March 20, 2013

i haven’t written much about work this month

the truth is, i’m struggling a little — or maybe a lot.  i was on service last month, working in the hospital and pretty much 100% clinical.  it was glorious!  certainly, the pager is stressful at times and i’m starting to get a little anxious when i don’t know how to handle a situation [because i’ll be “on my own” in just a few short months*!].  but in general, the days flew by.  i was teaching, talking to parents, reviewing history, communicating — and i found my own flow in the jumble of these activities.  i may not have been thrilled every time we got a new diagnosis of type 1 at 5 pm** and time management/allocation wasn’t always easy, but i felt fulfilled every day at work.
fast forward to march and BAM.  i’m sad to say that i’ve had an incredibly UNproductive past few weeks.  part of the reason is that we switched to EPIC [electronic medical record system] and somehow my clinical responsibilities seemed to overflow into my supposedly ‘protected’ time  and yeah — we did throw in a quick FL jaunt to buy a house***.  however, it’s more than that.  i spent yesterday working on an outline of to-dos for transforming my data into a publication.  and today, i began tackling an actual draft of my intro section.  i have written 1.5 double spaced pages over the course of this entire day.  
i am really trying.  really.   but every minute i spend working on this thing feels like a STRUGGLE.  this is, in part, because i doubt myself.  i doubt my own data [so many inconsistencies!], my abilities to write a worthy manuscript, and the importance of my work to science as a whole.  the other problem is that i find the research in my particular area so confusing [it’s become quite a ‘hot topic’ in the past few years, leading to myriad studies which all seem to conflict one another] that i’m just overwhelmed by it all.  add the fact that i really don’t see myself continuing in this type of research after july, and you have a recipe for low motivation, stagnancy, and a lot of angst.  
i’ve never been one to enjoy slacking, but becoming a mother has amplified my desire to make my time at work positive and productive.  since i have to drop off annabel and miss her for those hours, i have a great need to make the hours that i spend away from her truly worthwhile.  
specifics of what i need to get done:
i have the remainder of march + may + june + 2 weeks of july to work on my research [april is in the hospital again.  yay!].  the goal is to finish up with experiments [really, i should be done by now . . .ahh well] and submit a manuscript before my time is up.  ideally, i would submit in may so that perhaps i would have time to do a round of revisions before i finish, but from this juncture i’m not sure that is feasible.  
i have MOST of my experiments complete, but definitely a few holes to fill in [measuring liver triglyceride content in a bunch of samples, reviewing some of my slides with path, microarray analysis once that data comes back, running my analyses by a statistician, and probably running some genes of interest on RT-PCR depending on microarray results].
my strategy right now is to get everything into a draft as best i can and then finish the scienc-ey stuff, since i feel like the draft will help guide me to what still needs to happen.  but oh, is it ever painful.  
things i have brainstormed include:
✔ large-scale and daily to-do lists [created a large scale one of things i need to finish in fellowship and that made me feel slightly better, but i’m still struggling to translate the large tasks into manageable bite-sized pieces of work.  for example, “write intro” is not going so well right now.  hence this post.
✔ strict work hours [so that i can feel productive during set times get enjoyment out of the REST of life!]
✔ lots of breaks [on one now . . .] 
✔ planned time to spend on clinical reading each day that can be done only when i’ve finished a writing/lab-related task 
✔ more deadlines [i volunteered to give a practice talk next week to force myself to put everything together and get some feedback]
however, i don’t seem to be making much progress.  perhaps i need firmer deadlines?  more mentorship?  everything i read would suggest that since my heart clearly isn’t into what i’m currently doing, i should find something else i love to make better use of my skill set.  WELL, HA — certainly not an option for me right now although it does help to know that my time in fellowship has a specific endpoint!
scientists, graduate students and anyone who has struggled with completing a big project they weren’t necessarily in love with:  i eagerly await your thoughts.
* but with plenty of wiser, more experienced peds endocrinologists to ask for help.  thankfully, i will not be practicing in a vacuum!
** seriously, that is pretty much the default time they seem to hit the ER.  i think it’s because parents bring them after school for the seemingly non-urgent complaints of polyuria/polydipsia/weight loss, and then they are identified mid-afternoon.  
*** and it’s currently looking like a success!  if all goes well we’ll be in a 1930s home [with so much FL character] in the lakeview area of miami beach – a quiet and absolutely gorgeous mid-beach neighborhood.  inspection pending, though.
in our free time
i AM trying to make the most of the more flexible hours and the start of spring.  post-to-come on after work mini outings [we haven’t done many yet . . . but i am determined].  things annabel ate last night out at dinner included pieces of the following:
1) scallops with sweet potato hash
2) whole grain baguette pieces
3) arugula salad with fennel and apple
4) Brie beignet
5) duck confit bread pudding
here she is considering some arugula offered by her dad:

 such a gourmet-in-training.  i take full credit [not really!]

off to pick up TM [the muffin].  it’s a little chilly but i feel like we have to spend some time outside on the first day of spring!

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