Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pediatric Check-Up: NICU or Neonatal/Newborn ICU

I'm currently doing night shifts in our baby intensive care unit, and though I hate being separated from Sunny at night, I am enjoying the experience. What do I like about this sub-specialty that Sunny's nicknamed "xeno-medicine"?

Firstly, I really enjoy doing procedures. In English, a procedure is a course of action or series of steps. In medicine, a procedure is usually a series of steps involving some kind of invasion into the body, whether that be a spinal tap, a knee joint aspiration, or in my case, umbilical catheter placement. I'm getting super-good at placing tiny tubes into babies' belly buttons, and I like it because a) no pain for the baby is involved, and I'm saving them from needlesticks b) it provides a good, reliable way to give nutrition and to get lab data. One of the things I really like about our residency program is that there are few fellows here. Fellows are doctors in training for a sub-specialty, and they often need experience with procedures. Even though our NICU has fellows, though, residents often get first dibs on procedures, with fellows supervising. I'm getting pretty good at this one, and soon I hope to become an expert at another common procedure here: intubation, or inserting a flexible, plastic tube to assure a good airway for breathing.

Other reasons to come!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

About Albuquerque Life

I often get asked about Albuquerque: "Why did you move to Albuquerque? Do you like living there? What's in New Mexico anyway?". Considering that my relatives thought that I was moving to Mexico, it's not unexpected that most people are curious about Albuquerque itself.

I truly enjoy living in New Mexico. I contrast it to Nevada, where I lived most of my life. Northern Nevada is similar to New Mexico in that it has a great, high-altitude desert climate with most days sunny and bright. There is an amazing amount of outdoors hiking, climbing, skiing, fishing, and more to do, though personally I think that New Mexico's outdoor attractions are more interesting. In a prior post I mentioned that Sunny and I had gone sledding at White Sands, and we are planning on going to Carlsbad Caverns soon. Both states are predominantly rural states with a few population centers. Both of them look like endless stretches of sagebrush and highway as one drives through them. Yet they are very different to live in.

What I think is fascinating about New Mexico is that it has its own distinct culture as a state, and Nevada definitely lacks that. It starts with food. New Mexico has its own cuisine based on local products, especially chile, blue corn, and cheese. Next, art abounds; people here have a much more natural philosophy about art, that art can be produced by anyone, and many people create some form of art without hesitation or worry that they are pretentiously claiming to be "an artist". I am the proud owner of several pieces from a local part-time potter and hope to own more. The Native reservations are still very much alive and producing new techniques based on their traditional pottery, stonework, metal smithing, and weaving. Architecturally, many buildings, including my house, are built to appear similar to ancient Pueblo dwellings; I can actually look around in a suburb and know that I'm in Albuquerque and not, say, some random place in California or Connecticut. Finally, as a modern touch, New Mexico has a great density of scientific work and atomic history, such that Sunny is very excited to be working on his Ph. D. here and is in no way compromised by our location.

More specifically, I really love our part of Albuquerque. Sunny and I are all about living in a "live-walk" community where human-powered traffic predominates and neighbors actually socialize with each other. We live in University Heights AKA Nob Hill, and we can easily commute to school and work and grocery shopping by bike. A cluster of small businesses and great restaurants featuring Greek, Italian, sushi, other Japanese, Korean, Irish pub, and Vietnamese food lives on Central Avenue, three blocks north of our home. Plus, I have little problem finding most of my cooking ingredients as there are multiple Asian markets near by. Furthermore, There are a lot of young families as well as established families here. Greenspace abounds, with four parks and public tennis courts within walking distance. Finally, a library and a well reviewed elementary is 3 blocks south of us. We've been to several house parties on our block, and will probably host one next summer. If you're interested in moving here, leave a note with any questions!

UNM Children's Hospital (Wing)

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Blog Moving...Possibly

Since deciding to blog more often, I've been posting the last 10 months of blogs on my website. For my latest exploits, visit me there!

Addendum: However, the software that enables my blog on my website has been becoming buggier (it broke just after I wrote the above), and I don't want to spend time doing the upkeep, so the blog may migrate back here depending on my level of laziness.

Addendum #2: Blog has migrated!

White Sands National Monument and Trinity Test Site

Sunny at White Sands National MonumentTruc-Ha at White Sands National Monument
Truc-Ha and Sunny at White Sands National Monument

This weekend, Sunny and I took a day trip around southern New Mexico. We started by heading to the Trinity Test Site, the site of the first nuclear device explosion in the world. It was pretty anticlimactic. The whole of the original crater has since been filled in by dirt, so none of the fused sand is visible except for some pieces in a display case. There are also some historic photographs, including an aerial view of the site that includes a view of the site of the 108-ton TNT explosion they used as a calibration so that they could measure to force of the atomic detonation. These pictures were interesting, though only a brief nod was given to how devastating the force of an atomic explosion is on life and non-living structures. The picture of the sign is at the gate to ground zero. I thought the distances were interesting given that the flash was seen from Albuquerque, and windows were broken in Alamogordo during the explosion.

Distances from the Trinity Test Site

Then, we went to the White Sands National Monument and sledded on the gypsum sand dunes until we were tired, and hiked a bit. Sledding in October! Hiking in bare feet (not us, though I was tempted)! On our way back we looped through Las Cruces and drove by the future home of the nation's first spaceport. Since I'm starting a food section to my blogging efforts, I'll have to mention that La Cocina, a restaurant in the town of Truth or Consequences and one that was well reviewed in a Frommer's travel guide, was awful. Billed as New Mexican, their enchiladas and chile rellenos were awful, my prime rib was unevenly done, the Blue Moon (on tap!) lacked an orange slice, and their “authentic” New Mexican chile wasn't even hot.