Friday, October 16, 2009


First post from iPhone app.

-- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, July 05, 2009


Well, it's been a while again since I've posted. Time just slips away, it seems. Lots has happened. It's been a really "up" season, and sometimes I worry about the eventual down.

I passed my boards. It was a big deal. I got the letter on the Friday after I got back from Louisville. Pure elation is fairly representative of my thoughts that day. The only bad part was that I had some colleagues who didn't pass. After all the studying and planning together, that's a bit of a downer. Erica and I celebrated my finishing with dinner at Copeland's. We had never been. I even ate a steak! That's kind of a big deal for me.

I went back to work the following week, and it was fun to sit in the reading room and just WORK. No stress to worry about. Even the ringing phone didn't bother me. I gave morning conferences, dictated studies, and went about my business. We had a fun residents' day on the golf course that Friday, followed by a big party at our house for all the residents. I'm so glad we did that - people brought their kids, we catered from Reno's, and the weather held off. Lots of fun. I graduated that Saturday night. Graduation was a really nice event and dinner. I was proud to have my family there (minus Ross, who stayed with Erica's parents).

Then we left for St. Louis. What a good little trip. We drove up on Sunday and discovered why these little GPS deals are so popular! We're a couple of years late on that one. Our hotel was right across from Busch stadium - Hilton at the Ballpark. That was a great decision, and we kind of lucked into it via We had fun in spite of a lot of rain. Highlights: me climbing in all the tunnels with Ross at City Museum, driving and walking around the park (lots of good pictures walking around the fountain), a quick afternoon trip to the zoo, a long morning at the Magic House (favorite area = construction), lunch at Fitz's root beer, and of course the Tuesday night Cards game. We got there early and settled into our FRONT ROW seats down the 1st base line. It was hot, but the sun went down below the top of the stadium before long. Ross made friends with the little guy who shags fouls. Ross got to wear his helmet between 1/2 innings. The cards dominated. We had the complete experience and probably won't repeat such a good time. We stayed late, too, and Ross got to walk onto the field with his friend. AND he got us a foul ball, AND the girls gave him a souvenir T-shirt.

The next day, we went to the zoo for a more complete visit before leaving town. We spent a lot of time there. Erica rode on a little scooter to prevent too many contractions. It was super hot, but we managed. It was kind of like being in Orlando in July, but not quite as fun. We pretty much saw all the animals. Ross and I rode the train at the end of the day, and then it was back to Little Rock.

After the trip, back to work. I started my fellowship this past Tuesday at Children's. It has so far been exactly as I expected. It is so rewarding to FINALLY be doing what I've always wanted to do. What a blessing. And now, everyone refers to me as "our fellow." I'm in this primo moment in my career. And I feel so welcomed.

Erica, on the other hand, has had a rough couple of weeks at work. Just busier than usual. She's been dealing with contractions for several weeks now, but we are now less worried about them; our doctor has calmed some fears and said they are mild. We are almost 29 weeks, and the goal is to make it to 35 (when Ross was born). E's BP is holding stable and we're just clicking along now.

For the fourth, we went to the Travs game and watched fireworks from there afterward. It has been a fairly low-key weekend. We went swimming Friday, ate barbecue yesterday, and are headed to our friend Keller's tonight for dinner. Just enjoying our last few weeks of being three.

Monday, June 01, 2009


Well, I'm 24 hours away from being free of the American Board of Radiology for the next ten years (that's when I'll recertify).

I spent a lot of time debating whether or not to blog about my trip to Louisville, but I decided to record what I can remember of my trip. All radiologists hate this place. Few have any memories of their boards. When my granddad died, my dad took pictures. It seemed weird at the time (standing around a funeral home room, shaking hands with people, listening to muzak, when FLASH goes the bulb). But now I can see that my dad is probably glad he has memories of that event. Even when it's not pleasant, it's important.

Background: those of you who have had to live around me for the last four years know that it all comes down to this. All those 7 AM conferences, taking cases in front of peers, sounding like an idiot in the beginning, getting chastised for missing subtleties on the images, sweating through countless scrub shirts, etc. The only reason we have case conferences is to simulate the oral board experience. All those books and websites. All those call nights, consultations, cafeteria meals. All those quizzes, PowerPoints, duty hours, schedule requests, rotations, attendings. Everything a resident does for four years means not-a-lot if tomorrow doesn't go well. There's a lot on the line, which makes the event enormous regardless of the preparation, reassurance, and previous pass rates. The culture of radiology residency is so closely intertwined with this exam. It's what gowns and gates are to Sewanee. It's what hot dogs are to baseball, ears to Mickey Mouse. So when I sit in those 10 consecutive hotel rooms with 10 examiners tomorrow, it'll be a big deal. Even though I know I'll pass.

There's not a lot in Louisville. I got here on Sunday uneventfully. Airplanes (NWA), rental car (Enterprise Hyundai), hotel (Hampton Inn). I was shocked to see how close the Executive West Inn is to the airport. [It was bought by the Crowne Plaza within the last year, but I can't bear to think of it under that name; boards are ALWAYS at Ex West.] When I got in my little car and exited up out of the airport lot, this monument of a hotel was the first thing I saw, dominating my little horizon like some huge stadium. It's kind of intimidating! My hotel is right next door. By the way, I LOVE getting into a hotel room. I immediately unpack everything and put things in their places. It's like a clean slate moment for me, and everything fits so neat and tidily. Suit hanging up, little soap bar unwrapped, computer plugged in. I love it.

I went to a Quizno's for lunch, drove around downtown for a while, and found a local weekly paper so that I could pick a good place for dinner. I saw the U of L (there was a regional playoffs baseball game going on at Papa John Stadium), the Children's Hospital, and the Louisville Slugger museum. I was back in my room for a while, but headed out to Boombozz Taphouse for dinner. It was a good choice; lots of draught beers, good pizza, good atmosphere. Watched some TV and actually got quite a bit of sleep. Today was a little harder to fill with activities. I kept seeing examinees coming and going from the hotel next door and wishing for my own completion and closure. I went to a bookstore and a mall to spend some time. I've been in my room for a lot of the afternoon playing on the computer, learning about RSS feeds, catching up on blogs, and trying not to think about the test.

What I'll remember about this semester is the time I've spent with my group of residents, the nerves, and the support I've gotten at home. I'll NEVER think about boards without giving a silent little shout out to Erica, who helped keep me sane and allowed all those study nights. She took on proportionally more laundry, meal prep, trash take-out, discipline, phone call, errand, and planning duty. Willingly. Without debate.

What I'll remember about my residency is that thousands of patients were involved in getting me here. They all helped. A CT scan has about 400-500 images on average, if you include the reconstructions, scouts, etc. MRI has more. US has hundreds as well. If you look at 50 or 60 studies a day, plus conference, plus call and after-hours, plus what we read in books, we are exposed to thousands of images EACH DAY. Imagine what how many images I've seen in four years. It takes real people - with real diseases that hurt and make those patients throw up and bleed and drain and suffer - to make those images. I don't forget that. I will never forget that while my specialty at times makes me a little more removed from the IV poles and hospital beds and call buttons, I am indebted to real people.

So I'll finish tomorrow around noon, head to the airport, and get home tomorrow night. I'll spend much-needed time with my family and open a little letter on Friday or Saturday. Phew.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


I'm still studying, but I'm in the taper.  It's just like training for a marathon, but without toenail injuries.  You don't work too hard at the end.  Especially in the last two weeks.  One week from right now, I'll be in Louisville.  

We've had a pretty good holiday weekend, even though it hasn't seemed too celebratory for me. That's one thing I've noticed about residency and young doctorhood: holidays aren't much.  We have this conversation when we're looking at schedules and planning trips.  Sometimes you have time off, sometimes you don't.

Ball game Friday night.  Ross got to run around the bases at the end.  I was way more excited than he was, and that's saying something.  I don't think I've ever gotten to do that; since I have a less-than-5-year-old, I got to participate. Have I ever told you the story about how I DIDN'T get to be a Travs batgirl when I was a kid. I'll spare you the pain. Let's just say it was tragic. And unconstitutional.

So we ran around yesterday, accomplished some errand stuff, spent time with my mom, and ended up going to Whole Hog for dinner followed by a movie (Earth).  We were planning on Monsters/Aliens, but you know how plans are.  Apparently my widget for movie times isn't so correct.  So we got there an hour early and went to eat barbeque instead.  We were the only people in the movie theater, which turns out to be perfect when you have a two-year-old watching a nature documentary featuring the bland, serious voice of James Earl Jones.  He was all over the place, and we let him.  Lesson: don't plan.

Today has been pretty rainy and dull, i.e. not much to post about.  We made it to church (there was plenty of room there), and then I studied.  One of those weekends where we keep thinking we'll plan something to do and do it.  Like I said, plans are overrated.  

Hopefully the game and fireworks won't get rained out; so far, so good.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


The days are just dragging.  My test is two weeks from yesterday, and I can't seem to get there.  I think I'm finished studying.  I just want to get there.  Everything is on hold.  Erica misses me.  I miss me.  I forget more things than I remember.  I am whiny.  Etc, etc.

I got to have lunch with Katy today, and that cheered me up a lot.  It's good to have an oldest bestest friend.  Some things never change. 

My applications are now complete to Toronto and Boston for the year-after-next fellowship possibility.  If I'm a good blogger, I'll keep you posted on how the academic year 2010-2011 progresses.

Our house isn't selling.  People are barely even looking.

We had a busy weekend.  Ross had three birthday parties, which means we have officially entered that stage in life.  He now has Tuesday and Thursday night swimming lessons, which he is ROCKING.  They want to promote him.  Ha.  Not surprised.  He had a hateful whiny horrible morning today.  I asked him, "What did you do with my kid and why can't you bring him back to me?"  Unfortunately, everyone at Panera saw his ferocity and thought, "That's her kid.  Why does she bring him out?"  They don't know that that's not really my kid.  My Ross is perfect and sweet and fun and appreciative.  Yikes.

Erica is back at work this week (she has these unpredictable but welcomed weeks off), so that has brought a little more routine to our lives.  She still holds things together around here, and weathers our toddler's storms with one hand tied behind her back.

Meanwhile, I'm sticking to the things that always work:  morning walks, my dog, beer, wasting time online, a clean car, new books, and Erica.  Always Erica.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Don't squeeze


Mother's Day was fun around here, obviously double the usual celebration.  We had special bagels at Ross' school at drop-off time on Friday, and he made little gifts for us.  They were in a sack to open on Sunday, but he was so proud he yelled, "Handprint!" when I picked him up that afternoon.  

He spent the night with my mom.  They went to Fayetteville to stay with Nae-Nae (my mom's sister), who was in charge of her two grandsons.  I'm sure it was non-stop fun.  Ross was exhausted Saturday when he got home.  It allowed us a dinner at Brave New, which is by far our favorite Little Rock restaurant.  We hadn't been in a LONG time.

I had mock boards on Saturday, which was really good for showing me how long that "real" day will feel.  It went well, and it put a lot of things in perspective.  I know this stuff.  I've been studying like crazy.  A few areas to work on in the next three weeks, but otherwise a confidence booster.  I got home around 2:30 and opened a beer.  Nice.

Erica had a lot of family in town for Mother's Day.  Her grandmother is moving to Florida, and the exchange between caretaker-uncles happened in Little Rock.  It is a difficult transition for everyone because the grandkids feel like she is moving too far away.  So kind of a bittersweet day.  Nonie is in her eighties and largely unaware of the goings-on.  Everyone took more pictures than usual.

Sunday was church and brunch back at Erica's parents' house.  Big day.  We napped and then had dinner with my dad and grandmother (who is also increasingly unaware).  Ross loves big family weekends and seeing the cousins.

With all the rain, we spent last evening cleaning out the drain in front of our garage so that it doesn't flood.  There was mud everywhere.  Ross played with worms.  I shoveled mud.  Erica Shop-Vac'ed the standing water.  And then we dug out the drain itself.  Not glamorous work, but it seemed to hold last night during the rain.  As I was walking them out to the car this morning, Erica and Ross saw a big turtle in our drive!  He was thrilled.  My camera was upstairs, which now I'm totally regretting.

Above: we're learning about underwear.  We have a lot to learn.

Thursday, May 07, 2009


Sitting in the library and obviously not studying. The pictures of the small bowel follow-through are on the screen, but my mind wanders.

I am two people or three, or thirty, or a million.

I used to be someone who walked in the woods, listened to all kinds of music, traveled with a backpack, and lazed. Now I work, and parent, and study, and survive. It is like two different people, seemingly unaligned.

This is not a dismal post. I'm just realizing that THIS is what the 30's (and probably middle age) are all about. We have to figure out who we are. This sounds easy, and I did it years ago. Which was all well and good, but then I changed. I still like to do the things I used to have time for, but I have to find ways to fit them in. This is why people our age are busy. Not because we have kids, but because we have kids and jobs and partners in addition to all the things we used to have. It's not a trade-off, but a squeeze. Case in point: my game room closet, where you will find life jackets, camping equipment, and golf clubs. Relative antiquities these days, but worth keeping and fighting for.

So now I know who I am, but I have to keep on top of that. I still know what I want to do and be, but I have to know that these things change, too.

One day last summer (the summer of my confusion and discontent), I was brushing my teeth in the 1/2 bath. I looked in the mirror and realized that I am exactly who I always wanted to be. I think that moment was precious - not because it was then that I realized it, but because it was then that I really became it. A combination of lots of Leahs.

This person has great hair. She works and loves and plays hard. She is not too old, not too young. She is educated but has billions of things to learn. She has time to do the things she loves, but she has to work for this time.

Which makes simple pleasures more enjoyable after all.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


It's good to be home.  I have settled back in.  The only problem is that the imminence of boards is pressing and squeezing and contracting.  It really does feel like that.  Four weeks from today, I'll be finished.  I got home late Friday night, and then had board reviews on Saturday and Sunday.  It was like, "Welcome home, get away from your family and come to WORK."  On Monday, I had four board reviews.  Wow.  The thing is: reviews are awesome.  An "examiner," usually one of my attendings or former residents, stands in front of us and shows us cases.  We go around the room and act like we are taking our oral boards.  An image is shown, we describe it, talk about the findings, our differential diagnosis, and state what we would do next (more imaging, refer to a surgeon, biopsy, tell 'em to suck it up, etc.).  It's an incredible amount of stress and intimidation, but in that regard it simulates the real oral board exam.  It's an invaluable experience, but an hour of that stuff wears me out.  My neck tenses up and I always get a headache.

So now you know why my life feels like it is on hold.  And now that I've complained for an entire paragraph, I'm probably done.  Please don't leave my blog now that I've returned!

I looked back at some of the more recent blog posts and realized that a lot has changed.  Mae is at her new home, as I stated.  The awesome nanny?  Well, she was a con artist liar.  It's a long story that many of you have heard, but life has been so much better since we moved on.  It didn't take us long to figure her out; the stories never made it back around to truth.  Our boy is safe, we are relatively unscathed, and all is well.  Ross is now at a new school downtown near Children's.  We LOVE his new school.  We faced the fact that he was totally ready for school, anyway.  It gives us all a routine to have him there, and the new baby is on the list for January, when Erica is projected to return to work.  Oh yeah, that's news!  20 weeks today.  We had our big ultrasound yesterday and kept our heads turned when there might have been a crotch shot, much to the dismay of the grandparents, who would love to know which color to buy.  We are keeping it a surprise.

Erica's job continues to go well.  It is low stress.  She has weeks on service and weeks off.  No nights or weekends!  In retrospect, I don't think we ever thought there would be a time in our lives that we wouldn't both have nights and/or weekends.  Or that there would be scheduled days off!  It is such a blessing to have her in a good practice.  She loves ACH and spends some time at UAMS, too, where she attends deliveries and follow-up care.  My job isn't structured right now; I just study.

My fellowship in pediatric radiology starts this summer and will continue for a year.  I'm already planning for an additional year in interventional radiology for the following year (2010-1011).  I know, it's crazy.  More training.  I total of 7 years after graduating from med school.  Oh well, it's what I love.  I want to end up at ACH; I want to teach; I want to be involved in every way that I can in imaging for kids. The interventional year would likely be done "away;" I'm applying to Toronto, Boston, and maybe a couple others.  We'll see.  If I don't get one of those, then I'll apprentice here in town in a less official fellowship and stay on as staff here.

Ross is an energetic, smart, loving two-year-old.  He has learned to fake cry when he has to go to time out, but seeing him come tell us he's sorry makes us melt.  He wants to do things by himself.  He wears Pull-Ups, but there hasn't been a tremendous amount of progress in that department.  He gets Band-Aids.  He looks so natural in jeans and a little Polo shirt.  He takes good naps.  He gets in our bed between 12 and 4 every morning!  He is a book fanatic.  He speaks SO WELL for his age and puts together great sentences, complete with adverbs.  He points out the giraffes and hippos on the way to school in the car every morning.  He says the blessing by himself.  He adores his cousins.  He knows how to scream.  He remains a great eater.  He gets excited when we talk about "tiny love" coming and wears his big brother shirt with pride!

I've spent the morning attacking the stack of mail and catching up on bills.  Strangely, doing those things is a really calming experience for me.  I sit in front of my new computer, blast the indigo girls, and accomplish stuff.  The piles get smaller, the boxes get checked, and it turns into "me" time.  

Check my facebook for pictures from Boston.

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Well, if taking a trip is the only motivation for me to blog, then so be it.  I can promise to do better, but we know what that really means.  

Duke: In preparation for my boards (June 2 at 7 a.m. in Louisville, Kentucky), I went with the other members of my residency class to a board review course in N.C.  It was an all-day (11 hr) gig for 7 straight days.  Pretty hard core.  It was good.  I learned a lot and became more comfortable with a lot of the material.  Enjoyed hanging out with my group, too.  We went to some restaurants, ate a little and drank a lot.  I also got to spend time with an old high school buddy, Samantha, who is an attorney in Raleigh now.  That was really fun and much-needed; we have spent about 5 minutes together in the last 9 years.

Boston: I flew straight from Raleigh/Durham to Boston last Friday.  I rented an apartment for the week, which was a combined family vacation and radiology meeting.  I ran my bags to the apartment on the T, which was insane on the green line in preparation for a Red Sox/Yankees game, but I made it back to the airport just in time to greet Erica and my boy.  We were all pretty much ecstatic to see each other.  No, really.  7 days was way too long.  So after all that studying, the vacation was going to be awesome no matter what.  

Friday: walked to eat burritos, grabbed some staples, crashed out.

Saturday: lots of walking, Copley Square (where the marathon finish barricades were still up), public gardens, swan boats, ducklings, playground at boston commons, lunch with Ralph and Katy (living here for fellowship), nap!, best Red Sox game ever.  Thanks to for charging me a kabillion dollars for average seats.  It was the best time I've ever had at a sporting event, bar none.

Sunday: New England Aquarium, Quincy, walk to Fan Pier (where there is a big regatta event), walk aimlessly in attempt to find the Tea Party Ship (which, it turns out, is nonexistent now; renovations underway), calm down screaming child who wanted to see the TPS so badly, return to apartment via T, Upper Crust pizza for dinner.

Monday: Prudential Tower skywalk, walk through commons and along Freedom Trail to Quincy (where Ross spilled his pasta all over the floor), Children's Museum (where I climbed to the top of the maze with my 2-yr-old), nap, Cheesecake Factory (where our waitress' name was Meg; "She is my new friend").

Tuesday: Leah to her course for the morning, Erica and Ross to public library and return to public garden, reunite, lunch on Charles Street, walk all the way to Old Ironsides (another request from the boy, who is well-read about Boston and wanted to see each of the sites in his favorite book), cab home, cook dinner.

Wednesday: exit day for E and Ross, Leah to full-time meeting.  I found a local bar and immersed myself in the Red Sox and Summer Wheat.  Then I went to another place just because it was called Daisy Buchanan's, which also turned out to be a good local dive.

Thursday: another day of ARRS meeting, with 7a-4p imaging review course.  Oh, I found a coffee place that gives away free small coffee because they just opened a week ago.  What a deal.  My course is just another good way to study for boards.  I skipped some of the mammo lectures because, honestly, I never plan on reading a mammogram and I can actually say that because I'm going into pediatric radiology.  Never say never.  Dinner was best minestrone ever at Ciao Bella, which is a great place (stocked with Hendricks gin by the way).  Spent some time at Apple's biggest retail store.

Remember:  Record highs on a few of the days here; sunburns; up to 90 on Sunday and Tuesday.  Ross in his BOB stroller, which was like a second home and (thankfully) second bed. Lots of Ben and Jerry's ice cream.  The "green house," our Commonwealth Avenue apartment in Back Bay, so named because of a green awning out front.  Loudest window unit air conditioner on the planet.  Laundry in the scary basement. Red Sox mania.  Long freaking walks because we didn't have a great map; I am a good tour guide, but maybe not that interested in details.  City walking by myself (it's what I do).  Erica thinking the Prudential observation was free and telling the worker , who had no response but to disagree politely.