Life is full of contradictions. As a pediatrician I worry about children being exposed to too much screen time, as this has been shown to disrupt sleep and has replaced some of the time children are interacting with real people or moving their bodies. Social Media has been a conduit for child exploitation as well, as adults who are evil-doers have made contact with children through the different platforms. Yet at the same time, Dr. Plastic Picker is a social media Instagram creature. I exist because of social media, Facebook and Instgram, although I think my heart belongs on this blog and in clinic. How can your social media semi-savy pediatrician advise you to limit your social media?
My mother-in-law just scared the jezeebers out of me. If you are a colleague or a patient family in real life, you know I talk about her a lot. How one single person can affect another person’s life without being your spouse or your child is shocking. This almost 80-year-old Korean woman (I am Asian but not Korean) has altered the course of my life in more ways than I can describe. I mean I’ve been alternatively praising and complaining about her almost every day at work for 12 years. This should be an entirely separate blog, book, motivational speaking tour for sure. If Dr. Plastic Picker is able to avert climatic disaster in the next 9 or 14 years, I’ll get back to that one. “How To Live With Your Mother-In-Law: A True Story.” Let’s just leave it that her life is intertwined with mine, and we now happily co-exist after 15-years together. I’ve almost lived with her longer than my own mother, who lives just a few miles away.
I have to write the Eco-America blog post today. It’s 300-600 words which is shorter than my usual post which are about 800 words. There is a 50% chance that it will be cross published onto the American Academy of Pediatrics National Blog. One of my former co-residents at Mans Greatest Hospital was published on the AAP site last week regarding autism, but she went into academic medicine and did the Mans Greatest Hospital General Pediatrics Academic Medicine Fellowship. She was mentored by the past AAP President Dr. Jim Perrin and has published a lot of papers. So I want to spend some time of the blogpost, so will write it this weekend. I try not to compare myself to others back in my former training program, but I still do. I do have to say that I was mentored by the ocean and a community of Instagram Litter Pickers. It doesn’t feel natural to me to just write that kind of blogpost on this blog, because the Eco-America blog is for a different audience. I want to write “the truth” about my activism but filtered for a mainstream audience. On this blog, this readership sees the truth. Indeed, I think of this readership as Mr. Plastic Picker who likes me to read my blogposts to him in the morning when he is brushing his teeth. That my husband who studied Shakpeare and is a talented short story writer himself likes my writing is meaningful. At some point, I hope he takes up writing again.
I’m not sure why this morning’s batch of vegan muffins were thus far the best. I think the non-ideal second batch of cornbread where I left huge chunks of baking powder and the kids said it was oddly bitter at times made me more careful this morning. I am also working 1030-730PM, so wanted to spend time this morning doing things for the kids before I left for the day to see all sick kids into the “night clinic.” The “night clinic” is not as late into the night as year past. When I made the recipe this morning, I took it slow and enjoyed the process. I even used the whisk which I never really used before. I doubled the recipe and did replace a cup of white flour for almond flour (we are trying to finish using that). I didn’t have quite enough blueberries (which needed to be used because they were getting to the end) and added a chopped mushy apple. This recipe calls for a “buttermilk” made with soy milk and apple cider vinegar allowed to curdle, and lemon zest. Both I had never done before, and they were fun. The lemon zest was so fragrant, especially at 6AM when I started the recipe
Well. I spent an hour composing this following email to our American Academy of Pediatrics CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee. Might as well cut and paste it and put it on this blog! All the items are so important, and as an MD most of them you literally just lend your name and can make a huge difference now. Isn’t that crazy? Most online petitions are not as impactful as these that I vette and pass on to our commitee members. Feel free to read and sign the petitions. If you would officially like to join our committee and are a pediatrician, comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will reply with my real account. But you can sign the following even if you are not an AAP member but you have to be a doctor or health care provider.
Hello AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee,
I felt overwhelmed yesteray at 430PM. I had a full packed day of morning clinic. I was happy to finish relatively on time, and had 20 minutes to make it home before my virtual meetings started. The truth is yesterday afternoon the rest of the department was OFF not working and not at meetings. I sat through meetings from 1230 to 430PM. The meetings were all about really important things like vaccination campaigns, and spreadsheets, virtual care, reducing racial and health inequities, mediCAL Performance Improvement Projects, perceptions of medical home, perception of bonding with primary care doctors, and on and on. This is important stuff and actually potentially is a decision to spend tens of thousands of dollars to evert millions in fines, and to publish our work to deploy virtual care as a way to reduce racial and health disparities. As I half dozed off at 230PM laying on the couch listening to the meeting, some comment by someone woke me up. I’m the only front-line MD that actually attends these meetings (some from other departments with their name of hte projects have never shown up) and then I start talking and spouting out ideas. The team is fantastic, but at the end of the day when the meeting is over – I have to do my part to actualize these ideas. I have lots of friends in our department that want to help, but when those ideas and proposed projects are swirling in my brain and I was the only one that attended the meeting and I’m the only one with the ideas and I haven’t yet fully articulated them to my colleagues – it can be overwhelming. I feel alone sometimes.
I really need a lot of hope this morning. Yes there are several national events that are upsetting. The Notorious RBG died of pancreatic cancer and her body is not even laid to rest, and already an orange-hued president whose name rhymes with DUMP has offered forth a replacement. A good portion of the Republican Party is upsetting me especially Mitt Romney, as they seem to be falling in line as this was their deal with the orange dumpy devil. Let him do whatever he wants as long as he tilts the highest court to the right. Then there are over 200,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the US. Those 200,000 lost lives have created concentric circles of grief that are creating ripples in our communities. Yesterday I delivered one of my personal N95s to the airport to a friend of a dear friend whose wife is also a friend of my sister, as he boarded a flight in an attempt to see a friend who is being pulled off the respirator dying of COVID19. He is part of my community, and needed to say his goodbye. I don’t do these last minute heroics lightly and pulled a crazy U-turn near the closed San Diego Airport Cellphone Parking Lot. I had to confess to Mr. Plastic Picker last night my attempt to get to the airport on time. I made it and I hope my friend’s friend is able to say his goodbyes.
The first picture is the Eco-Avatar of Maggie P. She is one of the members of our AAP Climate Change and Health Children’s Art Council. She drew a super cute and colorful Yoda. The second drawing is the Eco-Avatar of my teen son. He had to apply to our council also. We are gathering Eco-Avatars from all 11 of our volunteers for a group project. It’s really being organized by our premedical intern #1 who is doing a very professional and fantastic job. It’s hard not to compare your children to other people’s children. It’s a fault of probably 100% of parents out there, even your local litter-picking pediatrician. This morning I’m looking at both avatars and immediately comparing my son’s avatar to Maggie P’s who is still in elementary school and one of my patients. Is my son okay? His avatar has two red horns and a yellow halo? Is he trying to tell me something? Or is it that he’s a sophomore in high school.
This is really no time to waste regarding climate change. Depending on which criteria you chose, we either have 9 years or 14 years left to avert climatic disaster. We are already in mitigation mode. I am not sure if those who know me in real life truly understand the true panic in my heart. About a year ago someone at work asked me as Assistant Boss to look into why there were not enough recycling bins in their office. That request was annoying. First, it’s actually not my job as Physician Middle Manager to deal with recycling bins. Second, recycling plastic water bottles is not the answer. Acknowledging that tap water is the same as bottle water, and bring your own reusable water bottle to work is the answer. Third, this individual had mansplained me for a decade. And fourth, this request like many others would lead me down a useless rabbit hole while the world literally burns down. I could spend half of my entire professional life trying to make sure there were enough recycling bins in the offices. Instead, our department just cancelled all single-use water bottle orders. Done. No more plastic. Bring your own water in a reusable container. I have had similar requests and I address them briefly, and then move on to where I think I will be more impactful for the world.
Mr. Plastic Picker and I went to Costco for the first time in months together. Since becoming the Plastic Picker family and trying to reduce our plastic consumption compounded with the COVID-19 pandemic and social distancing requirements, we have reduced the things that we bring home. I have salvaged over 1000 things from the landfill mostly aluminum cans. The 1057 items I have salvaged, I try to recycle, regift, repurpose or donate. I have three bags today going to GoodWill of salvaged shoes and clothes that have been cleaned. The answer it not to wishfully donate our things away, because much of it also will end up in the landfill. The answer for our family has mostly been to slow down the things that flow into our home.