Everything K-Drama! – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Everything K-Drama!

My son not having sex for the first time I’m sure, because he had COVID and was quarantined in his triple.

August 27, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

This has been a topic I’ve been thinking of for the last year. It’s natural for me since we got our son off to college at UC Berkeley successfully and we are still navigating with our 15-year-old daughter the joys and pangs of being a teenage girl in our modern society. I’m also a pediatrician for now almost 20 years, and I’ve given “the talk” to more teens than I can imagine that come in and out of my clinic exam rooms. But when your own children are around the same age and going through the same, it hits differently. And honestly I counsel my children and my patients completely differently than when I was a younger pediatrician with just infants in my own house. Sex, consent, intimate partner violence, gender issues – all of it isn’t as pressing when you are changing diapers at your own home. But when you have two awesome teenagers yourself and a pretty 15-year-old girl at home – sex very much is in the back of our minds as parents.

For the first time ever, I had a teenager just having entered high school ask me after hemming and hawing for a bit “When do you think I should have sex? Beginning of high school? End of high school?” I was very proud of this said teenager for having asked me this question. We connected because this teenager had begun watching Kdramas and we just chatted about popular titles. Kdramas are so popular now beyond the Asian-American community, and I think a good thing mostly for representation of a more diverse cast of heroes and heroines. So with that connection, this teenager was brave to ask me this question and I am not the primary pediatrician. This was a chance visit with a doctor that said teenager will never see again.

I usually ask the teens what they know from school and reading themselves. I ask them if they know about birth control and different forms, so I don’t have to repeat myself. I ask them if they know how common chlamydia. I go over the numbers and how it’s easier to test now, just urine and blood for all the STDs. We used to do cervical swabs and urethral swabs, and I assure them it’s so much easier now whenever they need us to test them. I talk about planned parenthood, and confidentiality and that I’m here to not judge and be a resource for them. I give them all the information and I’m so comfortable doing it. I use funny stories from my own life, to make it more relatable to them. I’m honest with my own patients about my own life and decisions, to hope to be an example to keep them safe in loving relationships. I tell them I met my boyfriend when I was a freshman in college, and we were friends and dated after a year of being friends. So between 19 and 24 (when we were married during medical school), we had lived in the same dorm buildings and at some point “things happened.” I told them I got on birth control for acne initially and to regulate my period because I was so stressed as a Harvard freshman that I didn’t have my period, but at some point the birth control was there for birth control because I wanted to have children at the time I decided. I emphasize that as young teens for the girls that they are very fertile, and I joke around that “a boy will walk by you and you’ll become pregnant!” which is not true. But that I do have several cases where I’m not sure if there was actual vaginal penetration and I think I may have had 2 cases in my career, where the young boy ejaculated somewhere very close to the girl and the young teen girl got pregnant. In both cases, the two young teens actually did love each other and the families decided to keep the babies. Those children are healthy, but I tell them – gosh that was really hard for those kids and one was an AP Chemistry student too. So be careful, it can happen to you!

From the CDC

But what I told this patient and what I’ve told my own children and all the children that are thinking about sex or may have sex or are hanging out in the teenage social media mileau that have oversexualized everything is this:

You deserve to be loved. Whether that be after you are married or before, you 100% deserve to be loved. That you want to be close with someone you care for sexually is very natural. And whenever you make that decision, I am here for you as a pediatrician not to judge but to make sure you are safe. But sex is not just sex, it’s such a beautiful thing that should be shared with someone who cares for you. It’s like anything you do for the first time, if you kind of do it “right” initially – like brushing your teeth or flossing – you do it better forever after and there won’t be as many issues later on. It’s such a private thing, that try to have some privacy and comfort. My own children I hope they will wait, but I told my son who is in college, use a credit card and get a hotel room or call your uncle for advice if you are embarrassed to talk to us. And that’s it. You deserve to be loved in every way, and isn’t love such a beautiful thing?

For my own daughter, I’ve told her the same. Her own pediatrician actually gave her a very different talk in the privacy of a confidential visit. But my daughter is very open with me, and told me afterwards the broad strokes of that talk. I so appreciate the different pediatric perspective but that talk was very different.

But for my own daughter and the patients I’ve had since they were young, I add a wistful little ending. The beauty is in the waiting. The perfect boy, he becomes your husband (Mr. Plastic Picker) and a wonderful partner. But enjoy today however old you are. 14, 15, 16, 17, and maybe even 18. 19. The beauty is in the anticipation, the waiting, the yearning.

And again for my own daughter, I told her honestly you are so busy right now. You have to continue develop your sense of self – emotionally, professionally and physically. And having a boy (or girl or whatever gender of the person that you love) there with his opinions , no matter how wonderful he is, complicates things. It’s about you now. And girl, you got so much awesome stuff going on!

But the summer she goes off to college and I’m not there to keep an eagle eye on things? 100% she’s getting a nexplanon placed (long term implantable birth control). I’m a romantic, but I’m not stupid. LOL. And that’s my story and I’m sticking with it! Have a wonderful rest of your weekend from your local litter picking pediatrician. I’m going to the beach to pick up trash this morning, and I’ll be with my teenager this afternoon getting curtain bangs so she can look cute for herself. She’s super excited about the curtain bangs!

Maybe something like this?

Books from my daughter’s personal reading list.

October 25, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I haven’t been blogging as much lately. The reason why is that I’ve been exchanging emails with a now family friend about our children, my own family’s pseudo-kdrama. The story has come to a beautiful end/pause/conclusion/season 1. One of my patient families was telling me truly that if we ever published the emails (which I would never do without said other person’s permission) it would make a great teen angst novella. As the ending is something unexpected, friendship.

Which makes me realize that I’m a pretty convincing person that lives in my very active imagination. When I was young and in between English and Vietnamese, the world was very silent. During that time I think I was learning English by immersion as a Vietnamese-speaking child and somehow emerged in 1st grade fully fluent without an accent, I just remember silence. I remember my imaginary friends that I would make up from the paisley swirls of the brown sofa in our Clairemont living room. I remember faces of friends and images, but those memories are strangely silent. I don’t remember any words neither Vietnamese nor English? I’ve always been curious about that. Maybe I should make some more friends with neurologists or speech pathologists or linguists?

But I do realize I have an active imagination, as I’m always imagining that I can literally save the earth. I someone induced myself and another very intelligent family to go along with a kdrama-like series of events that ended up beautiful and innocent, but gosh really took up a lot of time of a very busy academic. I’m not sure if I really feel guilty about it, but more bemused and very child-like – were you binge-watching the same show as I was? But in the end I know the association and the connections between us will help move the world toward equity and justice and hopefully a livable planet. It’s been very nice being the do-gooder Dr. Plastic Picker. I get forgiven many things, and I am hopeful and confident that this family has forgiven me my kdrama shenanigans.

I’m back in the world of occasional daydreaming, but awake now and blogging again rather than daydreaming. But the daydreams were so beautiful dear readers!!! I would sit and smile by myself and giggle in between patients. It was such a beautiful dream that I’ll hold dear in my heart. But when I realized those dreams were not productive for those that are the inspiration for those dreams, the pediatrician adult in me – did put it all to a stop. I’m mature enough to do that.

But I’m continuing to dream about our planet and our children’s future, and realizing I’m pretty good at selling my dream. I hope it’s your dream as well. I was selling this dream of climate and health advocacy and activism as an antidote to physician burnout. I was selling it at the HMO Regional Pediatric Symposium. Gosh this last Saturday was impactful. I’m still floored that it happened. Our climate friend Dr. Elizabeth Friedman from Kansas City was flown out and given posh accommodations to give a talk on climate and health. She was in our HMO space now, and her off-beat and somewhat sarcastic and intelligent take on the climate crisis was honestly pitch perfect for our clinical practice crowd. Then we came in, the three physicians from San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air with our panel discussion and twice really knocked it out of the park with a “Deeper Dive in Climate and Health Advocacy.” I honestly did not know how it would go, and just putting our hearts and our full-selves into this work, it resonated. It absolutely resonated with other physicians in our large regional group.

At the same time I was collaborating again with Dr. Elizabeth Friedman, and she was able to get me involved with a paper that hopefully will be published soon. I’m trying to focus on how I can be most impactful and I’m working on the fossil fuel divestment side. At least I can help try to get us off investments in coal!!!! Pollution from coal mining and the GHG emissions from this are the absolute worst! The edits to the paper were scattered and I tried to help paint the divestment story as more grassroots to tell the real story of how divestment happens. My edits I have sent in but here are some of the notes I had jotted down while thinking of what I could add to this paper.

“Scope 3 Investments, 8% of GHG emissions in from the health care section. Indeed, there was a recent white house event joined by major health care organizations calling for the decarbonization of the health care sector. but of that scope 1, scope 2, scope 3. 28% of healthcare emissions are from investments.

For pediatricians to be involved in addressing GHG from healthcare section investments, we must be familiar with not only the health effects from GHGs but also how we can influence GHG emissions from healthcare sector investments.  We are investors ourselves who choose funds. We are members for healthcare organizations and sometimes physician groups that have retirement committees. We are administrators and managers, who have influence over funds. 

We must become familiar with the nomenclature of healthcare sector investing. Only then, can be understand and advocate and unravel.  For example, for those that are part of retirement committees they have fiduciary responsibilities. (list what is talked about in the slide?). Due diligence and green washing ((slide).”

And then I got to have a wondrous late lunch with my also friend Dr. Elizabeth Friedman now at Balboa Park. We walked and chatted and shared. We shared about our lives, but we mostly talk about the earth. Yes I’m one of those. I’m a crazy environmentalist. That’s all I think about. And as I was updating her on the end/pause/season 1 of my family’s pseudo-kdrama, she told me the ending was because of the patriarchy! I don’t believe it, but having green friends and working together – I listened to her and I considered it. And when I told my daughter about Dr. Friedman’s thoughts on the patriarchy. My daughter truly perked up. “It was the patriarchy mommy!”

I don’t pretend to know the answer to saving our earth, but I do know that it includes environmentalists who are as diverse as myself and Dr. Elizabeth Friedman. We are such an diverse and off-beat group. But we all know it will take all of us, right-wing and left-wing, religious and irreligious, patriarchy and matriarchy, and all those ying and yang terms that balance each other out. As I was leaving my friend after an absolutely lovely late afternoon walk, lunch and brain-storming and dreaming session, we gave each other the tightest green hugs. I also gave the same hugs to that family that dreamed with me in our pseudo-kdrama. After you get past the climate anxiety and climate grief and how bad the state of the environment is, than the only hope we have is to dream together. We can have a group psychosis together, that we can avert this code red for humanity.

And I believe it. I absolutely do. Still doing so much just me a single pediatrician picking up plastic in San Diego. And I just need to convince a few people who will convince a few more, than you can make a difference. It has to be grassroots. Every great endeavor begins with the people. And pediatricians and UC system provosts, we are pretty great people to influence others. Can you sell your dream? I absolutely am. But my dream is 100% free hence the free entertainment on this blog. All you have to do is read and care, and think about helping out one piece of ocean bound plastic at a time.

It’s 6:43 now and I’m going to dream by myself about my daughter’s future, but I hope you’ll dream together with my about our earth’s. Much love from your pediatrician who is going to work soon! My matcha green tea tastes great this morning with a side of macaroons.

A beautiful card from a beautiful family with a heartfelt sentiment I will treasure.

February 19, 2022

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It’s 442AM and I am back to a semi-normal rhythm. I did watch Hulu “Descendents of the Son” K-drama, but I did not binge-watch it last night. It’s really good and I’m trying to savor it. Yesterday was a very full Friday at work, and I have almost 30 charts to finish this morning. It used to make me upset to work on my “inbox” on my “off time” but its a wonderful thing perspective. I’ll blog this morning, do climate work, drink my matcha green tea and finish my charts in the next 2-3 hours. I sit at the kitchen table and doing work that is meaningful and I am happy in my quiet world.

I received the above card with a beautiful tulip and package of tea from a family I’ve been taking care of for years. I had done a small thing for them, lend them a book I have to help them on the path to healing, and they returned the book so happy and on the path to being better with a gift for our family.

Beautiful tulip I then handed to my mother-in-law, who is going to plant it.

The gift itself is meaningful but the sentiment is something I’ll never forget. And indeed yesterday with all the busyness of an overbooked Friday and the leftover charts, was filled with real interactions for me and true joy. I’ve had friends and foes ask me what my next career step is. World domination? Further in leadership? Office politics never ends. But the odd thing that for me it has. Office politics is over. I don’t know what the next step in my career path is. I know I will go where the earth needs me, and that I fundamentally love being a pediatrician more than I have ever have in the past. So no matter where my leadership journey takes me, I want to see my patients and take care of those families entrusted to me. And that includes a super adorable 4 month old that I added on yesterday that looked at me with the bluest eyes. She had rolled off the sofa onto the ground, and scared the beejeebers out of her parents. She was okay, and I didn’t mind adding her to my already overful panel of 2500+ weighted families – because she is adorable and her parents are kind.