Saturday, May 27, 2006

parent phone calls: episode II

04:44 5/27
mommy: yeah, i'm calling about my son. he's 8 months old. he's had this cold for a long time. 
girlMD: how long is a long time?
mommy: a couple weeks. he got some medicine for an ear infection last week, but i know his ear is still bothering him 'cause he's still digging at them. and now he's got this cough. 
girlMD: can you describe the cough at all?
mommy: well, it's dry but tight.
girlMD: any fevers?
mommy: no, not really.
girlMD: do you feel like he's having trouble breathing?
mommy: no. right now he's pretty calm. 
girlMD: alright. he's not flaring his nostrils or retracting or breathing fast?
mommy: no. he's drinking his bottle. 
(awkward pause as girlMD tries to figure out how to politely say, why the heck are you calling me at 5 in the morning if your kid is fine and has been sick for several weeks?)
mommy: well, i guess i'm just worried that you might think he needs to be seen now, instead of waiting until the clinic opens.
girlMD: well, if you don't think he's having trouble breathing, then i think it's ok to wait. our phones open at 8am and our appointments start at 9am. do you feel comfortable waiting until then?
mommy: yeah, i think so. we'll get some rest and call in the morning. thanks a lot.
girlMD: oh, you're welcome. 

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

lost art forms

the laying on of hands is truly a lost art form. tonight, i was asked by one of the floor nurses to come evaluate a baby who was quite agitated and setting off her alarms. this baby has quite a complex past medical history and has plenty of scary reasons why she could be setting off alarms. so, with respectful trepidation, i walked in to her room (after washing my hands, of course...hey, we've got a pertussis outbreak here).
she was lying in the crib, exposed, mottled, crying. her sat was 78, she was breathing 60-70 times per minute. i listened to her chest, a cacophony of sound that is a testament to her cardiothoracic surgeon in Boston. no crackles, though. no heart failure. no pneumonia to explain why she is needing more oxygen. she's still crying. i look around for her mother, who is usually, tirelessly, present. however, she is not. she is hopefully home getting some much-needed rest.
i decide to stand-in, imperfect as i may be.
i rub her back, make soothing sounds. shhh. you're ok. shhh. i covered her cold little feet with a blanket.
i look at the monitors, still blinking red alarms, but numbers that are moving in the right direction. respiratory rate down, oxygen saturation up. crying stops. she sleeps again.
the laying on of hands. it may just be coincidence, but i'm going to delude myself and believe that it worked.

parent phone calls: episode I

"Hi. I'm calling about my son. He's been crying for over 2 hours and I can't get him to stop."
(I listen intently to the background, waiting for the wailing she described.)
"Uh, what's he doing right now?"
This was at 1am. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

coffee break

i think coffee breaks are essential to sanity. we run ourselves ragged virtually every day. sometimes, we just need to stop, put our feet up and have a hot cup of coffee.
to what do i owe this luxury? well, both my attendings started their afternoon evals before i got back from noon conference.
i've already had one cup this morning, but there's no such thing as too much coffee.

Friday, May 19, 2006


i was browsing the itunes music store this evening and stumbled on their U2 collection. i was somehow magically transported back to summers with my best friend, sunbathing on her lawn and listening to war or october. this was before joshua tree, although we loved that, too, in it's time.
in our girlhood fantasies, anne was going to marry the edge and i was going to marry bono. no offense to larry mullen or adam clayton.
of course, we also pretended we were the go-go's, but that's a story for a different day.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

conduct unbecoming

i met a disturbing child today.
6 years old, emotionally detached, without empathy. hurts animals, punches and kicks his brothers. yet, seeing him in the office today, you'd never guess that he could be so disturbed. he was pleasant, smiling, behaved himself tolerably well. but there was also a coldness to the quality of his interactions, even with his dad and stepmother.
i asked his father if he ever cried, like when he fell down and scraped his knee or something. "no, never." his father replied.
this is a child with conduct disorder. at the age of 6, this is indicative of something terrible happening to him at a very young age.
the goal of treatment for this child is to keep him out of jail. that is what would be success for him. if he learns to empathize with other people, that would be a bonus.
i left work today with this heaviness in my heart. what happened to this boy to make him so insecure in his world?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Discovering widgets

I love my Mac Powerbook. It's cute, portable, and has all these useful widgets. 

(Haven't you ever wondered what a widget was?)

I've just been browsing through all the new widgets (there are a ton) and found a blogger widget. All I have to do is type (as I am doing right now) in this little dialog box, hit publish post, and voila! Post accomplished. No opening Safari and typing in the blogger address, logging in or any of that nuisance.

Let's give her a whirl, shall we?

free to be

One of my favorite records has been re-released this week. Free to be you and me. One of the best children's albums of all time. Think my favorite was Atalanta, the story about the girl who won the race. Somehow, that one always stuck with me. That or the one about the girl who was eaten by tigers because, the lesson implies, she wouldn't share her mango. I know, it's hard to share mangos.
I highly recommend this album...I guess now it's a CD...for anyone with kids.
Think I'll get a copy for the ward. Seems like there are more than a few kids who might benefit from some timeless life lessons about freedom of choice, gender equality and talking about their emotions.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Three of the lacrosse players have been indicted in the Duke assault case. They claim that, while they may have been taunting her and generally disrespecting her due to her race and gender, they did not sexually assault her. The spokesperson for Duke University urged people not to jump to any conclusions, to exercise compassion and reserve judgement, as an indictment does not a conviction make. 
My question is, who was he urging to exercise compassion and for whom?
I can only hope he was referring to the three lacrosse players and their families, who are heaping insult upon injury as they scramble to clear their names whilst casting not-so-subtle aspersions on the character of this woman. let's all have some compassion for her.