Sunday, November 18, 2012


I wrote a novel.  I love it.  It's emotional, it's vibrant, it's raw and it's real. It's all the stories that I wish I could put on my blog about my work in the burn unit, but I can't do that.  So I changed everyone's names, changed their stories a little, added a few dragons and now I get to call it fiction.  

It's the story of a Burn ICU.  A group of patients, all severely burned and all comatose, embarks on a grand adventure together in a fantasy world.  They fight for their lives.  They fall in love.  They learn the truth about who they are, and they must decide what it means to hope and to love.  

As an aside to anyone who read my first novel attempt- this is much better.  I took writing classes. I read books about how to write a good novel.  I had professional writers read it and give me feedback. I talked to people who know stuff about publishing. I spellchecked it.

So if you love good stories and compelling characters, then you should read this. And tell your friends.

-Buy it for you Kindle for $3.99
-Buy it for your hands for $9.99
-Get it for  free if you are an Amazon Prime Member 
        (I get paid whether you buy it or borrow it, so go crazy and borrow it for free and save your $3.99 for that latte you will sip while reading it)

Friday, October 19, 2012

My Patient, My Character

I'm writing another novel.  And it's good.  Like really good.  But enough about that.

One of my characters is based on a patient who I have kind of met.  Four months ago, when I was on SICU, I would cover the Burn ICU at night.  I spent many hours at her bedside, placing lines, adjust medications, drawing labs, changing dressings- but she was basically in a coma, so I met her but she never met me. Anyway, I've taken her and developed an entire imaginary life and personality and made her a character in my novel.

Now I am on Burn Surgery and she came to clinic today.  Let me tell you- it was AWKWARD.  I walked into the room and saw her name and immediately felt like I was meeting a celebrity or something.  She probably thinks I'm a total freak.  But I kind of wanted to get to know her and be her BFF, mostly because I'm curious if I got ANY of her life or personality right. 

The verdict?  She is much more stylish, funnier and nicer than my character.  I guess that's better than if she ended up being a jerk.  Anyway, now I feel like I need to make my character better, to live up to her.

Meeting one of my characters in clinic.... craziness.

Also- here are 2 AWESOME quote about writing I like:

"Although physicians are not deities, novelists are."

"The difference between fiction and reality is that fiction has to make sense."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Changing Names

Here's a funny thing that happens alot on trauma surgery at County-  I'll be seeing a patient named Michael Phelps for three or four days, and one day I will show up and suddenly he will be named Ryan Lotche.  Same guy, same room- new name.  The problem is that we get so many gang related gun shot wounds, that sometimes 2 guys from the same fight (but opposite sides) end up in the ICU together.  If they find out that one of their enemies is there too (by overhearing a nurse, seeing a list of patients, etc) , they try to get a fellow gang member to come and "finish him off".  No joke.  So we regularly have to change certain patient's names so that they won't be recongized.   Gabby Davis become Jordyn Wieber.  It is biazarreo.
PS- Obviously the names above hvae been changed to protect the innocent. Ironically.   

Thursday, May 24, 2012

So Rich It Hurts

Check out this email I just got:

"As a member with direct deposit payment option set up with CreateSpace, we want you to have the most current information regarding royalty payment terms.   Your direct deposit minimum payment threshold amount is now $10/£10/ 10 (previously $20) and the new payment terms will be effective for payments made in June 2012, for any royalties earned through May. "

As some of you may remember, I wrote a little novel a while ago.  (LINK!)  Anyway, the website that I used to publish it (CreateSpace) previously had a $20 minimum for royalty check payment.  Meaning that even though the book was the best-selling title (of my apartment) and made the topped the Best Seller List (of my blog); I wouldn't get my royalty check until I had $20 worth of sales (I make about $2 per book sold, and yes, selling 10 books was a lofty goal.  Since I only have 2 parents).

BUT! now the minimum payout is $10!!!! 

That means I've got a check for $11.74 coming my way.  I need to find something AWESOME to do with it.  Here are my leading thoughts:

-Find a stock and invest.  That way, if my some crazy turn of events, I happen to pick a stock that ends up making millions from my $11.74; I can tell people that I made my first million from my novel.  And then drink tea with my pinkie up.
-Similar line of thought:  buy lottery tickets with the money.  Same general principle applies: Laura makes millions, Laura gets to act like the millions came from her proliferative and astounding career as a novelist.
-Give the money to a charity.  "Why yes, I did write a novel.   But I donated all my profits to a charity.  Because I'm not only creative but also generous..."
-Buy two Chipotle burritos and eat them with my boyfriend.
- Divide the money in 4 parts, and do a little of each.  "I took my proceeds and invested part, gambled a bit, made some charitable donation, and still had money left over for these 6 tortilla chips.  Now bring me my golden footrest!"

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Last night my wallet was stolen at a bar.  Once we realized it, Dan asked me why I wasn't freaking out.   My honest answer was that this wasn't stressful at all- because there wasn't any way it could kill anybody.  Since becoming a surgery resident,  somehow that had become my new standard of stress.    An old lady getting post MI? Stressful.  All of my credit cards and ID's bring stolen? Not stressful.  See the second one is fixable with a few phone calls and one trip toothe DMV.  The first one may or may not be fixable, they may or may not be doomed, but I have to work my damnest to to try to fix the- and no matter what happens, I'll probably think I should have done better.

I guess i'm learning the difference between stress and annoyance.  Stress is when someone might die. Everything else is just an annoyance.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Day To Remember

This is a day that I want to remember.  I sort of want to freeze it into a little snow globe so that I can put it on my bookshelf and take it down when I need a pick-me-up.

I presented at Morbidity and Mortality for the first time this morning.  It's the conference where we present cases that have gone wrong for one reason or another; and the attendings will ask us very challenging questions about why certain decisions were made.  It's a weekly ritual at every surgery residency around the country.  Patients are usually presented by a senior level resident or fellow.  There are has not been an intern to present this whole year.

A few weeks ago, while on thoracic surgery, I was involved in a case which developed a severs postoperative complication and needed to be presented at M&M.  My attending asked if I would present it since I was intimately involved.  Loving  a challenge, I said yes!  Only to be told be every resident that I mentioned it to that interns weren't allowed to present unless approved by the Big Boss.

Now Dr. Big Boss happens to be a tough man to work with, but I have gotten a special place in his heart somehow.  He was attending on my first rotation of intern year.  He usually calls every female resident "Girl" or "Her", and most men get a individualized nickname.  We bonded early over something silly that I can't even remember now, and he started calling me Red.  Word spread through the program pretty much instantly that he liked me enough to promote from from Girl to Red.  Unfortunately, he called me Red because my hair was dyed pretty red when I started intern year.  Confession: My hair is not really red.  Confession: I have consistently dyed it every month since I started because I can't give up a nickname from the Big Boss once I've earned it.  Confession: I will dye my hair for the next 5 years.

So I asked the Big Boss if I could present at M&M.  He looked at me, arms crossed and said (verbatim),  "Did you shit your pants out of fear during the case?".  "Umm no?"  "Good, then don't shit your pants when you present."   "Ok, thanks?"

So I presented this morning.  Word had spread through the residents pretty quick that an intern was going to be presenting; so when I stood up to go the the podium everyone was at the edge of their seat.  Sort of like watching the gazelle getting stalked by the lion; they were all waiting for something pretty gruesome.  I was pretty terrified too; I'd been walking around with a knot in my stomach all week.  One of my co-interns sat next to me and literally held my hand as I was waiting for my turn to present.

So I take the podium.  I look at the 100+ people I'm presenting to, including all of my bosses and colleagues. And I feel prepared.  I've run over my case and my research numerous times.  I've prepared for every question I can think of- not just with an answer, but I've read the research that backs it up.  And so I go.  I give my presentation exactly like I've practiced and it sounds awesome.  I open the floor for questions; and I get thrown about 5 softballs right away that I just pound out of the park.  It's a freaking homerun and I can tell it.  I'm grinning like a goofball as I walk back to my seat.

I take my cell phone out of my pocket a few minutes later to find the following text messages from my co-residents (verbatim) "You killed it! Congrats!"  "U did so awesome!"  "Stop making us all look bad! You rocked it". And from an attending who I know well, "Great job, Laura!"  And (perhaps my favorite) from an attending who I barely know but somehow had my email address "Beautifully presented m&m case, Laura. You are years ahead of your rank."    Another resident said that they had never seen Big Boss look so proud as he did when I was rocking at answering questions after the case.

Needless to say, I walked around all day floating about 6 inches off the ground.  And the icing on the cake, is that about 10 minutes ago, I received a page from an attending who I have never worked with before.  I called it back, and he went on for 5-10 minutes about how astounded he was when he found out after M&M from one of his colleagues that I was a first year resident.  He had assumed I was a new fellow who he hadn't met yet; and simply could not believe that I was an intern until he heard from me directly. 

Somedays I feel stupid, like there is so much to learn in medicine that I could work my whole like and never make a dent in it.   Somedays I feel clumsy, like my hands look like chunks of meat as opposed to the graceful instruments of my mentors.  Somedays I feel underappreciated for all the hours I put it and all extra miles that I go which no one every notices.  And then there are days like today, when I get to feel like the King of the World.  

This is a day that I want to remember.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


My dad really wants me to update my blog.  So here goes.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Decisions You Didn't Know You Made

I'm good at multiple choice tests. 

What I've found is that if I can turn a patient into a multiple choice question, then I can generally come up with the right answer.  But my newest realization about patient care is that most of the time when the wrong decision has been made, it's a decision that you didn't know that you made.

When we have a choice, we choose right.   But when we have momentum in a direction and no one is asking any questions; then we charge ahead without recognizing the number of decision that are being made without deliberate consideration.  It's not until something goes wrong that can turn around and look back and saw, "Why didn't we do x, y or z? "

Maybe that's true in life too.   I think that's what mid life crises might be about- all of the sudden you realize that you've made a bunch of decision without realizing it and are somewhere different than you should be.  I'm going to start trying to recognize the impending "mid life crises" of patient care, and recognizing the slowly boiling pot of water that's about to cook the frog.