Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Reflections on a trip

For some reason, we felt it necessary to take on this 4 day trip the following:
  1. two cell phones
  2. two i-Pods
  3. one Garmin GPS
  4. one digital camera
  5. one digital video camera
  6. a laptop computer
And, oddly, we actually used all these items, except one of the i-Pods. How is it that 3 people can use 7 items of technology in 4 days?

* * *

I had the foresight to borrow a "book on CD" for the trip from work, and we listened to the adventures of Kinsey Millhone in "R is for Ricochet" for many hours during our drive to and from NY. A and I have listened to several of Sue Grafton's mysteries over the years during long drives, but J has never had the opportunity. He really loved it. The story had a bit too much sex (we actually had to skip over a few of the racier passages) and quite a bit of foul language (which J loved, of course), but overall, it was interesting, exciting, and kept us going for a quite a while.

* * *

Couldn't resist this photo of J acting "cool"

Monday, August 25, 2008

Baseball Heaven

We are in Cooperstown, New York, which, for the uninitiated, is home of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Or as my 9-year-old son puts it, Heaven on Earth. It is amazing to experience my son's excitement. He is beside himself! The little town of Cooperstown contains, besides the Hall of Fame, row upon row of stores selling bats of all kinds (which you can have personalized with your name engraved on it), shirts of all kinds and from all teams, every kinds of baseball paraphernalia imagineable, and is filled with kids and adults alike, all baseball fans. It truly is baseball heaven.

J doesn't know what to do first. He loves the Hall of Fame, and has visited it at least 3 times since we've been here. He loves the stores. He loves Doubleday Field. He wants to watch baseball, play baseball, inhale baseball.

We also visited a compound about 5 miles away from Cooperstown proper which houses little league teams from all over the country who come to play baseball against each other. It is called the Coopertown Dreams Park. It was really amazing -- and exciting! -- to watch 12 and 13 year old kids play baseball on real fields. J was beside himself. He wanted to do it NOW!

Experiencing Cooperstown through J's eyes is something I won't soon forget. It's hard not to get pulled into his excitement; and I have.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Doctors' humanness is important

Working as a public health researcher, I probably have a greater-than-average knowledge of what a good medical interaction should be like. My family recently had several interactions with health care professionals, and I must say, I was pleasantly surprised and pleased both at the quality of care and at the humanness of the interactions.

My husband was recently hospitalized for his third bowel obstruction in 8 years. This being his third time, we knew what to expect. There would be x-rays and scans. There would be an NG tube. There would be waiting. Lots of waiting. And hopefully, the obstruction would resolve without surgery. Happily, this was the case, and my husband was only in the hospital for about 3-1/2 days.

What we weren’t expecting were some truly excellent providers in our little local hospital in suburban Boston. From the ER nurse to the floor nurses to the surgeons (2 MDs and a resident) who cared for my husband, each was personable, friendly, not rushed, and really seemed to care. I was particularly struck by how everyone took the time to talk to my 9 year old son when he visited his dad. They asked him questions, discussed baseball, did whatever they needed to in order to make him feel included and reassured during this stressful time.

Shortly after my husband’s hospital stay, we were on vacation and noticed a suspicious red swelling on my son’s leg. We made an appointment at a local pediatric care center, and the physician assistant determined it was an abscess that needed to be drained by a surgeon. The PA was very calm and reassuring, and quickly made an appointment for us with a local surgeon. We drove over to the surgeon’s office, and everyone there, from the receptionist to the nurse to the surgeon himself, was friendly and supportive. My son was extremely nervous about the prospect of having both shots and surgery, and the staff, especially the surgeon, did a great job calming him down. After it was all over, my son even commented that the surgeon was so nice, almost like a grandfather, and that he liked how he explained everything to him before he did it.

These experiences made me realize that the human factors – friendliness, taking time, getting to know each other – really make a difference in the quality of health care interactions. We were fortunate that our recent interactions were positive ones. I can only imagine that more abrupt and gruff providers would have made these two experiences that much more stressful.

P.S. Thanks to Kevin, M.D. for linking to my comment on his blog!


I'm feeling kind of blue today, for no apparent reason. I'm trying to think of reasons. I have a bit of a headache. This is J's next-to-last-day of summer camp. School starts exactly 2 weeks from today. I'm not sure what we are going to do next week since A and I don't feel like going on the family car trip we previously planned, and I'm a little anxious about that. I have a bunch of doctor appointments I need to make and I can't seem to get myself to make them. I'm still feeling PTSD-ish after A's hospitalization, J's surgery, and the whole week of "vacation" with the family. Anything else?

I guess that's enough for now.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

J is 9 today!

Here is J when he was 1:

And here he is, just shy of 9:

Happy Birthday, Buddy! It's amazing how much you've changed (and haven't changed) in 9 years!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bad luck ending?

It's the last day of "vacation." Everyone's stomach seems to be doing better. The weather is beautiful. My son's leg seems to be healing well. We've actually managed to do a few fun things including taking the kids to a real mine to hit rocks with hammers and find "gems"... went on a boat ride around Lake Sunapee... went to see a local production of "Fiddler on the Roof" that was actually quite good! But I am excited that we will be going home tomorrow and ending this strange week. I want to get back to my reality, whatever that is.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bad luck? #2

The virus continues to make its way through the family...last night, my other nephew tossed his cookies all over the sofa and living room floor. Lovely. This morning, my mother, sister-in-law and I all felt like %$#@. None of us actually threw up, but we've been sleeping all day, and feeling generally yucky.

Can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring...

Monday, August 11, 2008

Bad luck?

So shortly after my husband was released from the hospital yesterday, we packed up and headed toward New Hampshire for our planned week of family vacation.

Now, I'm not very superstitious, but since we have been here, my brother and my nephew have thrown up, we had to take my son to a local surgeon to have an abscess in his leg drained, and I burned my finger cooking dinner.

And it won't stop raining.

Is someone trying to tell me something? And if so, what?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Falling apart

Since I met my (now) husband, A, in 1990, he has had
  1. a car accident, totaling his car, but no serious bodily damage, in 1993 or 94, not sure exactly of the date
  2. a bowel obstruction (#1) complete with emergency surgery, winter 2000, when J was 7 or 8 months old
  3. a car accident, totaling his car and very serious bodily damage (but good recovery), winter 2002 when J was 2-1/2
  4. a bowel obstruction (#2), no surgery, winter 2005, J was 5-1/2
  5. a bowel obstruction (#3), no surgery, 3 days ago, summer 2008...J is almost 9...
Not to mention an inherited genetic disease that killed both his father and his twin brother, but which has caused only minor (if any) health issues in A. So far.

Is it just me, or does this seem like a lot? Am I right to feel somewhat stressed?

And the thing that really drives me crazy is that, at least with the bowel obstructions, I'm always very minimizing -- it's nothing, will you calm down already! -- and he is freaking out, thinking he is dying. So now whenever he is sick, he thinks he's dying. And sometimes, as this list above proves, he really is dying. But I can't deal with it that way.

And the other thing that drives me crazy is that I'm left at home to hold it all together. I have to take care of J. I have to make sure the household is still running. I have to coordinate the visits to the hospital. I have to inform friends and family.

And when it's all over, I tend to fall apart... which is right about.... NOW

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Obama is good for the Jews

The Jewish Advocate is Boston's Jewish newspaper. That's about all it's got going for it. The writing tends to be poor, the leaning is very politically and religiously conservative, and the copy editing is terrible. However, I continue my subscription year after year, mostly just to see what is going on the Boston-area Jewish community.

This week's issue included letters to the editor by two members of my synagogue. Both letters were very anti-Obama. The myths of Obama's ties to Palestinians and his lack of support of Israel abound. Here is a link to the letters.

So I wrote a letter of my own. And I'm pretty sure if it gets published, neither of these 2 people will talk to me again. Or they might talk to me, but won't respect me. But I had to say what I felt. Here's my letter:
To the editor:

I am tired of hearing about how McCain will be good for Israel, therefore we Jews must vote for McCain. How shortsighted to focus ONLY on Israel as THE issue upon which to choose a president!

In my opinion, Obama is intelligent, insightful, and has the ability to listen. With a background in law and community organizing, has the right skill set to help create the kind of world we need that might lead to peace in the Mid-East someday. Bush's policies and attitudes have led to an increase in anti-American and ani-Western sentiment around the world, and these have led to an increase in hatred of Israel. American's position in the world will IMPROVE if Obama is elected president, and this will HELP Israel.

In addition to these issues, I feel that Obama and the Democratic Party in general will be better for America than McCain and the Republican Party. Reproductive rights, immigrants rights, education, and other domestic issues will also improve under a Democratic administration.

I urge your readers to stop proliferating lies about Obama's Palestinian ties and Islamic roots. Obama will be good for America, AND good for Israel. We have to be willing to take a chance for change.
We'll see if they print it. And if they do, how much trouble I get into.

P.S. They printed it!