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.
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