Sunday, January 31, 2016

Back in Chicago!

I returned back to Chicago to finish off my last three months in this beautiful (but freezing) city. It was super exciting to see all my friends from school again after spending the last 7 months back in California and traveling. In these last 3 months, my goal is to eat at as many restaurants that I haven't already tried before. The food in Chicago is amazing so I have to get it all in before I leave!

My first stop was NoMi Kitchen at Park Hyatt Hotel. This New American restaurant has been on my list to try for awhile. Between my sister and I, we tried six different dishes and every single one was sooooo delicious.

Started off with warm pretzel bread and one of the best spreads I've had.

Crispy fried organic egg with a parmesan crust, baby spinach, and a dijon mustard puree grain mustard.  This egg was CRAZY good. As soon as you cut in, the liquid yolk flows out.

Celeriac & truffle soup with potatoes and smoked apple jam. Delish - probably the best soup I've had! The smoked apple jam was so good too!

Cabernet sauvignon braised veal cheek with a green pea cream, toasted parsnip, and rainbow baby carrots. Yes, drool because it tasted as good as it sounds! The veal cheek was so tender and juicy.

Beet gnocchi with blue cheese, winter baby vegetables, and caramelized walnuts. The best light and fluffy gnocchi that I've ever tasted. Even cooler that it had a gorgeous bright pink color from the beets.

Huckleberry mousse bombe with a Meyer lemon puree core, coriander financier, coconut gel, candied coconut, and caramelized pear. So many small components but worked so well together. My favorite part was the acidic tartness of the lemon puree surprise in the middle of the mousse bombe.

NoMi's amazing spread of cookies and candies including a peppermint macaron, peanut butter cookie, chocolate caramels, and several other interesting pieces. Loved the macaron texture and all the little treats!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Growing up in the heart of Silicon Valley in San Jose with parents who were both computer engineers, I didn't realize how privileged I was until I went to college. I lived in a little bubble up until then because all my friends came from the same privileged background. I never once had to worry about having a safe, warm, clean place to live. I never had to worry about having money to buy school supplies, extra reading books, games, and electronics. I don't take anything that I've gotten for granted now and I can only imagine the hardships my parents had to go through so that they could provide my sister and I this type of life.

Earlier today I read a comic on privilege (link here) and completely agree with it. Growing up, I had so much handed to me on a plate and never had to think twice about a lot of things. That's not to say that I didn't work hard because I worked my butt off to get to where I am now but I am completely aware that my environment facilitated and contributed to that growth.

Tonight, someone rang our doorbell and because I thought it was my mom coming back home, I ran to open it without looking through the peephole. I was greeted by a young, black high school senior. Trying to be polite, I listened as he talked about how he was going to San Jose State this fall, majoring in computer engineering. He was fundraising for books and supplies for the upcoming semester and he needed 15 people to subscribe to newspapers before he got $500. I couldn't help but think this was something I never needed to do to get through college. Oh, this chemistry textbook costs $100? No problem, credit card was swiped. Oh, I need to buy 4 books for this English class? $50 swipe. Yea I thought it was expensive but did it matter? Not really. I still swiped that credit card (paid for by my parents) and easily bought all my books.

Would I be able to do what he was doing at age 17? Go door to door for who knows how long, asking unknown people to buy a subscription to a newspaper so that the program could fund him $500 for school supplies? I doubt it. It fully reminded me again of privilege and all the privilege I had growing up.

As I signed his subscription, filled out a form, and wrote him a check, I asked him why he wanted to do computer engineering. He said his dad taught him about computers from a very young age so he grew up wanting to go into a field that dealt with computers. Interestingly enough, I also grew up around computers every day but thought computer engineering was so hard that I didn't even want to try. My very best wishes goes out to this kid as he embarks on his college career. I hope he becomes a computer engineer and loves what he does in the future.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I became a fan of Maia and Alex Shibutani during the 2014 Winter Olympics and to see them take gold in the 2016 U.S. Figure Skating Championships today with a great long dance program to Coldplay's Fix You was super exciting! 

Friday, January 22, 2016

Today I held the hand of a frail old woman as the cardiologists did a TEE (Transesophageal Echocardiogram) on her and the anesthesiologist tried to sedate her. She was never really completely sedated and kept squeezing my hand for most of the procedure. During a TEE a probe is descended down the esophagus to get a closer look at the left heart. You can imagine how uncomfortable it is to have a probe stuck down your throat and how much of a gagging reflex you would have. The TEE was a hard and long one as we had to get a good look at her mitral valve which was leaking, causing her blood to backflow and worsening her heart failure. What we found out was that her valve had completely dehisced which would make it impossible to fix - she was in such weak condition that taking her to surgery would kill her. As a result, there was nothing else we could do to help her.

Edit** Today is Wednesday January 27th. I was away from the hospital for Monday and Tuesday while I went to LA for an interview. Today I found out that she passed away the very night we did the TEE. Even with multiple pressors on board, her systolic blood pressure was in the 50s. Care was withdrawn and she passed away.  

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Clearly a few days in and I already failed to blog one sentence a day!!

Busy day at the hospital today and I really think I'm just so fortunate to learn from the nicest, sweetest, smartest, most patient Cardiologist this week. Even though he knows I'm going into Peds, he still takes the time to talk about anything and everything adult heart related to me to make sure I'm learning even though he gets 500 calls a day via 3 different phones.

Christmas tree at the New York Public Library. This was my one visit to NYC last year to visit one of my favorite college friends. 8 years of friendship and counting!

The most delicious crepe cake ever from Lady M in New York City

And always a must stop for me - Laduree in NYC!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Day #3

Lots of things to be excited about today:
I'm nearing the end of the interview trail with Children's Colorado as my second to last stop!

Early morning view of the hospital from across the street

So pretty

A post-lunch break at Dazbog for raspberry mango gelato :) :)

After the interview day, I found my roomie next door at the University of Colorado and we made a couple of small stops in Denver before I had to head back to the airport!

Stem Ciders flights!

What an awesome molecular gastronomy desserts place!

Making my lemon curd ice cream with liquid nitrogen

Adding a touch of blueberry and torching the meringue!

Final dessert product with a side of really really cold liquid nitrogen soaked cheetos puffs

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day #2

Today was my last day in Heme/Onc doing breast cancer clinic. I'm forever so privileged to meet some of the sweetest, strongest women who are able to face their cancer diagnosis and fight. I'm also so grateful that I have such smart Attendings in oncology, rad-onc, and surgery who love to teach be my mentors. The day ended with a trip to the gym, playing with kitty, and packing for my trip to Denver tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

The Happiness Project

The Happiness Project is a journal in which you write one sentence every single day for 5 years. Today, I decided to start my happiness project right here and to blog 1 sentence every day for as long as I can.

Day #1
I'm very happy to spend dinnertime with May and Eric at Panera, to watch my first bone marrow biopsy on an amazing patient while being taught by one of the best teaching Attendings, and having time to catch up via texts with friends :)

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Rotation #4 Kaiser Santa Clara Medical Center

Happy 2016!

A new year means the start of another rotation. I chose to stay close to home for this one, even if it meant spending one month in Internal Medicine rather than Pediatrics. It wasn't a hard decision to do this rotation since I really enjoyed IM as a third year. After surgery, IM was my second favorite rotation, primarily because I loved all the clinical diagnoses that spans all of Internal Medicine and all the variables that must be thought through before arriving at a diagnosis. On the other hand, adults and the elderly are just not my cup of tea.

I started off this week doing Hematology-Oncology at Kaiser Santa Clara. This hospital is super near and dear to me. I used to volunteer here, doing anything from wheeling patients out of the hospital once they got discharged to pointing visitors and patients towards the right department and even working in the Newborn club, teaching new mothers how to breastfeed, doing jaundice checks, and my always favorite, swaddling and holding the newborns.

On the other hand, while the hospital was very familiar to me, Heme-Onc in my mind was absolutely terrifying. Like many other people out there, the word cancer scared me. I couldn't imagine diagnosing anyone with cancer. I saw a close family member pass away because of cancer and I saw the unbearable side effects of undergoing chemotherapy and radiation. Doing this rotation was a definite eye opener. There wasn't a single day of the week that my Attending did not diagnose a patient (usually over 75) with some type of cancer (lung cancer, metastatic breast cancer, prostate cancer, renal cell carcinoma, myelodysplastic syndrome and cholangiocarcinoma just to name a few). Often times for these patients, the prognoses were not great and there were no curable treatments available for their stage of disease, only treatments that could make them more comfortable or prolong life.

One of the roughest chemoradiation treatments I saw was for head and neck cancers. Patients undergo high intensity cisplatin chemotherapy for weeks in addition to constant radiation to their head and neck region. The high dose cisplatin can burn their veins as it's being infused into the body and cause multiple side effects including severe nausea and vomiting, kidney toxicity, peripheral neuropathy which is damage to the nerve endings in your hands and feet, hearing loss, and several electrolyte abnormalities particularly with potassium and magnesium. In addition to that, radiation 5 days a week for multiple weeks causes the worst sunburn ever in your head and neck region. I could not ever imagine the pain, yet I saw patients at the tail end of their treatment, still managing to smile and push through even though they were coughing and spitting up mucus every 5 seconds secondary to horrific mucositis and had already lost 35 pounds in three weeks.

Though there were many cases that were extremely sad, there were also cases of cancer that was cured - mostly those that were initially diagnosed at an earlier stage - early stage breast cancer, ovarian cancer, testicular cancer. I was able to meet many cancer survivors who are so brave and so strong and I felt so lucky to see them after being cured because it makes the word cancer, a little less daunting in my mind. It also reminds me to stay healthy, exercise and eat well, see my PCP yearly, and get my routine labs and screening done as I age. Most importantly, it reminds me to make sure that my entire family is staying healthy too, which of course means they keep up with the mammograms and colonoscopies!!!