Week 8:
The Unexpected

Dimensions Fellow in Orthopedic Research

Children's Hospital Colorado | Aurora, Colorado

August 4, 2019

Last weekend, I traveled with Alicia and her boyfriend Alex to a beautiful mountain town Breckenridge in Colorado. I did not feel awkward at all when I started picking up my role as a “lightbulb” (the Chinese slang meaning “the third wheel”). Really, not at all! On Sunday, Alex’s family invited us to go boating on Lake Dillon. The scenery was so pretty that I couldn’t stop myself from taking pictures. We also had so much fun taking the Breckenridge gondola and going down the alpine slide.

It was a wonderful weekend to get out of the city and explore a different place in Colorado. I had a  great experience and thank Alicia so much for taking me on the trip. I felt very sad to say goodbye to the town which brought me so much laughter.

Boating on Lake Dillon with Alicia and Lola!

I finished all the data collection on Monday and set up my own database for measuring the canal fill by importing patients’ medical record numbers, using logic and some simple formula. It was not very difficult to do but I am very proud because I figured everything out by myself. I continued to work on the canal fill measurement and the final presentation for the rest of the week. 

Pretending driving the boat on Lake Dillon

When I was doing calculations in Excel, I realized that some data appeared to be inconsistent with what we had before. I was anxious since I noticed that a lot of the fields were wrong. It would be very bad if the data were all over the place and I needed to collect them all over again.

After a few seconds of the “heart attack” moment, I realized that I had the previous data saved, and so does Anastasiya. However, we were still not sure why this happened. 

I recalled that last week after Anastasiya deleted some records in the database as well as adding the new medical records of the patients we included, there were some windows that popped up and asked me if I wanted to erase some fields in the database. We happened to ignore them at that time. I exported the current data and saved it into a new Excel spreadsheet. In order to figure out what was going on, I saved the current data as a separate spreadsheet, clicked on the records having the windows still popped up. Instead of clicking on “cancel”, I clicked “OK” to erase the data following the instructions. I checked the places that were changed with the previous Excel sheet as well as the one that I just saved and realized that the Redcap was right. I followed all the instructions and finally got back some of the real data. As I was reviewing, I realized that some of the incorrect data were from other patients’ records. The REDCap database automatically filled in some blanks when we imported the new ones. Having that information, my anxiety was released.

Lifetime lesson learned: save the data along the way! I am so glad that both of us had saved the previous data so we did not mess up completely. And actually, I later learned that REDCap is having a backup for our data along the way so there is no need to panic. The next day, I continued to double-check the new Excel sheet with the old one and spot check some data with the patients’ charts to make sure everything was correct.

It was so much fun exploring downtown Breckenridge and knowing why Alicia loves this state so much!

We met with Patrick on Friday and he told us how he wanted us to code our data on the spreadsheet. He also came up with two more variables for me to collect. My RA and I worked till 7 that day for the unexpected missions and she drove me home after work which I really appreciated.

The following weekend I researched on all the medications that our patients used at the time when they had the injury. I figured out what each medications treats and looked for articles of the medications related to fracture healing. I worked hard for the whole weekend and had a general idea of how we want to group and analyze them.

I had my last surgery shadowing in Dr. Sayan De’s trauma OR at the children’s hospital on Wednesday. One of the interesting cases I saw was a boy with a pathological distal femur fracture. They were not sure if it was benign or malignant at first. Dr. De told me that they would do an open reduction internal fixation (ORIF) with a plate if it was benign. If it was malignant or if it could not be decided, they would close the wound and work with an oncologist. We walked down to the basement pathology lab with the bone biopsy sample. After waiting for about ten minutes, we were able to look at the new-made slide under microscopes together. The pathologist claimed that it was benign and explained the histology to us. After that, we went back to the operation room and I finally got to see an open reduction internal fixation, which appeared so many times in the charts I reviewed.

My first time shadowing surgeries at Children’s Hospital


Penny (Yin) Peng '21

Penny is a biochemistry and molecular biology major with minors in chemistry and psychology from Guangzhou, China.