Monday, July 30, 2007

Well, that's done, for now.

I had my committee meeting this morning. It was a little weird--not bad, but weird. Hard to explain. I'll try to digest it a little tonight and come up with a more descriptive explanation.

My vibe right now--things are going ok, but they are really worried about my timing. My PI and I had discussed doing two more sets of experiments--relatively straightforward ones at that--and then sitting down to write a paper. We expected to be done, or mostly done, with the experiments before I left on maternity leave.

I knew the mechanistic part of the paper was a little thin, so I always figured I'd end up with a few more experiments. I didn't know if they'd happen before we sent the paper out or once we got revisions. But I knew they'd happen.

Anyway, my committee is worried I'm going to run out of time for said experiments. Now, I'm talking about going back to medical school next July, or next November at the latest. That's at least a year. I have to defend my dissertation before I go back, and I have to have my second paper accepted before I defend. So basically I was planning to leave myself a few month buffer zone before I planned to go back to med school. Even then, I'll be back from maternity leave no later than the beginning of January. I've still got a few months of work time before I go back to med school. Plus I've got two months before I go on maternity leave.

Knowing all this, my committee is still worried. They kept saying it was the pregnancy, or my "situation" or "circumstances", which they liked using better than pregnancy (it's some sort of dirty word or something). And now my PI is all worried too. Granted, it's going to be a lot of work, which I've known, but I'm up for it. Why all the stress?

My committee talks without me for a while both before and after I give my presentation. Usually the talk before is very brief. This morning it was about half an hour. Since I hadn't even presented yet, I know it wasn't all about my project. We just found out that the first choice chair candidate accepted the department's offer to come here, so I think that was part of the talking. But I also wonder if my PI was giving them info about his situation that I don't have. That would explain all of the hurry-up talk.

I am a little concerned about the lab. This morning, Nadia's bench and desk were cleaned off. Dr. B came by after my meeting, and all he said about it was that she's working in her husband's lab upstairs. Nothing about if that's a permanent move, or if she's still technically part of the lab, or what. No one knows anything. It's like when Sriram left--he told Ming he was leaving that day. Things are very bizarre-o around here. It's down to me, Kim, and Ming full time. Ossama is here sometimes evenings, sometimes weekends, but rarely at that. My summer student is done, and the high school student is done next week. The perk is that the three of us women get along really well, so even though all of the lab maintenance stuff is now spread over three people instead of 6 or 8, it'll actually run smoother, I think. But we're all worried about what is happening to the lab.

We don't have any info. We know his grant was up in May--we're living off of what's left for a while. The info we've gotten, at least in the beginning, was that the leftover money could last us a year. Dr. B has talked about renewing his grant or writing a new one, but he hasn't done it. Honestly, none of us thinks he will. With stepping down as chair on the clinical side and phasing people out of the lab here, I think he's getting ready to retire. Can't say I blame him. Yes, he did promise me not even two years ago that he'd be around for at least 7 or 8 years before retiring. Things change though. I'm not upset that he changed his mind about retiring. I'm upset that he's keeping us completely in the dark about the future of the lab. I don't expect to be consulted on his decision. I'd just like enough time to get a contingency plan in place.

Anyway, the thesis committee meeting this morning wasn't horrible, but it wasn't great either. I got some good ideas about other things to try. The timeline talk was a little weird, but I otherwise agree with their overall assessment of the project. I do think it needs a little more meat before it's published, and hopefully some of these new experiments will take care of that. But I guess we'll see.

That's all for now. I need to get organized here, and then do some organizing at home tonight, but I'm hoping to have time to just chill and recharge this evening. We'll see if that happens.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

It's official

Well, the house is officially on the market. The listing is on, although the pictures aren't up just yet. It's sort of bizarre. I'm sad that we're selling our little house, excited because we're in our new house, nervous because I know the real estate market sucks and it'll take a while to sell (there are 5 nearly identical houses for sale on just our two streets in the neighborhood. Ours is the cheapest, as planned, but still.), and just generally exhausted from all the prep. There are a few final fix-ups to do still, but it's nearly there.

Last night I came home, took a quick nap (the great thing about 15 year old couches is that they are perfectly formed for naps), and then set up the computer desk at the new house. We had planned to go over to the old house last night, but between Tim working late and just general burnout, we thought actually starting to move in to the new house might be better.

I set up the computer (miraculously, it worked right away. Hurray!). That's nice--it's been frustrating to not have any internet at home. It also let me check my glucose results from yesterday's 3 hour oral glucose tolerance test. The fellow in the lab had tried checking for me before I left, but the results weren't up yet, so she showed me how to check them at home. Don't tell the HIPAA police, ok? Anyway, my results were all under the cutoff numbers. My fasting and three hour numbers were way under the cutoff (my three hour number was 76, the cutoff was 140). My one and two hours were within about 10 of the cutoff, although technically under. The nurse hasn't called me yet to "officially" give me the results. I don't know if she'll want me to change things or not, but I might anyway. I actually had a big, healthy salad for lunch just to help my body get back on the right track. The fellow suggested asking for the packet of info they give to gestational diabetics, even if the nurse says I technically don't have it, so I can try to follow the guidelines anyway.

I'm relieved that (for now, anyway) I don't appear to have gestational diabetes. Still, when we have the next baby many, many moons from now, I think I'll make sure to be better about stress and taking care of myself. I think not moving/selling a house during pregnancy would be a good start.

I've avoided talking to Dr. B so far today--I passed him briefly on my way to the elevator during lunch, but that's been it. Earlier this week, I told him I'd have an experiment done for him by tomorrow. Since the cells died and I don't have enough old sample in the freezer, that is actually not going to be the case. He should have it by next Wednesday, which isn't the end of the world, but it won't be in time for my committee meeting.

I'm feeling a lot of guilt about how much I've been able to get done in lab recently. I've gotten some stuff accomplished, but not as much as I wanted. Granted, some of it has been out of my control--broken incubators, broken developers, fungal and bacterial infections (ok, the bacteria could've been me). A lot of it, though, is that I've drawn a line between my personal and professional lives, and I've been unwilling to budge. Yes, I've been in evenings and weekends, but I also have taken a day or two off in the last month for house stuff. And even when I'm here, it doesn't mean I'm not mentally preoccupied with the pregnancy, or the house stuff, or life in general. I could have run a few more gels or squeezed out another few experiments. Would it have drastically changed the data I am presenting for my meeting on Monday? Not likely. But at least I personally would've felt like I made more of an effort.

It's quite the turnaround from what I felt like even six or eight months ago. I felt like there was no way I could say no to the lab. I had to make it my first priority. Now, I think I've swung a little too far in the other direction. I've got to come back to the middle where I'm productive and committed to the lab as much as possible without giving up my personal life. Honestly, though, my results from the two extremes of behavior have been pretty similar. Maybe it doesn't matter so much after all. Too much time in lab makes me burnt out and frazzled, leading to more mental goofs. But too much time doing non-lab stuff makes me lose the little motivation I have to get results.

It's a weird trade-off, but I'm working on balance. Easy to say, since I'm sure as soon as the baby comes, everything else will take a back seat.

Anyway, enough randomness for one day. I've got to make my power point presentation for my meeting Monday, and I probably shouldn't wait until Sunday night to do it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Home stretch...

Wow, it's been a busy month. I can't believe how time flies. The good news is, we've got our house on the market as of today. There are still a few minor touch ups to do before our first open house this weekend, but the realtor can come in and take pictures now. We've been burning the midnight oil to get things done, but it's nice to be almost there.

We were hoping to be done this past weekend, but a few things threw us off schedule (namely, the satellite installer taking 5 and a half hours to install a satellite dish. The house was already wired, there was an old dish already installed, and we had all the equipment set up. Should've taken 20 minutes.) We also pushed back our first night in the house. It was originally going to be last Tuesday (but we were busy at the old house), then Wednesday (but Tim's parents came up to help us out), then Thursday (but Tim's flight out of La Guardia got cancelled and he was stranded in NY city.) Finally, Friday at about 7 PM, we packed up the pets and headed over to the house.

The dog has adjusted really well to the house--not surprising, since he's not easily upset unless his "people" aren't around. The cats have been a different story. We got them set up in the basement, and they freaked. Rosie, the little black cat, found a way to scale the concrete block and climb into the insulation in the ceiling of the unfinished basement. Extracting her was no fun. We sort of expected her to adjust pretty quickly--versus Lily, the gray and white cat, who took several days just to come out from under the bed when we first got her. It's been the opposite. When we're home, we open the door from the basement and let them come up into first floor if they want. Lily started exploring pretty quickly, and Rosie's a lot more skittish about it. They are making progress, but I think it'll be a while before they totally adjust.

It's been an adjustment for us too. We've been so busy finishing up at the old house that we've done very little unpacking. Trying to find things is never fun. And we don't really get to enjoy the house much since we have been coming home from work, grabbing something to eat, and then heading out to work on the old house.

It's taking a toll on me physically too. I've been up beyond midnight many nights. I've pulled muscles and overworked myself. Not good, really. But, I know that I'm pretty much done with that now.

I've also been bad about my eating habits. We haven't been cooking much, and we've lived off of leftovers from our parents and quick-fix foods. I haven't gained any more weight (which is good, I need to level it off a bit. I've gained nearly 20 pounds, and I'm only 28 weeks. My goal for the whole pregnancy was 25). But last week, my one-hour glucose screen came back borderline, so this morning I am doing the full 3 hour glucose tolerance test. I've got one more time point to do. It hasn't been much fun, but then again, you can't really expect it to be, right? Fasting, drinking sugary junk that makes you want to vomit, and four needle sticks in three hours isn't fun for anyone, but I'd like to know if I have gestational diabetes or not. Even if I don't, it's been a wake up call that I need to get back to eating healthy like I was earlier in the pregnancy. I'm getting lots of exercise with the move, but I need to do more relaxing activities (like walking) and have less stress overall.

I'm hoping things come back ok with the sugar test. I guess my mom had a few abnormal glucose screens with us five kids, but she never had gestational diabetes. Still, anything I can do to help out the baby, I'll do it. Even if it's not fun.

I am hoping things settle down soon. With the old house being almost done, the new one functional but chaotic, and my thesis committee meeting being over after Monday morning, things should be much less stressful in a week. I didn't get everything done experimentally that I wanted to before my meeting (stupid cells got contaminated again. I think it's coming from the other guy in the lab, since his always get contaminated first). Still, I'm hoping I've put together a decent enough story that they can see where I am going with things. I'm not as freaked about my meeting as I should be, really.

Other than my cousin's wedding shower this weekend, I think there's very little on my schedule. I desperately need to catch up on some sleep. Other than that, things are moving fairly well.

I do have some pictures of the old house, the new house, and some pregnancy shots (heaven help me, I feel like Jabba the Hut in these pictures) that I'll get from my camera onto the computer in the near future, I hope. First, we have to reassemble the computer desk, then hook up the computer again, hope the DSL is working, and go from there. It's on the to-do list, really. I just haven't gotten there yet.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Sorry about the last two weeks. Things have been completely insane. I'm hoping the big push to finish up the house stuff will be done this weekend, thus allowing us to get back to a semi-regular schedule. I'll give you the synopsis:

-We signed the papers on the new house last Wednesday night, and we got the call at about 10:45 Friday morning that the house had transferred. Tim picked up the keys Friday afternoon, and by Friday evening, we were in the new house!

-These last two weekends have been completely insane. My parents came up and painted about 8-10 hours each day two weekends ago, and they came up Saturday evening while we were at a wedding to paint and landscape at the old house. Tim's parents have come up several times to help with things, and this weekend his mom and aunt cleaned the new house both Saturday and Sunday, and his dad, uncle, and cousin joined the party Sunday and helped us move the big stuff. I don't know what we would've done without all of the family help.

-We're nearly done fixing up the old house. There's a small amount of painting left to do. And I need to do a final cleaning of each room once the pets are out of the house. Add a little landscaping and some miscellaneous stuff, and we should be ready to have it on the market early next week.

-We've been insanely busy, but I think both Tim and I have had moments where we've been totally overwhelmed by the situation. I keep feeling like someone is going to come and tell us to get out of their house. I'm in total awe of how quickly the entire process has gone, and I'm still amazed that we were able to find our forever house. With the last year and a half of frustration with house stuff, I had nearly given up hope that we'd ever find something. To not only find something, but to find something so nice that hit all of our requirements so perfectly, seems unreal. I keep thinking I am going to wake up from this dream at some point.

-It's also been bittersweet moving out of our current house. The changes we've made make it look like new (and we keep asking ourselves why we didn't do this five years ago). And we have a lot of memories in this house. We've been here for five years, which is the second longest amount of time I've ever lived in a house. We've done our first home improvement projects here, got our first pets together, and generally just made a lot of good memories. I sort of feel guilty about abandoning our first space together so quickly as soon as something better came along (is it weird to feel guilt for an inanimate object?) I know I'll be sad when we leave, but we'll always have our memories.

-I think tonight may be our last night in the old house. We got our new mattress delivered today (so far, the only new piece of furniture for the house. We're trying not to go crazy). We're going to be working on the old house tonight, so we'll probably stay there, but tomorrow we may officially move everyone over to the new place. It's going to be so bizarre. I'm excited and sad at the same time. We'll probably be back at the old house nearly every day for a while, but once it's on the market, we only need to check in on it every few days. Weird.

-That's the story. Tim and I are totally exhausted. It's getting harder and harder to sleep as I get further in the pregnancy (I'm in week 27 tomorrow, which is the third trimester. How bizarre is that!). I actually was woken up by baby girl yesterday from a dead sleep when she started doing gymnastics. Her little kicks and flutters are now periodically punctuated by explosive punches and flips. It's getting less adorable and more painful, but I am comforted by knowing she's there and doing ok.

-Oh, and my thesis committee meeting is two weeks from today. It's awfully hard to focus, but I'm hoping to get a little more done before I give my talk. But honestly, this is the least stressed I've ever felt about a meeting. It's not that I think I'm done with experiments--far from it. It's just that there's so much else going on in my life (that will affect my life forever) that stressing about a committee meeting seems unimportant. I think it's healthier for me to have some distance from the lab, but I need to make a point to not neglect it either. A happy medium would be good.

-That's it for now. I'll put pictures up at some point in the near future. Hopefully things will start to slow down soon.

Monday, July 02, 2007


The bronchitis I caught from overstressing myself seems to be clearing up, which is a blessing. I've got way too much to do to hang around being sick. Here's the brief update:

-We had the new house inspection last week. There were a few minor issues and one semi-big one. The big one was that when you ran water and then drained the garden tub in the master bath, the water backed up into the kitchen sink. It actually overflowed the day of the home inspection--over the counters, onto the floor, the whole bit.

-The sellers agreed to fix the tub plumbing. Their plumber was supposed to fix it Friday morning. Tim and I show up, and the plumber had already come and gone. He was there for about 15 minutes, didn't see the problem, and broke the drain in the process. Oh, and charged the realtor $135 for it. He was going to come back today or tomorrow to fix it.

-Tim and I are peeved that we took time off work and got screwed by the plumber. So we decided to have a plumber his dad knows come by on Saturday and take a look.

-Saturday was non-stop: vet appointment at 7:30 AM, a few hours to tidy up, bank meeting to sign the loan from 12-2, realtors over to check out our current house from 2-3:30, meeting the plumber over the new house from 3:30-5ish, and then back home to pack and move boxes. Crazy day.

-Our plumber figures out the issue. Long story short, the tub (which the real estate agent said they never used) ties into the sink waste line. The sink line is gummed up from crap going down the garbage disposal. It's so solidified that we need to change out pipe.

-Sunday: another marathon. 8:30 mass, over to the new house at 11, plumber and Tim work on pipe stuff (the grossest smelling project ever, I swear. I took pictures, but trust me, you don't want to see them). I run errands and pick up lunch. We pack up from the new house at 3:30 with fully draining plumbing lines. Woo Hoo! Then it's back home, talk to sister in California for two hours, talk to parental units, head up to lab at 7, finish an experiment, and get home a little after 10.

-It's just been a crazy time. Today's insane too. The bank has called several times to work out details. We're trying to move up the closing date on the new house to July 13th (Friday the 13th, how creepy). It's going to be a stretch, but it'll help us empty out our current house and get it on the market sooner. We may have to push closing back till the following week, but we're doing our best.

-On top of all of this, I'm trying to get experiments done. Dr. B wants to see my methods and results section with write-ups and figures done. He wanted it today, but that's not going to happen. Our film developer broke and was only fixed today, so I have to get these gels analyzed before I can finish writing that stuff. Stupid thing is, I'm going to start another set of experiments soon, and those will affect all the stuff I've already done. I'll have to re-write everything before my committee meeting at the end of the month, and he knows that, but he wants it written anyway. Whatever.

-We still have some packing and a lot of painting to do on our current house, but things should be (mostly) done in a week or so. There's a bathroom project and some minor electrical to do, and we'll need help for those, but everything else is doable on our own right now.

-That's about it. Tim and I both have been insanely busy, but we're trying to be better about not overworking ourselves or staying up too late. We know this is more of a marathon than a sprint.

-Oh, and we're past the 24 week mark in the pregnancy, which means that (heaven forbid) the baby could survive if she was born now. It's not ideal, not by a long shot, and I've had no indications that there's any reason I'd be at risk for preterm labor, but it's nice to know we're into the time of extrauterine viability!

-And I promised a pregnancy picture to a few people. I promise I will post it soon. I took a few about a month ago, but now I figure I'm due for a new one. I'm having a hard time with the body image stuff (gaining weight on purpose is not easy, especially not when you're averaging about a pound a week), but Tim tells me to suck it up and let people take pictures. So, sometime soon, I'll do that.