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Catherine Fischer

[ website | Catherine Fischer ]
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Words to strike fear... [Aug. 28th, 2006|10:05 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[Tags|, ]
[mood |crazycrazy]

OK, I know I have a ton of stuff to catch up on; I know I still have to finish typing up the honeymoon and the move from hell and the descriptions of my wonderful new house (and the unfortunate way it turns into an oven during heat waves)… but today was senior spay day, and I’m on surgery, so I was in charge. Had an utterly unforgettable moment, helping a student finish a difficult closure on a kitty with massive mammary hyperplasia.

The student behind me, the one who had no idea how to complete a physical exam of a cat, and who was afraid of handling the cat (immediately asked for help without even trying) had started the last spay. Our awesome, easy-going anesthesiologist came in to check on his student and the cat, and I hear him say “Dude, that’s not the way you look for a uterus – first, put everything back inside…”

Oh, shit. I scrubbed out and went to help her in a big hurry.

I can’t recall ever starting so many sentences with the word “Stop. Just stop…”

This, coming off a weekend I spent entirely in ICU with my diabetic patient and a bulldog who kept obstructing his airway (and had to be suctioned over and over), sleeping in the residents on call apartment, getting woken up every couple of hours...
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Pics from Vancouver! [Mar. 21st, 2006|07:46 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |cheerfulBetter!]
[music |AllStar, Smashmouth]

Hey! Here're the sites I created from some of the pics I've taken in gorgeous Vancouver, BC!


And here are the newest updates to my new journal:


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Internship [Mar. 6th, 2006|06:05 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |ecstaticelated]
[music |Marimba music]

This is a link to my new journal!
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Snowdrop [Feb. 28th, 2006|03:03 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |contemplativeAnticipatory]
[music |Don't Know Why, Norah Jones]

Winter in Minnesota offers very little hell and a whole lot of purgatory.

The snow melted off a long time ago, yet the temperature has chosen, over the past many weeks, to yo-yo between 20 and 40 degrees. Brown, barren, a land in limbo. As am I, in many ways. I long for the green haze and the release of spring – the glorious, soaring spring skies, the vibrancy of the breeze, the sense of motion restored to the world! The windows closed and condensing against the cold, I’m reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, watching the winter sunlight slide across the sleeping cats and dreaming of pushing through the soil and blooming, like a snowdrop.

It has been a few weeks, now, since I received my diploma in the mail (as gaudy and garishly made-up looking as my classmates complained it was, in online bitch-sessions with many voices saying the same thing); I received notice at almost the same time that I passed my national board exams. The cathartic release of having the work done, the deed accomplished was a weight lifted I didn’t know I was carrying, until suddenly I had that helium-balloon, weak-kneed lightness and near-hysterical relief, ripping open the envelope and scanning its contents, uncomprehending for long minutes before its meaning sank in. I have spent nearly the last 4 years, sacrificing everything I once held dear, to the fire of pursuing this goal. Attained, I am somewhat lost at sea.

I went and celebrated with Brent, and silently closed another chapter in my life; I have yet to open the next one.

Since then, I have been Avoiding Things. I have done this, very effectively forestalling my well-developed sense of guilt and obligation, by filling my life with the busywork I so long neglected for More Important Things (study superceded all, followed by those necessities such as bills and taxes), catching up on the endless to-do lists I created and stashed in large, ignored piles on my desk. Checking things off has felt wonderful; I have even allowed myself the pleasure of a few personal projects, such as redoing much of my website, including adding a lot of photo albums from my clinical year of vet school.

What I have not been doing is what I swore to myself I would use this time for. Reclaiming the lost heritage of a life well-rounded and richly endowed, surrendered to the cleansing fires and Puritan zeal of study. Emerging like a moth from vet school, still damp and crumpled, I find I no longer know how to fill my time with the joy of creative endeavors. I find my conversation as desolate and poor as the moth’s existence, with eating and growth and slow days in the sunlight finished and only a single purpose left to fill the remaining hours of life. Yes, I do still love medicine, after all. But suddenly I find myself desperate to remember my love of other things, too: to be more than the vessel for those 4 years. I never wanted, after all, for career to define me.

I have meant to write more. I have meant to get out more, and try my hand at old hobbies, but this feels as stilted and artificial as resuming my maiden name, when my husband cast me off, not wanting any part of me or the sacrifices I was willing to make for the future, and thus becoming a sacrifice himself. I wasn’t that person anymore; I knew I would need a new name. And so I vacillated, determined to create a new name, a new persona, until a name was offered to me as a gift. And so I vacillate now, waiting for new life to fill up the emptiness left behind.

I have fallen into bad habits. Old habits. Avoiding duties that remind me of unpleasant things. Avoiding obligations that I am very late with. Running away and hiding in busywork, accomplishing nothing I can point a finger to, and failing to accomplish the spiritual and philosophical transformation that I must, must effect before I throw myself back into the pursuit of medicine, lest the opportunity be lost – lest some critical other part of me be lost, lest I lose my soul in the process.

It is easy to be lazy. It is easy to do the housework, not thinking while doing it, avoid attending the online rounds I had intended to take part in, avoid stretching creative muscles long atrophied, even though I have promised others the fruit of my labors and failed to deliver, and despise myself for it. It is easy to bask in the comfort of Brent’s company, the silences and smiles, the occasional entertainments, the homebody existence that attends the exhausted student life. But I should be doing more than feeding him. I am in the position of having time to pursue the creativity I know I am capable of, and bringing it to him, forcing him out of the comfort zone. He told me he loved that about me, once, with stars in his eyes, his arms around me in the moonlight. That I could drag him out of the existence he was already too familiar with. And yet, our comfort zones are so very similar… it is too easy to fall back into them, unthinking, not speaking.

That was not the marriage I wanted the first time, either – the superficial, planktonic existence that was comfortable to Kevin, because I did not know how much he feared change, feared what lay beneath the surface (of himself, me, the world). It galled me to discover how little I had known or understood him, before the grief and change arrived, and it was time for my next odyssey of growth and transformation. And by the time I understood, I could not forgive him, and could not live with who he really was, and he would chew off a foot to escape from having to live the examined life, afraid of knowing himself.

The trap I swore I would not return to. This. And so I am reading again, for the other voices that I need to start the conversation inside me back up. New Year’s resolutions arrived late… I will force myself to tackle at least 2 unpleasant things tomorrow, and will plan something out of the comfort zone. To save myself.
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Update on the Weather [Nov. 15th, 2005|07:25 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |Limb by Limb, Phish]

Snow, snow, snow, say the weather forecasts. But this morning when I awoke, the streets were still rainy and grey; the trees were still pointing barren fingers accusingly at the sky, awaiting their winter benediction. All day long, everyone speaks of snow. Autumn has outstayed its welcome, with its many shades of sorrowful grey, lugubrious cityscapes artificially brightened with winter decorations and twinkling lights that flash in the pallid sunlight, dancing in fantastic animation when the wind blows at night.

Today was a good day. I am on the backslide of large animal medicine, with NO CASES in hospital. It has been eerily quiet in the downstairs dungeon (the large animal hospital), and we, the students, have been using the time to prepare for our national board exams. Mine is December 7, just two days after all of my internship applications are due -- so I've been running all over the hospital, acquiring bits of information and letters of recommendation from various clinicians I respect. This is harder than it sounds. No one has a reasonable or predictable schedule. But today I corralled the last of the lot, have my programs prioritized, faxed my transcript request to Ross headquarters, mailed my check to Ross (they STILL haven't gotten the damn school online, despite two international locations, students scattered all over the continent, and being purchased by DeVry, leader in technology) and even completed my curriculum vitae last night -- this is probably the best job I've done with the thing. I do hope it gains me the grace of those in charge of the internship programs.

In order, I am applying to: University of Minnesota, Oregon State University, Bay Area Veterinary Specialists (for private practice, they have ALL of the diagnostic toys), and VCA Emergency Animal Hospital and Referral Center (in San Diego). I am most interested in my top two choices; in fact, I had a hard time deciding between the two of them as to ranking. But while Minnesota's crushing caseload is guaranteed to leave me exhausted, it is also guaranteed to send me out the door VERY well trained.

A CASE came in today. A case. We have had, in the entire week and a half so far of large animal medicine, probably 4 cases. There are 4 students on this rotation. So our clinician, Dr. Bentley, asks the obvious question: "who wants it?" The three large animal students remain silent, and take a large step backward. "Don't everyone speak up at once," says Dr. Bentley. "It's mine," I say, exasperated with the lazy-ass large animal students. I'm only there because Ross requires that I track mixed animal. Because of my back, I wouldn't set foot in the large animal hospital if I could help it. My goals for the rotation: get some good review information for boards, and avoid getting hurt. However, the case ends up being extremely interesting. The owner is intelligent, informative, and likable; the horse is extraordinarily charming and good-natured. And I needed a case to present for Grand Rounds in January, with Brent and Kristina, a Minnesota classmate -- and Kristina has nothing, and Brent won't even have any large animal rotations before we present. Big checkbox in Catherine's Magnificent, Astonishing, Ever-Living To-Do List CHECKED. And the last item I needed signed off on my large animal practicum (a Minnesota requirement) was a trans-tracheal wash, which I assisted with today. CHECK. My To-Do List is so overwhelmingly long and out of control that I have nightmares about it. Getting my internship stuff together and these two large animal bits of business accomplished is more of a relief than words can do justice to. I even received praise for my history-taking and differential diagnosis list from a senior clinician that I have a high degree of respect for! I am unaccustomed to this accolade, and it still glows like an ember. Praise is stintingly given, here.

Driving home, the rain lands granular and half-frozen on my windshield, dripping melted sno-cone and just about as inviting. Wet streets and wall-to-wall traffic, red tail-lights... and suddenly, there it is: the first flakes like gnats swirling in eddies around my side mirrors, blooming in great sweeping arcs like fireworks expanding into the night sky against my windshield. Snow. The first snow of winter. The wet streets and traffic no longer matter.
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WEDDING INVITATION [Oct. 23rd, 2005|01:46 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |happyhappy]
[music |Ode to Joy]

Here's the invitation! Hope to see you all there! (If not, hope to see you all soon!)


Brent & Catherine
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ATTENTION ALL READERS [Oct. 17th, 2005|03:36 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |blankblank]
[music |Silence]

Due to the fact that I had to deal with a crank on LJ, I'm now locking all of my entries so that only friends (logged-in LiveJournal members) can read the personal stuff. If you've been checking for updates and haven't seen any, it's because of that asshat, whoever he/she/it was. Log in, and you'll be able to read the stuff. Sorry for the inconvenience. Love, Catherine
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The Change [Aug. 22nd, 2005|09:30 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |contemplativecontemplative]
[music |Silence]

Harbinger Days

Crystal-cut and clarion, solipsistic Sunday
Bright breeze bringing a bugle call;
Far back in the brain, the pineal stirring of genetic memory.
The clockwork of the year clanks past an unheralded turning point
(Its antediluvian cycle part of a tacit understanding)
Bringing the heat-dazed dozer wide awake, and wondering at what started him.
My eyes travel the slant of the light
With sly familiarity, feigning innocence
When I twitch to thumb the change.

The heart has its seasons;
I know these lanes of light and shade, have walked the long years down, hand in hand
Listening to the chatterbox leaves that gossip behind their rattling fans
Restless in their seats during the intermission
Of the Sun’s migration
The clouds well-choreographed, dancing distraction until the next movement,
Silently miming the Summer’s dying soliloquy:
On days like these, with the soul’s ceiling arching away out of sight
No one listens.

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Overpopulation [Aug. 18th, 2005|08:12 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |angryangry]

Well, I just received the first truly vicious response ever on this journal (see comments, entry before last). I wonder at the petty nastiness of the person who sent it, and wonder who beat him or her and locked him/her in a closet as a child. I wonder if being spiteful somehow makes him/her feel larger, in his/her small little world. I very much hope that he or she doesn't intend to be a vet, as vets require compassion and empathy. (He or she would do better as a doctor in human medicine, where bedside manner seems to be a skill long lost.) He/she probably beats his/her pets, too, and will someday end up in a lawsuit, like the one on the film we watched in our Practice Management & Jurisprudence course.

I have always gone out of my way to avoid making enemies, and have always tried to be kind and sympathetic to everyone. On a one-on-one basis, I genuinely like most people -- everyone has his/her redeeming features. Perhaps it was someone who envied what I was able to accomplish, or what he/she perceived I had, not knowing or caring what I had to sacrifice for it.

Mean little people. I wish there were retroactive birth control to remove them from our overcrowded planet. Everyone is better off without them, and the world is a happier place.

Whoever you are, I hope you understand, once you make your first big mistake, at the bitter edge of exhaustion, or in a haze of pain, as in my case. And I hope that when you seek comfort from your friends, you are laughed at, or stared at with horror.
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Clearing the Air [Aug. 18th, 2005|07:14 pm]
Catherine Fischer
[mood |contentBetter]
[music |Random radio songs]

Today Dr. Ellings -- whom I have already come to love, for her commitment to our learning -- was out; the community practice team hung out with emergency... that is to say, we waited almost all day for an emergency to come in, talking and eating, then got involved with an interesting case (and a really cool emergency doc) right before it was time for us to leave. And I realized today that, having spent last weekend philosophizing, thinking over what's wrong with me and TALKING about it has helped, immensely. I also realized that the chronic pain of my back injury (and recent exacerbation) has improved to the point of functionality again, and my attitude has improved commensurately.

As rain brings the fish to the surface, so pain brings the silent anguish in my emotional waters to the surface.

And as rain clears the air, so suddenly, in the absence of pain, I can think more clearly again, can function more efficiently.

Talking with other students feels better, too -- I don't feel like I'm the only lame, inefficient student with poor technical skills and a crummy memory around, missing important details and taking way longer than I ought. Roush used to say that "good comes first, fast comes later", but that's not what's emphasized in our clinical year. We are constantly pushed to pick up the pace. And that's when I miss things.

I'm grateful that this rotation is laid-back, and I have vacation next. I need some time to focus on other things. And I miss Brent so badly my teeth ache. He'll be here in a week and a half. I have so much to do before then, and all I want to do is sleep...

Have started dreaming again, this rotation. Haven't remembered a dream in I don't know how long. So suddenly, I'm having all of these VIVID, wild dreams that I remember with perfect clarity. I'm also visiting a lot of habitual dreamscapes -- places that may or may not exist in the real world, but they certainly exist in my dreams, and I love visiting them.

I'm still disappointed in some of my grades -- feel that I worked harder than those grades showed, and wish I could go back to those rotations and ASK what I could have done better, that was within my capabilities of doing. My clinical grades are very different than my academic ones... as I knew they would be. But the poor grades feel like a stab in the back, after I tried my hardest... something the clinician could have seen and helped me correct, while I was under his or her auspices, rather than hurt me with it later, when I can't see it coming.

I hate how arbitrary the grading process is. It is so very, very destructive to my pallid, delicate, newborn, altricial professional confidence -- the part of veterinary medicine I have the toughest time with. How am I supposed to learn the confidence I need to practice, if I am never allowed any wins?
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