Saturday, January 25, 2014

Encaustic Saturday

Today we spent the entire day at a local art store learning a new technique, encaustic painting/collage. Only about twenty blocks away is a little place on Alberta Street called "Collage" where they sell art supplies and offer affordable classes (mostly all one time only) and where we did the felted gnome class last time. For Christmas, rather than a traditional gift, I got us an art class together.

This morning when I woke up, I thought, "We should have rescheduled this to a different date! I need a day of doing nothing." Turns out, we needed a day of doing encaustic. Last time I took a class with Carrie was right before Christmas and my sentiments were the same. I guess just because you think you need to sit on your butt all day and do nothing doesn't mean it's really what you need.

I don't have any pictures of the process, but Justin and I really enjoyed our six hour class. The classroom has a wall of windows so we didn't miss out on the nice sunny weather by being inside, which was another plus.

 Justin's up and down -- below is a tipi in the wave (kinda hard to see in my pic)

Mine up and down... below is sort of a commentary on leaving the traditional ways and above on travel and living

Monday, January 20, 2014

Retinal tears at 5:15 (Free eye education for you!)

My last patient of the day (a sixty-ish professional very near-sighted man) had scheduled an appointment for new flashes and floaters. He'd waited on coming in due to an insurance change and ensuing confusion.

After dilation drops were instilled, I discovered he had some changes in the asymptomatic right eye in his retina and a large retinal tear in the superior retina of his symptomatic left eye. It was about 5:15 when I finished with him. I'd told my tech she could go home before I went in with the patient because she'd had a 2-3 hour drive home (and had said she was just happy to have a job). I worried that all the MDs might be gone or almost gone. I spoke with one of the remaining techs and she gave me the name of one of the docs who was on call.

I caught one of the MDs who was still there and asked him if he'd have a look. He looked and looked, and decided he was going to laser treat the tear right then. The techs who were still in the office worked to get everything set up so the patient's retina could be tacked down immediately. It was a joint effort of many to get this man's eye stabilized. After 399 laser shots, he was sent home with instructions of danger symptoms that would warrant an immediate return to the clinic.

I walked him out and wished him well. It was 6:15 when I left. I felt like I had a small part in hopefully preserving his vision, yet it was definitely a joint effort by many and I felt honored to be involved in the process. It is things like this that make me feel my days are worthwhile.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Say what you feel and speak from the heart

Today we were in Nordstrom downtown. Justin wanted a new pair of shoes. We'd wandered around the shoe department, looking at the full price and the sale rack. No one had come up to us but after a while, a sweet older man about seventy named Jeff came over to see if we needed any help. He showed us a few different shoes and was patient as Justin mulled over the two shoes that he was deciding between.

Justin had told him that I was an optometrist. Jeff said his wife was just diagnosed with glaucoma and also had macular degeneration. I said it would be ok, that she would probably just need drops, and good thing that he had good eyes. He said, "I lose a little more vision every year." I hoped it wasn't too much.

Meanwhile, Justin was still trying to decide. Jeff liked one pair better, I liked the other. Jeff said, "You have to go with what is in your heart." And gestured toward his heart with his fist. He said, "You can never go wrong when you say what you feel and speak from the heart." I agreed.

Finally Justin decided on the pair I liked better. It was a little more dressy than the other pair. We were finished and he rang up the shoes and some suede protector and we were off. There was something inherently sweet and sad about the encounter. He was such a kind man. I left feeling we had a special encounter with a patient man, and yet couldn't help but worry if he was okay. He said he'd only worked there three years. I wished him well for everything with his wife as we left. It was the kind of service you don't get a lot these days. It was really special.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

What a good job looks like in a wacked-up world.

My hand was hurting at work on Wednesday. I was talking to my assistants about it and they said, "Why don't you go to one of the doctors?" I never thought of it. I've had such shitty health insurance for so long, my method was just to wait it out. All of it. And try to home remedy everything. I think this is how most of the world lives. I have never gone without health insurance but I have not had anything that was good enough for me to go in and see someone (unless it was really bad).

So now I have six weeks vacation plus paid holidays. Actual sick leave. Health & dental insurance, disability, 401k, retirement. Insurance for my "domestic partner". Malpractice. Paid maternity leave. I could go on.

Simply, I have not had a good job since I left Kaiser, nor prior to working there. I think perhaps there are good jobs out there, but they are scarce these days in any field. Except maybe a few. I forgot how nice it was to have benefits.

Part of this makes me feel bad. I'm part of the "haves" for now. I have good pay and I have a lot of other good perks. I have enough pay to not have the other perks, yet plenty of people are scrimping by on crappy pay and then poor health insurance. It seems unfair. If you have a lot, you get more favors.

I realize I worked hard and went through many years of school. I took interesting jobs not for the pay but for the experience. I have been fortunate to come upon opportunities and have the ability to take them. So many things seem to just be by happenstance.

Today I had coffee with a work colleague. She's actually a new doctor for Kaiser. Graduated eight years after me, with over 200K in loans. How does a person make that work? I can't stop thinking about it since we talked. It's a mortgage payment in itself. What are we doing with our education system? I don't know. I'm just glad I went through school when I did, and that I have been lucky enough to have employment through all the skirmishes in the economy. I'm thankful not to be in my twenties just entering this crappy mess of a job market. Not that I trust that I have nothing to worry about. But I will be happy for now, day by day. If all else fails, we'll live in a van. :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Sunday Night Musings

Sitting in the darkness, streetlight seeping through the crack in the curtains. Charlie's at the kitchen table with a singer-songwriter filling the air. Bailey snoozing on the doormat in his cardinal sweater. We awoke this morning to whirling outside, raindrops and wind chimes intertwined, softly nuzzling us awake from our dreams. Charlie dreaming a song, "Whatever makes you happy". Quickly written down before erased by morning memory. Tea and talking before we hopped in the Suburu to spy on open houses. Can we still be looking for a place? It's been forever since we started. Waiting for stability may never happen. Maybe we have to make it ourselves.

Tomorrow afternoon, orientation with Kaiser, as I've been switched from "at will" employment to "permanent". I wonder how much negotiating I will have to do- if what I've been told will actually be. I gathered information and sought advice from other docs, hoping I have the stamina and luck for things to turn out right. Thankful to be working. Surprised how it is all working out. What a small, strange world that I'll be working with my old coworker, Amber, from Germany, as she moves to Oregon in nine days and starts with Kaiser on the 27th.

We spent the weekend lolling about, mostly drinking tea and coffee and wandering through houses. Finally the weather has returned to the expected Northwestern winter - today in the 50's with rain dripping from the sky, the streets glistening, freshly rinsed off. We still had our hats on though not needed.

The clock is ticking. Life moves forward. Every day is quiet like the last. My patients fill me up. My Charlie is my rock at home. We have it good for now.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Christmas & New Year's Vacation, Portland Style, featuring Carrie, Drazen, Matt, Judy, Sara & Justin

Tofurky was so popular at Thanksgiving, we decided to welcome it for round two, as our Christmas Eve centerpiece. It turned out a little better last time around but everyone left with full bellies anyway.
Carrie and Drazen came over all the way from Northeast Portland!  
 Justin posing with Oatie the black-nosed reindeer.
 Bailey as the larger, more furry, reddish reindeer.
 Oatie take two. We doctored up some bells to make his day more merry. I'm not sure he appreciated it.
 We inadvertently dressed as twins, which was pretty cool. Nothing wrong with twin sisters even in your thirties! 
 Bailey was looking for some food hidden in the boxes. There was chocolate for sure, but he didn't get that. Well truthfully here he was trying to open his own present. I've seen him do this in years past quite quickly but this year, age was catching up and we had to help him.
 One of the people in Portland who has extra money to burn at Christmas (on NE 28th Ave near Sandy). 
 Justin as the "Christmas Light Chauffeur".
 Judy and Matt in the backseat, in Christmas Light Ecstasy.
 It's a selfie of the photodocumentor.
 Vegan food at Canteen, an amazing place at SE 28th and Stark
A secret picture of Matt.

 Matt took this of me being normal again.
 The lights at Canteen.
 The pretty lady behind the counter.
Our tasty raw maple pecan cheezecake. 
 And to All a Good Night! 
 Peacock Lane. A street in Portland which has been lit up since the 1930s.

 New Year's Even at the Portland Symphony. Ode to Joy! 
 At the end of the night, they sang Auld Lang Syne and dropped balloons.
My Charlie. 
 With an awesome Thunderbird!

And to all a good night and HAPPY 2014!!!!!