prefer to do them so that I can spend time with him when he is home. That is, as long as he remains appreciative. As of right now, he asks what he can help with as soon as he comes home from work, and what he can do when he has a day off. I make sure to let him know that there will be times in the future when he will be sharing more of the household chores, because it will happen, either if I go to work full time, or when we have children.

I never want Mr. D to think that because he has a "hard job" he doesn't have to do his share of the chores. After all, single residents manage to somehow do their laundry, grocery shop and get their bills paid. I'm a wife, not a maid/chef/personal assistant.

One evening about a month into residency, Mr. Dawkter came home from a long day of work and and asked me if I had watered the grass. He had asked me the night before to water the grass because the weather had been particularly warm and the grass was getting dry. The conversation went something like this:

Mr.D: Did you water the grass?
Me: No, I didn't get to it today.
Mr. D: But I asked you to water the grass (spoken in a scolding tone).
Me: Excuuuuuuuuuse me? I do the grocery shopping. I cook. I clean. I do the dishes. I do the laundry. I pay the bills. I do everything, around here, and I didn't get to watering the grass today. Do you think I sit around and eat bon bons all day? It's the freaking grass, I'll get to it tomorrow.
Mr. D: (pause)
Me: Who do you think you are? This is not the hospital, and I am not your nurse.
Mr. D: You're right... I'm sorry. I guess I am just used to asking for things to get done, and at work I get really frustrated when they don't get done.
Me: Well this is NOT the hospital, and I am not your freaking nurse.... and I certainly hope you don't talk to the nurses like that anyway, because I sure as hell wouldn't do what you asked if you spoke to me like that.

I never expected anything like that to come out of my sweet husband's mouth. Which is why I am watching him closely to make sure he doesn't develop a superiority complex as a result of residency. Luckily, Mr. D learned a few things from that experience. One of which is that you don't talk to people like that in order to get things done. He has also become a lot more gracious about all the work I do around the house. So far we haven't had any repeat occurrences, (and we laugh about it now). But then again, he knows that he'll be eating canned food and doing his own laundry if he ever makes a comment like that again!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Advice from the Doctor's Wife: Saving Money in Applying to Residency

Applying to residency is just another necessary cost or expense associated with becoming a doctor. People spend anywhere between a thousand dollars and $15,000 or more. We were rather fortunate and were able to spend a little over $5,000 in our application process.

I thought I'd put together a post on ways to save a little money in the process.

The most important thing I can say is that although applying is expensive, it's not something to skimp on. You can cut costs on hotels, flights etc., but I strongly recommend you do not try and save money by applying to less programs, or by taking less interviews. (Keep in mind that I say this because I am the spouse of an applicant who was applying to a competitive specialty where not matching was a risk/possibility).

The amount of programs you need to apply to or the number of interviews you need to take is all based on:
  1. What specialty you are applying to (how many programs and spots there are, and how competitive it is) and
  2. How competitive you are as an applicant.

For example we applied to a fairly competitive specialty that only had about 100 programs, and about 200 spots in country. We applied to 42 programs (that's nearly half), received 26 interview invites and took 16 interviews. Whereas an ortho applicant may apply to 65+ programs, and an Internal Medicine applicant may only apply to 10 programs. Whatever your specialty is and however qualified you feel, make sure you apply to enough programs. Even though it might be more expensive to apply to more rather than less programs, make sure you apply to enough programs, whatever that may be for YOU.

The reason I say this is because although it's expensive to apply to more programs or interview at more programs; matching is priceless. To put it in perspective, there is no amount of money that would have been worth saving if Mr. Dawkter would not have matched. Waiting another year, or choosing another specialty would not have been worth any amount of money saved. (Not matching is not the end of the world, but it's not something you want to endure because you were trying to save an extra thousand dollars, especially considering the expense you've already invested in medical school).

So my advice is to spend as much as you need to apply to as many programs and take as many interviews as are necessary for you or your spouse in that specialty.

Here are some ways you can cut costs that won't come at the expense of not matching:

  • Apply to programs within driving distance (driving is MUCH cheaper than flying and can provide flexibility to minimize the number of nights at a hotel)
  • Apply to programs where you have friends and family located and ask to stay with them rather than at a hotel
  • Find out what programs pay for your hotel (In the 26 interview offers that Mr. D got, only 2 paid for a hotel, but we took those. In some specialties most programs will pay for hotels; in other specialties it just doesn't happen)
  • See if your medical school has a program that allows you to contact alumni and stay with them (you can also call the program you are interviewing at and see if there are any residents/medical students you can stay with)
  • Call the home program and see if they have any hotels that offer discounts for applicants
  • Consider staying at smaller chains like La Quinta Inn (they are often cheaper than say the Marriott or Holiday Inn but still very nice)
  • Consider staying at Motels
  • Join Student Universe - they verify your school enrollment and it gives you a discount on travel
  • Join the hotel rewards programs
  • Join airlines frequent flier programs
  • Join AAA - it comes in handy if you have a flat tire or need a tow-truck, and most hotels offer a 5-15% discount for members
  • Consider applying for an American Express Gold Card - it's free for the first year, and provides 5% cash back for all travel (although you may not be able to carry a balance)
  • Don't forget to check out smaller airlines like Southwest that might not show up on travel websites like kayak, orbitz, or expedia
  • Pack snacks to minimize food expenses
  • Try and coordinate interviews in the same cities/states to save costs if it is an option (some specialties or programs allow you to pick from several interview dates, by coordinating interviews you can minimize your hotel costs and flights)
  • Consider flying from one interview to the next rather than flying home in-between
  • Ask family and friends if they are willing to give you their frequent flier miles or hotel reward points

If you don't have the money, consider taking out a Residency Interview or Residency Relocation Loan (either through your school or private banks - I am told that the major banks like Wells Fargo and Citi have them).

For a little more detail on how we saved money by using some of these tricks click here to see a post on my old blog. (Question #2).

Please feel free to add your own advice in the comments below. And as always, take what you find useful, and disregard the rest!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Little Bean

I think I've mentioned it before, but once a week I get to watch my cousin's little one. He is quite the cutie! This weekend I got a chance to take some pictures of "little bean." Here are a few of my favorites:

Isn't he handsome?

Playing in the leaves!

Love this smile!

Playing at the park

"Bounce! Bounce! Bounce!"

Hanging from the monkey bars!

And last but not least.... I think this is my favorite one!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Post-call Nap

So far month four has probably been the most demanding on Mr. Dawkter. So far the days haven't been much longer but the days seem to be more intense. I'm guessing this is because this is a very busy and complex service, with a large patient load, and the service is somewhat understaffed with residents. The husband is trying to keep up with the pace, but it has definitely been a challenge. Although its important to note that I've found that the first week of every month to be the hardest part because he is adjusting to a new specialty, new schedule, new staff and a new way of doing things. It's kind of like starting a new job every month.

After Mr. D's first night of call, he came home and took a nap. I was busy in another part of the house doing work when all of a sudden I hear him yell:
"Holy crap*! Holy crap* Holy crap*!" (*insert explicative here).
This startled me (I am a very jumpy person) and I ran to see what was the matter.
"I don't know" he said, "I woke up and didn't know what day it was and freaked out."
I think he woke up and it was daylight (he wakes up long before the sunrises every morning) and freaked out thinking he was supposed to be at work.

Poor guy!

Although it was kinda funny too!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Month 3, PGY-1

Its hard to believe that we're already a quarter of the way through first year, its gone by surprisingly fast! Month three (September) was trauma surgery, which I expected Mr. Dawkter to enjoy...... not so much. I on the other hand loved it! Trauma surgery is similar to the Emergency Room in that it's unscheduled patients, but rather than treating those that come in with the flu or other illness, they treat the patients that need emergency surgery. Examples of patients would be car accidents, broken bones or any major injury/illness that requires immediate surgical attention.

I thought Mr. D would love such a service - it sounds pretty exciting doesn't it? Well I guess trauma is divided up into two divisions, ICU (intensive care) and regular trauma. The ICU trauma is the patients that just came in or just came out of surgery and may not necessarily be stable yet. The other other part of trauma handles patients that are less severe and are closer to being released from the hospital. As an intern the husband was on the regular trauma not the ICU trauma, meaning his patients weren't as "interesting" and didn't necessarily involve critical care management. For that reason, after just coming off burns which involved more serious patients, Mr. D found that he did not learn as much (because he wasn't exposed to as much).

The other unique thing about trauma was that it was more like shift work because they have day and night shifts. With such a set-up there is no need for anyone to be on-call at night. Personally I loved the trauma schedule because he was on days, he had every Sunday off, and he was home every night! But unfortunately I was the only one in our house who liked it, Mr. D struggled with the service and its schedule, he literally counted down the days until the month was over. I however, enjoyed having a husband home to sleep with me each night! Although there were some long days he really wasn't sleep deprived because he got a full nights sleep at home every night.

And not very significant, but he did get his first "cold" at the end of the month which made him even more miserable. Usually I'm the one in the house getting sick as Mr. Dawkter has a great immune system and gets sick about every two years. For once I managed to escape catching it, but I'm not looking forward to him bringing home any hospital germs this winter.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Silver Lining

I've always admired people who can manage to make the most of a terrible situation. And it wasn't until recently that I really understood what people meant by finding a silver lining in the clouds.

The clouds in my life had been looming for months, and the weatherman was predicting this storm, but I still had hoped and prayed that it would pass without ever raining down. But a few weeks ago the storm hit and who knows when it will let up or pass over. As painful and as devastating as the "storm" is on me and my family, it has also brought with it some great blessings.

I always admired the song "Praise You in This Storm" by Casting Crowns but I never understood how people could honestly praise their God when their heart was breaking. It sounds admirable but I doubted that my faith could ever reach such a point.

Yet, somehow, here I am. Amidst the storms, drenched in rain, thankful to my Lord. The lyrics of the song go:

I was sure by now, God, that You would have reached down and wiped our tears away, stepped in and saved the day.

But once again, I say amen, and it's still raining, as the thunder rolls I barely hear You whisper through the rain, "I am with you" and as Your mercy falls I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.

And I'll praise you in this storm and I will lift my hands for You are who You are, no matter where I am, and every tear I've cried You hold in your hand. You never left my side and though my heart is torn, I will praise You in this storm.

So what you ask is this silver lining, that gives me faith and strength through this storm? It is the blessing of friends and family. In the past few weeks the amount of outpouring from my family, friends and even old friends and acquaintances has been amazing. I always knew I was blessed, but it wasn't until this that I realized how much my family is loved. Our extended family has really shown us unconditional love through both their words and their actions. And my family has become closer than ever. It is these wonderful people that make me realize that there is more to God's plans then what we are going through right now. I know that he may not answer our prayers exactly when or how we want him to, but he will give us the strength and support we need to get through this time, and answer our prayers in His time.

I look back now and see how much I stressed last year (to the point that I gave myself stomach problems) over applying to residency and "match," and I realize all of that was for nothing. I am so happy where we ended up, and honestly God's plan was better than I could have ever hoped for. So I try not to worry about this storm, and I will trust in God knowing that His plan is greater than anything I could ever imagine or understand.

To my family, you guys are awesome, I don't know how I got so lucky And to the rest of you thank you, your support means more than you will ever know.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

What do you think?

Of my new blog design that is? It was created by Jenna of Bloggy Blog Designz, and personally I love it! I'm really happy with the job she did. She was particularly accommodating of my changes and modifications along the way.

I'm busy today getting stuff done because I will be watching my niece Lu Lu the next two days and my cousin's little one Little Bean on Friday, so I will busy playing and need to get my chores done before then! But hopefully I'll get back in the routine of blogging again because I have several things to write about!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Weigh In - Week 8

..... down .4 pounds....

Nothing major but I'm pleased with it... its in the right direction, so I'll take it! I'm particularly proud because I only ate one "normal" dinner at home this past week, and that was last night. I went out to dinner four nights, went to a friend's place for dinner one night, and then had company over for dinner one night (and my friend brought some delicious - but not exactly healthy - food with her).

In addition my running routine has hit a few hurdles because for some reason twice last week, I was hit with terrible cramps after one mile and was only able to make it a mile and a half. Yesterday, I was finally able to get 3.4 miles in again but it was with great struggle. I got cramps again and also was having trouble breathing, so I was literally going at a turtle pace for the last mile. But it is what it is, and hopefully I'll be able to persist through it and keep at the running.

Thanks for the continued support and encouragement.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Weigh In - Week 7

Not sure how this happened, because to be honest, I didn't track all weekend, but also to be honest I had the most stressful weekend of my life.

So I don't care why, but I'll take it....

I lost 2.6 pounds

I can only hope that this isn't a fluke, it would be very disappointing if I go back next week and gain 3 pounds.

Anyways. Life is super rough right now. I'd appreciate any prayers and good thoughts you can send my way for my family.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Month 2, PGY-1*

I'm a little tardy in my recap of month two, but better late than never.

Month 2 (August) Mr. Dawkter was on burns. The hours were a little more intense, but Mr. D really enjoyed learning more about managing patient care for critical patients. The call schedule was much more demanding than the first month, in that it was twice a week or Q3/Q4.* Not only was call much more frequent than July, but it also was a lot busier/more demanding. Most nights the husband only got a half hour of sleep, a few nights he was lucky and got 3 or 4 hours, but that was the exception. In fact, on Mr. D's first night of call one of the nurses said that it was "usually pretty quiet." That night wasn't very quiet, and the doc only got a half hour of sleep. The nurses began to call him the "dark cloud" because the burn unit would get crazy busy (with consults, admits, or transfers) on the nights he was on-call. About half-way through the month the head of the program gave him the nick name "the sh*t magnet," simply because it got so busy whenever Mr. Dawkter was on call. Nice nickname, huh?

At the beginning of the month Mr. D was very tired as it was hard to adjust to not sleeping two nights a week, but he eventually did adjust and didn't need to take as long of naps when he got done with call. Overall he ended up getting 4 days off even though he was only scheduled for 3. I guess the rules require 4 days off a month, so the chief ended up giving him an extra day off at the end of the month leaving him with a three day weekend. We enjoyed those three consecutive days off (mostly working on the house) but we know that having three consecutive days off will most likely never happen again - other than during his vacation weeks. But it was a nice surprise since he had only had one day off for the first three weeks of the month!

Oh and he finally got a locker! (So he can bring a lunch everyday, which saves a little money).

Overall month two was pretty busy, but Mr. D really enjoyed it and was able to learn a lot.

*PGY# - stands for "post graduate year" or years out of medical school and refers to what year of residency the doctor is in.
*Q# - stands for how frequently call is. For example Q-2 would mean being on call every other night, whereas Q4 is being on call every fourth night.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Advice from a Doctor's Wife: Away Rotations

Now granted I am a very new to being a "doctor's wife," but nonetheless we survived medical school and here I am to tell about it.

While in medical school, I sought out advice from the wives of doctor's that had successfully made it into competitive residencies.* I sought advice as a way to be supportive, but I also think I sought advice because, I am a control freak, and I needed to be involved in the process of applying to residency, in order to deal with the whole lack of control of the process, (but that's a whole other post)!

I am so grateful for the advice of these women, that I would like to pass it on to other medical spouses in hopes that it will lead to a successful match* for some of you.

For anyone applying to a competitive specialty or to a specialty which their medical school does not have a residency program, away rotations* are crucial. There is no way to minimize how beneficial they can be. Both Mr. Dawkter and I agree that he would not have matched if it were not for his away rotations.

Away rotations are crucial for several reasons including:
  1. They open doors because they essentially try-outs or an extended interview. You have days/weeks to prove yourself as opposed to a 24-48 hour interview visit.
  2. They are an opportunity to get great letters of recommendation from programs that are not your medical school (and therefore may be interpreted as more genuine because the doctor's have no motive to say great things unless you have done great things).
  3. They allow you to prove yourself as a contender in your specialty. (For example if you come from a program that does not have orthopedic surgery - you can show that can handle the demanding schedule of such an intense specialty.) Bottom line - programs want to know you can "cut it."

And of course away rotations are valuable because they allow you to learn a lot about a program - more than you could learn about them in a 24-48 interview visit. Mr. D is a perfect example of this - he had his heart set on a program, he glorified that program. After a 4 week rotation there, the husband realized that maybe that program wasn't going to be ranked #1 after all...

Anyways, on to my advice regarding away rotations:

For the medical spouse:

  • Buy/pack lots of cliff bars or high calorie energy bars and snacks that the medical student can munch on in the stairway, elevator or in the bathroom (there will be many times when he or she will not have time to eat a meal).
  • Buy/pack non-perishable meals for them to make quickly whenever they do get home for dinner (like canned ravioli, healthy choice pastas or easy mac).
  • Don't go visit the medical student on their away rotation. I say this because if you do they will be torn between spending time in the hospital and spending time with you. If they have any time off, you'll want them sleeping.
  • Don't expect phone calls, don't be disappointed when you don't get to talk to them on their away rotations. They should not be seen on the phone while working and they may just be too exhausted to talk at length when they are done fore the day. Most of our conversations were "I just got done, can I call you after I eat... I just finished eating can I call you after I shower.... I'm exhausted do you mind if I go to bed?"
  • Send encouraging texts, notes, letters.
  • Plan to see each other between away rotations.
  • Know that this is only temporary, you will both get through it. It will only make you stronger individuals and a stronger couple.
  • Keep yourself busy, take a class, try a new hobby, plan to visit friends - keep yourself distracted!
  • Don't freak out if they go a little crazy from sleep deprivation... hopefully they will adjust and it will only last a few days

For the medical student:

  • Have the mindset that this specialty is your priority (nothing else) and act consistently with that attitude.
  • Never sit, rest, eat, relax, anything when your resident or superior is not sitting, resting, etc.
  • Never ask to leave for the day; do not leave until they tell you to leave.
  • Don't eat unless your resident is eating.
  • Carry cliff bars, energy bars or other snacks in your pockets to snack on when you have a moment: don't expect to get a "lunch" everyday.
  • Don't make phone calls while in the hospital; text when you have a second and no one is around (stairwells, bathroom, cafeteria).
  • Always ask what you can be doing.
  • Try to be helpful rather than getting in the way.
  • If you are exhausted, try not to show it, always be willing to help or stay longer.
  • Remember that this is not forever - this is just a "try out" in which you will need to make the best possible impression.
  • If you start questioning your specialty or something else unusual, don't freak out, you may just be sleep deprived. If this does happen DO NOT indicate this to anyone at the hospital - they should not think you have any doubts. If you do have doubts resolve them later, but do not address them during the away rotation because it may just be sleep deprivation.
  • Thank your medical spouse for being so supportive.
Although this advice may be intense, Mr. Dawkter worked at least 100 hours a week in his first two away rotations. (For some of my posts about his first away rotation, click here.) There are no laws or restrictions to the number of hours a medical student can be "working," so the more hours they are at the hospital, the more they can be learning/proving themselves.

Please note that this is just my advice, take what you find useful and disregard the rest.

*Residency is the training a doctor must go through after medical school in order to become an internist, a surgeon, a pathologist, or whatever it is that they desire to be/practice.
*Match is the term used for describing how a medical student is "matched" to their residency program. For an explanation of how match works, click here.
*Away rotations are clinical rotations in a certain area of medicine that are performed at a hospital or academic institution other than where the medical student goes to school.

Weigh in - Week 6

Once again, I come to you embarrassed because, once again..... I gained.... .04.

I'm good during the week, but then those weekends kill me! I cannot imagine how much I would be gaining if I were not following the weight watchers plan during the week!? So I gained, but eating wedding cake, brownies, and cheeseburgers will do that!

So once again I say... if at first you fail, try, try, again. So this week my goal is to track everything - even on the weekend!

Any good tips or advice to stay on track when you are with friends and family on the weekends? How do you stay focused when your at a special event with lots of tasty and unhealthy food?

Thursday, September 2, 2010


I always knew that residency would cause Mr. Dawkter to change and grow, but never did it occur to me that it would bring change in me. I knew that it wouldn't be easy for me, but I also knew that it would be much harder on him. After all, he is the one working the long hours and trying to balance and adjust to an incredible amount of responsibility while trying to learn as much as possible.

But what I have recently been surprised to discover is how much I have grown as a woman in the past three months. I find myself doing things I would have never done before. I find myself stronger and more independent than ever. With the doctor gone most of the time I have learned to make my own plans (even more so than medical school), and not to wait around for him or get disappointed when he gets home late at night. I'm learning not to feel sorry for myself because I don't get to spend weekends with my husband because he is working, instead I find things to keep myself busy and content. I've learned to do things I've never done before and I've overcome little fears.

For example, before three months ago I had never picked up a paint brush outside of painting paper, canvas or ceramics. Now I've learned to paint walls, trim and doors - not incredibly challenging, but nothing I have ever considered doing before. And rather than waiting for the husband's help, I find myself figuring things out for myself. For example, I didn't want to wait for him to take the doors of the hinges - so I did it myself. I've also learned lawn maintenance, pest control, weed control and how to grow grass. Today I even went and bought tires for my car. All of this - on my own.

I've also managed to conquer my fear of bugs and spiders. Well, I shouldn't say I've conquered my fear, but I've overcome it to the extent that I have killed dozens of bugs. When you're home alone there is no one to come running to your aid when you scream that there is a spider in the house! I cannot even tell you how much I hate spiders - and today, I killed one with my bare hands! Gross I know, but those things are fast and I didn't have time to run and get a paper towel!

And last but not least, I've picked up running (more like slow jogging). When I see how much Mr. Dawkter challenges himself physically and mentally, it makes me want to challenge myself. (Running has never come easily because I've battled with asthma all my life). But, I've started running with the goal of hoping to train for a half marathon next spring. Running has also become a great outlet for my frustrations in my personal life, so if nothing else, the dark cloud has pushed me to become a little physically stronger. In the last month I've gone from zero to 3.4 miles.

Although I didn't expect residency to change me, it is neat to see that it is molding me into what I believe is a stronger, better (and hopefully better) woman.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Weigh In - Weeks 4 and 5

Ugh.... this is so discouraging... but I need to post it to hold myself accountable.

I GAINED the past TWO weeks. .2 last week and .8 this week.

But this is exactly why I need to be on weight watchers - see I started running again, and I am working out more than ever, and that is usually when I gain weight (that and the holidays), because I am so hungry! I also think I am struggling because I am at home a lot of the day and I don't realize how much I snack. I also have something going on in my personal life that is really upsetting me and I think I am "emotionally eating." I'm trying to channel my emotions into running, but I still need to stop. and. think. before mindlessly snacking or eating. (Sigh).

But regardless of why, I need to be more conscious of what I'm eating (addressing why I am eating) and do a better job of tracking.

I just got a new phone today, so I am trying to use the weight watchers mobile app to diligently track... hopefully I'll have better news next week.

If you fail, try, try, again. Try, try again.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Weigh In - Week 3

So this week wasn't quite as successful. I'm UP .6 of a pound. I really don't feel like I gained any weight, I sort of feel like its just a fluxuation, or perhaps I really didn't lose that much weight last week. Who knows, but I am trying not to get discouraged. I've been working out a lot (weight lifting 3 days a week and running about 2.5 miles 2 days a week) so I definitely feel like I am in better shape, perhaps just not any thinner.

If I'm not around the next two weeks its because I am trying to be more productive on my case, and I also managed to make lots of plans which leaves me less time around the house and for blogging. But I'll be here... just trying to adjust to working at home!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Shhh.... doctor sleeping!

The afternoon, post-call. (The afternoon after he was on call at the hospital all night).

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

If I had a money tree

For someone who isn't exactly working, I manage to stay pretty busy... so busy that I haven't been blogging as much as I thought I would be (considering my husband is gone so much).

But what I've been meaning to get around to is talking about "work." Last month I was offered an opportunity to do contract work - not contract law, but to work hourly under contract to provide legal services. It took a few weeks to get everything lined up, but I have officially started doing some contract work. While I am kind of on a trial or test for now, I am hoping that my work is to their satisfaction so that I can continue this work. There are some deadlines, but nothing intense. The best part is the flexibility. I can work whenever, wherever. It's great, I can work late at night after Mr. Dawkter has gone to sleep, or I can work during the day, or I can work at my parents house when I go there to visit. It is absolutely wonderful!

Today for example: The husband was on call last night, so I stayed up late doing things around the house, got up early and again did more things around the house, worked out and when he came home in the afternoon (post-call) I was able to take a nice nap with him. It was fabulous. Its little things like this that make this adjustment to residency, so much easier! Don't get me wrong it hasn't been totally easy, it's hard going from seeing your spouse every day, even all day (we had about a month between medical school and residency) to seeing them perhaps one waking hour a day - but it has been easier because I've been around. Being home (and now being able to work from home - hopefully) allows me to get everything done around the house, and to spend time with Mr. D when he is home. I've really been enjoying all the baking and cooking I've had time to do as well. For example, tonight he had a visiting resident over for dinner and I cooked ribs, corn on the cob, sweet potato fries, zucchini with eggplant and a chocolate sauce cake ala mode for dessert! Yum! None of this I would have had time to do if I was working 40+ hours a week and commuting!

So I am hoping and praying that this contract work will work out, because it would be such a blessing!

Although I have been on the lookout for a money tree - because despite what many people may think, residents don't make a ton of money (especially considering the number of hours they work). But my search has thus been fruitless, I have found no money tree, and so I need to work in order to make sure we can make ends meet. But if any of you happen to know where I can find a money tree, I would really really appreciate it if you could share that information with me.

Seriously, wouldn't it be nice if we had money trees?

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Weigh In - Week 2

..... drum roll please.......

I lost 1.4 pounds! (That's like 6 sticks of butter!) I'm happy about this weeks weigh in because it was a bit of gratification for staying (mostly) on track this week.

Of course I wasn't perfect -I did have more than a bite or two of a macadamia nut brownie sundae on Saturday night - but I tracked (counted my points) all week!

And thank you for all of you encouraging words, it really helped me stay on track, it reminded me to make smart food choices! So thank you!

Friday, August 6, 2010

A New Favorite

As I mentioned, I've been on weight watchers before and I tend to find that three foods that are key to my success: vegetables, oatmeal and popcorn. All three of these things are low (or zero) points and tend to fill me up when I'm hungry.
I've been scouring the grocery store shelves for new healthy options and recently I came upon this wonderful gem:

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Dark Chocolate Oatmeal - I love chocolate (and anything sweet for that matter) and the oatmeal is "filling food," so it is what I consider a smart indulgence. It's three weight watchers points for 1 packet which allows for a very filling and satisfying sweet treat. I think it's a new favorite!

I'm also loving Trader Joe's light kettle corn - individual portioned bags are just two points -

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as well as the Vitamuffin chocolate muffin tops - which are only 1 sweet point!

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I'd love to hear some of your favorite "healthy" or light snacks!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Weigh In - Week 1

Down .6 pound. Not much, but its something. And considering I wasn't exactly on plan on Friday and Saturday I'm still happy about it. I had my cousin's fabulous wedding on Friday (and brunch on Sunday) and splurged to enjoy the fabulous food and drinks.

I know most of you don't really care about my weight-loss but this is more for me. Its a way to hold myself accountable. I think I am more likely to stay on track if I report my progress.

And .6 of a pound is the equivalent of 2 sticks of butter.

Monday, August 2, 2010

1 Month Down, 83 More to Go

So we've survived our first month of residency. And I say "only 83 more to go" somewhat jokingly. It will be a long road, but so far it hasn't been too bad so it's not like I am counting down because I am miserable. (Not that I don't expect to be miserable at times during this journey).

Month one of PGY-1 (Post Graduate Year -1/also known as Intern year) was Cardio Thoracic Surgery for the husband. CT is part of general surgery so it meant a larger call pool, so that Mr. Dawkter was only on call 5 nights the whole month of July. He also got 3 days off which wasn't too bad.

The first week was full of adjustments for the husband, but after that he seemed to do very well. There were however, a few administrative glitches or hiccups that were somewhat aggravating. For example for the first two weeks he didn't have access to one of the surgical hallways/floors. Seriously, how does a surgical resident not have access to one of the surgical floors? Luckily that only took about two weeks to clear up. None of the interns also had any money on the meal cards for the first few weeks (they get a small allowance to eat for the nights they are on call). We also struggled to get insurance figured out, but hopefully now, we have health, dental and eye insurance for both of us. And last but not least, Mr. Dawkter was not given a locker. And he still doesn't have one. Again, seriously, every intern needs a locker when they start, its been a month, how does he not have a locker yet? Which means that Dr. D doesn't have a place to put his stuff during the day, and he cannot bring any lunch or any snacks. The worst part is that the husband works from the early morning until well after 5:00 p.m. (or regular office hours) so he cannot even go and complain in person about any of these things or his lack of a locker. Every week we hope he gets a locker, but we're still waiting.

But I guess if not having a locker is the worst thing about month one of intern year, we really are pretty lucky.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lu Lu

This week was another example of some of the wonderful blessings I have been able to experience as a result of not (yet) working. The past two days I have been able to watch my beautiful Goddaughter "Lu Lu."
Lu's Mom has been a dear friend of mine since 3rd grade, and her father became a good friend of mine in college. This week her sitter was on vacation so I offered to watch her for a few days so that I could spend some time with her.

She is such a happy, joyful little girl. One of my favorite things is that whenever we would go anywhere in the car, as soon as we had arrived, (the car would stop,) she would squeel with delight and cheer! She is such a joy, I was just so happy to spend two days with her.

I did a little photo shoot with her in my parents' and their neighbor's backyards, (again with my Mom's help).

Here are a few of my favorites.

In her tu-tu and wings

Taking a little break

Sitting so nicely on the bench
And last but not least... my favorite one of all

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Confession... of a Chunky Blogger

So, I hate to admit it, but my clothes make it undeniable. I've put on a few pounds. Like 11 or 12. And no its not a huge amount, but my clothes don't fit. And while I have thoroughly enjoyed wearing sundresses and skirts everyday, eventually I will have to put on a pair of pants again. And I really cannot afford to buy another wardrobe.

I am actually back to what was my college weight, but about a year and a half ago I joined weight watchers and lost about 15 pounds. After I lost that weight (and kept it off for almost a year) I bought new clothes and got rid of my "fat" clothes so that I couldn't resort back to my old weight. Well, I put about 5-6 pounds on over November-December (the holidays) - and I could still squeeeeeeeeze into my pants, but now that I have put another 5-6 pounds on in the past month or two I simply cannot wear my pants.

So I'm back on weight watchers again, hoping to (again) make some lifestyle changes and make better eating choices. I know it works, it just requires some commitment and some patience. I'm hoping to do this for me so that I can be back at a weight at which I am comfortable, confident and healthy.

Friday, July 23, 2010


One of the wonderful things I've been able to do since I'm not working yet, was watch my nephew. The little cutie is French - my sister met his French Father while working abroad. As a result he is bilingual. His nickname is poulet, which means chicken/poultry, in French and is an endearing term in France.

Two weeks ago when my Mom and I were watching him while his parents were on a mini-holiday, we took some time to take a whole bunch of photos of him. Of course I think he is absolutely adorable - not that I am biased or anything. But here are a few of my favorites.

Playing with sticks


Watering Grandma's flowers

My attempt at an artsy photo

Posing so well for the camera

On the swings at the park

I love this one because he looks angry but I'm pretty sure he was just intensely singing/yelling

And one final picture

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Millions and One Things to Do!

Ever feel like you aren't getting anything done? I have just under a gazillion things to do, and I feel like nothing is getting done. But I do know things are getting done, because I slowly am crossing things off my to-do list... but I also feel like I am adding items faster than I am crossing them off!

The husband has been quite busy with residency, and being that I haven't started working, I have been trying to do everything around the house. Laundry, dishes, cleaning, cooking, grocery shopping, cleaning the cars, taking care of the yard, paying bills, etc. And its not that I mind, but I sort of feel like I am spinning my wheels, it's like I feel like nothing is ever done.

Some of this is due to the fact that we moved a month ago and there are still sooo many things to do to make this house a home. I've been pulling up ground cover, hanging decorations, painting, cleaning, organizing, shopping, returning items, etc. And also since I am unemployed (because ya, know we have so much money now that the husband is dawkter) I have time to help out some family and friends. For example, I was helping my sister get some items for her in-laws as she is traveling to visit them in France and doesn't want to go empty handed; and I helped my Mom when she was babysitting my nephew, and I have been able to do some things for my parents as well. And all this has been wonderful, but for some reason I feel like I am getting nothing done.

I cannot figure out if its because I haven't started working (yet, hopefully) that I just don't feel productive or what?

It also doesn't help that my parents and Mr. Dawkter's parents keep bringing us our crap out of their basement so that we can now store it on our basement. We've been finding all sorts of stuff like crystal, and platters and photos... things we either got from our wedding or put in boxes and stored at their house when we got married. And all this "stuff" needs to be gone through and organized.

And then this blog... I'm totally dragging my feet, I need to get it up and going, and get back to reading and following, but I just haven't had the time.

Seriously, how can I be so busy, even though I don't have a job? I swear I am staying busy, its not like I am watching t.v. or sitting on the couch all day. I don't get it. I wish I had more of a sense of accomplishment, but for some reason I'm not.
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