Wednesday, February 15, 2012


**Target is dangerous. I saw a heart shaped miniature pie-press,and wham-o! How could I not have a Valentine's tea party for Tiny and a couple of her friends?**

Among the many things that can interrupt the mojo of an afternoon of patient care, are fire alarms.

Yep, fire alarms.

Take this week, for example. My patient was all set up for her IUD placement, and my nurse and I were at the ready. I sat down to begin, when I heard a strange buzzing.

"What's that sound?" I asked my nurse.

"I'm not sure--should I check?"

"Yes, just in case it's a fire alarm."

**I think Rockstar's alarm bells go off everytime I walk by the dollar bins. Because suddenly I'm in a haze of, 'it's pink and miniature and ONLY A DOLLAR!' Seriously, though, thanks for the cute straws and party bags, Target.**

Well, whaddya know, it was! My patient was gracious about her sudden, albeit temporary, reprieve from the scheduled procedure. My nurse and I waited outside for her to get dressed. Several people passed us while we waited, and advised us to get a move on. We advised them that it seemed in poor taste to leave without our customer.

We walked out into the (mercifully mild) weather, and observed an enormous group of people--staff, doctors, nurses, patient's--standing together in the parking lot. Commenting on the cold, checking smart phones, wondering if this was 'real'.

I wondered how I was going to come back from what ultimately ended up being an almost 40 minute evacuation (!!!).

Miraculously, things went incredibly smooth once we got back into our office. Patients were understanding, visits were fairly straightforward, and a normal departure time looked not at all unlikely.

My last patient was a nice woman who I've been taking care of for a while. In the course of our conversation, she mentioned some chest pain that she'd had recently. She seemed almost embarrassed to bring it up. "I know I shouldn't even say that word in a doctor's office," she said.

**Say the word 'jewlerybox' to four little girls, and you've suddenly got their undivided attention! Again, thank you to the dollar bins.**

After discussing it, I knew we needed to do an EKG. Since we were down in a satellite office that afternoon, it would take the nurse some additional time to get the machine brought over and set-up. I mentioned to the patient that I wanted to proceed with doing the EKG and she said, 'But you guys have families that you need to get home to! Are you sure?'

I laughed it off and said, "I promise you that I don't base my clinical decision making on what time I want to leave the office.

I left the room and waited for the EKG to be done, feeling grateful for my nurse. She didn't even bat an eye at the delay.

Here's the thing: I'm not going to lie and tell you that there was no passing disappointment when I realized that my family would be waiting an extra half hour for my arrival home.

But the weight and joy of this white coat is that when it's on, it's just really not about me.

And that is the thing that ultimately keeps me going. Because when it's the right cause, giving more of yourself than you sometimes want to give means pushing through to something better. It means fighting fatigue and being flexible to land in that place of satisfied exhaustion that fills you up and lets you know that maybe your efforts are adding up to something bigger after all.

**My girl loves nothing better than to take pieces of this, and bits of that, and turn it into something bigger. In fact, I think she could do it all day long.**

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Experiments in Dining

**Exuberance personified. Him, not me. Both?**

I have a theory about toddlers.

They are most comfortable with a certain level of ambient noise. And if their present environment doesn't include it? Well then they will happily fill in the negative space.

Here's my evidence (and you'll forgive its entirely anectodal nature!)

Last week my brother was in town for an interview. We decided to head to a fancy french bakery downtown for lunch. My sister's kids were with a sitter for the morning and I only had Drummer in tow.

Due to a minor miscommunication, I thought lunch was a quick stop into the main floor to get a chocolate croissant. My sibs envisioned a sit-down lunch at the upstairs restaurant part we'd never visited before. I agreed to give the sit-down lunch a go and hoped that Drummer would cooperate. After all, he had been a perfect saint at a casual burrito place the night before!

We walked up the stairs and into complete silence. I glanced around the tea room, no bigger than my living room, and noted that some people's mouths did seem to be moving. Just, nothing was coming out. So quiet! There must be some lip-reading etiquette pertaining to french tea rooms that I missed along the way.

The waitress seated us (why didn't I get a picture of that ridiculously fancy high chair?!) in that coolly polite way that implies they hope your meal will be a short one.

No sooner were we seated than Drummer smiled at me and shouted, "Truck!"

"Shhhh!" I whispered back. "Yes, that's a truck outside the window."

"Truck!!" He then glanced at another diner's meal. "Toast!"

"Shhhh! Yes, that's toast. I'll get you something to eat soon." And so it went. Toast! Shhhh! Truck! Shhh! Catch! Shhh!

After a minute had gone by, and my muscles were feeling the burn of fellow diners' stares**, I begged the waitress for some bread. Anything to stuff his mouth with, I thought.

What did she bring me? The hardest, crustiest, whole wheat roll I'd ever seen. Drummer tried unsuccesfully to bite into it and handed it back. He asked me for peanut butter. I asked the waitress. She didn't have any.


I knew we were sunk.

Rockstar offered to take him out walking while we ate, but, you know, poor husband. He's always taking one for the team.

The other diners were clearly aware of us and probably wondered what we'd do. It was at the point where it would've been almost as embarrassing to stand up and admit noticeable defeat than to stay. But I can take a little embarrassment.

I looked at my sister. "I know you want to eat here, but I think I will die from tension if I have to sit here worrying about every happy exclamation that comes from his mouth."

She didn't argue. In fact, she was out of her chair and down the stairs so fast, I didn't even see her go!

I notified our relieved waitress that we would be on our way and we ducked out of that tea room after my sister as fast as we could. The sound of silence echoed behind us.

We bought some to-go pastries from downstairs and then found ourselves a restaurant with some serious ambient noise.

Much, much better.

Two days later, I took the kids to a local organic burger joint (with the most delicious veggie burgers for me!). It's a relaxed, family joint with a typical amount of accompanying noise.

And guess who sat quietly, eating and minding his own business the entire time? My sweet little guy.

Which brings me back to my new theory.

And whether its right or wrong, I'm sticking with lively environments unless the kiddos are home.

**Side note: half of my parental discomfort comes, it seems, when I expect things from kids that I shouldn't. You know? No one would/should expect a 1 1/2 year old boy to sit quietly in small tea room. And I should've turned right around when I realized that's where we were. So that tension I felt? Certainly not my boys' fault.
Lesson learned again:Be thoughtful about your expectations.

**You expect me to wear a snowsuit in the snow?? Oh, the injustice of it all!**