Easter Weekend

Again, I had to work Easter Weekend, just like last year. But guess what folks… this is the last time (for a long time) that I will work 12 hour shifts on a weekend!! Yay!!

I will start with Thursday, because that’s when we played handbells at the Maundy Thursday service. I really enjoyed the piece we played (What Wondrous Love) – beautiful and mournful and  exciting, just like Easter. I really love being part of a church that celebrates all these traditional elements of spiritual holidays. In college, I probably would have seen such things as archaic, but now I have grown into it!

On Friday, we had our 3rd surprise party of the year for our friend Chris PR – his first ever!  It was not what you would expect of a surprise party. Well, there were decorations, and wine, and cake and icecream, and dogs and good friends:

But our activities included Bananagrams and puzzling:

Yes, we demolished that 500 piece puzzle. And of course, the always fun “giraffe kissing”:


Finally, amongst med school partiers, no birthday is complete without sharing around the Peak Flow Meter:

So as you can see, a good time was had by all!

Saturday was Chris’s day off but I was working a 12 hour shift on bone marrow transplant. So what did my sweet husband do? Bring me lunch!! Right after that he got a call… one of his patients was ready to have her baby! Everything went well, he got home at 3AM and went to church the next day, napping intermittently. He’s something else! On Sunday I was again working a 12-hour shift on a hematology/oncology floor. After that I came home and had leftovers with  Chris before he left for his overnight shift.

Easter Monday, now… that was a good day! My mom ran the Boston marathon and did SPECTACULARLY, and this after she had suffered some crippling Achilles tendon pain. God healed her and she was able to run a 3:40! I am so proud of my mom and her 8:30 miles.

I also got to visit all of my church ladies. As a deacon, I was assigned several people to visit, and chatting with them has been so  fun and rewarding. This time, I delivered a bunch of Easter flowers that our church gets for them every year.

Well I could go on and on, about how one of my ladies fed me delectable chocolate chip meringues, or how we had Faith Fillers last night and wise ladies from Bible study tackled heavy questions like “how to influence your husband to faith” and “what is heaven like” and “why shouldn’t people live together,” or about how school is almost done for this semester. But instead I will just say… praise the Lord! He has given me a wonderful life and most importantly the ultimate gift of His Son’s sacrifice. I am so thankful and whatever may come,  I know He is in control. Happy belated Easter to all of you!

Dr. Boswell’s Day Off

Last Saturday was my husband’s day off. He works 6 days on, one day off, and most days are 12 hour shifts. The old guard of docs would shake their heads if they read this: “that’s nothing! Why when I was a whippersnapper intern we worked 120 hour shifts…”

And that was terrible, and this is better, but still rough! He deserved a real day off. So we slept in and went to Red Lobster for endless shrimp. I got a strawberry mojito and it was delicious. Lime, strawberries and mint… I’ve never enjoyed a regular mojito as they are too savory, but this was a delicious echo of the frozen mango mojito I enjoyed at the Grand Wailea in Maui. Sweet and herbilicious.

But I digress. After endless shrimp, we were full and needed a turn in the fresh air. Where better than Silver Lake,
Rochwster’s Central Park? We were thrilled to find the boating place open and we got a paddle boat and went for a spin.

The view from the boat!

The paddleboat has a little motor so we didnt have to do ALL the work. The breeze on the lake was pleasant. We rented for a half hour but once we were out we couldn’t turn back until we had navigated the canals all the way to Mayo park. There is something fun about seeing the city from another angle and of course we caught a glimpse of this mysterious symbol on one of the bridge buttresses.


After a rest we went over to a friend’s house for dinner, Sequence and our first taste of Chocowine. Note: Chocowine is wine-flavored Bailey’s.

All in all, Saturday was a great day off for both of us. Aaaand back to the grind!!

Ariel’s Guide to Buying A House

Back in March, when we realized we were probably staying in Rochester, we started looking for a house. For some, houses are a way to obtain status and of course financial equity. For us, it was mostly a means to assure we could get a dog and a backyard that we could let it outside into. Of course the whole equity thing is nice too.

So here are my tips for house buying (especially for residents and nurses):

1) Identify why you want a house. It’s a big decision! Yes, the mortgage may be cheaper than your rent, but when you factor in maintenance, lawn duties, and things breaking… It’s an investment of time and money. Make sure you want and need a house. Renting is a perfectly acceptable choice.

2) Talk to a bank. Get preapproved. Find a loan officer you like because you’ll probably have to talk to them. Know how much you can afford before you fall in love with a house far, far beyond your price range.

Note – we got preapproved on my income. It’s trickier to get a loan with a resident’s income. You’ll have to shop lenders, and you may have to rent first and get some “paycheck proof” built up.

3) Some people wander through the woods and stumble into the yard of their dream house, finding a “for sale by owner” sign staked into the front yard (true story!)

My advice for everyone else… get a great realtor. Our realtor, Jennifer Mitchell, was awesome. She made herself available for last-minute house hunting trips, answered all our random ignorant questions, and responded quickly to texts, emails and phone calls. She also had a great sense of humor and made looking at dozens of houses as fun as possible. She also helped us clarify our “wish list” which leads me to # 4…

4) Make a couple lists, “wants” and “needs” and use that to narrow down what you’re looking for – and update the lists as you oook. At the beginning we looked at a lot of different houses all over Rochester and we soon figured out that was inefficient. We honed in on the type of house we ended up with… Newer ranch style on the west side of town with a fenced back yard and large kitchen, reasonably close to the hospital, and requiring relatively little updating.

(FYI this blog will never turn into an account of our home remodeling projects because we’re not really that kind of couple. Fixtures? Maybe. Redo a bathroom? Doubtful!)

5) Be patient and give yourself lots of time. We had just despaired offending anything and talked to our landlord about extending our lease when – ding! – we found 2 houses we liked in the same day. They were both newish ranches on the west side of town. We soon decided we wanted the fenced back yard more than the walk out basement and bought ourselves a house.

I have to say I really like having a house. We have so much room and we can’t hear our neighbors at all. I can park my car in the garage at last (poor thing has never lived in a garage). We’re getting ready to have a dog.

Oh, I’m sure it won’t be a complete cake walk. But for us, this house was a Godsend.

Pomp and Rites of Passage

Last weekend, Chris graduated from medical school with about 60 other medical and graduate students. As I thought about the anthropological significance of this occasion, I realized that it was a rite of passage, that rite of passage being medical school.

Rites of passage are celebrated across the globe in many different cultures. A famous example is the Native American vision quest, in which youth went away from their families to fast and survive in their wilderness and seek guidance from the universe. Von Gennep, the fellow who came up with the theory of rites of passage, separated these rituals into three parts; separation from the group (when the individual leaves the community); the liminal space (a kind of “in-between” time); and reincorporation into the group.

Graduation from medical school is a very different sort of a rite of passage than a vision quest. Instead of initiation into adulthood, it represents initiation into Medicine. Medical school a part of this rite of passage. Students leave their families for school and spend four years in the nebulous liminal space of medical school, a time full of uncertainty and lack of belonging. Medical students go through an initial “white coat” ceremony (no white coats at Mayo, but they did have an oath swearing) to separate them from their peers and family. They then undergo two years of brain-crushing basic sciences, the life-changing ritual of dissecting a cadaver (overcoming the natural aversion to opening up a human body), and the life-sucking whirl of clinical sessions. Finally, at graduation, they are reconnected to society in their new role: doctors!

Graduation is a big deal. Families from across the country gathered to celebrate this important milestone. Famous journalist Tom Brokaw gave the commencement speech, welcoming graduates into the complex ever-changing world of medicine. One-by-one the graduates were “hooded” with the awkward ring of cloth signifying a graduate degree.

Afterwards, we were treated to a lavish feast – I mean, reception- cheese and crackers, vegetable, little salads, sandwiches and even bananas foster and chocolate-covered strawberries. Families took pictures in the hall as the graduates milled around in their ornate regalia. Afterwards people filtered away to further celebrations – graduation parties, elegant dinners. We ate at Michael’s, the same place we went for my graduation last year.

Graduation. Celebration. Rites of passage. A great chance to see everyone and celebrate the transition to the next phase of our life. 76

Midnight Munchies

I love nursing but it can be a tough job. Multiple patients, multiple halls. All a manner of needs and issues. Calls to be made, forms to be filled out. Before I know which end is up, five hours have passed without a bathroom break, a drink… Or a snack!

Often I will stagger home at midnight ravenous, even though I ate a perfectly good supper six hours earlier. I will peruse the cupboards, starving for something – I don’t know what – something sweet yet packed with protein and carbs. Something to substitute for dinner with my husband. Something more satisfying than yet lighter than a steak dinner.

Generally although I know it’s not good for me I have craved fat – brownies, cake, cookies. For a long time all I could think about was creme brûlée (not that we ever have that in the house!) Buttercream frosting. Guacamole.

I will eat just about anything. Lean cuisines, leftovers, anything frozen and reheated.

But recently I have discovered the best
midnight snack ever. Reheated frozen fruit, Greek yogurt and honey. Mmmm. Sweet, creamy, delicious – with lots of protein and no fat. (Although I think Greek yogurt may be a scam. That stuff has to be sour cream!)

Discussion with other nurses has revealed that I am not the only nurse with this problem. In fact, floor nursing can be very dangerous to the waistline. The temptation towards high fat and high sugar foods, combined with work that, while exhausting and stressful, isn’t exercise, results in unhealthy eating patterns.

I am still looking for other perfect late night meals so if anyone has tips let me know 🙂

5 Things to Do on Match Day Eve

T’was the night before Match Day…

Tomorrow at noon medical students all over the country will find out where they are going for the next 1-7 years of their training.

Almost a month ago we made our rank list. Now we come to the “awarding of the door prizes” – most people will get one, the only question is whether it’s the iPod or the iPad!

Match Day is terrifying and exciting and thrilling and… terrifying. All at the same time.

Some people have a better idea than others where they are going to be. Some people know where they are going to be for four years but not for the next year. Some people have no idea at all except that they will be SOMEWHERE.

What do you do the night before such an enormous, life-changing event?

1) Pray. Prayers of thanksgiving and prayers for peace. We are thankful that Chris matched somewhere (we don’t know for sure where) and we pray that God’s hand will be on the final computer-generated decision.

2) Daydream about the residency lifestyle, conveniently forgetting the 80 hour weeks involved.

3) Try to relax, knowing that tomorrow will be a very busy and exciting day.

4) Watch TV shows that glorify the medical lifestyle, i.e. House, ER, Scrubs, etc etc

5) And yes we’re back to prayer… the Serenity Prayer  to be specific.

The Serenity Prayer, an AA classic, is great for trying times like these when you don’t know exactly what waits around the next corner.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.


5 Ways You Know You’re Married to a Medical Student

Some of these are borrowed from my facebook statuses over the past 3.5 years.

1) Husband is in Anatomy: You are vacuuming the floor and have to move a real human skull out of the way!

2) Husband is in Peds: He comes home humming the theme from Blues Clues. Also, he sings the words from The Amazing Swedish Diet but changes the words to refer to the seizure-reducing and butter-heavy Ketogenic Diet

3) Dinner table conversations with any other med student, or medical person for that matter, quickly disintegrate into discussions about obscure diseases that you have probably never heard of and don’t want to hear about

4) You learn all kinds of great terminology, e.g. medical students get “pimped” (or asked tricky questions) on “rounds” which are when the team visits the patients. Those who work really hard are “gunners” or overachievers. Then there are the Steps (the two tests students have to take), First Aid (books most often used to study for the tests), the Match (see previous post about rank listing), etc etc.

5) You tell your spouse, “I have X symptom” and s/he quickly works up a differential including several diagnoses that could kill, cripple, or maim you. (If in third or fourth year, will add a disclaimer that your symptoms probably reflect Y unconcerning ailment).

I am so thankful to be married to this particular med student, however, and I can cheerfully overlook all the minor inconveniences. I hear residency will be considerably more difficult… Kudos to you, medical spouses everywhere!

5 Fun Ways to Make Your Rank List

It’s that time of year for 4th year medical students: rank list submission time. You see, medical students don’t get to pick their residency so much as they get to enter a raffle. They know they are probably going to get a residency, and residencies know that they will get students. Students rank the programs they interview at, programs rank their interviewees, and a computer makes the connections – known as the Match –  in March. The results are announced this year on March 15.

You can imagine how much fun this is for medical students who have pretty much controlled their entire lives with their minds and decisions… suddenly, not so much agency! I would think it was a cruel psychological experiment but it’s been going on for 30+ years and seems to be working.

Often, students know exactly which program is at the top of their rank list and which are at the bottom. But sometimes all the options are good and it’s hard to pick. Sometimes, you just need to figure out the middle order. Here are some ways you could use to make your rank list.

1) The MATSH  Method (like Match, get it?):  If you were ever a seventh grade girl, you probably played MASH. Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House. (The T stands for Tree house in our version). For our 2 rounds of MATSH we used the categories of “Residency,” “Type of Fellowship,” “Where to Live Long-term,” “What kind of dog to get,” “Where to vacation,” and “How many children to have.” Apparently we are going to vacation in Mexico, have 1 child, own a labrador, and Chris will do a C-section fellowship.

In other versions, we’ll have 18 children and own a capybara… I guess we’ll see!

2) Magic 8 Ball Method: I used my iPhone Magic 8-Ball app and we kept shaking it while asking “What about X residency?” However we got bored of this quickly as we came up with a lot of “Ask again later” responses and not enough residencies were getting eliminated. (I think of it as a modern day Urim and Thummim, although apparently not as effective).

3) The Polling Method: We didn’t try this but I kinda wanted to post a poll on facebook and see where people thought we should go. We had informal polls going of course but mostly people seemed to vote for the place farthest from where they lived… interesting… 😉 Just kidding!!!

But I think it is hard to get an unbiased response on “where do you think we should go?” I think it’s hard to say, “I’d like you here and yet… I think you should probably go FAR, FAR AWAY.”

4) The Random Bible Verse Method: I tried this with my Bible application on my iPhone and I got John 14:6, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Very true but not exactly what I was looking for. But God works in other ways…

5) The Pros/Cons and Prayer Combined Method: This method worked for us. Chris looked through all the program information and we worked on a comprehensive pros/cons list for our top five. Then we prayed for discernment and guidance, and began to feel more and more settled in our decision over the weekend.

Of course just because we have our rank list doesn’t mean that it will happen like we think. But we are feeling a lot of peace about our decision. Thanks to all of our friends and family who have supported us through this whole process. You are the best! The great thing is that all of our choices are good and we are going to be happy wherever we end up.

I for one am excited about the next step. I know residency will be tough but hopefully God will give me the strength and guidance to be a good support for Chris during the rigors of residency and whatever other challenges lie before us.

Uncomfortable Choices

We got up early to play handbells this morning. I liked the piece we played although I did have to “slip.” I didn’t know what this was  until a couple weeks ago, but “slipping” means that I have to move handbells from hand to hand. It wasn’t graceful but all the notes came out, more or less in time. (I admit, “slipping” doesn’t sound too good, especially in icy Minnesota in the winter. Perhaps “transferring?”)

The Call to Worship this morning was great. We meditated on Jesus’ journey into the wilderness, into hunger, doubt, and temptation, and responded accordingly. “As we begin our Lenten journey, let us also be led by the Spirit, even into the uncomfortable places… as we seek to follow Jesus, we would be led, even into the uncomfortable choices.”

I hope as this Lenten journey continues, that I will be open to going into those uncomfortable places and choices, to examining the truth of what I’m doing. Very often in music ensembles, and in life, I will follow the music. I will listen and find my entrances and exits through “feeling.” I find my way through the relationships between notes and melodies.

And very often, this does work. For example, after my sophomore year of college, I went to the CityLights urban ministry program in St. Louis because the director sent out an 11th hour recruitment email at a time that I had just been refused from a summer job. I felt like my question had been answered; I felt the call. Things fit together like puzzle pieces: their need, my availability. In music, I can usually figure out where I am supposed to come in just by listening and watching other people’s music without necessarily counting.

But many times, the easy way is not the right way. “Broad is the road that leads to destruction” (Matthew 7:13). Actually I can’t think directly of a time I took the broad road and suffered for it, more of instances where the broad road was tempting and I was turned away. For example, a couple easier, more natural job opportunities during my “2 years of Lent” after college that I simply didn’t get.  Instead, I was a barista and CNA and grew a lot through those very different, challenging, interesting jobs.

In a similar vein… right now in our little church flute choir, we are doing a challenging piece where I cannot hear my entrance. I have to count, count, count (and math was never my strong suit). I can’t depend on “feeling” it yet to come in at the right time.

I suppose the difference lies in why the choice seems easy to me. Is it easy because that decision is in my comfort zone, before prayer and discernment? Is it easy because everyone else is doing it? Easy because it seems right with my earthly brain?

Or “easy” because God has been guiding me to that choice, by closing doors and windows, by having people whisper particular verses in my ear? Easy because he has surrounded me with teaching and guidance that make that the natural choice, the straight and narrow road that leads to Him?

God, help us face the uncomfortable choices and find the right road!