Monthly Archives: October 2007

The marathon completed!

So the marathon is over! Last weekend was a good one. I got several hours’ sleep on call Friday night, and by 0900 Saturday I was heading to Midtown to catch the Chinatown bus to Washington DC. (The Chinatown bus enterprise has expanded to include departures from Midtown which is much more convenient for me.)

It’s always an experience to ride these buses, which provide a $35 round trip between NYC and DC. One looks for a small crowd of people with bags (usually six or eight people if one arrives ten minutes early) waiting on a streetcorner. It’s important to verify with at least two others who speak English that all are waiting for the same bus. At the appointed time, or even a few minutes early, a white, generally unmarked bus will round the corner. At this point, people come out of the woodwork to fill the bus. I’m always impressed with how a group of ten people expands to sixty when the bus pulls up!

On arriving to DC after a thankfully uneventful trip, I descended to the Chinatown Metro station and stood a few minutes baffled by the array of ticket choices. It seems one pays based on the distance traveled, rather than a flat fare as in New York. It’s necessary to save the ticket to exit the Metro as well. I decided on the all-day pass for $6.50 and walked to my train.

The Metro, I must say, was eerily clean and quiet. It reminds me much more of London’s Underground than of the Metro system’s older domestic cousin a couple hundred miles to the north. The trains glide up to the platform as soft red lights flash along the edge, warning the absent-minded straphanger stand back for the approach. The stations feature huge barrel-vaulted ceilings reminiscent of New York’s 168th Street station, only newer, cleaner, and starker. On board the carpeted train, I saw two people, at once, stand and insist that a woman with a toddler take their seats. (Have I changed so much after 16 months in the city? Have I grown so callous, so aloof? My feeling is that if there is as little as one open seat in the car, the young mother can take that one and seat the child on her lap. No reason to give up MY seat!)

Alison lives off the Cleveland Park stop on “The Red Line.” I was amused hearing the locals call the lines by their respective colors on the Metro map. In New York, tourists are easy to spot as they wrestle with maps in blustery Midtown, ride pedicabs through Central Park, or career* through the streets on double-decker buses. But an even surer way of being nailed as a tourist is to call the 1 Train, “The Red Line,” or refer to the 4,5,6 subway as “The Green Line.” Silly Washingtonians! To be fair, I guess they have no need to differentiate between express and local lines.

Alison’s neighborhood was charming. She lives in a four story renovated building just a couple blocks from the Metro stop. The walk their takes one past cafes with sidewalk seating and an old two-story firehouse. She parks her silver convertable Mini Cooper in a dilapidated brick stall off the alley, and her granite-countered, wood-floored apartment is home to two cats, one if which is probably the fattest I’ve seen.

I left my bag at Alison’s before meeting up with Adam & Ashley, and friends Ernest and Sharon back downtown. We rode to Ernest and Sharon’s house in Arlington where we rested for the afternoon. Adam, Ashley, and I watched college football and dozed in front of the TV while Ernest and Sharon attended a Halloween party. Since it got late, I crashed on the living room couch for the night rather than spend an hour trying to get back to Alison’s.

The alarm clocks rang early the next morning! We parked near the Pentagon and joined the throngs of runners and well-wishers in the march around the gigantic building under the cool, pre-dawn sky. After a long wait for the porta-potty and a generous application of anti-chafing lube, Adam was ready to begin.

Adam and Ashley before the race.

Adam and his cheering section. From left, Sharon, Ernest, Ashley, Adam, and Jonathan.

The starting line. It took at least fifteen or twenty minutes for all the runners to pass through!

The first stretch!

We waited for Adam at mile 9, but somehow all four of us missed him! And that, in spite of real-time tracking available online: Adam’s dad would call Ashley periodically with updates; the service also will text-message cell phones with updates on the runners’ progress. Sadly, we weren’t able to see Adam again until the finish line. Here’s his final approach:

Wearing a medal proudly!

I didn’t have too much time to hang out afterward; the others dropped me off in Chinatown for me to catch the bus back. As I waited, I ran into Becky and Carolyn, two friends from Baylor who both then went to church with me in Dallas. Becky lives in Washington now, and Carolyn was up visiting her.

It was a fun, but tiring, weekend. I arrived at my 125th Street station around 2200. It was somehow comforting to be back to the density, the noise, the dirty, screeching subways, and the cool night air of New York City.

Congratulations, Adam!

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Filed under Friends, Running, Traveling

The Marine Corps Marathon

Most of my regular readers know that I’ve been training for the Marine Corps Marathon for several months. The big day is Sunday, October 28, in Washington DC.

I’ll be there, but I won’t be running. Since I’ve been out of the world of blogging lately, I haven’t had a chance to update the blog about my knee injury sustained in late August. I went out for a 12 mile run one Saturday and felt fatigued throughout the entire run. I also noticed my hamstrings seemd a little tight.

After only 6 miles, I was feeling so fatigued that I cut the run short, and around that time I noticed a little aching in my knee. “Nothing to worry about,” I thought. “A little ice and ibuprofen will take care of everything.”

Not so. The pain got worse, and for the next few days my knee hurt with nearly every step. I took two weeks off and then ran another short 6 mile run on a soft surface, and the same thing happened.

Given that I’d had knee problems five years ago, I decided it was wisest to bail on the marathon, which was fairly disappointing given that I’d come so far. My long runs were up to 16 miles, and I was beginning to consider a brisk 8-mile run “short.”

I attribute the knee injury to less than ideal training leading to inflammation. I was working in the ICU at the time, and I’d been doing long runs on the weekends without doing as many short runs during the week since I was so busy. The key to successful training, however, is a gradual buildup in both long run mileage as well as total weekly mileage. Perhaps since I wasn’t giving my joints the mild stress of short runs during the week, I didn’t benefit from the strengthening they would have provided and therefore became injured when I attempted my longer runs.

In any case, my medical school friend Adam is now in Washington DC from Texas to run the marathon, so his wife Ashley and I will cheer him on! Most immediately, I have to pack after a night on call and make it to the Chinatown bus pickup spot in Midtown in the next 45 minutes!

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Mavis’ birthday

On Saturday, October 20th, a few friends and I drove an hour upstate to Bear Mountain for a picnic and hiking trip in celebration of Mavis’ 29th birthday. The weather was perfect, the sky sunny, and the leaves were just starting to change.

Here’s a picture of the five of us that climbed into Mavis’ little Corolla for the day: Jonathan, Gloria, Mavis, Mauricio, and Clay.

A view from close to the top. Strangely my first thought was that if this were the view from Washington Heights, about how far away would the Empire State Building be?

Looking down at the park area where we first arrived. We picnicked by the small lake in the lower left-hand side of the picture. Nearby was a German festival. The river flowing from left to right in the picture is the Hudson.

On the way down, we noticed 4 or 5 deer that seemed to let us get very close. This one was looking directly at me, but then turned her hed just as I snapped the picture. She must think she looks better in profile.

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Filed under Friends, Traveling

I power Blogger

So I’ve added a couple new elements to my blog format. You’ll notice a list of labels in the right-hand margin. Starting this summer I’ve begun categorizing the posts, so if you’re writing a biography of my life and you’re writing a chapter on my exercise and reading habits, it’ll be easier to find posts that pertain to those topics. Alternatively, if you’re just a crazy stalker and you want to know what parts of town I can usually be found in, just click, “Around town.”

As a side note, this was suprisingly easy to do. Back when I had a counter in the older days of Blogspot, I had to add it by copying html text form another website and then combing through what seemed like hundreds of pages of densely-packed html code before, by trial and error, I could find the appropriate place to paste it. The improved Blogspot is much easier. It features a schematic of the format in which I can simply click and drag to rearrange elements, and adding things is a snap.

Also, at the bottom of the page is a new logo. Rather than cliched slogans like, “Powered by Power Bar” or “Powered by Intel” or “Powered by Cold Fusion,” I like the spin on this one. “I power Blogger.” That’s right. What would Blogspot be without people like me?

In the same vein, I smile every time I think of Stephen Colbert’s new book, I Am America: And So Can You.

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Filed under Blogging introspection

Two thoughts for the day

Thought 1: New Yorkers are surprisingly patient.
There are normally four large elevators that carry passengers up from the subway far below ground at the hospital’s stop, though today there were only two functioning. When I came in at 0900 this morning (after being at the hospital late last night on “short call”), there were hundreds of people waiting in the narrow hallway and the underground bridge over the tracks, just waiting for an elevator. For such a fast-paced city filled with power-walkers in business suits and streets made cacophonous by blaring horns, the faces I saw in the crowd were strikingly pleasant and patient. There was no pushing, no rude comments, no rolling of the eyes. People seemed to quickly assess and accept the situation, and then patiently wait their turn for the large metal freightlike elevators.

Thought 2: I saved someone’s life today.
Since I was assigned to come in late (0900) today, my task was to write post-anesthesia notes on yesterday’s patients and to respond to cardiac arrests and stat intubation requests. We went all day without a single peep from the arrest pager until about 2:45. The first year anesthesia resident had just beat me to the medical ICU, and we quickly assessed the patient. 60 year old with pancreatitis and worsening respiratory distress. No significant cardiac history. High potassium. Although his blood gases, when last checked, were okay, at a glance I could tell that he was quickly heading to decompensation.

I’d been to many “stat intubations” last year, but this was my first time to be a senior resident and to direct my new anesthesia colleague! We gathered our equipment: larnygoscopes, breathing tubes, oral airways, CO2 detector, and arranged for a free-flowing IV and suction. After applying monitors (there were none when we first arrived since the patient had just been transferred from the floor!) and preoxygenating, I gave repeated doses of propofol until the patient was adequately relaxed with intermittent doses of phenylephrine. I wanted to get the patient deep enough so we could intubate without paralyzing him, since his high potassium meant we couldn’t use the very short-acting drug succinylcholine.

This we were able to do. The first-year resident took a look with the laryngoscope while I applied cricoid pressure. I could feel the tube slide through the larynx, and we quickly inflated the cuff and checked for CO2 return and breath sounds as we squeezed the bag. Success!

This was followed by the anticlimactic job of some rather vague and broadly-brushed charting. “Good job!” I told Lynn as we headed back for the security, order, and comfort of the anesthesia lounge. And then I realized that not only was it exciting to be the senior and directing the emergency proceedings, we just potentially saved this man’s life as part of our day’s work! I’d say it was a good day.

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Filed under Around town, Work

Another post-call day

I’ve missed the world of blogging, and evidently some of my readers have missed my posts! I got several hours’ sleep on call Sunday night, so after a satisfying nap on my new couch yesterday morning, the day was mine to enjoy. I started by doing laundry at nearby Bubbles. On the way back, however, I discovered some workmen doing some welding and installing marble slabs on the new prefabricated metal stair frames that were recently put in, so I dropped the clean laundry off at Ezer and Jan’s (they live just a block or so away from me) and suggested Jan could do some ironing if she didn’t have much else to do.

I did a little fun reading at the open-air Max’s Cafe on Amsterdam while sipping a caffelatte and enjoying a italian tuna and garbanzo bean salad on arugula. Then it was off to Columbia for a structured library environment to do some anesthesia studying.

After a productive hour and a half or so, I walked home, made an omelette for dinner, and got ready to go to the opera with my roommate Jordan, who had complimentary tickets and had invited me earlier that afternoon. More about this on my planned “Jonathan’s Month of Culture” post, but I thoroughly enjoyed the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Verdi’s MacBeth. I think that after I move from New York City down the road (assuming I do), I’m going to miss being able to catch a musical or an opera on the spur of the moment.


Filed under Around town, Friends, Music