Why My Daughter is a Better Person Than I Am

One of my friends recently posted this bit of hilarity on their Facebook feed:

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Is it completely inappropriate and mean spirited?  Absolutely.  Also, really, really funny.

Imagine my horror when my three-year old leaned over my shoulder and said, “Is that you mommy?”

What? Really kid?  I haven’t lost the baby weight entirely, but I’m not THAT fat and besides I would never wear that. (Is what I wanted to shout at my child)

Instead I said, “Sweetie, she doesn’t have red hair.  Mommy has red hair.”  (I really didn’t want to mention the size difference because we are working on avoiding mention of such things in front of an impressionable toddler)

She persisted in her belief that it was a picture of me.

I finally asked, “Baby, why do you think that is mommy?”

“Because she looks so pretty and happy,” she replied.

And then I realized that what I saw and what my sweet daughter saw were two very different things.  I love her heart.  I love that she saw pretty and happy where I saw fat and smug.  I wish I saw people with her heart and eyes.

Unintended Consequences

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A couple of days ago President Obama revealed a new agenda to push for state and federally funded early childhood education.  I am sure this is with the best of intentions, but much like other social programs their are unintended consequences to every action.

First of all, every social program in existence today started with the best possible intentions of MOST of those involved.   This obviously doesn’t apply to Lyndon B. Johnson who started most of these programs:

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These programs were designed to be a “safety net”.   Some people use these programs as such, but more and more these programs simply trap one generation after the next into the despair of poverty.  An important economic concept in this equation is that whatever we subsidize, we will get more of.   Reflect on that.   Medicaid, Food Stamps and Welfare are set up in such a way that many people who are married are ineligible due to a slightly higher income.  They are set up so that if the individual receiving the aid becomes just slightly more successful then their aid is discontinued.   The result is that many people born into the system are simply trapped there.

If these systems were really about providing a safety net and not an attempt to buy votes, then why are they not designed to help people?    Many of my friends would be eligible for significant quantities of monies from the state if they were unmarried.  If they just got divorced and lived with their spouse and were willing to lie on that little form, they would be a candidate for welfare, food stamps, Medicaid and our already present head start program (which provides free daycare to preschool children).

I will say again, what we subsidize, we will get more of.   We should offer incentives under welfare programs if the partner stays in the home, and if they are able to make just a little extra money.  If we subsidized married partners, and emerging success then we will get more married partners and emerging success.   This is a system I could get behind rather than just expecting people to be grateful enough for the crumbs that slip down to them that they will vote for the right candidate.

The second point behind my tirade is that I really don’t trust the government.  There are ideas popular within society that I don’t want my child to learn.  I would like to teach them in a compassionate, educated way about our beliefs.   I know that this is going to sound really paranoid, and take this for what it is worth, but it is right out of the communist manifesto to indoctrinate children early.  Don’t believe me, actually look up the ten points of the communist manifesto as presented by Karl Marx written in 1848.  This was point ten on his list of how to control society.

This was practiced in Russia.  It was practiced in Nazi Germany.  Ever hear of the Hitler youth?   It was encouraged under Mao in China.   Children were indoctrinated and encouraged to spy on their parents in the home and report them to the government for “wrong thinking”.   I know how this sounds, and for those of you who think I sound crazy.  Yeah, you’re probably right.  Nothing LIKE that could EVER happen here!   I am sure we are all a completely different class of parents than those in Germany, China and Russia who were subjected to this.  No worries!  Whew…. I feel better already.

Lastly,  some of the smartest, kindest women I have the privilege of knowing are stay at home moms.  They have made this difficult and valuable choice.   Their personal choice should not be discouraged and derided by the government but recognized as the high calling that it is.  Why are we called upon to celebrate every choice in our society as equally valid and to be lauded except this lifestyle?  I wish with all my heart that it made sense in my family for me to be a stay at home mom.  It makes more sense for my husband to stay with the girls most of the time, and this is a blessing to us and I am jealous every day.   Instilling character, kindness and knowledge into little hearts and minds is the most important job there is.

It is not the place of the government to overreach yet again into the private lives of families.  They should stick to roads, and post offices and providing for the common defense like the constitution delineates.  They should stop trying to socially engineer America.  They are doing a bad job of it.   If they are going to continue to practice socially engineering, perhaps they could do so in a way that would actually lift people out of poverty instead of trapping them there.  This sounds like the truly compassionate thing to do.

 

Specialists Are Jerks

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                It is a well-established fact in medicine that specialists are jerks. (To my friends and partners who are specialists, I am not talking about you. I am talking about those other specialists. To my fellow Family Practice colleagues who would like to split hairs and say that Family Medicine is a specialty, I with a resounding eye-roll say, whatever.)

                I had a patient encounter the other day with a woman who has had cancer. Twice. She just moved to a new area. She has not been to the doctor for three years because of financial concerns. When we discussed what her oncologist and her surgeon had recommended for ongoing surveillance for her cancer, she informed me that she had previously been getting MRI’s every other years but her last one was three years ago due to her finances.

                This protocol is not a frequent protocol, but is also not unusual given specific circumstances. I have about four other patients undergoing the same post-cancer protocol. It is one that should be decided by a team of oncologists and surgeons based on the genetics of the tumor and the patient’s prior treatments. None of this is information I have access to, and requesting records and compiling them can take months. This lady in front of me is already a year late for her screening. Did I mention she has had cancer twice?

                So, I order the test. Then I get a call back saying that a certain radiologist needs to speak to me before he can allow the test to go forward. I think this is a little odd, but try calling him back, and stay on hold for thirty minutes only to be informed that he has left for lunch. I leave him my direct phone number so he can reach me easily without any problems.

                The specialist calls me back. And here is the conversation

Specialist Jerk: I don’t understand this protocol. I have never heard of this before.

Me: Oh, really, well I have a few patients who are on this protocol. It isn’t usual, but it isn’t all that uncommon.

SJ: Well I have never heard of it.

Me: Well it is the protocol she has been following from her oncologist and her surgeon.

SJ: What kind of procedure did she have? What are her tumor markers? What was the pathology on the tumor?

Me: I don’t have her records yet, and that may take months to get, and she is late for her screening. We have cleared it with insurance and they are ready to pay for the test.

SJ: I think you should get her established with a surgeon here and an oncologist before we order the test.

Me: Well, considering she is broke, I’m not sure she is going to want to pay for two office visits before paying for an expensive test.

SJ: Well I am not going to let you order the test.

Me: Ok, well, that’s fine, I will just document in her record that you will not allow the test to be ordered, although I recommended we continue with her protocol.

(This may seem like a perfectly reasonable, benign comment to the layperson, but I assure you, that this is basically the medical equivalent of saying, “I will be happy to testify against you on this subject.” It is a like the equivalent of medical napalm, but he left me little option)

SJ: (getting irate) OH REALLY, IS THAT THE WAY YOU WANT TO DO THINGS? LISTEN SWEETIE, I KNOW YOU’RE FRUSTRATED.

Me: Well, yes I am a little frustrated. I am just trying to do the best thing for my patient, and you asked me to call you regarding this, and you didn’t give me your direct line, so I was on hold for thirty minutes and then was informed that you left for lunch.

SJ: LOOK, I HAVE BEEN AWAKE SINCE SEVEN, AND I AM ALLOWED TO TAKE A LUNCH.

Me: (thinking about how my baby got up at 2 am and then again at 5 am, and then I went to work at 7am, and spent my lunch trying to get ahold of him) Yes, I agree you are allowed to take a lunch, but it is a basic courtesy to give another physician your number when you are requesting a call back. That is why I left my direct number for you.

SJ: I DON’T HAVE YOUR DIRECT NUMBER. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

Me: I left it with Christy. That is how you just got a hold of me.

SJ:   WHO’S CHRISTY?

Me: Your nurse.

 

                And that proves my point that specialists are jerks (again to my specialist friends… not you silly). If that wasn’t enough, he then contacted people at my office to complain about me. I am wondering if he is going to have his mother call to complain about me next, that is if he can remember her name.

Chloe The Magnificent

                The other day I experienced my first bout of “Mom Jealosy”. So far, Z has been basically perfect, and Baby Bird is too small to compare to other children. Sure, we have toddler friends that Z plays with, and some of them are cuter than her, but they sound like Jabberwockies and Z is saying things like, “No mommy, I don’t like that, it’s ugly, I want the cute one,” or “Oh look, binoculars!” (True story).

                So, point being, she is usually the most adorable, intelligent, amazing two-year old I know. Of course, now all my other toddler mom friends will now know that I have been comparing our children. But I suspect they may be delusional in their beliefs that their little angels are superior to Z as well.

                Imagine my surprise as I encountered during an office visit, the Toddler Unicorn that shall now be known as Chloe The Magnificent (CTM). CTM came in for her well child visit. She had flowing red locks, and I mean flowing. She is only two-years old. When has she had time to grow flowing locks? I reflected on the sparse nubbin of hair on Z’s head that can barely be scraped into a small hair-clip, and that I had formerly found so engagingly adorable.

                I already found myself judging this child and thinking, “Okay, you have awesome hair, but I bet you sound like a Gremlin. Z’s hair may not be “flowing and luscious”, but she is still brilliant.

                Then CTM said, “Hi! You’re the doctor! I’m Chloe.”

                My heart sank. She seems pretty legit. I glanced down at the chart. Only two months older than Z, and Z was just going up to people at the park last week saying, “Hi! I’m Me.” Like she didn’t understand what her name was. I thought it was cute at the time, but now I am reflecting on the possibility that she may not get into an Ivy League School, and do I even want her to go Ivy League because they are overpriced and exhibit horrible grade inflation.

                Then her mom said, “Chloe, tell the doctor your full name dear.”

                “Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Chloe The Magnificent,” she beamed.

                Crap, my kid barely knows her first name. Maybe that’s something they learn between twenty-four and twenty-six months I comforted myself.

                At this point, I am understandably getting a little competitive. I start her developmental screening. She can recite her alphabet. That’s cool. Z will do that if you give her enough candy, although I am sure that CTM only makes nutritious food choices consistent with an ethical, locally grown policy.

                She can draw a circle. Check, Z can do that.

                She can count to twenty. No biggie, Z can too. I am down with that, but then her mom starts saying, “CTM, draw the doctor a number seven, oh good sweetie, now do 10.”

                At this point, I am like, “You have got to be kidding me.” This kid can write her numbers. Z is lucky to be able to recognize how many fingers I am holding up.

                Then her mom says, “Now show the doctor how you write your name.”

                Shut. The. Front. Door. Seriously? And there it was in perfect childish scrawl, “CTM” plain as day.   At this point, I have determined that CTM is indeed a Toddler Unicorn, not to be confused with a Pregnancy Unicorn (pregnant mom that doesn’t show till the ninth month, and then it is just a cute little bump).

                I found myself going home and saying things like, “Z, what’s your full name?” Which was met with a blank stare, or, “Want to learn to write your numbers?”

                But when Z greets me at the end of a long day at work with giggles and cuddles, she is just as smart and beautiful as she needs to be. Maybe my job is to help her cope with the fact that there will always be someone smarter and prettier than you are. There will always be someone better, but she is the best Z she can be and she is the Z that our Father in Heaven created and loves, and that is always good enough.

                But, two days ago I was sitting on the couch while Z was playing with some of her toys, and she starts saying, “Uno, dos, tres…” and she counted all the way to ten in Spanish. I thought smugly to myself, “I bet CTM the Toddler Unicorn can’t do that.”

I Am A Jerk… Apparently

So one of my friends posted this on The Facebook the other day, proclaiming that one of our mutual friends would love it. 

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              I stared at the photo for a while.  There were two possibilities here.  Either my friend hates this monstrosity and is pointing out how hilariously bad it is, or she actually likes it.  To further complicate matters, one of her other friends commented, “I want one too.” 

              That comment further muddied the waters for me, because is she being sarcastic, or does she really like it?  So I start off politely, trying to venture a comment to feel out the situation, “Could you please tell me what I am looking at here?”  I queried.   

               I know, I know, I probably should have just walked away, but I couldn’t help myself.  I had to know.  I became so obsessed, that I showed people at work, even patients, the picture.   I took a poll asking what they thought.  I did not give my opinion so it was a blinded study and very scientific.  My research was of no help.  Half the people thought it was horrible, and the other half thought it was wonderful (although I expect that the half that thought it was great was just being polite, and that half was heavily stacked with little old ladies). 

             My friend replied to my question, “Most people would know this is a candle holder made of seashells, you are so funny….ha.ha.” 

            This did nothing to elucidate the key point as to whether my friends actually like this or not.  I am not always up to date on the latest styles.  Maybe it is like those brightly patterned palazzo pants that I don’t understand at all.  Other people seem to like them, but I think they just make people look like scary, sad clowns.

             I really, really should have let this go at this point, but I couldn’t help myself, so I replied, “Seriously, sarcasm does not translate well on  Facebook. Are we supposed to like this hot mess?”  (Maybe I should have left that last part out.)

             And I have been met with unmitigated silence since my post, so I assume that I am a Jerk, and we are indeed supposed to like this.  My friends will probably read this and think I am an even bigger Jerk, but in for a penny, in for a pound I always say.  And I don’t care what they say, anything that used to be part of an animal (antlers, pelts, shells, etc.) should not be used in home decor.

 

I help

                My husband came to me the other day and said, “Where’s my underwear?”

I stood there a little incredulous.   This is not an issue I wish to address. I have long had a policy that his underwear is not my purview. “I don’t know,” I replied, eye roll, sigh, “I am not responsible for your underwear.”

Hubby: No seriously, where is it at?

Me: Seriously, I don’t know

Hubby: (stomps around, digs through piles of clothes, mutters to himself)

Me: After pausing and thinking for a moment, “What about all the pairs of underwear you have been throwing out.” (It suddenly came to me that I have observed several pairs of my husband’s underwear buried in the kitchen trash. And honestly, when one finds their husband’s underwear buried in the kitchen trash it is in the category of I. Do. Not. Want. To. Know.)

Hubby: I haven’t been throwing out any underwear.

Me:   Yes you have, I have seen something like two or three pairs a week in the trash.

Hubby: Why didn’t you tell me my underwear was in the trash?

Me: I assumed you knew. You threw it away.

Hubby: Why would I throw my underwear away?

Me: Remember the incident at Best Buy?

Hubby: (glares, more muttering)

Me: Well if you didn’t throw it away, and I didn’t throw it away…. (we both turn and look at the two year old)

Hubby: Z sweetheart, did you throw daddy’s underwear away?

Z: (blank stare)

Hubby: (holding a pair of underwear this time) Did you throw these away Z?

Z: (face lights up) Oh yeah, Daddy, I help.

                At that moment my mind flashed back to the many times over the last three months that I have followed the advice of all the parenting books about engaging your toddler in the care of the new baby. I have been asking her to “help” for three months now by throwing the baby’s diapers out when I change her. Perhaps this is a faulty strategy.   I think we are going to need more underwear.

Phone Call Blues

                I was on phone call for the last 24 hours and this has prompted me to post a little bit about doctor-patient phone call etiquette.   First of all, phone call is not to be confused with regular call. Regular call is something your doctor is paid for and they are usually working a scheduled shift. Phone call is where your doctor answers patient’s phone calls, usually through the inadequate screening provided by an answering service. Secondly, phone call is basically a federal mandate. Clinics MUST provide this service if they would like Medicare to reimburse them for work that they have already done. Thirdly, this is generally done on a physician’s personal time while they are trying to sleep or enjoy their family. As one might imagine, most doctors really love phone call.  

                So picture this, in order to receive payment for services already rendered, we must make ourselves available during personal time, for free, to patients to call and ask sometimes random questions. Can you imagine calling your mechanic or hair-dresser at 2 o’clock in the morning for advice regarding your mini-van or your weave? Usually, my phone call is carried out while trying to get a whiny toddler asleep for a nap; dodging sippy-cups as they are hurled at my head because there is no more “Miwk” in them. Sometimes it is in the quiet of night when I am desperately trying to get my 3 month old back to sleep so I can get a quick nap before working the next day.

                That being said, I do not mind phone call if the patients really need me and the calls are legitimate. Here, for your edification is a quick reference of legitimate versus the illegitimate, sometimes ludicrous phone calls I receive:

GOOD REASONS TO BOTHER YOUR DOCTOR DURING THEIR FREE TIME:*

  1. Chest pain – or better yet, instead of calling me, if this happens, you should probably call 911.
  2. Stroke like symptoms- see number 1.
  3. A question about medications (i.e. I accidently took two of my blood pressure pills instead of one, am I going to die?)
  4. Hemorrhage – by this I mean serious bleeding, not a small abrasion or your regular menses. Better yet, see 1 and 2 above

 

THINGS THAT PROBABLY DO NOT DESERVE A 1 AM PHONE CALL (But things I have actually received phone calls regarding)*

  1. Refill on regularly scheduled medications because they figured it would be easier to get refills in the wee hours.
  2. Apparently patients only lose their Xanax, hydrocodone, or other controlled substance on weekends or after hours. It is a shocking phenomenon.
  3. Changes in the color or consistency of bowel movements. I don’t need to know in the middle of the night that you haven’t had a bowel movement today. I also do not need to know that it is slightly more green than usual.
  4. Patient lonely, just wants to talk.
  5. Probably the best middle of the night phone call I have ever received, kid you not, was a patient who was concerned that they couldn’t stop yawning (I sincerely had to fight the urge to tell her that I yawned five times while talking to her).

 

* These lists are in no way meant to be exhaustive and are intended for amusement only and in no way should be construed as any form of actual medical advice.

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