Thursday, April 27, 2006

... And All I Got Was This Stupid Bag of Granola Bars

On the final leg of our epic journey home, I was forced to answer the dreaded call for A Doctor On The Plane. And I do mean forced, because TrophyHusband, being a much more generous soul than I, volunteered me. (He's a physician too, but since the problem wasn't related to his rather specialized field, I was offered up.) I was the appropriate person, since the patient was a little old Puerto Rican lady having an anxiety attack, nearly indistinguishable from dozens of my own patients. She had some cardiac risk factors, which made the situation a little more worrisome, but she refused aspirin and nitroglycerine anyway. She did allow me to take her blood pressure, reassure her, and administer a chill pill. And my payment for my noble effort? A bag full of all the leftover granola bars the attendants could find. (Well, that and a bag full of the leftover beer.) No free tickets.

It was very odd to try to be the doctor while wearing dirty slides that displayed my chipped and peeling pedicure, grubby drooping jeans, and a T-shirt with toddler smearings on the shoulders. Although I'm a fairly sloppy dresser in private life, I tend to dress rather formally when I see patients—starched white coat, nice shirt, etc. I feel a twinge of disapproval when I see doctors wearing jeans on weekends or students or residents not wearing ties. I realize that this is rather old-fashioned of me, and perhaps ridiculous, but I think that at least some of my patients expect their doctor to look the part, and it seems disrespectful to do otherwise. On the other hand, my white coat does present a barrier of sorts between me and the patient.

What does your doctor wear? Do you think it matters?

Speaking of attire or lack thereof, and not in support of any worthy cause (the way Orange's rack display was, for instance), here is a gratuitous cheesecake shot of me with AngelBaby in the swimming pool:

It's the picture that I will look at in twenty years and think, you know, I wasn't too bad.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Remember Your Sunscreen!

1. If you were planning a vacation on honor of your own 60th birthday and taking along your extended family, including two toddlers, would you look for a destination:
a. close to home, minimizing travel but also minimizing the sense of getting away from it all
b. somewhat more distant, necessitating a few hours’ worth of travel but increasing the exotic factor
c. so remote that it requires thirteen hours of travel, including one long plane trip, one short plane trip, a boat ride, and a car ride
2. If you were deciding how long said vacation would be, would you choose:
a. a couple of days, since it’s so hard for everyone to get away
b. a whole week, since if we’re going to get away, we should really have enough time to enjoy ourselves
c. nine days, since otherwise you can’t use your frequent flier miles
3. If you were selecting a place to stay on said vacation, would you choose:
a. a family-oriented resort, with lots of opportunities for toddler recreation and babysitting though it might be less appealing for grownups
b. a house on the beach that could be babyproofed to some degree
c. a villa on a cliff, with a central courtyard containing a lovely “eternity” swimming pool as its centerpoint that cannot be blocked off from the rest of the house in any way, and with overhanging balconies without safety rails, and with beds that are three feet off the stone floor
4. If you were planning for how everyone would be fed on said vacation, would you choose
a. a place with all-inclusive meals
b. a place with a variety of restaurants around
c. a remote villa with a kitchen and directions to a supermarket an hour away
5. If on said vacation one of the 20 pieces of luggage was lost, do you think it would it be
a. The suitcase containing the snorkeling gear that could easily be rented at the destination anyway
b. The suitcase containing Daddy’s shorts and t-shirts
c. The suitcase containing the baby’s clothes and sun-protection suits, Mama’s clothes and bathing suit, and Mama’s soap, lotion, toothbrush, and tampons (said tampons being needed for the first time in two and half years)
6. Prior to said tropical vacation, do you think Nana was diagnosed with
a. a freckle
b. a mole
c. melanoma
The true answer to all of the above is, of course, c. Yes, my in-laws decided that they wanted to do Nana’s birthday up in style, and take everyone (me, TrophyHusband, and AngelBaby; my pregnant sister-in-law, her husband, and PerfectCousin; and my brother-in-law and his girlfriend) on a Big Trip. Which was very, very generous.

The biggest problem, of course, was #6 above. Nana had a little mole removed from her back a week ago, and two days before leaving, the diagnosis came back as melanoma. Which sounds terrifying, and it is; fortunately, it’s superficial spreading melanoma, which if you’ve got to have a melanoma, is the one to have, because the vast majority of people who get it do just fine. Of course, this diagnosis makes being in the tropics seem a little less appealing to everyone, and we’re all leaving the puddles of grease wherever we sit, we’re so slicked up with sunscreen. Nana is holding up wonderfully well – she’s one of those people who have an amazingly positive attitude at all times. I do tease about her, but she’s a wonderful person, and I love her dearly.

The missing bag has been located, and is supposed to be put on the boat to this island today. Until then I’m wearing my mother-in-law’s clothes and spare bathing suit. She’s a MILF, so it could be worse, but seeing me in her sexy bikini gave my husband a little frisson of utter wrongness. (Can’t borrow anything from sister-in-law, since she’s 17 weeks along now.)

AngelBaby was pretty great throughout the entire thirteen hour trip. PerfectCousin, on the other hand, actually cried on the plane, vomited in the airport, and trailed snot everywhere he went. I guess we’ll have to call him SlightlyImperfectCousin from now on. (He only vomited the one time, and sister in law thinks it was a Slurpee that didn’t agree with him, not a virus. I would be suspicious, but this kid does get stuffed like a goose for foie gras, so it may be true. No one else is looking green around the gills yet.)

We’re on a remote island in the Virgin Islands, in a truly stunning, if toddler-unfriendly, villa. We discovered a wonderful product that made me far less frightened for the life of AngelBaby. We’ve put the bands on the toddlers’ ankles, so they look like convicts on house arrest. I’m watching AB napping right now; can’t leave him, since the fall from the bed to the floor is truly concussion-risking. (Can’t put the mattresses on the floor – lizards and giant cockroaches, you know.)

But tonight? Daquiris, pina coladas, Mai Tais, Panty Rippers … Spring Break! Woo-hoo! (Apologies to Feral Mom.)

(We’re also occasionally a Naked Family. I’ll leave you for now with that somewhat disturbing picture in your head.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Smug Ugly

I would love to be able to take a drug that would prevent me from ever being smug. A Smug Drug. I loathe it when I catch myself feeling that way.

It happened just the other day. It was (finally) a lovely day, and I went for a run along the water near our house. I couldn't help but notice that there were an awful lot more folks out jogging than there had been all winter. I felt a little, yes, smug seeing all these fair-weather runners. Where were you in the sleet and snow and rain? I thought to myself. Then I came up behind a woman who looked exceedingly cute from behind. Cute little ponytail, cute matching shoes and shorts. Also, she was wearing a shirt from a fancy marathon. Hmph, I thought, you're going awfully slowly for someone in such a cute outfit!

Then I reached my turnaround point and went back. And passed the cute woman again, only from the front this time. Which is how I could see that she was HUGELY pregnant.

I felt so ashamed, I had an urge to stop and confess to her what I had been thinking. And it made me look around at all the other runners and think, who am I to pass judgment on them?

Smugness is never a good thing. Smugness implies a feeling that something good has happened to you because you did all the right things, and everyone else didn't. When people get smug, temperatures start to rise. I'm not bothered by fertile people, for instance, unless they're smug about it—you know, "Well, I've always taken care of my health, and I started early, so I figured I'd have no trouble getting pregnant!"

Tertia's post about red flags and hot buttons got me thinking about the issue too, because several posters mentioned the word "smug" in relation to folks who push their buttons—especially in regards to the mothers working vs. staying home issue. So, for the record, I'd like to say that I do not feel smug about working. Rather, I feel very grateful that I have a job that allows flexibility, a husband who pulls his full weight and maybe more, and an income that permits me to afford good childcare. And I'm not annoyed by, defensive about, or dismissive of women or men who stay home.

What I am annoyed by is the fact that our society still makes it hard for people to have children AND fulfilling careers. (Including the career of raising & educating children, which pays close to nothing.) I'm more "free" to quit my job than a lot of women, but I'd still have $140,000 of loans to pay off, my contributions to Social Security and my retirement fund would cease, and my health insurance would have to come from my husband's job. And if he died or left, I'd be in a tough spot. I would work even if all this were not true, but I can tell you, when I was pregnant I was really hoping that I wouldn't discover that I wanted to stay home after the baby came. Likewise, a woman who stays home because she can't swing doing all of the housework and all of the childcare AND a job with inflexible hours isn't really making a free choice; she may really want to do it, but like me, she's also reacting to some powerful outside forces, in this case to the inequality of societal norms. So I get annoyed when people insist that the fact that some woman can work or stay home means that the feminist ideal has been achieved, and don't question it. (Not to mention that the vast, vast majority of people in this country do not have the luxury of any kind of choice at all; for them, it's find cheap childcare and go to work, or get evicted.) I do wish that more women were willing to take on the battle of sexism in their families, workplaces and government. I remember marching for the ERA when I was a kid; what happened?

Monday, April 03, 2006

Be Especially Careful if They're Foaming at the Mouth

All is cool in the DM household, including AngelBaby. And even in the throes of fever, he was cool enough to insist on trying on his new sun-protection suit and sunglasses:

I keep hearing that Pink Floyd song in my head, Comfortably Numb – you know, “When I was a child, I had a fever / My hands felt just like two balloons.” (Not the Scissor Sisters version, though I like that one too.) I’m not sure if AB hallucinated, but from the looks of him I wouldn't be surprised.

My mom is the coolest one. She came last-minute, on her birthday, for crying out loud, to help out, and she was amazing. Some day I’ll have to blog about my mother.

So I heard a pretty good dumb patient story just today. One of my colleagues does travel medicine, meaning she sees people who are about to go abroad and counsels them on vaccinations, malaria prophylaxis, etc. Of course, one of her first questions is “where are you traveling?” Today she saw a guy who answered rather pompously, “Well, that’s confidential.”

“Excuse me?”

“I’m involved in celebrity transport. I could be going anywhere. You’d better just give me everything.”

“I see.”

“Including smallpox.”

“Smallpox? Really? You’re traveling where there are outbreaks of smallpox?” she asked disingenuously.

“Oh yes,” he said. “In Russia, you know. And the Ukraine.”

So she told him that she actually couldn’t give him smallpox, but that if necessary, he should contact the CDC. He nodded importantly.

“And will you be traveling to Sub-Saharan Africa?” she asked.

“Definitely,” he said. “I’ll be accompanying [famous movie star] to South Africa.”

“Well, you’re right, technically that is below the Sahara,” she said, “but usually we classify it as Southern Africa, which is a bit different.”

“I know,” he said. “And really you don’t need to worry there anyway, because it’s a British colony.”

“Um, well …”

Finally he said, “Oh, also give me rabies.”


“Yes, because I’ll be traveling with [famous rock band].”

“And will they be biting you?” she asked.