Thursday, December 29, 2011

Catching Up With Nana

TH has been successfully avoiding tilting at Nana windmills. We did not go there for Thanksgiving – we simply said that we were working and that we hoped that they would be able to come here again sometime soon. That engendered only a small drama.

And here is this year’s Hanukkah email exchange:
From: Nana
Date: December 13, 2011 9:45:54 AM
To: TrophyHusband

Presents have been sent and will be arriving different, could you please put them away until Chanukah?!

When would be good for us to visit? When does HB's vacation start? Maybe we could come mid week to help you out?

TH and I agreed that HB has enough resilience and judgment at this point that we shouldn’t have to hover if they’re only here a couple of days. I said that the one thing I cared about was that we give her very firm dates – she often changes plans at the last minute and ends up visiting on days that we were not prepared to have her.

So TH replied:
From: TH
Date: December 13, 2011 12:16:07 PM

In fact the window we have that you could come is midweek: coming on/after Monday 12/19 - leaving sometime Wed 12/21. Note that that includes the first night of Chanukah the evening of Tues 12/20, so that will be a special event. If coming within that window doesn't work either in advance or if something comes up at the last minute in your schedule, we can look at weekends after the holiday.

We will be at work those days for at least parts of the day (he'd be in vacation care otherwise) so you can do some things on your own with him. Staying in our spare bedroom is an option, though you may be more comfortable in the hotel...either option is OK.
Three days of silence. Then:
On Dec 16, 2011, at 9:01 AM, Nana wrote:

We're going to [HB’s cousin]’s birthday party this weekend, so not sure if we can do the drive the next day we get home.... I'll let you know, if that's OK!

TH replied:
Date: December 16, 2011 10:38:37 AM
To: Nana

Sure see how it goes...vacation care is there for us whether he uses it or not...OK either way.
Three more days of silence. Then, on the evening of the day we’d invited them to come:
On Dec 19, 2011, at 7:00 PM, Nana wrote:

Hi TH:
Sorry that we're not able to come. Our car has been in the repair shop for a week already and we actually are driving to [another state] tomorrow (otherwise wait until Thursday for our car) to pick up parts to install a new alternator finally! We've gotten the run around from a local repair shop, who is supposed to specialize in foreign cars....we should have just had it towed to the Porsche dealer when it broke down last Monday night!!!
We had a rental car this past weekend to drive to [cousin]’s and would like to get our car back :(
We'll make it another time that's good for you..
Have a very happy holiday with DM’s parents - give them our best! And DM too.....
And please kiss HB for us!
Seems like being straightforward and firm is working pretty well at the moment. We knew better than to tell HB that they might come, so the delay in responding did not affect him – nor is he aware that their stated reason for not coming is that they wanted to pick up parts for their Porsche so they could get it back two days early.

(And I sent a picture of HB to her of him wearing pajamas she gave him. I swear I am trying.)

Monday, December 12, 2011

We've Got Some Catching Up to Do

This is the first day in months and months and months that I have nothing on my desk that was due yesterday. (Plenty that needs doing, just nothing horribly overdue.)
So, work catch-up time? Screw that. Blog catch-up time!
I was not wrong to think that this was going to be one of my toughest stretches since being an intern in the ICU before duty hours restrictions. (War story alert! I once worked 108 hours in one week. Okay, 107, if you don’t count the hour that I was asleep in the call room.) It reminded me of the hurricane scene in The Cay, you know, that Young Adult book about how Racism Is Bad, where this prejudiced boy is stranded on a desert island with a black man and a huge hurricane comes and the man ties the two of them to a palm tree with the boy sandwiched in the middle, and the storm rages for what seems like forever, and there is howling wind and deadly flotsam and the wet and the cold etc., and when it is over the man is dead and the boy survives … I sort of feel like that, except without the sacrificial stereotype protecting me. Also no one has died.
No, actually, someone did die. My cousin died in October, for lack of national health care. For real. He was a pianist. Restaurants, kids’ lessons, church organist. Had he seen a doctor in the past year, he’d still be alive. But although he made a living, he couldn’t afford health insurance. The government will now pick up his huge ICU and surgery bill — now that it's too late. I was not close to him but I am to his mother and sister, so that added some intensity to these past few months — as well as perspective.
Work. Falling into place. I have excised some of my clinical duties already, and starting in January, I will have no direct patient hours and no weekends. This should give my brain the critical peace and space needed to come up with bright ideas for my new roles — which terrifies me, I’ll admit. (I will still be doing some clinical stuff — mainly precepting — so I don’t have to cut my old patients entirely loose and so I don’t lose my edge.) I am trying to shake the feeling I get when I spend fewer than ten hours a day at work. It’s not guilt exactly; more like feeling not virtuous.
House. I hired someone to cook and keep house for us two afternoons a week, and I have no feelings of lost virtue over that. She is from Nepal, and she is amazing. We’re never quite sure what it is we’re eating, but it’s always awesome. We have a cupboard stocked with stuff from the Indian market — we can’t even read many of the labels.
Marriage. I had a big Hash It Out with my husband, which is another post altogether, but it was related to him being grumpy all the time. This was mainly job-related, and I finally said if you don’t turn that frown upside down and work on fixing this instead of moping and whining, I will … actually I wasn’t sure what I would do. Be really mad or something. I also said while you’re at it start doing more around the house. Things had slid into imbalance, partly because I was trying to cheer him up by relieving his stress and partly because one of his old duties was to get HB off of my back (literally off of my back in many cases), and that duty has mercifully become obsolete, but TH hadn’t quite noticed that. And he said okay, and now he’s a lot more fun to be around. (He is still on his bike many hours a week, but I’m used to that by now.)
Child. HB is rarely hellish anymore. Intense, always, but I no longer feel like I have to be on point every second to avoid nuclear meltdown, and that’s one beautiful feeling right there. He says he hates school but he is clearly happier than he’s ever been. He is growing his hair out (until he’s twelve, he says) and does not mind being called a girl. He also is developing crushes … on girls. He gives them fashion tips — e.g., where to buy the tight velvet pants (girls’ size 5) he wears every day. He is taking guitar lessons, so in the future he can be the boy who pisses off the other guys because he will make all the girls moon over him even if he’s totally jerky to them.
Running. Running is actually going better than it has in the past couple of years. Honestly, I had been wondering whether my stamina was fading. Then I went to visit my folks and got to run in beautiful woodlands and realized that I had just fallen into a rut of a route. So when I got home I mapped out a gorgeous loop from my front door that I never realized was a possibility. It features hills, fields, woods, streams, and even a tiny waterfall. I half expect to see a fox and hounds bounding towards me some days. (I was startled one day by some very urban-looking youths riding bareback on horses. Also a guy with a full drum kit by the side of the road, practicing without another soul in sight.) Depending on how I cut it, it can be anywhere from five to eight miles. (Here’s an interview with Matthew Inman about running that my husband found. Did you know that the author of the Oatmeal is an endurance runner? I did not.)
How’s it going with you all? Hello? Hello? Still there?