Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Joy and Frustration!

When I left for work yesterday morning it was raining ice. Then throughout the day it contininued with the addition of rain and freezing rain.

Santa came early yesterday - work passed out year-end bonuses! I was extremely excited because Drew and I are on a tight budget and every little bit counts... but I was also excited because for me, it was a verification that I am doing okay at my job- I figure they could have gotten away with giving little or nothing since I have only been there 8 months, but when my boss came in and gave it to me he said that I had was doing well and that they appreciated all my hard work - I must admit I almost cried! Which leads to my next story... I was SOOO excited and heading to the bank to deposit the check, but I was driving Drew's precious truck. Although Drew thinks his truck is the greatest vehicle every, it has a few "quirks" one of which is that the driver's side window sometime gets stuck. So I was in the best mood depositing my check when I pulled out and couldn't roll up my window. So it was freezing rain and I sat in the parking-lot for 15 minutes screaming at the stupid window, and trying all of the "tricks" like messing with the lights, radio, opening and shutting the windows, turning off and starting the car, etc. Needless to say it ruined my mood! Eventually I gave up and started driving home with the window down. Stupid truck! Fortunately for Drew the window did manage to go up while I was driving home - otherwise he would have had a very grumpy wife on his hands...

By the time I got home from work our apartment complex was slush and ice. I actually wiped out once and had a few close calls. Although the weather was horrible Drew and I decided to try and brave the roads and head to Marseilles. The interstate was pretty well salted but we still went quite slow... as semi-trailers passed us. When we got about five miles south of Bloomington we came to a complete standstill, which lasted for nearly and hour and a half. The most annoying part was no one was reporting anything about the traffic delay. I was so bored I was searching everywhere on the internet. I even emailed the Bloomington A.M. radio station to ask why they weren't covering it. Eventually that radio station did announce the problem - a semi had jack-knifed (sp?) first and then while they were getting that cleared out another truck swearved off the road. And right after the report I got an email thanking me for informing them of the traffic and stating that they had just reported on it. Thank goodness for my toy cell phone, it kept me entertained during the loooong ride. We eventually arrived safely (thank God) in Marseilles (normally a 2 hour drive) after 5 and a half hours!

Today it is snowing in Marseilles - something we haven't gotten much of in Springfield - we only seem to get ice and freezing rain. Shortly we will be heading to Grandma Spencer's for the Spencer family Christmas! (Above is a photo of Drew and his tree - he puts it up and takes it down because I could care less if we have one, yes I know that makes me a scrooge, but we are aren't home for Christmas and we don't have any guests over for the holiday).

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Monday always comes so quickly

but the weekend felt particularly short this weekend because I went into work today and yesterday in order to get things done before the holiday. Drew was wonderful, he cleaned the apartment both days while I was gone - which the apartment was in great need of! We spent last night watching Stepbrothers the movie. If you haven't seen it yet, do not waste your time, it was horrible. Drew would disagree with me as he did have quite a few laughs but personally I found it unentertaining, obnoxious, and obscene - two hours I would like to have back in my life. Tonight we are going to attempt to watch 21 - hopefully it will be an improvement from lastnight.

An update on Drew's front - he received a 76 on his written surgery exam... which is not his best performance but it is enough to qualify him for honors in surgery. Honors is based on his clinical exam, written exam and the doctor's evals of him - it will be a few more weeks before we find out about that. Drew is currently working on his CV (curriculum vitae) so that he can have someone look over it and give him some recommendations. The main hole is his volunteer experience, but that can be easily addressed. Also some random information pertaining to residencies... one negative about neurosurgery is that most of the programs are very small (1 or 2 residents admitted each year) which makes it even more competitive and difficult to end up in a preferable location. A negative statistic we learned about orthopedic surgery is "According to a study published in the March, 1998 issue of the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, 'there is a surplus of orthopaedic surgeons today and that current training levels will create an even larger surplus in 2010.' "

For those of you just tuning in Drew has come to the realization that he wants to be a surgeon. He has not yet narrowed down his specialization but his top three choices (in no particular order) are:
Orthopedic Surgery - An orthopaedic surgeon is trained in the preservation, investigation and restoration of the form and function of the extremities, spine, and associated structures by medical, surgical and physical means. Residency in orthopaedic surgery consists of one year of general surgery training followed by four years of orthopaedic surgery training (five years total). Two years in clinical practice following residency is required before final certification. One year of additional training is required to practice in one of the subspecialty areas.
Neurological Surgery - A neurological surgeon provides the operative and non-operative management of disorders of the central, peripheral and autonomic nervous systems including the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerves, and muscles, as well as the blood vessels that relate to these structures. Residency training in neurological surgery lasts five to seven years, the first year of which is a general clinical/surgery training year. Neurosurgical residents are trained in all aspects of neurosurgery, including cerebrovascular, pediatrics, spine, trauma and tumor.
Cardiothoracic Surgery - A thoracic surgeon provides the operative, perioperative care and critical care of patients with pathologic conditions within the chest. Included is the surgical care of coronary artery disease, cancers of the lung, esophagus and chest wall, abnormalities of the trachea, great vessels and heart valves, congenital anomalies, tumors of the mediastinum and diseases of the diaphragm. Residency training in thoracic surgery is seven to eight years total, consisting of a general surgery residency of five years before completing a minimum two year thoracic surgery residency.

(Not my language by the way - just copied and pasted from the careers in medicine website.

Tomorrow I hear whether baby Hare is a boy or a girl!

Friday, December 19, 2008


Drew is officially done and on break.... and of course he is excited and filled with energy - I however, am exhausted! Between recovering from being sick, and trying to finish up Christmas crafts and everything that has to be done before Tuesday, I am just plain tired. Drew has headed off to spend time with friends, but I stayed home and will be in bed or laying on the couch shortly.

I am super excited to go to Florida next week - but along with that comes the pressure of getting everything done before then! For some reason this week all my quiet cases have had stuff come in so I am suddenly swamped... and with taking vacation, everything has to be done by Tuesday. I have several motions, and an appellate brief that has to get done. In order to make sure I am going to head in to work tomorrow and possibly Sunday as well... but all this hard work will make my vacation will be all the more worthwhile. And I must be grateful that there is plenty of work to do, for that means I have a job!

Below is a picture of the jars of fudge I made for the partners at the firm. (One of my Christmas crafts I was trying to get done this week) - Thanks, Aunt Missy for your famous recipe!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

This weather...

makes me want to have Drew apply for residencies exclusively in states like Florida and California... but then I quickly remember the many wonderful people who keep us in this cold cold state of Illinois...

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lots of snow...

at least for the city of Springfield! We got several inches of snow today, and of course although it ended in the early afternoon by 5:30 the roads were hardly plowed. Our apartment parking lot was clearer than the roads. I don't expect them to get every road but I take 6th street home and that is the main road running south through town- I would have thought they could have at least plowed one of the four lanes of that major road. And unfortunately although the snow has stopped, a slow drizzle has started... which means ICE tomorrow... and surprise... Springfield is not very good at salting either! Although the good thing is that the snow doesn't usually last here.

We are still waiting to hear Drew's test results from surgery. Last week Drew met with Dr. Espinoza (I probably spelled that wrong), the neurosurgeon Drew shadowed. Dr. E answered some of Drew's questions and he told him about Peoria's neurosurgery residency program. Although I am not particularly (at all) interested in Peoria I found it interested that the program sticks to the law that limits residents to working no more than an average of 80 hours a week over a 4 week period. Dr. E said that in his 13 years at SIU only ONE student has gone into neurosurgery! Next month Drew is going to meet with another Dr. from SIU to try and get contacts from other programs. We are hoping this research will give him a better idea of whether any of the programs interest him and more importantly whether neuro is what he wants to do.

P.S. I am feeling much better with the help of my z-pack!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

We had a great end of last week and weekend (other than me getting sick). Thursday and Friday I was in Chicago for an Illinois State Bar Conference with work. It was very nice I attended two CLE (continuing legal education) sessions, and attended two receptions which allowed for some networking. I have found that I have a very unique benefit with my firm in that they are big supporters of the ISBA and all bar associations. Therefore our firm pays for and encourages us to go to any and all bar events. I find that most other firms are really only represented by partners at these events. My firm also took us out to very nice dinners both Thursday and Friday night. My dad was in the city on Thursday night and joined us then and Drew came in town Friday night and joined us that evening. I also was lucky enough to get to see my friend Celia who I had not seen since law school graduation. Needless to say I had a great time in Chicago!

Saturday we headed to Southbend, IN for a wedding. Both the bride and groom are ND alums so the wedding was most naturally Irish themed with navy dresses and gold sashes. It was beautiful (and fun), but I was a little under the weather and only lasted until 10:30.

Today when we got back in town I headed straight to prompt care - turns out I have some kind of infection in my throat (and I think sinuses).... so I am going to work from home tomorrow. I had better get back to addressing Christmas cards, we are very behind this year.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Lock him up!

I forgot to mention how my office and the whole capitol is all a buzz over the Blago scandal. No one here is surprised by his actions but we are a little stunned on just how incredible stupid he is! What is most entertaining is just how shocked the rest of the country is.... here everyone has been waiting for this day!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mark your calendars!

well, not really...but I will definitely be doing so! We have the official dates for the two very important dates for the year of 2010. March 18, 2010 is "match day" and May 22, 2010 is Drew's graduation (also his Mom's b-day). I told him to tell her he is giving her the best gift she could ask for! To explain match day, it is the biggest day of all of medical school. That day is when you officially find out where you were matched for residency. Everyone gathers and announces their placement and the rest of the day is spent celebrating with other students, family and friends.

With surgery over, Drew began his two weeks of "doctoring" yesterday. While Drew complains and finds this program pointless and boring, I actually think it has some value. My understanding is that the purpose is to educate and encourage medical students to develop and improve their bedside manner. For example yesterday they talked about listening to patient's stories and "feelings." Drew is not a fan of these sessions because he claims they make them talk about their feelings. I try to explain to him that while he may have people skills, that is not necessarily the case with other medical students. Personally I give the medical school props for at least trying to discuss and raise the issue with students.

Also as part of getting important dates for the upcoming year or two they gave Drew a timeline for applying for residency programs. There are a number of steps that he will have to take this spring and summer but he won't officially sumbit his applications until August through September. They also gave Drew some resources to look at in choosing his specialty. And of course me the over-eager planning wife has already spent time on various websites. I was very excited to find that RUSH's neurosurgery programs is only SIX years! Which was somewhat exciting because U of C's program is 8 and all the others are seven... but I will admit I am getting waaaaaay ahead of myself (and more importantly Drew) because he hasn't narrowed down his specialty yet, let alone a location or protection. But it was somewhat encouraging! Just to recap, the short list of specializations are: orthopedic surgery (6 year residency program), neurosurgery (6-8 year residency programs), and cardio thoracic surgery (7-8 year programs).

Below is a photo from Katie and Jeremy Huss' wedding - it was a beautiful event!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Back in Crystal Lake again...

This weekend we are town for a college friend's wedding (the bride is from Crystal Lake, but I did not meet her until college). We gladly checked into hotel Bianchi last night where we are well-fed and the price is right!

This week wrapped up the end of Drew's surgery clerkship. Those ten weeks really flew by! On Thursday he had his clinical exam (where they saw fake patients and had to summarize a diagnosis and treament/management plans). Then on Friday he had his written test. We are hoping he did well because although you can still get into a surgical residency without surgical honors, it makes it a little more difficult. We should have the results of the test in about two weeks, but it will be about 4-6 weeks before we find out his clerkship grade (they factor in his doctor evaluations into his grade).

The last two weeks (half-weeks really with the holiday and then his exam) he was in colorectal. Surprisingly Drew actually found these surgeries interesting, but not interesting enough for him to want to put them on his "list." He simply says he can't see himself working on that end of the body his whole life.

Last week at Thanksgiving Drew got to talk to my cousin's wife Julie about her experience as a physician's assistant in neurosurgery at the University of Iowa. After his conversation Drew said he thinks that it is something he can manage. I don't doubt that he can manage anything - what I doubt is if I can handle the hours he is gone. What freaked me out was when Julie said that her residents usually work about 120 hours a week on average, but it was reassuring when she told us that Iowa is one of the more intense residency programs. In fact she said that they usually lose at least one resident a year. I think the key (for me) will be trying to find a surgical residency program that is closer to averaging 80-100 hours a week (if they do in fact exist). Which now that Drew is no longer in his surgery rotation he should have a lot more time to actually research the diffferent types of surgical residency programs.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

New Phone Number

I have a new cell phone number - (217) 74*-****, please change your phonebooks!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Griffin the actor

I forgot to mention that after dinner on Thanksgiving griffin took the pipecleaners from our M&M turkey place cards and taped them to his face to make eyebrows, a mustash and I think what were ears. Anyways I don't know where he go the idea but he was running around acting like "Borat" even though he has never seen the movie. Below you will see Griffin's debut as Borat....

Also while I am adding videos I thought I would add a video of Gina and my Dad playing Wii boxing... it is not recent but it is highly entertaining... I hope you enjoy it as well!

(Click on the picture to play the videos)

Monday, December 1, 2008

Wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend

Well we definitely made the most of our 4-day weekend! Wednesday night we arrived in Crystal Lake in time to have a late-night dinner with my parents and Gina, Damien and Gaston.
Thursday morning Drew and Gina woke up early to run an 8 a.m. 5K run and then we spent the morning drinking Pumpkin Martinis! Thanksgiving was wonderful - we got to see most of my Dad's side of the family, plus some of my Mother's side of the family.
As if we didn't eat enough Thursday, on Friday morning Tiffany cooked a breakfast of eberskeebers (stuffed pancakes filled with different fillings) and omlettes. After filling our bellies we went to see the movie 4 Christmases - (Gina gave it two thumbs down, I thought it wasn't the best movie I've seen but it wasn't bad). We then opened Christmas presents before bundling up and heading to Woodstock for the "lighting of the square." (Gaston opening the bongo drum from Drew & me).

Saturday morning was filled with brunch with the neighbors and gingerbread-house making - or as Gina would refer to it as a gingerbread house competition. Below (from left to right) are the Prioletti, Gabbert and Bianchi gingerbread houses.

Saturday afternoon both Gina and Tiffany hit the road back to Wisconsin and my parents headed to a holiday party so Drew and I had dinner at Lou Malnati's with Elizabeth and followed it by a tasty dessert with the Craigens at their home.

Sunday morning we went to Aurora for Christmas shopping with the Spencers and then fought the snow storm on the road home. But we made it home last night all safe and sound. So that was our weekend in a nutshell. I will post more later about Drew's experience with colo-rectal surgery.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The holidays are here...

let the craziness begin!

It was a busy week, Drew had a full week of cardio-thoracic surgery, and my parents came to visit. We had a lovely time with them, which was 24 hours filled with good restaurants and quite a bit of Christmas shopping!

Drew seemed to like cardio-thoracic so it is on the "short-list" of possible surgical careers. During his week he participated in/observed a carotid artery, a carotid artery cleaning, a couple lung resections, the removal of an esophagus and bypass surgery. He seemed to really like the procedures but his problem with this specialty is dealing with patients who have no intention of changing their lifestyles. For example the bypass surgery was for 7 clogged arteries - I am not even sure how to say that - a septuple bypass? And unfortunately the patient has no intention of quitting smoking even after undergoing such a major surgery. Oh, and the other interesting fact is that Drew said the surgeon was so good he completed all 7 bypasses in 3 and a half hours!

This week Drew starts colo-rectal surgery; one that Drew has already crossed off the list. He says he does not want to work on that end of the body and (his quote) "it is a crappy* rotation."

*insert another adjective here

Luckily with Thanksgiving he will only have three days this week and two days next week. He has Thursday through Sunday off and we couldn't be more thrilled! In the past 9 weeks he has gotten only one weekend off. So to get four consecutive days off seems unheard of! It is hard to believe that next week is his last week of surgery - this fall has FLOWN by. But the exciting part is that in the next few months he will have a bit more time to do a little research which may help him narrow down his specialty choice.

The other morning I had a revelation that I am still having trouble wrapping my head around. I realized that we may never have weekends like a normal couple/family. I look forward to weekends to travel to see family and friends, or when we are lucky and they visit us. While he has only had Sundays off since August (with a few exceptions) this situation is only temporary, until December. Then he should have both Saturdays and Sundays off in the Month of December and we are hoping he might have a few weekends off during his spring rotations. Spring rotations are much less intense (6 weeks each) than his two fall rotations (surgery and internal medicine). Not to mention he had weekends off this past summer which allowed us to see family and friends. So I guess I am just struggling with the issue of not having the convenience of getting two consecutive days with my husband a week (or even a month). I guess I have known this, but I guess it just recently clicked. He tells me that during his residency he may occasionally be able to take a weekend off, but for the most part he will work every weekend. And the worst part - based on his short-list, his residency will be 6-8 years; and it may not improve after that. But those are surgeons' hours and it will be something I will have to learn to deal with (hopefully by spending lot of time with friends and family).

Well I have to get back to wrapping Christmas presents! With Gina and Damien heading to France for Christmas, and my parents heading to Florida, we are doing our Bianchi Christmas THIS weekend!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ta da.....

Here are two of the Christmas crafts I made this weekend....

Floral arrangement I made for Grandma Sinker
(her Christmas present from us)

The wreath I made for our front door!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

I'm alone tonight...

Drew is on-call with trauma surgery. This is the second time this week. This is his first and last week of trauma - which he would tell you is a good thing. Surprisingly, "trauma-surgery" is not as exciting as it sounds. I thought he would be handling all kinds of crazy-odd traumatic surguries... not so much. Instead he deals with every related trauma incident that comes into the ER -so it is more emergency medicine than "surgery." While he has seen a few interesting things (a cyclist who hit a car due to intoxication) he has mostly been examining patients with very LITTLE surgery involved. In fact when I emailed him this week to see how his day was going, and the email I got back said "My day is ok, I think we can cross off trauma. I'm gonna research Neuro some more. I still love and miss it." I asked him yesterday - if you 1) could totally disregard time committment and 2)you had to decide today, what residency would you choose? His answer: neurosurgery. The main concern with choosing neurosurgery is that the residency is 7 or 8 years (which puts him at finishing in 2017 or 2018) and he has read a lot that it is not a family-friendly profession. For right now we are just going to do lots more homework to try and find out just how time consuming neurosurgery is. It does make me feel better that family is a top priority of his! Enough about that...

Today was a busy day for me too - after working out and going into work until 4 I ran around Springfield to do some Christmas shopping. Which the reason I went into work for most of the day was because I am trying to rack up some extra hours because I am hoping to take some time off Thursday because my parents are coming in town! This is huge because my Dad has not come to visit me in DeKalb or Decatur or Springfield where I have lived the past 3 and a half years. Anyways afterwork I ran to Hobby Lobby, JoAnn fabrics, Factory Card Outlet and Barnes and Nobles. (The picture is from all my purchases). Needless to say I have lots of wrapping and Christmas crafting to do. I will post my successful/failed crafts later this week. Time to get to work!

Monday, November 10, 2008

My first post

So I am creating this blog (inspired by Abbie) to keep friends and family posted on our life in Springfield. I am hoping this is better way to keep people informed with Drew's progress in medical school, and in his journey in choosing a medical specialty.

Right now he is in week 7 of his surgical rotation - trauma surgury. So far he has completed neurosurgery, orthopedic, general and pediatric surgery. I am hoping he will have a good experience in trauma because I think it has potential of being something he could could do in the long term. So far Drew has finally admitted that he is going to be a surgeon, but I am having trouble getting him to even admit to leaning toward a specific type of surgery.

We did have a great weekend in Marseilles (we were in town for Jon Bivens' wedding). Drew was a groomsmen - the very firt wedding that he has stood up in. I had a great time because Drew was willing to dance all night - which is quite unusual for him! The weekend was very busy but we did have time to see the Grandmothers and Mary Lynn, Dan and Jake on Sunday.

Well I think that's enough for my first post.