March 2023 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Month: March 2023

She gave me a hug before the testimony.

March 14, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

On behalf of my committee and pediatricians, I urge your committee to vote Yes on AB 249. My main job is in clinic and I am a front line pediatrician for 2000 families.  Indeed, most of our membership within the AAP are that, your community pediatricians who treat our state’s children.

I am here to remind you that lead is a Pediatric Neurotoxin, and it’s an accumulative neurotoxin and it is stored in bones and teeth and never leaves the body. Children are uniquely susceptible to even low lead levels which can lower IQ and cause learning and behavioral problems which, in turn, elevate costs in health care, education, and criminal justice.

The reason I am here is very personal. I see the effects of lead pollution in real-life in my clinic, as I do increasing number of evaluations for children with ADHD and autism, prescribe more and more stimulants and have more children on antipsychotics to address behavioral issues  – and try to help families navigate the difficult world of special education and medical services like speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA services. As my work day is filled with the increasing demands of these children who need our help, I can’t help but remember that much of that chaos that has been caused could have been averted if we had addressed leaded drinking water earlier.

Exposure of pregnant women to high levels of lead can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature birth and low birth weight, as well as birth malformations. There are astronomical economic costs from the negative impacts from exposure to lead by everyone. For every dollar spent on controlling lead hazards, it is estimated that $100 would be returned in health benefits, increased IQ, higher lifetime earnings, tax revenue, reduced spending on special education, and reduced criminal activity.

Children at highest risk are the very young (including the developing fetus) and the economically disadvantaged. This is because undernourished children are more susceptible to lead because their bodies absorb more lead if other nutrients, such as calcium or iron, are lacking.

Lets not wait to address the clear danger of leaded drinking water in our schools that threaten our states’ future. It’s not fair to those children attending those schools now, and it’s simply not fair as it’s likely children in environmental justice communities.

Picture she approved to be shared.

March 10, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

The little one approved this picture. I have more glamorous ones of her posing and being pretty and fourteen is her first real Vietnamese ao dai, a cute beacher romper and so forth and so forth, but this one is the one I want to remember. It was just the two of us visiting my parents when she found out about being accepted to this council. I just shared on the San Diego Women’s Facebook Group.

“Wanted to share because of what my daughter told me. I’m so proud of her. She was selected as 1 or 12 girls (there were 100 applicants) to serve on the Youth Advisory Council for the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls. This is a well respected bipartisan and established council that advises our state on legislation and issues that are important to women. The YAC was formed to bring youth voices. She wrote in her essay about the importance of reproductive rights, prevention of family violence and legislation needed to ensure workplace equities for mothers namely pay equity. She deservedly is feeling proud of herself balancing all her activities and academics, but she said “I’m pretty awesome but that’s because you’re awesome.” She’s seen me struggle through work balance issues, and trying to figure out how to move the climate work forward in San Diego and all the joys and frustrations. And it’s because I’m a mommy doctor and I talk about issues, so many issues. She’s doing her Girl Scout Gold Award on raising awareness on the history of sexual violence during WWII and Korean “Comfort Women” through ceramic art. Sometimes I question the amount of time I spend volunteer mentoring and the climate work, but I realize I can do this because there are other loving adults around her doing the same for her. She told me while we were in Hawaii visiting my parents, “California is pretty awesome.” And I told her, yes California is pretty awesome. Thank you for letting me share. She’s the baby I had in fellowship and the one I had when I questioned so many of life’s choices. I’m most proud of being her momma.”

And this happened in Hawaii. We had five glorious days with my parents, where she was the center of attention. She has come back stronger, well rested, filled with stories and Vietnamese language and Vietnamese food. She made so many memories together with us. I can picture the after now. The after when it’s her advocacy, her activism, her career and her real-life kdrama. And it’s because she shared that with the three of us.

She road in it, it’s all electric.

One of the best parts I wasn’t even around for. I haven’t seen the videos yet. I’ll look after she wakes up, as we are back in somewhat gloomy San Diego today.

But she got to ride is this all electric Akimoto up and down Waikiki as her grandfather was enjoying having a cute 14 year old in the backseat. They were getting donuts at Leonards, and the squeezed into a tiny parking spot. She said her grandfather wasn’t scared of anyone, and it was fun getting some attention. I guess these two apples don’t fall far from the tree. Oh yeah, we also own a solar farm now LOL.

The drive home.

March 1, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Am I 짜증나 (annoyed)? Yes I am. It took me a long time and all of my professional accomplishments to get into that board room. I forgot briefly how long it took me to get into that board room, about the 10 years in middle management, meeting the metrics, the burn out, and the rebirth. And then I ran for retirement committee on a clear divestment/ESG platform. I was honest and upfront about my goals for running for retirement committee. I won with a majority of support of over 700 physicians. And someone in a suit that is not a doctor looked at me, and equated wanting an index target fund that was ESG to a niche financial ask. He looked at me and he was annoyed, and I was polite and annoyed back. I followed the rules. Mr. Plastic Picker took the day off to drive me all the way to Pasadena for this meeting. I met everyone and shook hands. They know I am the Green Team/Sustainability Team co-lead here. They know I am a climate and health advocate. I shook hands and made myself physically known to someone else who has a big title in our organization. I’m sure I annoyed him too, and he annoyed me. We know we are on opposite sides right now in this discussion.

I realize I’m a fiduciary. But I will say it again, I AM ALSO AN EARTHLING. That is it. I’ll continue to show up at this committee meeting. Everything passes by unanimous vote anyway. Honestly I’ve been on so many committees and we are rubber stamping things that two people have already decided they want to do. That someone (namely a younger female pediatrician) dared show up and make the rubber stamping a bit harder probably annoyed them. But guess what, CLIMATE CHANGE ANNOYS ME!!! And sometimes men annoy me quite a bit. I am a SHE who prefers HEs, but sometimes those HEs can be so ANNOYING!!!

But I had two great climate projects , a writing project and our H3 SD Summit to move forward. I got to send emails out to those two groups that not shockingly are mostly SHES!!! The entire time I was looking at those annoying two HEs yesterday, I was thinking that I’ve 100% worked more than they have. Between being a working pediatrician mother and picking up litter. I have more years of training and I’m certain I had higher SAT and MCAT scores. I’m pretty sure my networth is higher. And I realized yesterday that real estate is a climate-safe investment as well. The price of timber went up 400% which is why our Oregon farm has been a great buy!!!! I think that outperformed those investments that are tainted in oil and coal.

Thank you for listening. I’m less 짜증나 annoyed now. Yes I realize we can all get sued as fiduciaries although it’s never happened in the committee’s history. I realize the fear mongering. I have a large umbrella insurance policy, thank you very much as well. But what is more likely, is the seven fold increase in extreme heat events. I have a plan to move forward with this issue. It’s such an important issue. I think I’m just going to keep on showing up to these meetings and annoy these two men. Because as a pediatrician and as a mother, this is for my children and actually for theirs as well. Aaaarrgggghhh. It’s raining today which I remind you is due to atmospheric rivers and the wetter seasons are wetter and the dry seasons are more dry. I have 3 months until I have to annoy those two HEs again at the next quarterly meeting.