Dr Plastic Picker – Page 2 – Dr. Plastic Picker

Author: Dr Plastic Picker

July 16, 2021

by drplasticpicker

There are 21 months and approximately 630 days left of my Assistant Boss term. Yes, I’ve decided in my melancholy and frustration regarding middle-managment to have a countdown. Yes I have. This is the beautiful United States of America and I have freedom of speech and freedom to count. If other MDs can have a retirement countdown and not suffer any professional repercussions, than I have an Assistant Boss countdown. I used to sometimes think about how many years to retirement, but I no longer even consider that thought – as the practice of actual patient care brings me so much fulfillment and joy again. Or maybe it never was as fulfilling and meaningful as it has been the last two years. But the Assistant Boss and middle-management time? I am doing a countdown. Yes I am. And no one can stop me.

I am also going to buy a rooster and I’m going to name him Louie. There is a special person named Louie and I talked to him recently. We caught up on life and I asked him how his retirement is going and he said with true happiness in his voice, “I’m good. I’m really content.” And rather than asking him to work shifts or talk about our middle-management needs, we just chatted about life. He really cared about the farm and wished me luck in Oregon. And I decided at that moment that when we start raising chickens (which the plan is relatively soon) that I will name one of the roosters after him. He laughed.

And that laugh, and that conversation made up for so much. His happiness and contentment gave me joy. During my time as Assistant Boss I was able to do certain projects that eased his transition. It eased the pain of what middle-management did to him at the end of his career. I remember the ignoble way the HMO machinery tossed aside one of it’s best leaders. As I think to my countdown the 21 months left, I don’t know where life will take me. But I always think to Louie when I have doubts. I call him sometimes when I have moral quandries. But it’s time to let him go too. He is living his life in retriement with joy, but I will have a chicken and name it after him so I can remember the Chief Boss and I’ll sing to that chicken/rooster that oh so fitting song.

“Louie Louie. oh no. said we gotta go. yeah yeah yeah.”

Another dream! A VW electric bus! Most of my highschool friends have the same dream! YEAH!!!

July 14, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I started this blog and the different “blog series” on Dr. Plastic Picker on a lark. I had always wanted to be a blogger, and this blog gave me an off-beat irreverent creative outlet. I wanted to document my eco-avatar environmental journey, and maybe inspire others to take that next step. I understand that we need systems change, but systems change can only happen if there is an upswelling in public support and sentiment. And that is where I come in. My half-arsed middle-management career was part of my journey to burn-out and back, and now integral to how I plan to help save the earth. Being in middle-management and I think an effective physician middle-manager made me realize that it’s literally easier to save the earth and change people’s hearts, than it is to “solve” certain middle-management issues.


Learned to use the snipping tool function on microsoft word!

July 12, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’m still in the throes of Dawson’s Creek. I’m on season three and at a reasonable time last night turned it off. There have been a host of new characters introduced into Capside High, and the original cast is being challenged and pulled apart by these new relationships. This is what happens in real relationships as well, but honestly the best seasons are the first few seasons. This is when you learn about your characters, their struggles and you fall in love with them and their relationships. As the seasons go on, the plot-lines sometimes get a bit weird.

I did a lot this weekend. I thought I didn’t go a lot at the close of yesterday, but after closing 20 charts so that I don’t hit the naughty open chart list – I felt I had done a lot. And it’s Monday morning and I woke up at a normal time at 6am, and I realized I did a lot this weekend. I updated letters of recommendations for our premed interns. I made way on the final edits for the paper. Mr. Plastic Picker and I met up socially with two separate friends and physicians in our physician group, really to just be together as friends but also to talk about physician wellness and environmental activism. Then our son did have his belated 16th birthday party. He went to the movies and had dinner at the food court at Liberty Station. Used his own credit card for the first time, and he and 2 of his best friends were just together. No instagram or facebook or picture trail. But we were there too and saw them and stored those beautiful memories.

And I realized something watching Dawsons Creek. I’m still in the middle beautiful part and more seasons to go of Dr. Plastic Picker. But I know that the best seasons were the first few, and there will be an end. And because there is an end, the now is beautiful because this will not go on indefinitely. So I kind of made a decision yesterday about the blogging and Instagram and all this activism. The activism will go on because we need all of us to stop climatic disaster. But at some point, I’ll retire certain aspects of the blog and collate it into a book. At some point I’ll retire the Instagram.

The wonderful things about the blog and climate activism being a non-monetized part of my life, is that it’s been about growth and new experiences and reflection. And at some point, you learn enough about yourself or share enough and there is a natural close. I’m still in the middle of Dr. Plastic Picker! But just reflecting on this journey and it’s natural close. It makes the today so much sweeter.

I looked at a close friend and colleague yesterday across the dinner table of a very fancy restaurant. And I told him a bit about my story and ended with, “Most days I walk in to work now and I’m happy. I’m happy to be where I am. I am grateful to do what I do.” And if we can all say that about our lives, than the world would be a better place. I wish this for everyone. I know last night as we left the dinner and two couples walked together, that we all four left more connected because we all listened to eachother. And that listening is so important.

We are actually the same age, so I think it’s ok to have this celebrity crush.

July 11, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I was up until 2am last night watching Dawson’s Creek. I had worked Saturday morning clinic and feeling tired, so I went to my other alternate universe which is now Dawson’s Creek (I have multiple alternative universes). This morning I was supposed to meet two famous Instagram litterpickers for a joint event, but honestly after trying to be mindful and take care of my own patients in a Saturday morning clinic – I was tired. I wanted to escape. And I escaped into the slightly bad-boy eyes of Pacey Whitter. Joshua Jackson the actual actor is my same age, so I think it’s okay to have this celebrity crush. I’m on season 3 right now and it’s getting kind of weird with the story lines – but still fun. And after Dawson’s Creek, one of my real friends (not Instagram friends) recommended Fringe which also stars Joshua Jackson. I’m actually really excited.

And that is it. I don’t have much to say today. I watched so much Dawson’s Creek last night and was up until 2am, that I texted the two Instagram litterpickers and said I could not come, and I had family responsibilities. And this is true. I’m actually going to meet up with a real life friend and do a litterpick around our area, and show him our composter Aerobin400. I consider him family because I interact with this particular person alot and I love his toddler, who speaks fluent Vietnamese. I’m still going to try to save the earth today, just without driving since I’m tired and will just see someone I really know. And I was having second thoughts yesterday, because Instagram is not really real. I didn’t want to set a bad example and start meeting virtual people in person, because what if they are not what they purport to be? I’m pretty sure these two particular people are wonderful, but you never know. I don’t want to end up in a ditch somewhere because I did something stoopid.

So I’m watching Dawson’s Creek and finishing up the final edits of that journal article again. Knowing I can watch Dawson’s Creek (which I did not watch in college because I was premed) gives me a nice feeling toward the close of the day. But I’m not going to binge watch it anymore. Just a few episodes a night is good. Got to love these streaming services. Will pick up litter today but with someone who I really know. Then with our highschool class as a mini-reunion event beginning of August.

Pacey Whitter, I think you may have saved my life. Because I was memorized by your quick wit and slight bad-boy persona, I missed this mornings litter-picking event with complete strangers. I know it wasn’t the safe thing to do, and Mr. Plastic Picker told me not to go.

Also steamed artichokes.
Bags I’ve especially noted and haven’t deleted from my phone.

July 9, 2021

by drplasticpicker

I’ve been asked to pass on a huge part of my Assistant Boss portfoilio. It’s access and per diem physician management. It’s the right thing to do, because I have too much on my middle-managment plate (hence the frequent cursing silently and sometimes not to silently in my office – Dr. Dear Friend knows – at departmental emails). Given that there are so many meetings I have to attend, I get paid precisely 2 hours to do about 10 hours of work. Other people are getting paid the same amount, and the work should be shared.

This is absolutely the right thing to do for the department and for my family. I can now concentrate on new projects and helping move vaccination and other quality metrics forward. I can now work on physician leadership development within our department, and trying to figure out more ways to insert pediatricians into our HMO upper management leadership structure.


Little monarch catepillar that is injured. Trying to get it by with some squash.

July 8, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Yesterday I had two baby monarch catepillars that my mother-in-law mistakenly thought were pests. I came home after clinic and she said there was a slug eating up all the little plants I had asked her to grow from seeds I brought home. She had painstakenly grown those plants, and they were native milkweed from Nurse Lan’s garden. He had given me seeds. And we had just 6 little plants that were not more than 2 inches tall. Two catepillars had eaten them all up. My mother-in-law brought them for me to see, and they were floating in water. They were monarch catepillars and those milkweed plants were meant for them.

Poor little catepillar.

My mother-in-law did not know, and I knew how hard she had worked to grow these seeds I had brought home. We started the seeds late this season, and there are not enough for two hungry monarch catepillars. I read on the internet that sometimes zuchinnis or pumpkin or some kind of squashes will do, but to be careful of the pesticides even in “organic” squash. We had a small pumpkin, the first of the summer squash crop that is organic and grown from our own yard. So I did what the internet said, and placed them in a chopstick for the catepillars and also threw in a few of the remaining milkweed leaves. I’ll bring them into clinic if they are still alive today, and see if Nurse Lan can’t give them a home in his garden.


Plans for the 34 foot bridge for our Oregon farm.

July 7, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Hopefully yesterday was the last root canal. I felt literally “beat up” again. My dentist reminds me of my former co-chief resident in Pediatrics at Mans Greatest Hospital Dr. T. He. She is a really kind person. My dentist was very young, and she was very skilled with her nerve blocks and I hardly felt anything when she was doing things. She had a brusque manner of speaking but she was gentle in her care of me. I appreciated that.

I woke up irritable today. I watched too much Dawson’s Creek, as I was recovering from my hopefully last root canal. I must not be the only one getting root canals, the dentist office seemed busy. My mortgage broker also said that her family member needed a root canal too. It must be a trend post COVID. Too much snacking.

But on reflecting upon yesterday, it had been a good day. I made it through 3 hours at the dentist, handling appointment access problem without bothering anyone. I also led my first Immunization Task Force meeting and it went really well. I’m really proud of myself for helping to reorganize that meeting and stream-line that entire committee. It’s a huge accomplishment, saving the organization time which is saving money. Yet that committee is now more effective because I made it project focused. We also decided it would be completely virtual, and save on travel time. We no longer take minutes, and only do action items.

And today I’ll just be a doctor today. I’ll show up at clinic and see my patients. I miss seeing my patients. I’ve been either in medical school or a doctor 22 years now. That is a long time. I’ve been studying medicine or practicing medicine longer than the before. It’s why I call myself Dr. Plastic Picker. That Doctor was something I had wanted so much, and to lose that – would be not the ending I wanted.

I’ll send some work emails and deal with some scheduling issues, and send an email about the mentoring award. Did you know about the department mentoring award? That was months in planning and thinking and a labour of love for me years ago. It meant a lot because the person the mentoring award is named after gave me a professional home when he took a chance and hired me. I have felt throughout my career sincere gratitude for his support. I have to remind myself that I’m at that stage in my career that there are some people who care about my opinion. It’s hard for me to make that adjustment. I tend to view my premedical students with clear eyes and I mentor them with my whole heart. My colleagues, it’s harder. To be a true departmental leader, is truly about building future leaders. If one does not hold that as your north star (a phrase our HMO holds up constantly) than one better leave your position and let someone else in it. Physician wellness is about effective physician leaders as well. That is why physician wellness and burn-out is so complicated. It’s not an easy problem to fix. Neither is climate change.

But through the last two years as I’ve gotten better, I realized that I have to keep on trying. I have to keep on plugging along. Why would I leave the rest of my colleagues behind? We all need to do this together. We need to bring back meaning to medicine. We need to save the earth for our children. For me, these two tasks go hand in hand. Physician wellness. Climate and health activism. It motivates me and gives me urgency.

But today I’ll take a breather. The root canal did me in again. It’s my kryptonite. 22 years in medicine. That’s a long time.

The picture of the bridge? I just wanted to show it to you – that is all. Architectural or technical drawings are works of art.

Beautiful shorebirds I saw yesterday.

July 6, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Two big things happened this weekend. I final submitted for our author group Durrwachter-Erno Et Al our paper titled “Informing Policy on Built Environments to Safeguard Children in Environmental Justice Communities: Case Study of Five American Academy of Pediatrics Climate Advocates” to the Journal of Applied Research on Children. This was the final edits after the copy-editor read through. It seemed like a simple process fixing the citations and doing the rewording, but it took all weekend and probably a combined 10 hours of actual work. Commas are important, and citations have to be formatted a certain way. It was a labour of love for all six of us. The round-table discussion from Children At Risk will be made available today as well, where they interviewed our author group along with two other climate and health related papers. During this process, I half fell in love with the copy editor (with my husband’s knowledge) as I felt his last read that he really understood what we were trying to impart. My hubsand was an editor of several highschool and college publications and an English major, and he understood.


Pumpkin vines are going bonkers! Compost is amazing.

July 5, 2021

by drplasticpicker

It’s a holiday today. I have to finish the final edits to the paper on Environmental Justice for our AAP author group. I’m in the middle of fixing the citations. It’s not as easy as it looks. I spent about three hours on it yesterday, and it will take another two to three hours to fix the citations. All the citations had to be fixed and reordered. I’m confused as to why Mendeley (the free endnote program) did not format the citations the way the copy editor wanted? If I try to write another academic paper, I’m going to just get the right endnote program. But it’s almost done, and I will submit today.

We did submit our abstract for the AAP National Conference and Exhibition which is in October. I worked on it with one of our premed interns. She did a really good first draft, and I had to do major edits. But it was a shared project and I’m proud of how much she contributed. It’s going to be hard for the interns that follow her. She has been such a dynamic force of good for our young group. That was submitted as well and we put a bunch of other people’s names on the poster, as they have been working on our advocacy group and it gives them whatever kudos they need for their careers.

And I will work on the chair refinishing project. I’m not sure if Mr. Plastic Picker has the day off today. He’s been working essentially all weekend. We did have lunch at my parent’s yesterday. The rest of my family likes their privacy, so no pictures or blog about that. But it was a lovely afternoon all together.

I may deep clean the downstairs floors today. Maybe go with the kids on a hike. I binged watched Dawson’s Creek yesterday. The storyline about the teenager having a relationship with his teacher is so inappropriate. But it’s fun to see Katie Holmes and Michelle Williams when they were young. I totally missed Dawson’s Creek in the 1990s because I was premed and busy studying organic chemistry. Also someone offered us 10,000 to use 2 acres of our Oregon Farm to plant a “special crop” which I’m sure was Marijuana. We said no. Sheesh people. It’s good not to need money. Best reason to be a minimalist and environmenatlist. Because if you need money, you’ll fall into temptation. I may stop watching Dawson’s Creek if the storyline becomes inappropriate. So far, it’s okay.

Took apart an old J Crew Dress shirt for tags and made some trashart too.

July 4, 2021

by drplasticpicker

Despite the expression on my trashart winecork friend, I actually had a really nice day yesterday. Most of the day was taking our oldest and myself down to the HMO clinic where I work. It’s further than other offices from our home, but since I work there I prefer to go to where I feel most comfortable. We had a very nice visit with a new optometrist to our group. She was very nice, and around my age. Just joined up, and asked me how long I had been working at our HMO. I told her honestly, “twelve going on thirteen years” and each of those years I have been grateful for.

Anyway, we both got our vision evaluated and ordered glasses. Our son got two pairs and I got one pair. It was fun watching him while he did not know I was watching him – select two frames. He chose two hipster like frames, one square and one round and made plenty of funny faces at himself in the mirror. The only thing Mr. Plastic Picker and I get for having two physicians as part of our medical group, is that we do get double vision coverage. So our son got two pair of glasses. My prescription is so high and I need all those fancy things they provide, that I got one pair. It was a fun experience, and we went to Home Depot afternoon. I bought mulch to hopefully spread around my HMO guerilla gardening project. It was only $3 but I’m hoping it will help keep the succulents alive. That’s what one of my Instagram litterpicking friends said.