Do Not Stand Idly By: A Jewish Community Pledge to Save Lives
As members of a tradition that sees each person as created in the divine image, we respond with anguish and outrage at the spate of suicides brought on by homophobic bullying and intolerance. We hereby commit to ending homophobic bullying or harassment of any kind in our synagogues, schools, organizations, and communities. As a signatory, I pledge to speak out when I witness anyone being demeaned for their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. I commit myself to do whatever I can to ensure that each and every person in my community is treated with dignity and respect.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
There is such really great walking there even in the rainy weather.
Why am I willing to walk for miles there and not mind it a bit when I hesitate and will take a cab in Mytown?
Is it the endless things to see and smell and taste in New York City?
Or does it just feel like vacation there with no place I must be?
I got back on the treadmill today at home:
2.56 miles. 48 minutes. Partial viewing of Gangs of New York.
Glad I visited the big apple in 2010 instead of in Leonardo DiCaprio's days there.
That's our family's decision, in line with our family's values. In theory, I respect people who make different choices. In reality, though, I've been watching the Facebook status updates and Foursquare check-ins from Target and BestBuy and Toys R Us with a bit of condescension and a lot of judgment. They must be shallow and consumerist and also misled by fraudulent marketing and therefore also stupid. I've probably been rolling my eyes.
Arwyn called me out on all that today with her usual unflinching look at the things we'd rather not see about ourselves.
We all of us — unless you are reading this at a public access point on a mandatory fifteen minute break from your 100 hour a week unpaid job of serving the disadvantaged — make “selfish” decisions sometimes. We indulge. We allow ourselves luxuries — yes, sometimes when we don’t have the basics, because it helps us feel a little more human in a world that would deny us our humanity. This isn’t a trait of those poor people over there, it’s something we all of us do; it is only kyriarchy and classism that somehow makes it ok when it is our own indulgences (or those of persons of a similar class), yet calls it “imprudent” and a sign of “stupidity” when they do it. We cluck our tongues at those who fail to buy handmade, while clutching our Kindles and fretting about our retirement and ignoring our hypocrisy.Oh, yes. There I am, with my iPad and my iPhone and the oh-so-amusing present I ordered for Sam. That's a couple of weeks of food for some people, that jokey gift. Who am I to judge someone with five kids who does their Christmas shopping at 4:00 AM at Toys R Us?
The smoke-smell of privilege is still clinging to my clothes. I'll never completely get rid of it, but Arwyn is helping me air it out, just a little.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
Today and this weekend, many of us in the US are gathering with our friends and families. There will be food and maybe football and maybe music and maybe arguments and certainly exasperation and maybe, we hope, love.
There is also a chance to talk with the people closest to you about end-of-life wishes, and Engage With Grace has created a single slide with five questions. No, you don't have to set up PowerPoint in the living room; consider making these questions part of the dinner-table conversation. Then, when you turn the computer back on, click on over to Aging With Dignity and consider ordered the Five Wishes and filling it out.
So much to be grateful for - the abundance of food in my kitchen, the kid dancing in the living room, the loving message from her first mother this morning, the guy snacking on cornbread while the turkey cooks, the friends coming over later, the family that is taking care of themselves by having a quiet day at their own home. And work that is deeply meaningful to me, and to which I will return tomorrow, fed and content. I am engaged with grace.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I may not know Yiddish as well as I should, but I do know an eggcorn* when I see one. It's nice to know I'm in good company.
*I tried to figure out how to define an eggcorn but a) I am gunshy after yesterday and b) the explanation is too long to fit in a footnote, even a footnote that is growing longer by the minute, like this one. The whole story is told here and you can go back to the primary source here. As Faulkner would have said, on the Internet the past isn't gone; it isn't even past.
Monday, November 22, 2010
Go read the memo and the handwritten response, duly entered into the legal record. Attorney Bennett Epstein submits a (somewhat) formal request for a "writ of simcha" to Judge Kimba Wood, in the event that the baby born to his daughter is a boy and he needs to go to Philadelphia for the bris. Attorney Epstein is clearly schlepping naches* for his accomplished daughter and son-in-law, but just as clearly rooting for a boy, and accepting without question the patriarchal structure of traditional Judaism in which the birth of a baby boy is an occasion for greater joy.
Judge Wood grants the request - and, appropriately for a woman of justice, she wants to balance the scales : if the baby is a girl, there will be a public celebration in Court with readings of poetry celebrating girls and women.
Judge Wood, here's one to start with. A woman of valor, who can find? Her value is beyond that of pearls. Your Honor, you are a woman of valor.
*"naches" (or nachas) is Yiddish for "pride", particularly pride in one's children, and when one is "schlepping naches", one is overflowing with pride such that one must exult in words.
Saturday, November 20, 2010
Today at services we read about the rape of Dinah, and we pondered the stain of sexual violence in human history. What does our tradition teach us? Our tradition teaches us to welcome the stranger, and to speak up when we see injustice. Our own recent history teaches us that we must not stand by and tolerate violence done to others, for any reason.
At the conclusion of the discussion, the Rabbi handed out cards from Keshet and urged us to sign the petition, and pass on the word to others. I did, and I am.
Lots of good conversations on Mother in Medicine about the costs of health-care and how to foot the bill in the here and now.
But most centering for me is that I am back on the treadmill.
Thursday: 1 mile, 24 minutes, The Office Christening episode
Today: 2.44 miles, 48 minutes, Private Practice, an old one from October
What are you watching while you walk?
Friday, November 19, 2010
I will sometimes talk about what a creative, curious person she is and how sometimes this makes for messes and then I add, “But you are so responsible, you always clean them up. Even if you whine a little first, you take responsibility for it and you take care of it.”
I said this before it was true. I said this when the only reason she took responsibility was because I stood over her and coached her through it. I said this even when her efforts made things worse as she toddled behind me imitating me cleaning it up. I said it to make it true. Brett and I gave her that self concept, “You are responsible” and we are still giving it to her because we are like Picard, we are saying, “Make it so.”
I love this. Brilliant.
Now I have to go look up Ames and Ilg.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The program director found me in the resident's room before morning report, took one look at me, and told me to go home and not come back until Monday. I went home too wired and overcaffeinated to sleep. Sam made me a big hot buttered rum and tucked me into bed; I slept until 6:00 PM, woke up to eat, and slept again until 9:00 AM on Saturday. That day to this I have never taken Sudafed again, and I've never gone to work with a fever. I go in with the sniffles, but if I have a temp over 100, I stay home. I was not competent to practice medicine that night, at least not after midnight, and I was exposing my patients (and colleagues and nurses) to a pretty nasty viral illness.
Luckily, I don't get sick very often, so I've avoided being labeled or resented by my partners for calling in sick. I can go a year or two between febrile illnesses (even when Eve was in day care) and I rarely have to take more than a day at a time. (I'm sure I've now doomed myself to a winter of respiratory crud). I've never had patients complain - they seem to appreciate not being exposed to any more illnesses than necessary.
We can't help but project our own feelings into our encounters with patients. If we drag ourselves to the office when we're ill, we're likely to be resentful of our patients. I've known docs who told patients "you're not as sick as I am right now, so I won't give you a note to stay home from work". The comment from the anesthesiologist on the MiM post terrified me. If I'm having surgery, I really want the anesthesiologist to be wide-awake and able to concentrate.
I'm not perfect, of course. Despite my highly sensible and distressingly unusual approach to being ill, I have been completely unwilling to take time off for things like Pap smears, dentist's appointments, and non-urgent care. I turned 50 in July and haven't had a colonoscopy; I'm also overdue for a mammogram and annual bloodwork. I'm slowly trying to get all that done and then keep up with it from now on. It is a bit easier in my current job, when I can block off an hour at the beginning or end of the day without having to reschedule anything. If I take my beeper with me, I don't even have to arrange coverage. Of course, that means I'm likely to get paged in the dental chair (that happened so often when I had to have a tooth pulled in September that they just let me keep my phone in my lap so I could text the nurses).
Oh, and if you're wondering why I have time to write this in the middle of the day on a Thursday.....I'm home with Eve, who is too sick to go to school.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I remain uncomfortable with the idea of cheerleading, especially the sexualized cheerleading at pro sporting events. Do women have to look like and act like cheerleaders to be noticed and accepted at a science and engineering meeting? Is that what we need to get girls excited about science careers?
On the other hand...I realized when I watched this that I had a set of my own assumptions and biases that did not allow for professional cheerleaders who are molecular biologists, neuroscientists and ER docs who also have law degrees. Ouch.
So I have some work to do on my own internalized sexism. And yet I can't get away from the idea that part of the attraction of the Science Cheerleaders is the idea that it's OK for women to be scientists because they can still be totally hot. I also know that I'm not the only one who dismisses women who dress like cheerleaders. I wonder what happens to the women in the videos if the men they work with in labs or universities or corporate R&D departments find out what they do on the weekends.
I can't blame the women who choose to participate - we all have to survive in the patriarchy, and it does look like fun. None of us make choices in a vacuum, and our choices, whether we like it or not, have an impact on how others see us. I will continue to ponder my own biases and assumptions, but I'm still not signing Eve up for cheerleading.
My father loved to learn, and loved to teach. He was interested in almost everything – history, politics, economics, music, art, sports, wine, food – and of course medicine. I have met people who accumulate knowledge to use as a weapon, to wield power over others or to show off, but Dad loved knowledge for its own sake, and he delighted in sharing that knowledge. We grew up surrounded by books and magazines and newspapers; it’s really no surprise that we both ended up as English majors.
Dad was the best teacher I ever had. He taught me that no matter how expertly you can read the code of the EKG, you don’t know what it really means until you know the story of the heart beneath the leads. He taught me that if the tests don’t make sense, if they don’t match what the patient is telling you and what you see on exam, you should trust the patient and yourself and ignore the data. He was fascinated by the science of medicine, as he was by so many intellectual puzzles - the diagnostic process, the hunt for the answer – but he never let that fascination obscure his connection to the people for whom he cared.
Dad was passionate about his patients, and he was almost as passionate about the institutions and people he worked with. Even thought we're now standing in University Hospital, it will always be “County” to me, because that’s what Dad called it; he first worked here as a student researcher, and when I was a kid I came with him, sometimes to see patients and sometimes to watch him tinker with the original echo machines – the B-mode machines that used light-sensitive paper, so the exam had to take place in near-darkness. He was loyal almost to a fault, but that loyalty came with an expectation that everyone around him would live up to his standards for professional behavior, and that every decision would be based on what was best for the patient.
When I was a candy striper at Community Hospital, and then a summer volunteer and a medical student in this building, I was always known as my father’s daughter. I usually took off my nametag, so I didn’t spend my whole day saying “Yes, he is. Oh, thank you. Yes, I think he’s pretty terrific, too”. I was proud of my father, but I wanted to be my own person – and I figured I’d finally escaped when I started residency 3,000 miles away. My very first day of my very first rotation, we went around in a circle introducing ourselves, and my attending said “Jay's father is the reason I became a cardiologist”.
I now know that I will never be able to outrun that legacy, and I no longer want to. I’m deeply pleased to be back here and to speak to you as my father’s daughter, in a space that honors much of what was most important to him. I know how much he loved teaching students and residents and fellows, and I hope his spirit will continue to enrich the learning that happens here.
Finally, I should probably bring you up to date on Eve, because I know many of you spent a lot of time looking at her pictures in my father’s office. Eve is almost 11; she’s in fifth grade and she’s a musician, an artist, a dancer and a really good friend. I asked her what I should say today about her Grandpa, and she said “You should say he was kind, and that he loved his family very much”.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
This morning I walked in my neighborhood with two of the cubs. We had a great brisk walk accompanied by great conversation.
Now on my sitting on my duff with my eldest cub as we surf side by side on our laptops.
Will get back to the treadmill in the next day or two. Lots of last week's TV to watch.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Melissa McEwan at Shakesville handed me one of those crystals tonight. She wrote about her dog, her goofy greyhound, and his encounter at the dog park with a single-minded Labrador retriever.
Sam's owner approached us and patted Dudley's head, complimenting him on what a handsome boy he is. And then, in the way that dog owners have of talking to other dog owners by talking to their dogs, he said, "Thank you for running with Sam today, Dudley. Sam's buddy died unexpectedly this week, and he hasn't had anyone to play with."Sometimes that's all we need - someone to run at our side.
Iain and I expressed our condolences.
Sam's owner kept talking to Dudley, while stroking his head. He told him that Sam wasn't very good with other dogs: "But you figured out how to keep him company."
I am grateful for Dudley, and for Melissa, and for the real and "virtual" connections that bring us together.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I don't want to look at my lists. I don't want to think about blog prompts. I don't want to raise my blood pressure by linking to articles about sexism and injustice. It's dark now, thanks to the time change, and I'm ready to nestle in and spend a quiet evening, and return to work tomorrow actually refreshed.
So this is what a weekend is supposed to be.
Friday, November 5, 2010
The tree has a sturdy brown trunk that says EVE in big red letters. Above the trunk are two clouds of light-green leaves. The left-hand leaf cloud says SAM and JAY and has her aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents, in appropriate generational array. The right-hand leaf cloud says LAURA and NICK and MARK (Eve's half brother) with blanks above for the grandparents. "I don't know anything more about Laura and Nick's family, so I left them blank. That's my family. No one else's family looked like that".
That's my family.
Two days ago, Sam and I sat with a therapist who specializes in adoption support. It was our third visit. We chose to see her because we know we need to see Laura, and we needed help sorting through our own fears and feelings before we could cope with Eve's. That meant we needed to figure out how to deal with our grief over the disruptions, and we need to be ready for a real relationship with Laura. The therapist said "so what's new?" and I told her about Eve's family tree. "Impressive", said the expert. "She's integrated all her parents into her vision of family". Sam said "Since Eve drew that, I've realized that Laura is already part of our family. If she's part of Eve's family, then she's part of our family. That makes it much easier for me to deal with. I know who Laura is to me now".
The one piece of advice I give to new parents is this: your baby will teach you how to be her parent if you slow down and pay attention. Turns out it's still true, even when the baby is nearly 11, and what she's teaching us is how to be a family.
2.25 miles. 39.40 minutes. last 1/3 of Grey's Anatomy and this week's 30 Rock.
But... I feel like I overdid it.
Tomorrow I am taking a break. Let's see how I feel on Sunday.
I hate getting older.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I didn't want to go to the doctor and get lectured about my weight, and told that I needed an MRI but wouldn't fit in the machine. So I didn't go - I took ibuprofen and I brushed off concerned questions from my staff, who are smart nurses and notice when somebody is limping. And then I stepped down off a curb and nearly fell because the knee gave way, and I knew the jig was up. I made the appointment, and I girded myself for a long wait and a condescending lecture.
They took me in right on time. Every staff member introduced hirself, and explained what zie was going to do. They were polite and friendly and entirely professional. No one mentioned my weight. The doctor reviewed the Xrays with me, explained where I could go for an MRI, and what he expected to see. He answered my questions about surgery - which I may or may not need - and he injected my knee with cortisone and local anesthetic. I walked - not limped, walked - out of the office pain-free for the first time in two months. This morning I walked down the stairs the way I used to, two years ago.
Such a relief. And yes, I've already sent a complimentary Email to the director of the physician group.
I had Tigerdad set my alarm for ultra loud, but was starting to wake up anyway.
Last night I had set out my shorts and sneaks so I threw them on and went to the basement treadmill.
Here are today's stats:
1.87 miles. 34 minutes. 2/3 of last week's Grey's Anatomy.
Can I do it tomorrow?
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
As we drove past, I realized with a shock that we'd just seen the Shelter. I know about the Shelter, of course. 15 years ago, when I was the medical director of an outpatient D&A rehab, I met with the Shelter director as part of a city task force on addiction. We've donated money and clothing and we've had at least one Shelter resident as a hospice patient.
Knowing it's there is not the same thing as seeing the number of people standing in line on the coldest night so far this fall, waiting for a cot in a room full of other people, and maybe five minutes in the shower. I didn't even go in; we didn't even stop. I can't say I've had any direct experience with the Shelter, and I didn't see or recognize any faces in the line. But now when I think of the Shelter I will think of the line, of the people, and of the desolation in our downtown.
The results of yesterday's election will not make things better for the people in that line. I wish everyone who was elected yesterday would spend one night there - not as a resident, not even as staff, but just there. And I wish I thought it would matter. It's so easy to retreat to policy, to talk of money and limited resources, until the people in that line fade into a blur of statistics about savings and relapse and rhetoric about personal responsibility.
I write this tonight in my warm, brightly lit, safe dining room, before I go upstairs to my private bathroom and king-sized bed, cozy and warm with its flannel sheets and hand-made quilt. I don't feel guilty about what I have, but I do feel angry about how cavalierly we treat our most vulnerable. I could pay more taxes and still have my house and light and gas heat and flannel sheets. I should pay more taxes, and the people in that line should have safety and autonomy and clean beds and a bathroom door they can close and warm shoes that fit. That's our personal and societal responsibility.
It was dark as pitch out there.
But I had laid out my walking clothes and sneaks the night before and just changed and got to work on the treadmill.
Here are today's stats:
1.5 miles in 28 minutes. 30 Rock on the Tivo.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Imagine my surprise when I woke up feeling rested and refreshed and realized that I had woken up at Tigerdad's appointed exercise time and slept through my own.
"What happened to the alarm?" I asked Tigerdad. Turns out the poor guy had been up for hours and took his treadmill shift early allowing his beloved wife 45 minutes of extra sleep.
So here is today's log:
26 minutes 1.47 miles
Walk on readers...
OK, which one? NaBloPoMo has prompts to blog every day.
Whatever I decided, I'm publishing this so I've made a public commitment to blog....more. Probably not every day, but at least more often than I have. I make no commitment to substance, however. You may get 30 days of trivia. One never knows.