Footnote on the christmas letter

Published on Tuesday, December 28, 2010 in ,

Looking back, I thought I had posted more in 2010 than I actually had. It looks like a typical year of New Years Resolutions where I started out strong and tapered off shortly into the 1st quarter. Once again, I'm going to try harder this year though and endeavor to write in my (our) blog more. In fact, I'll post again in the next few days with the update on our Christmas trip. 2500 miles in 8 days!


Christmas Letter 2010

Published on in

Well we’ve had quite a year again! We started off with our poor Wonky Wolfie getting surgery on his heart. As you may remember, our puppy Wolfie 1.0 died of a faulty heart (aortic valvular stenosis) in late July, 2009. We were devastated naturally, but always wanted two shepherds, so we got Wolfie 2.0 in October. Imagine our surprise when Wolfie 2.0 also had a heart defect (patent ductus arteriosis)! However, we discovered this one early enough, and had it repaired. The surgery was a complete success, and we have one very happy and active puppy now! We also had his wonky ear fixed a little, although it’s still wonky (and adorable). Winnie and Wolfie occupy much of our free time, and are our pride and joy. They get along very well with our cats, Beeble and Trillian. Winnie will RUN from the room when Beeble makes any sudden movements towards her, which is hilarious given she’s an 80 lb dog. Michael also thinks it’s hilarious that he gets exactly 3 inches of bed space when everyone is allowed up.

Sheila spent the whole year in Medical School rotations. For those who don’t know, med school consists of 2 years classroom study, and 2 years rotating in clinics, hospitals, ER’s, etc. Sheila completed a number of required and elective rotations all over the globe. She started the year in Nepal for an elective foreign medical rotation, performing exams and surgery alongside Nepali medical students in Kathmandu. Along the way she had family medicine, general surgery, pediatrics, gynecologic oncology, psychiatry, and a few more. Besides Nepal, she was in San Antonio, St. Louis, Phoenix, Des Moines, and a couple small towns in Iowa. She completed her 3rd year of school with a few exams, and took her 2nd set of boards which has a computer based question portion and a Physical Exam. For the PE, she traveled to Philadelphia, as all D.O. students do, to perform mock physical exams on live actors who pretend to have certain symptoms. She passed her computer based boards, but we’ve yet to hear back on the PE. More importantly though, Sheila has chosen a specialty: Ob/Gyn! This was a tough choice as she likes both the duties of the surgeon and the family practice physician. Ob/Gyn is a good meld of these disciplines because you get the one on one patient time, you follow patients for a long time, but you also get to perform interesting surgeries. Sheila is considering a fellowship later in gynecologic oncology. With her specialty chosen, she has completed her applications for residency and has been invited for interviews. Once interviews are complete in January, we will submit our desired locations for residency, and will await the “match” in February and March. Then we’ll know where we’ll live for the next 4 years!

Michael has been loving the new job he started last November. He’s been doing software development at Geolearning, the top Learning Management Software (LMS) company in the world (they won that award the last 6 years). They write software for the web, and are about to release mobile versions of their software for iPhone, Android, Palm, and Blackberry, which he hopes to work on soon. Outside of work, he became president of SOS club this year, which is Significant Others Support, the organization for spouses of medical students at DMU. This club advertises and recruits new members each fall from the incoming student class, and helps the spouses and Sig-O’s find other people with similar interests. We get together for fun outings, or to volunteer to help the community, or just to share what we’ve learned about the med school experience! We also have sub clubs for common interests, like Men’s club. He runs that club, which mostly consists of drinking beer and playing poker! Speaking of which, Michael also continued his home brewing hobby this year. He brewed about 10 types of beer this year, from a Bavarian Hefeweizen to a Scottish Wee Heavy. In order to counteract the additional caloric intake this hobby demands, Michael decided to take up running. His goal for now is to run a few 5k’s next year; this year he ran the Living History Farms outdoor 10k race in November, 2010. At a blistering 20 degrees Fahrenheit that day, 8000 runners ran through woods, rivers, and mud for 7 miles to raise money for this historical site in Des Moines, and just to generally act like fools.

That’s it for now! Merry Christmas to all our friends and family! We hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and great and exciting New Year!


Doggie snowcones

Published on Sunday, February 14, 2010 in ,

Can you believe this dog? He's gone through more surgeries than Sheila! Ok, not really even close. But he's gonna catch up quickly at this rate. Honestly, we think he's done now. This one was planned in advance, like the last one, so nothing out of the ordinary is wrong. Some people wait until their pup is nearly 1 year old to get neutered, but with Wolfie's heart problem, they suggested we get him cut short (hahah, get it, short = early). Yeah, poor guy. But also this was a good opportunity to get his ear fixed. We'll never know exactly what happened with his ear, but the best guess the experts gave us was that Wolfie had some kind of birth defect that caused blood vessels to burst in his ear, which caused the cartilage to splinter into different pieces and grow all wonky. That's the best word we've found to describe it - wonky! So the wonderful doctors at Iowa State Veterinary hospital fixed him right up.

They weren't very worried about the procedures themselves, because these are fairly basic things that they do often, but they were more worried about Wolfie's heart, which was just fixed. and his strange reaction to the anesthesia and disinfectant last time. But, everything went off without a hitch, and 2 days later, our Wolfie came home with a nice big e-collar and 4 more scars. His new name is Frankie (as in frankestein). The best thing about Wolfie (besides being super cute and very well behaved) is that he is unbelievable tolerant of all this poking, prodding, and cutting. He comes out of these surgeries, and 24 hours later he's ready to run. They love him over at Iowa State. Actually, they said that they like him so much, that if he has another surgery, they're going to name a wing after him (is that because we bought it?)

The worst part of this whole thing, honestly, is that Wolfie wants to play so badly, but he can't because he'd probably rip his sutures right out. When he and Winnie get into it, they play hard! Seriously, the neighbors get scared =) We've had to keep him in his crate most of the time. But he's a good kid, and we let him out on good behavior. His favorite "entertain myself" game is to go outside (works best in fresh snow) and scoop a bunch of snow into his e-collar, and make a little Wolfie snowcone. When he comes inside, he can spend the next hour licking it clean. A side effect of this is that when he does a #2, and he goes to sniff his product like any good male would do, he sometimes makes a poop flavored snowcone. Guess who gets to clean that out!? Oh, he's worth it! He's the best damn dog in the world (together with his sister)!


Under the knife

Published on Tuesday, January 12, 2010 in ,

Wolfie had surgery last week on 1/6, and it was a complete success! You might have read in my previous post that he was discovered to have a PDA (patent ductus arteriosis), which is a duct in the heart that is supposed to close when you are born into the world. Wolfie's was not, and the concern was that if we didn't close it, he could suffer the same fate as all Wolfies (the ones that we know anyhow). The surgery took just a few hours to insert a device through the femoral artery to close the hole from each side, and he recovered gently at Iowa State Veterinary Hospital. They are a top notch facility, certainly the best in the state, and Wolfie was in good hands. I would mention his doctor's name, except I don't have his permission, so I'll only mention it in person, if anyone needs a cardiac referral. It's interesting, treating our pets almost as humans, and I know some people will disagree, but can you be surprised really? They are a part of the family unit. And Wolfie 2.0 has stolen our hearts just as much as Winnie and Wolfie 1.

A hilarious side effect of the surgery was bringing Wolfie home from Iowa State. He scared the crap out of Winnie, who went running into the corner behind the piano (her favorite "don't bother me" spot), only to emerge when Wolfie was out of the room. I laughed myself silly watching Wolfie try to play and watching Winnie run away full speed! So Wolfman is resting, against his will, for the next couple weeks, just to make sure nothing comes undone. It should be an interesting couple of weeks! I'll be glad when this is all done.... and Sheila missed all the fun!!!


I want my baby back baby back baby back...

Published on Sunday, January 3, 2010 in , ,

Sheila's been gone about a week now. Ok, I'll admit it, I was rather bored this weekend. That never happens! I don't know why it happened this weekend. I think it's because it's so cold outside that I couldn't even tolerate being out there for a minute. Seriously. I guess I kept busy with xbox, web surfing and general nerdy pursuits, adding music to my ipod, babysitting Ooka (friend's dog)... blah blah blah. Yep, I was bored. Damn, I hate it when that happens. Last time I talked to Sheila was on New Years day at 2am. She was wishing me a happy new year though it had been 2010 for her for ~14 hours already.

So she's doing well, albeit cold. Her exact words were "I hate hate hate hate hate hate being cold". I told facebook that, and facebook said, meh. Several people emoted surprise when I said Nepal was cold. You do know that's where Mt Everest is right? Ok, Kathmandu is 1400m (4500 ft), so a little lower than Denver. Right now it's in the 30's at night, and 60's during the day. But you have to remember that the days are still short (a little longer than DSM), the buildings don't have great heating systems (or heat at all), and there are no heated showers... Did you read that? Go back and read it again and then think about getting up in your house each morning to relatively little heat, then taking a cold shower. You never get warm. Add to that the fact that Sheila is from AZ, and has thin blood to start (I've never actually tested this blood theory, though I did accidentally cut her foot once when I dropped a razor on it. It bled a long time... hmmm).

But mostly Sheila is enjoying her rotation there. She's been seeing Parvati quite a bit, who has helped her get around and obtain a space heater. She's been observing surgeries in the hospital, and they've been top notch. We miss her dearly here of course. I represented her at a gathering at Vuong's house for the Eve. We drank, laughed, played games, and then laughed at how everyone played games. I might have come across a bit competitive, which I'm not really, but I do love me some Catch Phrase. Do they have updated version of that game? After you play it for a while, you get to memorize the answers. I remember playing somewhere once for several hours, and we started giving clues like "Remember that answer you gave 2 hours ago?" I was thinking they should make the content downloadable. Oh wait, I have it... I should write an iPhone version... then there would be an app for that (I can't get that stupid phrase out of my head).

Well, cheers everyone, here's to 2010! Happy New Year!


Ain't no sunshine when she's gone

Published on Saturday, December 26, 2009 in , ,

Merry Christmas everyone! I'm a little sad cuz Sheila left for Nepal yesterday. This is rotation #6, and the first elective one. I would say she exhibited a mixture of excitement for the upcoming trip, trepidation on making sure to pack well, and annoyance at having to leave home again. As any of the business travelers out there will know, it's always exciting in the beginning, and get increasingly annoying and tedious at the end, after you've been traveling for a while. As Sheila describes it, any given rotation is exciting the first week as you are learning the ropes, fun the second week as you master the routine and contribute positively, and then you pretty much want to start going home.

So, I guess I'm a bachelor again. It's not so bad really. I get to play xbox all the time, watch whatever I want, not take showers, not do the dishes... eh it's pretty much like that when Sheila is here too =) Med school is like being single again in many respects. You spend a lot of time finding ways to fill your time. I happen to be pretty good at that, but I'd rather spend more time with my wife, and I'm certainly grateful for the fact that 3rd year of medical school is a lot less time consuming. Certainly these away rotations are difficult, especially this one to Nepal where I can't even visit her. But this will be a great experience for her and I'm super happy that she gets to go back and give back as well as she received from this country in the past. Before she was the patient, and now she will be the doctor (student). I'm sure this is a great sense of closure for her.

Well, we'll all miss Sheila while she's away. She's going to miss Wolfie's surgery, and a New Year's kiss from her husband (I'll save it for later). But we love her and wish her a good rotation!


Merry Christmas!

Published on Thursday, December 24, 2009 in , , , ,

I thought I'd repost our Christmas Letter here for posterity.

Another wild and crazy year for this branch of the Drnec family: Tumultuous, fortuitous, studious, industrious, and at times frivolous and capricious!

A couple additions enhanced our clan this year, of the small and furry kind. “Congratulations! It’s…a puppy!” Actually, it’s 3 puppies. Last Christmas, we fell in love with Granny’s puppy, Maggie, a Christmas present from Uncle Billy. U. Billy had just adopted Buddy a few weeks prior. We added Wolfgang (Wolfie), The First, to our family in January, a 9 week old German Shepherd. In April, we added Winifred (Winnie) to the family to give Wolfie I a playmate. They were the best of friends, and great companions to us, until Wolfie tragically and unexpectedly died in late July due to an undiagnosed heart defect. We were heartbroken, but adopted Wolfie 2.0 (two-dot-oh) in November to give Winnie her playmate back. Though Winnie, Buddy and Maggie are all confirmed healthy via echocardiogram, Wolfie 2.0 was also found to have a heart defect. Fortunately, it was caught this time, and it’s fixable, and he will have surgery on January 6th, and should live a normal healthy life. We couldn’t be happier, because we couldn’t imagine life without our furry friends (Beeble, the 20 lb. Maine Coone cat, would tend to disagree).

Sheila completed her 2nd year of medical school in May, much to the joy of her husband, who had forgotten what Sheila looked like. However, the first half of summer was reserved for studying for the first Medical Board exam, which Sheila took in July. She passed, much to the joy of Sheila, who was stressed to the max. We took a vacation for a couple weeks (see below), and then Sheila started her rotations. For those who don’t know, the 3rd and 4th years of school consist of a series of 1 month long required and elective rotations in various hospital and clinics. Sheila is based in Des Moines (while other students move to other locations for the year), but has to travel to other locations as there aren’t enough spots for all the students here. So far Sheila has completed ER, internal medicine, surgery, Ob/Gyn, and family practice, and is headed to Nepal for an international rotation right after Christmas. While this time has been hard with the travel to other cities, and us having to be separated, 3rd year is far better than the first two. Sheila is enjoying practicing real medicine (she delivered 11 babies herself in San Antonio, under supervision, of course), and Drink is enjoying seeing her more.

Drink spent much of the year hating his job and trying to fill his spare time with other activities. He was active in SOS (the support organization for medical student spouses), becoming secretary and redesigning their website, and participating in several of the sub groups like the book, tennis, and men’s club. He was officially accepted to University of Iowa’s MBA program and continued pursuing his degree at the local branch in Des Moines in the evenings. Much to the surprise of everyone, his new hobby this year was home brewing after getting a starter kit from Sheila for his birthday. He’s a little disappointed his nickname “Drink” is no longer ironic, but that doesn’t last long past the 2nd tasting of his weekend’s efforts. In October, Drink landed a new job at GeoLearning as a software developer for their Learning Management software (they help many companies deliver online training to their employees). He’s much happier!

This year we traveled to Nepal for a well-deserved vacation after completing half of Medical school. This was both a vacation and a business trip in that we scoped out where Sheila will be living and working for her January rotation. It was really an amazing trip, as we visited many of the same places Sheila had seen when she lived there in 2000/2001, including the site of her motorcycle accident, and some new places. We did a 4 day trek in the Himalayas on the Annapurna trail, we visited the holiest Hindu temple in Nepal, Pashupatinath, we rode elephants in the Chitwan jungle and visited the birthplace of the Lord Buddha. We planned an Everest mountain flight too, but got rained out. We spent a lot of time with our Nepali family, Parvati and Swamijee. They treated us as if we were their own children, and we are forever grateful for their hospitality! We hope they can visit us in the U.S. soon.

We wish everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season! We’re trying to keep warm here in the Midwest, and not get buried in the snow – at least the dogs love it! We know we’ve been out of touch with many friends and family over the past 2 years, and we look forward to post medical school when we can reconnect with everyone.

You can see pictures of our puppies and the Nepal trip online at http://picasaweb.google.com/michaeldrnec, and keep up to date with our life at our websitehttp://www.michaeldrnec.com.