Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Happy holidays from L/J/E/J

Well, I haven't been the most faithful blogger lately. Maybe I'll restart again in 2010.
A few years ago, Jim and I finally gave up with holiday cards. It was a present that I gave to myself. Just one less thing for the to do list.
So here is 2009's holiday non-card.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Here goes nothing...

OK... so just out with it already. I have rheumatoid arthritis (or at least that's the most probable diagnosis at this point). Now that that's off my chest...
First off, I need to apologize for those of you who are hearing the news for the first time via a blog entry. I have kept the following pretty close to home for quite some time for a lot of reasons. It's been a long few months and I haven't quite figured out how to address this with people- how to bring it up, how to answer all of the same questions, how to lie and say I feel great or how to tell the truth and say I feel like crap without getting people to feel sorry for me. I wasn't sure who I wanted to know what information- family, friends, patients, colleagues. Honestly, I was just waiting until I achieved "remission" or "flare-free status" and then I could just say that I was taking medicines and it was all behind me but I didn't quite think I would be waiting this long and still be feeling not 100%
As my cousin said to me today, "You are the most refreshingly blunt person I know" and I figured bluntness was the best way to go about this.
So, to answer the most common questions:
I started feeling sick in January- hand pain and fatigue
It got worse in early April.
Went to my primary (who rocks!!) and he did all the right blood tests and Xrays which were all normal so we were reassured.
Felt worse in the middle of April.
Went to a rheumatologist who ordered more blood tests which were all normal.
Felt even worse so went back to the rheumatologist who then ordered an MRI which showed synovitis and joint destruction consistent with rheumatoid arthritis.
Started on meds including prednisone, DMARDS and a biologic.
They didn't work so switched to a different biologic.
Now waiting for them to work.
Yes, I've gotten a second opinion.
Yes, I'm thinking about getting a third opinion.
Yes, I've thought about the role that stress might be playing.
Yes, I've thought about "alternative" treatment options.
Yes, I'm grateful that I've been handed this diagnosis in 2009 and not in previous years as they are more aggressive with meds earlier in the course to avoid permanent disability.
No, there is no family history (that I know of).
Yes, it sucks that I can't drink (especially since Jim started brewing super tasty beers).
Yes, it's hard to be on immunosuppresants while you're in the midst of an H1N1 epidemic and a doctor.
And, no, I'm not pregnant... just gained 10 pounds from the prednisone and a few more prior to the prednisone from the fatigue of the disease but I started exercising again (although at a quite frustrating minimal level) so hopefully those pounds will go away.
Any other questions... feel free to email or call.
I'm trying to fight this with my usual sense of humor and head down, plow on through attitude.
That being said,

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eight years ago today...

Eight years ago today, a very crowded waiting room welcomed Emma...
Hard to believe what the next eight years will bring.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Jack reading!!

The past few weeks Jack's reading and writing have completely taken off. And we found out he won the lottery and got in to full day kindergarten!! Thank goodness.
Thought you might enjoy watching Jack read. Of course, just because he is reading, doesn't mean the other crazy, active part of Jack has calmed down (as in, watch the second half of the video for crazy Jack).

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Go, Emma, Go, Emma!!!

My mom took Emma to a Celtic concert at Slater Mill. She got picked by the band's dance leader to come and dance with him. Check her out!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Inspired but lazy...

Inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Wild Suburbia, I went outside this AM to take some pictures of our vegetable and native perennial gardens. As per the usual, I was having some issues getting all the pictures over and I was just too lazy to do it manually so you can see them all here.
Our vegetable garden, as usual, is dominated by tomatoes. I think there are 24 plants. Brandywine, Supersweet 1005, caruso, yellow perfection, sungold, pole perfect purple, red grape, mountain delight, mountain princess, sweet Chelsea, margharita, garden peach, green zebra, Cherokee purple, Caspian pink, Matt's Wild Cherry. I can't wait. I got them at Russell's and the Southside Community Land Trust's plant sale. I think we'll have a tomato taste testing party. Anybody in??
We also have green beans and peas which haven't had the most successful germination rate but those that we have plants for look quite healthy. We planted onion sets and potatoes for the first time this year and they're looking pretty good. The usual cucumbers and bush zucchini which are going to go in to our community garden plot. A garden huckleberry plant and ground cherry plants too. Some pepper plants- sweet red bell, hot (Thai dragon), and Italian sweet. The asparagus patch is thriving in its 2nd year- we didn't harvest at all but are looking forward to next year. The rhubarb that we planted about a month ago seems to be doing well as well. Jim's cold frames of carrots, beets, lettuce, Swiss chard are looking great. We've even eaten some lettuce already and are ready for more harvesting.
The perennial garden is looking great. We started doing this in Rhode Island. Low maintenance year to year and minimal need for water and pest control since they're all native to our area. Most of the plants are a few years in and are really thickening up and looking great.
Here's to a spring, summer, and fall full of flowers and food!



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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

The best birthday...

Started with fun yesterday selecting my garden plants... I think the 20 odd tomato plants will be a good start for the season.
Had a great day today, yummy dinner by Jim, the traditional Carvel cake with my parents, with singing courtesy of all including cha-cha-chas by Em and Jack.
And to top it all off, I finally got my Jew's on first shirt...

Which begs to have me mention again the link to my favorite giggle source of all times. Man, I miss Jerry Remy.

In fact, I'm going to watch it right now to top off the birthday before an early bed time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Anybody see a problem with this??

So, I took the University Virginia Medical Specialty Aptitude Test. I'm wondering if the results of this test suggest some of my job satisfaction issues. Do you think Jim would be up for another 5 years of residency (a general surgery one at that??)?

Besides the low ranking of family medicine, the other humor in this list is that urology is #2 and is in my top 3 of wouldn't do if someone paid me a million dollars specialties (followed by radiology and anesthesia)

Rank Specialty Score
1 general surgery 47
2 urology 47
3 thoracic surgery 45
4 otolaryngology 45
5 orthopaedic surgery 45
6 physical med & rehabilitation 45
7 ophthalmology 44
8 rheumatology 44
9 pulmonology 44
10 colon & rectal surgery 44
11 radiation oncology 44
12 anesthesiology 43
13 pathology 43
14 hematology 43
15 neurology 43
16 occupational med 43
17 radiology 43
18 psychiatry 42
19 aerospace med 42
20 plastic surgery 42
21 obstetrics/gynecology 42
22 gastroenterology 42
23 endocrinology 42
24 nephrology 42
25 infectious disease 42
26 general internal med 41
27 allergy & immunology 41
28 dermatology 41
29 med oncology 41
30 neurosurgery 41
31 preventive med 40
32 nuclear med 39
33 cardiology 39
34 family practice 39
35 emergency med 39
36 pediatrics 35

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Which is funnier??

Which is funnier the contents of this article or the fact that there is a blog called jewlicious?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Vacation's coming...

It's really coming and look what it has in store.

Apr 21 Partly Cloudy 79°/61° 20 %
Apr 22 Sunny 84°/63° 0 %
Apr 23 Sunny 85°/61° 0 %
Apr 24 Sunny 85°/63° 0 %

Saturday, April 11, 2009

5 years ago today...

5 years ago today, in a Navajo hospital in Arizona, a tiny, pale, red headed boy was born...
5 years later...

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Emma's fondest memory of her great-grandfather (Poppy) is his bagel sandwiches. According to Emma, "he made the greatest bagel sandwiches". Jim and I don't even recall him ever making a bagel sandwich or her eating one at his house but she swears by it.
My fondest culinary memory of him is his Matzoh-Brie. I can't make it as good but it makes me smile to try and also to see the recipe that I wrote on the back of an envelope (just as his wife, my great-grandmother Super Nana, would have done). I tried this morning. It came out OK but definitely not the same.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

They're possessed (and it's caught on tape)

Last week, the 4 of us attended the wake and funeral of Jim's uncle. The kids were perfect angels- quiet, paid careful attention, supported us and other family members through a difficult time. My mother in law said that, after how well behaved they were those two days, I could never complain about my kids' behavior again. In the car ride on the way to the cemetery, they had to get some of this perfection out. I videotaped this just as proof that they can be Jekyll and Hyde (and they turned it way down for the camera- it was a lot crazier before the camera came out).

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Greatest Generation

One of my favorite books of all time was The Greatest Generation by Tom Brokaw. It was one of those books that is completely outside of my normal book reading- nonfiction (especially historical nonfiction) is usually not my thing. If you haven't read it, it's absolutely worth it. It is a collection of brief stories about 50 members of the Greatest Generation- those born between 1910 and the mid-1920s, some famous, some not so famous. It talks about their struggles with the Depression, World War I, post war living. It talks about their work ethic, commitment to their families, lives with less material things.

This week we lost one of my favorite members of the Greatest Generation. He represented all that was great and we will miss him dearly.

PS. For those who read this on facebook, I think the links only work on the actual blog (ljej.blogspot.com)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Another nature documentary...

Another nature documentary, another tearful Emma... We watched Parrots of Telegraph Hill this evening which was a pretty good movie. The end (just like March of the Penguins) got Em a little teary-eyed. But we watched this clip a few times after the movie was over which upped her spirits. The first time it came on in the movie, Jack, Em, and I laughed uncontrollably.
Unfortunately, you have to go to the actual cnet website to view it.

Perfection (or maybe not so much)

After hanging around on facebook and the blog world a little bit... it seems to be like there are a lot of super happy, perfect families out there. You get the smiling holiday card pictures or the facebook snippet where everyone is smiling with their arms around each other. And then you talk to the people and get the real story behind the picture. Oh, sister was pinching brother's butt so that's really more of an ow than a smile. Or the rosy cheeks aren't from touchup or makeup but from the screaming fight that we had getting everybody in to the car on the way to the photo session.

This blog is trying to be a capture of some of our life- the good and the bad. Sometimes (OK, lots of times) I whine; sometimes I brag. But I try and keep it real.

We were on the Cape for February vacation. Although the pictures look like we're having so much fun on the beach in February, it was really cold and Jack whined the whole time about sand in his boots. The 2nd beach of the day that day, Jack finally smiled (when the huge wave came and got me soaking wet up to my knees and, of course, I only brought changes of clothes for the kids). Oh, and the emotion captured in the absolute love of the whoopie pies is 100% real.
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Friday, March 13, 2009

Quick lunch break meandering on the web...

Which Red Sox Player are you the most like? (A little outdated given some of the choices)

You Scored as Theo Epstein

Wait a minute, you're not a Red Sox player... you're Theo Epstein! Extremely smart and successful, you work the magic from behind the scenes. You take a lot of risks, but it always works out. You're not too bad on the eyes either!!

Theo Epstein
Curt Schilling
Jason Varitek
Johnny Damon
Mark Bellhorn
Manny Ramirez
David Ortiz
Kevin Millar

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Worth a try...

So, I've been a horrible video documenter of our kids lives. Seriously, horrible. Well, can't throw life in reverse to go back and get all those cute things on camera.
Flip video cameras were on mega-sale on amazon and I had a gift certificate there. So, here's to better future documentation.
Of course, when I got home and the package was waiting for me, there were no kids to document. So, let's see if I can get this video of Max uploaded...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Emma's version

According to Emma (age 7):

1. What is something mom always says to you?

2. What makes mom happy?
When I snuggle with her

3. What makes mom sad?
When she thinks of Molly (our cat that died 2 years ago)

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
When she tells me jokes

5. What was your mom like as a child?
A troublemaker

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?
Taller than me

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Being a doctor

11. What is your mom really good at?

12. What is your mom not very good at?
Remembering things

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Family doctor

14. What is your mom's favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
That she's a doctor and takes care of people

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Rock climb

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We both have brown eyes

19. How are you and your mom different?
She's older than I am.

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
Because she snuggles with me

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
Jaec's (but it's closed)

Another facebook questionairre..

I thought this was too cute to pass up. We'll see what Jack (age 5 in April) thinks. Em's is coming soon...

1. What is something mom always says to you?

2. What makes mom happy?
Doing good things

3. What makes mom sad?
Making her angry

4. How does your mom make you laugh?
Making silly faces

5. What was your mom like as a child?
A baby- that's easy

6. How old is your mom?

7. How tall is your mom?

8. What is her favorite thing to do?

9. What does your mom do when you're not around?
Watch tv, try and fix the hockey wii, read books

10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for?

11. What is your mom really good at?

12. What is your mom not very good at?
I don't know about that

13. What does your mom do for her job?
Work- that's easy

14. What is your mom's favorite food?

15. What makes you proud of your mom?
If she could jump to the sky- but she can't do that

16. If your mom were a cartoon character, who would she be?
Swedish Chef

17. What do you and your mom do together?
Read book and play hockey

18. How are you and your mom the same?
We both have white skin

19. How are you and your mom different?
My mom is a girl and I'm a boy

20. How do you know your mom loves you?
She takes care of me.

21. Where is your mom's favorite place to go?
A hockey game

Do you think Jack's mind is a little one tracked?

Saturday, February 28, 2009


I just got "whatever major loser"ed by my 4 year old this morning... in a very cute, silly, not disrepectful way.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Just FYI...

One of my resolutions for this week's vacation was putting up new pictures. One new album up, probably one more later today. Click on the picasa link or go to picasaweb.google.com/ljberman1

Friday, February 13, 2009

And this is why I want to quit...

Classic email of the day from our medical biller
"her last PE was 12/19/2007 and because she had another this year on 12/19/2008 her insurance will not pay because it needs to be one year and a day"
Seriously... insurance companies suck!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quite possibly... the Easter version

Some of you might recall the original "Quite possibly" blog entry which I had thought was probably my least politically correct are possibly most offensive blog entry ever. Well, here is the Easter version.

And, of course, the beach balls...

Monday, February 2, 2009

My freakin' 25 things

Within the span of about 2 weeks, I got "requested" about 30 times to do a "25 things about me" list on facebook. At first, I completely boycotted the idea. Then, I decided I was going to come up with the 25 sarcastic and untrue things about me (see #23 below). Once my sister did it though I started feeling really guilty. So, here it is in no particular order...

1) I can't believe I'm doing this... yippee, one down!
2) One of the worst days of my life was the day the National Health Service Corps opportunities list came out. After moving to Rhode Island for residency, we were sure we would be back in New England for good. Alas, the choices were between the Florida swamps, Mississippi (thought I would leave that one for my sister), and north of the Arctic Circle Alaska. Long story short and a quick summer on the Cape later, we ended up on the Hopi reservation for a few years where our freezer was always completely full since the closest grocery store was 2 hours away. In the end, if that was one of the worst days, guess everything's going OK. Although the crying at Chili's in Flagstaff on Halloween day after our 10 hours of flying out to Arizona knowing that we still had a 2 hour drive left wondering what I got our family in to was not a high point either (it was a pregnancy hormone thing I'm convinced).
3) Jack was born on one of the Navajo reservation's hospitals. They actually asked me what tribe I was affiliated with when I registered at the hospital. Not many white babies are born there and never a red head. The entire staff of the hospital came in one by one to see the red headed pahana (Hopi word for gringo) baby.
4) On the other hand, Emma was so dark skinned that a lot of my friends thought she was jaundiced.
5) Overall, I do love my job but the paperwork, hours, insurance baloney, prior authorization is just getting far too ridiculous.
6) Regarding #5, I just keep hoping that one day I'll find the job that maximizes my amazing Wheel of Fortune and sudoku skills, pays well, minimal hours (to maximize home time and exercise time) and helps figure out all of the world's problems.
7) I wish that I could read as fast as Emma and have the endless energy of Jack.
8) Over the years, I have been extraordinarily lucky to have had friends that have stuck by me through a lot and I know that, even if I don't talk to them on a daily or even monthly basis, they will be there for me no matter what. It's just comforting to know that they're out there no matter that they're all over the country.
9) One of my best jobs was being a doctor in the Massachusetts prison system. If it weren't for the frequent sleepless call nights, I would probably still be there.
10) I am a firm believer in the Farm to Table movement.
11) I can't believe that I ran a half marathon 9 months after Jack was born and I really can't believe that I didn't think that it was an amazing feat at the time.
12) I wish my sister lived closer- to spend more time with, for my kids to spend more time with, to get to know my brother in law better, and to take some of the weight of living near mom and dad away from me. That being said, I'm very thankful that my parents and inlaws live so close by and love spending time with them.
13) I read StuffWhitePeopleLike and giggle a little too much because I feel like a lot of it embarrassingly applies to me.
14) I wish that I could just stay one clothing size so I could invest in some nice made in America clothes that were made to flatter me, my body type, and my style. Yeah, well off to Old Navy to buy another pair of jeans- my kinda fat ones are falling off, my super skinny ones are just a little too tight (OK, maybe more like a lot too tight).
15) I would love to learn how to sew, do metal jewelry work, and do basic woodworking.
16) Looking through January's seed catalogs is one of my favorite things in the world. I love growing my own food and hope to do a lot more of it some day.
17) I absolutely live for chocolate and cheese. If I say "You know what?", the kids' blanket response is "We know... you love cheese" and that's usually what I was about to say. I hope some time to find a good source of raw milk so I can make more cheese- the first attempt at mozzarella was pretty good.
18) I met my husband when I was 16. It's amazing how much we've changed over the years and still like seeing each other every day.
19) I have been so lucky to have wonderful aunts and uncles to look up to in terms of their family, professional and personal lives.
20) Some day, I think I want to retire to Maine (maybe tomorrow).
21) During residency, the administrator referred to me as a "lumper" not a "splitter". The "lumpers" liked to get all of the bad rotations done all at the same time instead of spreading them out throughout the year. I still do that- I would far prefer to do 1 week's worth of dishes at one time instead of meal by meal, all of my wardrobe's worth of laundry all at once, all of my phonecalls at work at the same time. I'm working on this to try and make my life more efficient (and to drive Jim a little less crazy).
22) I truly hope some day to get to all of my books on my goodreads list.
23) I bake a loaf of bread every morning for breakfast after my 12 mile run and can't wait to go to South Africa this summer to donate my time and share the cure for HIV that I developed in my spare time and so the kids and I can get just a little closer to fluent in Afrikaans.
24) I love the little old bitties that call me "their young doctor". I also love the old guys that remind me of my grandfather- completely politically incorrect but loving and caring at the same time.
25) Although Emma got to meet all of her grandparents and great-grandparents, 2 of them died before Jack was born and 1 died when Jack was little. The sad thing about it is the 2 that we lost before Jack was born are the 2 that would appreciate his energy, goofiness, and love of food the most.

So, that's it... my 25 things. Run-on sentences and all...

The soap box...

I'll give my full rant and rave about dietary supplements and "natural" medical alternatives another day. For now, a patient brought in her arthritis "medicine" today for me to take a look. On the front, it said for joint pain*. On the side of the bottle, the * links to this mandatory statement "This statement has not been evaluated by the FDA. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease".
That's it... full rant another day. Look at this link for more information.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

As many of you already know...

Life in primary care is getting tougher financially. So we've now decided to keep our parking lot permanently an ice rink and do hip fracture repairs in the office. It keeps a steady flow of patients and income.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Never mind...

It's a new moon today... yeah, well, I'm sure that has something to do with the chaos as well.


Before I entered medicine, I hadn't a hint of superstition. Medical school and residency changed all that. We always talked about full moons, call socks for luck, and definitely never saying the Q word (quiet) or things would get busy.

Lately, for me, it's all been about the stethoscope. The nights that I don't bring my stethoscope home with me, the next morning I inevitably have to go to the hospital to admit a patient and embarrassingly ask someone if I can borrow their stethoscope. On Friday, I knew I was jinxing myself by not bringing my stethoscope home but left it on my desk anyways and, of course, an admission awaited me this morning. Jim will be sure to rant on about how it is all recollection bias and that there surely isn't a true relationship, but I will be sure to bring my stethoscope home from now on.

And, I'm sure there's a relationship between today's sheer chaos and extra admissions and emergency room visits because of the full moon.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Upon request...

Some have nagged me for not blogging lately. I must say- I feel like I don't have much to say or nothing witty enough or nothing that anybody would care about so I've been staying away. I might try to be better... or maybe not.

That being said, a lot has been going around in the news lately about some thing that I'm very passionate about... food. Not food that's in a can or found at McDonalds but actual food that tastes like food because it's made out of real ingredients.

Many are saying that the new administration might take a Michael Pollan like outlook on food or at least a foodie approach which would be amazing. My favorite quote from the foodie article is that the Obamas should just publish what they eat every day and just that alone will change how Americans eat.

Check out this article which talks about it all more eloquently than I ever could. We've "bought a piece of the White House lawn" on this website to help support the cause.