Saturday, May 31, 2008

Getting Rocked

Nearly 9pm on a Saturday night, still in the hospital, been here since 6:30pm....ouch. This patient is almost finished in the dialysis unit and when done I can fly, praying to the call gods during my bike ride home that my pager will stay silent.

Could have been worse...a dialysis patient who gets dialyzed every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning decided to skip her Tuesday and Saturday sessions because she "didn't feel well", showed up in the Emergency Room with a dangerously high potassium. Just absolutely horrible timing. However a miracle from above was delivered when her K decreased to 4.0 (safely within the normal range) with correction of her acidosis (she is a diabetic who also only takes her insulin when she feels like it, much like her attitude towards dialysis) and we're able to defer her dialysis off 'til Monday.

Boston-L.A. in the NBA Finals!!! I am incredibly excited. Beat L.A.! Unfortunately the Lake Show is rightfully the favorites going into the series and I have a sinking suspicion they will win it all.

Au revoir.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Friday Night Thoughts

The only thing lame about last night's Lost episode was that I have to wait 'til next fall to see another episode. It was awesome! Highlights for me included the fight sequence between uber-bad guy Martin Keamy and former Iraqi National Guardsman Said, the Desmond-Penny reunion, and the revelation that Locke (for some reason now named after philosopher Jeremy Bentham) was the man in the coffin.

Watching Game 6 of the Pistons-Celtics Eastern Conference Finals currently...we are one win away from a dream Lakers-Celtics Finals, though I don't necessary trust this current Boston team not to choke given their recent difficulties in the Finals.

I have a one-day weekend coming (working Saturday but not Sunday).

Sophie is looking forward to her French Grandmama coming to visit tomorrow!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sophie & the French Chicks

Our friend Marion from my old lab in France was in town interviewing for post-doc positions and she stayed with us for a couple of days. More opportunity for Sophie to get exposed to her legacy of Frenchness! Here are some pictures of us hanging out with Marion and Cecile (yet another French scientiste) on the Harvard undergraduate campus in Cambridge.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day, all!

It was a beautiful Boston day, which once again was spent by myself in the hospital.

At least there was quite a bit of variety during the day's new admissions: two dialysis patients (one admitted with fever, the other with a clotted catheter), three new consults (at least one of which gets the "interesting" label), one kidney transplant patient with a heart problem, and one sick patient in the ICU who needed to start dialysis semi-emergently. And there's still a decent chance I'll get called in the middle of the night to help a pair of dialysis patients get a kidney transplant which may be available.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Wearable Kidney

This dude was an author of a 2007 Lancet paper describing the invention of the WAK (Wearable Artificial Kidney). The idea, of course, is that individuals with end-stage kidney disease would be able to walk around with this portable blood filtering device rather than having to go into a dialysis unit three times a week for 3-4 hours a session, thus giving their lives more freedom.

The belt (which I think can be likened to one of Batman's utility belts, don't you think?) weighs about 10 pounds. The study in 2007 described 7 patients who used the machine for a total of 4-8 hours and experienced no major complications. One of the main issues with any such machine is that the needles inserted into the wearer's veins could conceivably become dislodged and lead to serious bleeding complications; apparently the device does come equipped with some safety mechanisms to ensure that this does not occur.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Photo Mystery

See if you can guess what this latest Mystery Photo is (scroll to bottom of the latest Sophie pics to see the answer)...
And here's some Sophie bathtime pics:
Answer to Mystery Photo: the photo is a box of Junior Mints melted into a solid block after spending two afternoons baking in a hot Californian sun.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

ECD Kidneys

For the next 6 weeks I'll be on the Kidney Transplant service at Brigham & Women's Hospital.

The service is certainly less busy than the other services from whence I came--but lately it's been hoppin'. Three cadaveric kidney transplants in three days, and two living donor transplants last Thursday.

The three cadaveric (e.g. from a dead person) transplants were all "ECD" kidneys. This stands for "extended criteria donor" and it basically means that the donor kidney is not in perfect tip-top shape. Usually, we don't use kidneys from patients older than age 60, or if they come from patients with high blood pressure which can damage the kidneys. However for patients who are willing to accept such a suboptimal kidney--from patients >60 yrs old or >50 yrs old with high blood pressure--it can be done. Typically ECD kidneys are offered only to older patients on the transplant list, since the lifespan of ECD kidneys is understandably less. The three ECD recipients from this week had ages of 70, 71, and 78 years old!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Walking Practice

I'm happy to report that in my short absence, Sophie is making rapid progress regarding her walking abilities.


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In unrelated news, I couldn't be more excited about this year's NBA "Final Four": the Boston Celtics, Detroit Pistons, LA Lakers, and San Antonio Spurs. All four have an illustrious NBA history with multiple titles; one could also argue that as the Spurs, Pistons, and Lakers have all won championships in the past 10 years (4 for the Spurs, 3 for the Lakers, and 1 for the Pistons), they are battling this year for the label of "Most Dominant Legacy of the Past 10 Years" (though I would probably contend that the Spurs have probably already earned that title).

Monday, May 19, 2008

Congrats, Doug & Rebecca

My mom remarked to me a few days ago that she gets worried that I'm too busy when she notices I haven't posted anything on my blog. She would be correct.

It's been a hectic but fun few days, as I flew out to northern California over the weekend to see my college roommate Doug get married to Rebecca. The insanity of my schedule began with last Wednesday, one of the most trying and strenuous of my days as a Nephrology Fellow for reasons I won't get into now. I was working until about midnight, and never got the chance to really recover, as Friday after work I made a beeline for the airport so that I could fly to the wedding, arriving after all was said and done in Coloma (a small town not far from Sacramento in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains). I partied until the wee hours on Saturday night, camped in a tent at the bride's parents' campgrounds, and caught "the red-eye" flight, which arrived in Boston around 6:45 am Monday morning, just in time to make it into work without being embarrassingly late. I'm typing this blog entry in bed, thrilled at the prospect of a night sleeping on a mattress as opposed to a tent floor or an airplane seat as has been the case over the past few nights.

On with the pictures! It was a beautiful wedding and great to catch up with a core group of college friends, including Jason & Nir shown here.

The wedding ceremony took place beneath an enormous oak tree which required a decent hike through the woods to get to.

A view of the American River (where gold was initially found in California) from the wedding site.
There was >100 degree weather for the ceremony--Jason hoses down after the ceremony here.
Congrats to Doug & Becca, shown here with a bunch of Yale friends in attendance.Appropriately the wedding had a "Western theme" as demonstrated by Nir.

Monday, May 12, 2008

2008 Nate Awards

Because I don't have anything else to blog about...I'm going to give out the 2008 Nate Awards to entities which deserve to be saluted for their overall excellence. Roll out the red carpet and let's begin.

The 2008 Cereal of the Year Award goes to: Oh's Cereal. What an upset! This category has been virtually dominated by Cap'n Crunch through the years--with a brief infatuation with Cinnamon Toast Crunch for a spell--but Quaker's honey graham cereal is totally addictive and clearly the Cereal of the Year. And not to mention a bargain at $2.50 a box. The 2008 Most Enjoyable Comic (MEC) Award goes to the "Fables", published by Vertigo Comics. It's really quite fun--it features famous characters from the nursery rhymes and fairy tales we've all grown up with (e.g., Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Goldilocks, Beauty & the Beast, etc) but portrays them in a more modern light. I highly recommend it to both comics & non-comics fans alike.
The 2008 Most Valuable Baby-Related Item of the Year goes to the Baby Bjorn. Still popular with all members of the Hellman family.
2008 Lost Character of the Year: Benjamin Linus. He's replaced Locke for me as the most intriguing character of my favorite show. Is he good? Is he evil? I've changed my opinion several times already.

And finally, the 2008 Baby of the Year Award goes to: Sophie Anne Hellman. Was there ever any doubt?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Weekend Decompression

I've had a chronically sleep-depriving past 2 weeks on-service, and this weekend has offered the nice chance to decompress.

Saturday, I'll admit, was spent mostly catching up on zzz's and paying bills previously ignored. Today (Sunday) however we mobilized with the help of some friends and headed out for a day of BBQ & relaxation at Houghton Pond, much like the dated photo of Senator John Kerry on the left. It's located next to the Blue Hills, where we had explored this past fall. It was a remarkably sunny & pleasant afternoon.

Sophie playing with her good friend Nye.
Nate & Jamil taking turns on the hookah.
Happy Mother's Day, everybody!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Happy Mother's Day A La Lost

With Mother's Day fast approaching (and gearing up for tonight's impending episode of Lost!) I'm posting some home-made Mother's Day cards I found on the Internet. They're probably a lot more funny to those of you who follow the show regularly like myself...



Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Sleeping While Eating?

I never knew it was possible to fall asleep while eating, but Sophie managed to do just that yesterday night.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Call Countdown Begins

One more call down...only thirteen more to go! I think we can start to keep track of the "call countdown" now that we're at such a reasonable number. Actually it's a little more than 13 since I have to do one month extra more than the rest of the fellows since I started a month late. We can blame that one on Sophie's birth.

How cool would your life be if you had the "Jason Bourne" theme music playing in the background at all times? Probably a lot more cool than it is now, I'll tell you that.

One of my main goals for the day on-call was to watch as much of the Celtics-Hawks Game 7 as possible. Sadly, I got two consults just before the game started, and by the time I was finished with them and checked in on the score, the game was practically a done deal, the C's up by more than 30 midway through the 3rd quarter! I hope they don't have as many problems with LeBron and the Cavs.

Nice alligator suit, don't you think?

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Friggin' 2 and a Half Hour Rain Delay!

So my friend Dave scored tickets to the Boston Red Sox-Tampa Bay Rays game last night at Fenway Park.

I love catching a live baseball game from time to time and was pretty excited about the prospect of watching this one, especially since it was to serve as my sole respite prior to this weekend's scheduled on-call marathon.

However, watching the game turned out to be an exercise in patience and stamina, as we were subjected to a 2 1/2 hour rain delay beforehand! The rain was pouring down in buckets, and they kept on optimistically flashing a sign on the Jumbotron, saying, "We expect the inclement weather to pass shortly...please be patient and we will be making an announcement concerning the start of the game soon." To the credit of the meteorologists, the weather did indeed let up--but not until Dave & I (two MD's without the sense to come in out of the rain) were thoroughly damp and waterlogged, and just in time for the cool, spring night breeze to arrive. By the time we left in the 5th inning it was already nearly 11:30pm--though I like to pride myself on not leaving professional sporting events early, I had to wake up early to get to work the next day.

Sadly, the Bosox triumphed, 7-3. This game marked the first, and perhaps only, time that I was rooting for the Rays.