resurfacing for a moment

It’s been a few years since I’ve written on this thing.

I’ve been working trauma nights for the last few weeks, which mostly has reduced life to work, preparing for weekly lectures, and sleeping.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The one night off a week is spent trying to stay awake at night, watching the city fall asleep at my “lunchtime”, inevitably screwing up my sleep schedule and showing up to work exhausted the next day.  Feels a bit robotic.

Started off the day tired today.  I stayed up late doing admin and research-related work yesterday, and showed up to work a few minutes late — unshowered, exhausted, and hungry.  Some guy I know had the brilliant idea of eating oatmeal for dinner last night.  Genius.

We were one resident short, and the junior flying solo today was in the OR when I showed up for signout.  That’s ok.  Checked up on the ICU patients.  One guy – in multisystem organ failure for days – was maybe starting a slow spiral down.  I was worried about him yesterday – wait, this morning – he had reminded me too much of other patients I’ve had in the past who teetered in critical illness, then gracefully drifted down to death in one fell swoop.  His nurse paged me, he just wasn’t looking entirely right.  I agreed.  Studied the available data, assessed him an – beep, beep.  The junior is feeling sick and had to scrub out of the case, vomiting.

Down to the OR I go.   It goes ok, and is quick.  Looking at the clock, I want to get back upstairs.

“Hey… was that your patient who coded?”, inquires our anesthesiologist.

“… what code.”

“A few minutes ago… bed 12…”

Of course.

Case wraps up, I run upstairs, he is dead.  Family is all in the room and crying.  Nurse also about to start crying.  It just happened so fast, the swift descent of the critically ill patient.  Just yesterday, I laughed and chatted with his family and explained the complexities of his clinical situation.  Knowing he was ill, we had remained optimistic.

I am torn up and doing the usual rapid fire internal debriefing of the last week to see if we had missed anything, standing with patient’s wife and siblings.  The patient’s son, probably in his early twenties, walks out of the room.  Tears streaming down his face, chest heaving with sobs of grief.

Painful déjà vu again.  Reminded me of that first week of intern year, getting hit hard and having to compartmentalize and shut down the emotions to keep up with the wo – beep, beep.  Trauma in the ER, now. Sigh.  Well, the PA will help with tha – beep, beep.  Transfer patient in the ER now, heading to OR.

Sigh.  Shut it down.  Off to the ER.  See the new girl.  Tee her up, get her to the OR.  Operate.  Finish.  She does great.

Off to the ICU again, stop by room 12.  Empty, body gone, family gone.  Still hasn’t been turned over.  In the stillness of the dark morning, I stand at the doorway and just watch the emptiness.  The room is a shell, missing the vitality and hope of the patient & his family who were faithfully by his side for the last two weeks.

In third person, I can almost see myself from six years ago, standing outside of Mr. G’s room, sorting through the roller coaster of that day before breaking down in the elevator, for exactly five floors.

A lot has changed in six years.  A lot of growth, grief, cheer, and maturation.  However, some experiences remain just as raw as the first time.

Finally get a chance to grab a bite and shower, only to find out the shower in my call room has a backed up drain and spews rusty, brown water.  Some guy I know is eschewing oatmeal tonight, and going for the bacon.


ode to tastebud


when i first moved to portland, j goob chang and i wandered through the city to find a nice cheap slice of pizza.  we came across rocco’s downtown (which has now turned into another sizzle pie location recently), which was… pretty bad.  also stumbled upon pizza schmizza and hotlips pizza.  steps in a better direction.

since then, i’ve been on a steady hunt for good pizza in this town.  and boy has it delivered.  ken’s artisan pizza, dove vivi, apizza scholl’s, lovely’s fifty-fifty, pyro pizza, nostrana, sizzle pie, the whole foods in the pearl!, mississippi pizza pub, give pizza a chance, hotlips, pizzicato…. the list goes on and on.  i kept tabs on the pizzas in the portland-area hospitals (i think st. vincent’s takes the cake).  for every mood there’s pizza!

but despite these excellent places, my hands-down favorite slice of pizza comes from tastebud farm.  more specifically, a large warm slice of their pizza at the PSU saturday farmer’s market.  fired up in the portable wood-fire brick oven and freshly delivered into your hands piping hot.  with a hearty chewy crust that has a tiny bit of char on the edges and a warm soft flesh.  topped with delicious combinations of meat, cheese & produce from their farm with appropriate seasonal variation.

i remember my first slice of pizza from them during the first few months of living here, and the memory is still stuck in my mind.  squash, leeks, ricotta & bacon (top left in the picture).

with each return, new flavors!  ricotta, hazelnut, apples & canadian bacon.  pepperoni & shitake mushrooms.  lil mama’s peppers, habanero, roasted peaches with goat cheese.  roasted cauliflower, caramelized onions.  kale, bacon, apples.  lemon, clams and capers.

esther says heaven is made up of peaches, classical music & chubby round things with legs (she must mean pigs).  i’m guessing those pigs are there to produce bacon for these pizzas.


post call brunch

grabbed post-call brunch with vincent & jen earlier this week. byways cafe, over in the pearl off glisan & 12/13th. breakfast daily from 7-11am. super tasty. filled with relics from the fifty states (or most of them, lost track), like license plates, souvenirs, and other trinkets that people buy when they’re traveling that are fairly useless. works here. the ambience is a refreshing contrast to most of the eateries in the pearl.

brioche amaretto french toast, blue corn meal pancakes with honey pecan butter & maple syrup (with a chicken banger on the side), & the daily omelette (i think had bacon, avocado, blue cheese). each of the dishes here were $8-10, banger extra.

blue corn pancakes were my hands-down favorite. the blue corn add an interesting color and grit/substance to each bite. typically with pancakes i feel bored & guilty by the end of a short stack as you feel like you’re shoveling in bite after bite of fluffy carb without real purpose or pleasure. your tastebuds get numbed with the monotony of the flavor & semi-soppy fluff. with this dish, the corn meal, honey pecan butter & maple syrup add enough layers texture-wise & flavor-wise to keep things interesting ’til the end.

definitely coming again.

the restaurant

the restaurant

french toast

french toast



blue corn pancakes

blue corn pancakes


welcome back

i’ve been working a lot the last few weeks. esther’s been outta town for her epic east coast tour. aside from a quick bite after picking her up from the airport, we really haven’t seen each other since.

i finish a 24 hr shift and think,
“hey! we should hang out!”
“oh… i’m right about to leave town for a family retreat this weekend”
“… but i haven’t seen you for weeks!!”
“ok, i can stop by before i go?”

feeling a little neglected i drive home…

…and promptly pass out.

after numerous phone calls and texts (“um, are you there… are you going to open the door… did you fall asleep?”) we get to hang out!

and by that, i mean i passed out, apparently started drooling, and she folded my laundry.

welcome back to portland, esther. welcome back.


and we’ll be right baaaaaaack

…. 5 months later!

excellent. hello world.

ok, first update. saddle mountain. beautiful trail on the way to the coast. on a cloudless day, you can see st. helens, rainier, adams and hood. annnd you can see the coast line and where the columbia hits the pacific. perfect hike when your day off coincides with a cloudless summer day.

specs. 1600 ft elevation. 5.2 mile loop. thanks, portland hikers field guide. you make my life great.

you start off in the woods, do a nice hike with mild elevation gain. then you break out of the woods along a ridge and then come across saddle mountain. this is where most of the incline hits. the whole slope is exposed to sun, it’s gorgeous. they’ve got chain link fencing to hold rocks in place and to keep traction on the trail, otherwise i imagine it could get fairly muddy and slippery. for what you put in, hike-wise, you get a lot of rewarding views.

saddle mountain. perfect summer hike. the dots of fuzz on top = people

on the way up. the valley around the tillamook forest

still going up

st. helens, rainier, adams...

... and hood!


good morning, sun

one of the perks of surgery. seeing the sun wake up every day.

sunrise from the VA

sunrise from the VA

... and again


a bad idea

i’m on call every 3rd night on this current service. it can be pretty exhausting. to make life better, i’ve brought my blender to work a couple of times and made milkshakes at night for the night team.

this last call night, i was mad excited. all i could think of was milkshakes all day long. i brought my blender, 2 cartons of tillamook ice cream, and a package of oreos. it was going to be a good night. blackberry ice cream with crushed oreos? yeah, buddy!

i had an early lunch. i skipped dinner. i pre-gamed by eating a large choco mint milkshake in the cafeteria. when milkshake time came, i had two. and then another half of one. and then had some more ice cream.

what an awful idea. i wanted to throw up all night.

the nausea was so bad that i had another cup of ice cream on my way home the next morning.

so good.