I may or may not have been exposed to COVID-19. I may or may not have COVID-19. I’m in the same boat as many through the world. I’ve been wearing double mask, faceshield, and washing hands at every patient encounter. We haven’t really gone much of anywhere other than work and grocery store. I have been careful.
But life happens and the COVID-19 pandemic is slowly making it’s way through our population. I’m isolated in our bedroom waiting with only the puppy visiting, and waiting for my Health Care Worker expediated test results which should be tonight. I’m taking this opportunity to review the recent Pediatric COVID-19 lectures. It doesn’t really help to worry, so I’ll just study.
As a former valedictorian of a large public school that made it to Crimson University, and then made it through the gauntlet of the morass of premedical students to Crimson Medical School, then residency at Mans Greatest Hospital, and even up the HMO ladder as Assistant Boss – Dr. Plastic Picker is competitive. And when State Senator Ben Huesos said in response to the community effort to lobby regarding AB 345, gas and oil set backs to protect schools and day cares and hospitals from air pollution, “This, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing more than a publicity stunt at a time when we cannot afford publicity stunts,” Hueso said. He did not make a friend of Dr. Plastic Picker.
I will continue to play the demure non-partisan pediatrician who ocean plastic picks along the beach (because that is all true). I refrained from saying mean things about him. But I looked up his CV and his accomplishments, and I said “meh.” What made me mad about his response, was that he was obviously speaking to some kind of other audience. Why make fun of people? Why paint everyone who called in and took their time to lobby as part of their civic duty “publicity stunts.” As a pediatrician and as a parent, I teach my children there is never a reason to be unkind. And that comment was just mean. But I live in a world where I see trash carelessly thrown all over the place, and can learn to work with anyone. Being Assistant Boss in a department of over 100 pediatricians with various interesting personalities has taught me a lot. Indeed Ben Huesos, in some ways I probably have better political skills than you. Try surviving as Assistant Boss of Pediatricians in my work place!!!
Yesterday was surreal. Dr. Plastic Picker waded into politics yesterday. Like many doctors, I have shied away from partisanship. But AB345 was too important to ignore https://drplasticpicker.com/yes-on-ab345-press-conference-today/. This bill would improve pediatric health by protecting schools from gas and oil drilling wells. I didn’t realize fully what a large impact this bill would have on overall climate change by reducing fossil fuel production within California. But I was and am focused on the kids. And for the kids, we made the statements that we had to make.
This is the text message I sent my colleagues who cosigned the letter in support of AB345.
I am preparing for my first press conference as a pediatrician on environmental health. The other speakers are Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis (National City) and Mayor Serge Dedina (Imperial Beach). There have been groups working on ensuring the passage of Califronia AB345 for months. These groups include from Mothers Out Front, CA Youth Vs. Big Oil, Climate Health NOW, VISION (Voices in Solidatrity Against Oil in Neighborhoods), The Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC, Sierra Club and STAND LA, and many others.
It was a nice weekend. I was on-call for Chief Boss of Pediatrics, as our real Chief Boss is on vacation. No one called me. Actually I did receive one call, and I answered it relatively quickly and emailed the new pediatrician the link to the workflow. I had emailed everyone prior to the weekend, “Hello Everyone! We are a well oiled peds admin team, and we play an excellent passing game and try not to drop the ball. We are each covering our areas while XXX is on vacation. This weekend if you need Peds Admin help I am on for all of us from 7/31 at 5pm to 8/3 8am. My strengths are staffing, HR issues, clinical questions for outpatient level care and keeping us in budget. I will try to be as helpful as I can regarding COVID workflows. As many of you know I’m not the best at looking to see if membership services approves certain things, but I can certainly try! So thank you for all you do and I hope people who are not working can try to rest this weekend.” Signed my real first name. I thought it was a nicely worded email, and not as sarcastic as they used to be. No one emailed. I also did not send any work emails this weekend, which I think is a good thing. As I was telling my high school friends when we met for a Zoom reunion, I am trying to set a good example.
I really love making trash art. I’m coming up to a year anniversary of Dr. Plastic Picker and there are many new identities I’ve tried on. I’m definitely a blogger now with over 270 blogpost. I’m an environmental activist. I’m a litter-picker and ocean beach cleaner. I’m an occassional plogger (picking up trash and jogging). I’m an Instagrammer with almost now 1100 followers. I didn’t even know what Instagram was before all this. I’m still a Pediatrician, HMO Middle Manager and mother. But the role that has been most delightful is that I’m a trash artist. I really like making trash art.
About a year ago today I gave a speech in front of a local ethnic civic organization. My dad is a big funder of the organization, and asked me to give it. We had just had a measles case in our clinic, and RN Plastic Picker and I helped lead the effort to stop it. It was a complicated logistical dance with public health, our own infection control, patients and the media – but essentially I know that we helped stop a possible epidemic. I will always remember that as one of my greatest professional accomplishments. When I gave this speech in front of this civic organization, I related authoritarian governments with the measles virus. I spoke of needing to innoculate the population with knowledge of past evils, just like we innoculate children with measles vaccine. I had sent it over to my sister for comment, and as a gifted attorney and speaker herself she really liked it. I gave the speech and had dressed in a suit. My parents and my brothers were there. It is rare for all of us to gather just our original nuclear family (my sister could not make it since she lived out of state), and it was a big night for me. I had cancelled plans to fly to New York to visit Mr. Plastic Picker’s family to stay back to give this speech. It was important for my family and especially to my father.
It’s 535AM and I’ve been up since 4am, and already sent all the work emails I needed and deployed assignments to the future leaders I am helping to guide. I sent reminders to the last stragglers in our department who are committee chairs to submit their committee descriptions. One stellar pediatrician sent a one-liner and I replied back “I do insist. I want people to take credit for what they do. I think you do more than that. Can you come up with 1-2 more lines? I want you to imagine what you want to do in this role as well. It’s actually a secret self-reflective process for the department – if that makes any sense. I want us to all psychoanalyze our professional lives.” To the ones who sent complete descriptions, I sent positive notes back. And then there are the others that sent over-blown descriptions of essentially defunct committees. I’m a new kind of Assistant Boss, non-judmental. We all live in our imaginary worlds, especially me.
I posted a picture of a cooking error I made yesterday. I mixed up tajin for tahini. The “hummus” still tasted good and it was gone at dinner. The kids got fiber albeit from “hummus” that was runny with nothing more than pureed chickpeas and spices. It was actually probably healthier because there was no oil. Mr. Plastic Picker thought is was funny and I laughed as well, but I probably overshared and put it on Instagram. When I posted it I was laughing, but looking for “likes” from the 1000 or so connections I’ve made. The comments from those I know eventhough they were just laughing emojis stung a bit for various reasons.
It was a good day yesterday. It’s funny most of my climate work wins I posted on my actual personal facebook. They were real wins, so I wanted to share with the real people I know. I finished the Climate Reality Leadership Training and have my “Green Ring” now. And yesterday Bruce Bekkar told me that I was “putting [my] passion forward in such a powerful way, right out of the Climate Reality Training” and one of the other AAP Climate Change and Health said “AMAZZZZING” with many Zs. Twelve of us here had cosigned a letter regarding oil and gas setbacks, which is this complicated legislative process of trying to protect poor communities from oil and gas drilling sites. And our AAP Climate Change and Health Committee met for the first time, and I had the biggest smile on my face. I looked at their beautiful faces and how could I not have hope? True organic real connections between people. That is what I am trying to foster. Even if we make wins (which we will), the big win is that we are connected to eachother. It’s funny how I truly live these pithy quotes I used to just breeze through on Instagram and Facebook, leaders create more leaders.