April 2022 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: April 2022

My cell phone screen shots.

April 30, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

OMG it’s April 30th today! It’s actually the anniversary of the fall of Saigon and the mass migration of Vietnamese people overseas after the communist takeover of the south. I call it Saigon, and if you call it something else – than obviously we have an issue with eachother. I didn’t notice the date until I started blogging this morning.

No one in my household really gets how important April 30th is. I love and live in a household of Koreans. This is not by design but by chance. Usually your enemy’s enemy is your friend, and I often wonder if this is why Mr. Plastic Picker and I were destined for eachother? It’s more likely he was cute and I was cute, and we were lab partners in premed biology. I can’t explain why, but I knew Mr. Plastic Picker was the one, because he smelled a certain way. It was definitely pheremones. But I often think of the colonial ramifications of our union that transecend the premedical sciences.

It’s the last day of April, and the anniversary of the fall of Saigon. It’s been a whirld-wind month of climate projects and work. Since Saigon fell, I ended up being born in the United States of America – having been conceived enroute during my parents flight from totalitarianism and communism. And then I ended up marrying a Korean boy. And this is why my children are half Korean/half Vietnamese but don’t speak much Vietnamese but love Vietnamese food. The same drama is happening all over the world, and now again in Ukraine. Greed. Limited resources. Corruption. It leads to people being displaced and creation of new alliances.


Spewing carbon, but not lightly.

April 26, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Like many I’ve flown many times. At some points, we were very bicostal. My sister and I were studying college and graduate school in New England and our family home was in Southern California. Then trying to maintain familial relationships with all our New York relatives when Mr. Plastic Picker and I relocated our family back to San Diego required flying. But with the COVID pandemic, most of us stopped flying. I flew for just the second time in the last three years to Denver this last weekend, double masked at the end and only furtively taking sips of water when I felt dehydrated. I don’t fly lightly or without reason especially since there is still COVID and especially since I know it’s spewing carbon into the air.


The two attendings here. My new best friends!

April 21, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Wow. My body is tired. I now realize my binge-watching Kdramas (and I’ve been a bad middle-aged mommy and binge-watching a lot) has been kind of excessive. I now realize that some of this is not unlike people who drink alcohol (which I do not but I am not judging) to numb themselves. I now realize that ending my traditional middle management career at five years of Assistant Chief was an emotionally hard and wrenching decision. I was numbing myself from the emotional fallout. The fallout, ended up being the emails and calls from some upper management that never materialized. I know that they too are just cogs in the HMO machinery, but to say that I am slightly disappointed would be true. I think all of us deep down all want to be recognized. Since I’m a metric oriented person, I know objectively I did so much in the five years that I was Assistant Boss. But now that I’m at that age of being a middle aged palindrome, where my age is the same read forwards and backwards, I realize that it was meant to be. I’m meant to decide where my path goes. Read forward or backwards, I’m still me and actually more fundamentally me that I could ever be.

So with those convulated thoughts, something amazing happened yesterday at our HMO. I was one instructor at one of the breakout sessions, but my climate HMO Friend Dr. RA organized one of hte first of it’s kind San Diego wide climate symposiums with cross institutional participation on the instructor and resident side from all the major Family Practice and Emergency Medicine departments. It was very epic and she has her own narrative that she will share soon in an academic piece.


Tshirts from @madebyvan my amazing crafy sister (also Yale /Berkeley educated attorney sister) who donated her efforts to our cause.

April 19, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s 7am at the Plastic Picker household and we’re continuing to put our extracurricular efforts into trying to save the planet! Reminder! Dr. Plastic Picker despite giving notice that I’m stepping down from my official middle-management role (although I’m now the ping pong tournament organizer for our big HMO office!) am still a practicing pediatrician working essentially full time. Five years is a long time to do anything, and the middle-management work although I was back to being good at doing it – honestly was like attending histology class in medical school or going to the dentist. I could convince myself it was good for me, but it stopped being fun.


April 15, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

We are back after one of the most unexpected vacations we’ve ever had. We were supposed to be in Hawaii staying at a family home, but ended up in San Francisco because of a once in a lifetime Oregon snowstorm that closed the I-5 up to our farm.

Let me explain. Our daughter was in Alaska on a once-in-a-lifetime school trip and she was exposed to COVID-19 by very close contacts. Even though we technically could have traveled and she had tested negative on day 3 after exposure and not ill and Hawaii stopped checking, we did not travel to Hawaii. The decision to not fly to Hawaii is because it was the right thing to do. We worried about being stuck in Hawaii if someone in the family became sick. We worried about having to take care of her, being an ex-preemie and formerly more sick when she was younger, out of state. We worried even just having to miss work, even though we both haven’t used any of our COVID time alloted by the state and the HMO, because we are health professionals who if we get sick – have large ripple effects on our patients. We try to avoid having to do that for our fellow physicians. If everyone did this, the whole system would run better – but that’s a discussion for later. We called a close friend for advice, and appreciated her listening to us. In the end, we made the decision that was right for our family which was to take a road trip. In the end our daughter did not end up getting COVID, and no matter what we are grateful for at least that.


April 10, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I’ve been thinking about the power of speech, the power of words and the power of voice lately. When babies are born, a good measure of how healthy they are is the volume of their cry. If a baby comes out into the world crying and screaming, then things are working. The lungs are working. The heart is working, and usually the APGAR scores (the measure at birth of how healthy they are) are high.

Our daughter the last few weeks has composed several spoken word poems that simply amazed me. I’m not one to give credit where credit is not due. I think I’m relatively objective when evaluated my own children’s writing. She was good both the composition of the poem and the deliver. She was very very good.


My favorite piece that was already sold.

April 8, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s 528am and our daughter has returned from her epic-once-in-a-lifetime school trip. So far no COVID. I had a fleeting sore throat and it’s gone now. My teenage son and I also took a rapid home covid test, which were both negative. It’s a Friday and it’s payday, and this is when I usually do the accounting for the family and the impact I’ve had on the earth.


Just me in a video game “Dr. Plastic Picker’s Great Adventure” collecting cans. By my daughter.

April 6, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Yep. Here we go. We made the radio KPBS midday edition and the online article came out regarding the Youth Arts Exhibition at The Studio Door https://thestudiodoor.com/. OMG, I just went on their website, and our picture is front and center!

Picture that is on the front of The Studio Door website right now.

The picture above is filled with love and joy and hope. Each one of those individuals is a shining light. I do have to say that I’m the shortest, and almost the oldest. The fellow pediatrician on the far right is a good friend but honestly I think a few months older and initially I thought was a vampire. Dr. C is from Romania near Dracula’s castle. But I’ve seen him now in nature’s light, and there were no fangs – just a beautiful artistic soul encased in a pediatrician’s highly trained armour.


Montage picture I sent AAP National.

April 4, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s Monday morning at 632am, and I’m sitting at the kitchen table that has been thrice handed down. It’s my mother-in-law this morning instead of my father-in-law, as she is boiling something on the stove. The blue light of the fire on the kitchen range is something that defines my morning. It’s either lemon tea, porridge or water for their coffee that is the focus of the first fire. At some point we will need to get an induction stovetop as it does not make climate sense to burn methane (natural gas), but it’s on our to-do list. The parents-in-law are getting their COVID 2nd booster today. My mother-in-law told me, and I had heard from Mr. Plastic Picker already. Eventhough I already knew, I have learned to be quieter and listen to her and nod. Ask her a short question to make sure I knew that she knew I cared.

It’s a quiet weekend because the vibrant energy of our daughter is out of state, on a once-in-a-lifetime for most children school trip to Alaska. We try to raise her the way we were raised, without too much emphasis on material things. But both her parents are doctors, and her little private school enabled me to be a working mother and figure out motherhood and taking care of other people’s children. She’s turned out well, and is a credit to herself and her family. For her the once-in-a-lifetime trip for most children is still special, and she appreciates these opportunities that she is given.

I’m smiling this morning, but smiling more quietly. I’m smiling mostly for a close friend whose eldest has been accepted and going to UC Berkeley. Many friendships that start at work are complicated, because the practice of medicine is complicated. My relationship with this friend is complicated. But my joy for this family and this child is so true, and I’m soaring with them that this particular child was able to do it – and overcome obstacle after obstacle thrown in her way and her family’s way. Life is unfair. We are all fighting for equity, but we are not there yet. But this is 100% a win for the world but more importantly, I’m thinking of just my friend and her pride and her mothering and her doctoring. I write too much for most to notice, but if you are reading this – know that you are one of the people I most admire in the world. And I am happy for you and your baby.

And I’m smiling today for my babies too. All my babies. My own children, the oldest who is asleep and will be driven to school for only another month or so before he gets his own car. I’m smiling for the little children in my practice, as my heart is wide open now – to play and to laugh and to smile with them in clinic. I’m smiling for the earth. And I’m smiling mostly for myself and another mommy doctor, because it’s really hard to raise kids when you are tasked with taking care of other people’s children. And somehow via different paths, we figured it out. Both of us. All of us.

Let’s figure out together how to take care of now the earth.

Beautiful Doctors’ Day Celebration at our HMO office.

April 3, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Life has been blessed in my imaginary world. It seems like sometimes a dream, where there is eco-avatar me choosing wellness and peace and to be fight the existential crisis of climate change. In my imaginary world, I chose to leave the world of metrics and petty office politics and just to live life with joy and purpose. I chose to just wake up every day and think, what can I do today to stop this existential crisis? And in this imaginary world, very close is the nightmare that awaits us if the rest of humanity does not wake up. So who is living in an imaginary world of petty office politics and metrics and budgets, and who is living in the reality of rising carbon emissions and a world still mired in worrying about retirement age? Will there be a livable world to retire in?

It’s been the longest I’ve gone without blogging. There is enough material on the blog for folks to meander and read, and hopefully be somewhat inspired. Forgive my grammatical errors, I do try to peruse back once in a while to correct. But it’s real me, typing fast and furious in the morning at times or slow and reflective during others – just getting some writing practice in and journaling /blogging.

Last week was definitely an epic week for climate work. I’m participating in a panel at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology National Conference on climate change. It’s a really catchy title. Then last week, I worked with four of our interns on their writing projects and other projects. So mostly last week was helping our interns move forward with their climate and health projects, which is really what I’m concentrating on these days.

But just wanted to let you know that I’m here! I’m well. One of my climate dreams came true. A good green friend from the San Diego Audubon Society brought his lovely family to our farm, and took a well deserved rest and vacation there. I’m trying to figure out how to break even on that property. It doesn’t cost me much at all, but it’s financially prudent to figure something out. There aren’t enough truffles to harvest so I’m looking into perhaps a wilderness medicine elective model. For now, since it’s already costing me some money – I’m saving the earth some carbon and my friends’ some money, by inviting close climate friends to stay there for free. I figure we are all connected, and the earth there will feel the love of my friends and nature will guide them in their next step.