Uncategorized – Dr. Plastic Picker

Category: Uncategorized

Awesome social media ad for tomorrow’s event

September 27, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I haven’t really been as active on the blog as of late. The readership has trended down. This is my emotional journey through climate work, and that is actually a good thing. Last year around this time, there was a lot of excitement and drama and expectations around my daughter’s first homecoming dance and she was only 14-years-of age. It was actually such a wonderful time. But after a year, it’s naturally winded down and run it’s course for now. I’m not sure what happened last night? I fell asleep in our bed while chatting and giggling with our 15-year-old daughter. Mr. Plastic Picker was again reading xrays at his work station, which is actually in our master bedroom. And the two girls were giggling, and then I woke up early this morning and she was gone and my hard-working husband was sleeping. I’m a naturally an early riser, and it feels good to be up again writing my thoughts and the house is quiet and it’s just me and my matcha green tea soy latte. (let me make it now).

My body feels good. I was having some plantar fasciitis (can you believe how many letter i(s) are in that word!) on my right foot. I think I had too vigorous of a walk in shoes I need to change out. But I know now you to do some yoga and stretch out that foot, and it’s better. I ate an apple at noon yesterday, and 1/2 cob of corn. I had some slice of nectarine that were thinly sliced by my pretty daughter. I think we should mark each day by how many servings of good fruits and vegetables we eat. Isn’t that really the mark of a great day? How many fruits and vegetables one eats, and if you ate it with someone you love?

So tomorrow Dr. Dear Friend and I fly up to UC Berkeley to speak with their premed society. This instagram post cross posted with their large network and my social media handle @drplasticpicker. It was really an excuse to see my son and show off to him, since he is a freshman at UC Berkeley right now. He’s taking his first midterm in an upper division psychology class, and having some normal freshman year struggles. It’s probably good that he’s a bit far from us, as he is going through this stuff. I think it would cause a lot of anxiety for my husband and myself to have him too close. It’s the right time for him to go through these things, and I’ll be seeing him tomorrow anyway.

So just wanted to let you know that I’m still here. I’m still trying to move the needle on climate change, and for many of you – you are intimately involved in this effort. We only had 3 people show up for our actual San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air meeting, but the loose coalition of 50 and beyond that hundreds that are connecting, are doing things. We are doing so many things. I still can’t believe I’m going to get help with the AMICUS brief with Our Children’s Trust! That is just too cool, and my new friend Dr. Shira Abelas is going to help mobilize the experts we need. Our HMO is readdressing where we buy power again. I’m reached out to San Diego Community Power about getting a list of all the schools that have signed up for 100% renewables. And we are going to help mobilize Sweetwater Union High School District to try to be the 2nd school district in the country to truly decarbonize.

I also wanted to let you know, I do worry about my friends. I’m friends now with Prof Adam Aron, and it’s been gratifying to be acknowledged by him to be a serious climate and health advocate. There is something still about trying to get attention from those that are doing the real work. And for him to acknowledge me? It feels good, because I’ve come to admire him. He’s kind of weird? I like that. I like interesting people and most die-hard climate folks are kind of off beat? He’s coming back soon to San Diego, and Mr. Plastic Picker actually wants to have dinner with him. Which is totally rare. And then my friend Dr. Elizabeth Friedman is doing better. She was having a mini-crisis and I was happy to text back and forth and offer my support. She’s an overthinker and I’m an over-clarifier. But she found a cool new friend and they were talking about the struggles of neurodivergent people together. She’s really smart and a good friend, and my daughter really loves her now. She loves her because I love her. We will see each other soon. I can’t really go more than 4-6 months without seeing her.

And I also wanted to let you know that I’m still here, and there is not one boy that has asked my pretty 15-year-old to homecoming. I actually don’t want anyone to ask her, as that would be complicated. And it’s better if she goes alone. But she and all her friends are very normal pretty sophomore girls, and they are wondering if there is a surprise handsome junior boy that will suddenly appear (with appropriate GPA and activities of course!) and ask them to the dance. It’s boring here at our house, and we are okay with boring. But the memories of the excitement of last year, are so sweet.

Memory before the hurricane hit.

August 20, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

We knew the hurricane was coming, so we made some memories. We had two cousins still here from New York helping with the summit, beautiful girls that I’m their aunt. They are at a beautiful age in life, young and their futures in front of them. They took some of their summer to visit their family which is their cousins and grandparents and uncle (and me), and to help with the summit. But because Hurricane Hilary was coming, we had to have their parents change their flights and we got them out before the Hurricane. They are from New York City, and they had many of their family memories destroyed during Hurricane Sandy. Climate fueled disasters are real, and they are aware of them as are we. Can we take a moment and acknowledge something? There is a Hurricane coming to Southern California! This is 100% climate change.

But my heart is at ease because I’ve known the disaster movie was starting. And at some point, you have to decide for yourself what character are you going to play in the movie. Are you on the side of chaos? Or are you on the side of justice? I picked my side four years ago. So we’ve filled our reusable water bottles and we have enough water. We didn’t really need to get more food, because honestly I think everyone has enough food in their house. Mr. Plastic Picker filled up the PRIUS with gas in case we need to evacuate. It will be horrendous trying to get out of Pacific Beach honestly but we have many places east we can drive to. We’ll weather the storm fine. But this scenario is going to be more common now. Hurricanes in Southern California. Extreme Heat Events. Climate migrations.

My heart is at ease because I’m continuing to organize. The H3SD Summit was 100% the right thing to do, because so many like-minded climate doctors met that day. Many new projects have emerged. Many new collaborations have started. We did something amazing last weekend, we really did. A group have started email discussion of a San Diego based on-line scientific journal based on racial and health inequities. I have mentoring meetings with several climate and health doctors who want advice about how to advance to the next stage of their careers. I’m surprised I’m at this stage, but I’m happy to give advice and to mentor those who want to be mentored. We have many papers we need to start getting out as a result of the summit. I gave an interview already to a youth journalist on the h3sd summit. I have made plans already to travel up to UC Berkeley to do a talk with some premedical students and my son on climate anxiety, and also have gathered a group of 5 climate and health physicians to network with the UC Berkeley students. This intergenerational collaboration is very powerful. Plus I can go spy on my son (with his full knowledge of course!) during this freshman year.

But as the winds are gathering strength and I’m looking out the window at the rain, I’m grateful we took some time to live life yesterday. Our tomorrows are never guaranteed. And yesterday I loved. I loved my daughter. I loved my nieces. I loved my mother and father in law by getting the girls all dressed up in the traditional Korean dresses we already had. Each hanbok my mother-in-law had special made for a particular wedding, and mine was sewn in Korea in celebration of Mr. Plastic Picker and my wedding over 21 years ago. My mother-in-law was recounting when each of the dresses were sewn, and she choked up a bit with some rare tears. Yesterday her pretty granddaughters aged 20, 17 and 15 dressed up. She got to dress up with them. She told them to take off their bras (you don’t wear bras underneath I guess), and tied the restrictive hanboks that flatten your breasts. She lovingly showed them how to tie the skirts and put on the multiple top layers. She put on her own hanbok and we took pictures in the garden and had the girls fan their skirts out while they sat on the grass. It was a beautiful and simple moment, and we have beautiful pictures.

I went for a walk with my one niece, who I did not know that well and now I know better. She’s a beautiful child and I got to tell her some stories that I’ve been wanting to tell her since she was little. We picked up trash on the beach, and heard the waves and had adventures yesterday morning.

You can never get these years back, and indeed we will never get yesterday back – so we lived yesterday to the fullest knowing the hurricane was coming today. They girls are tucked away safe back in New York now. We are safe in our house, and we are prepped as well as anyone can be for this hurricane. But my heart is at ease, because I’m living each day taking action regarding climate change and climate resiliency. I’m trying everything I can to influence the world toward the arc of sustainability and justice. But I’m also allowing myself to be a mother and be an aunt. I give my college boyfriend big hugs, and he’s so happy with how I love his family and his nieces.

I miss our son terribly, and he is worried about us. But I told him we’ll be fine. Someone in the family had a dream about my death. It was an anxiety dream. And I honestly told them, mommy has no regrets. I’ve lived such a wonderful life, especially the last four years. I haven’t held back the love I have for the world, but tried to pour it forth. I’ve sent innocent emails to my friends still dreaming of my daughter and her future. But I told my family honestly, I don’t think I’m going to die soon? I have too much work to do. The earth needs to me to do all the projects that I have planned. I’ll be here to see the ending of the disaster movie. And I hope that it will be beautiful filled with love and healing, and big smiles from all the climate families that I’ve gotten to know. Thank you for following along with me on my emotional journey in this emotional work.

Organizer and teaching my daughter how to organize.

August 18, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Has it been almost a week? I’m sitting at our kitchen table and it’s 8:40am. I slept so deeply last night. I could have put myself back in to work in clinic today but it’s been such an emotional roller coaster sending our oldest to college that I kept my vacation day to be a mom. Our baby (who is a moody but very pretty 15-year-old) has her first JV Volleyball game this season. So I’m going to watch her game and listen to her 15-yo ramblings. She’s a really accomplished and intelligent and creative 15 -year-old, but sometimes she says nonsense. And as we get deeper into 15 and I’m firmly at 45, the nonsense is more pronounced. Boyfriend? No! Instagram? No! Curtain bangs? Maybe. Earrings? We did that! Boyfriend? No! I’m joking of course, she’s not asking for a boyfriend. But for any normal pretty 15-year-old who is a she and likes hes, they are in the background always. Especially when your oldest brother goes off to UC Berkeley and 50% of the freshamn class are Asian, and you are put smack in the middle of a lot of good-looking tall Asian boys. There was a point in the hotel lobby we were in the elevator and there were two very tall good looking Korean freshman, who smiled at her. I swear the girl was going to have a seizure! LOL. They were too tall though at that height it gets ridiculous because the girl is only 5’4″. It was probably too much for her. But you should have seen her dancing around the hotel room afterwards posing in front of the mirror. When you get noticed by some tall boys, it really does something to you (or her). It was all fun to watch.

But we are back now in San Diego and in her safe little world, where the 15-year-old boys are a bit less overwhelming and distinctly annoying to her because she knows them. I like this world. I like being mother to a sassy 15-year-old girl, who think actual boys kind of smell at this point. I’ve done a 180 and trying to dissuade her from going to any dances. I can’t take the drama anymore, and the real heartache.

But what I really loved was knowing the H3SD San Diego’s Heat and Human Health inaugural summit was made into reality. It was a beautiful day. I hope to those that went or were involved, that you felt it too? It was such an overwhelming sense of love and caring. I know it fundamentally affected all of the members of our family who attended and helped, including our nieces from New York. We talked about important issues in a beautiful setting at UC San Diego Medical School with good food, and most importantly with the most beautiful hearts I can imagine. It had to be volunteer. It had to be through these personal connections and not one organization leading the way. It was a coalition, but really a coalition of families and friends and doctors and academics. The authenticity was palpable.

I’ve mostly been on Instagram making reels of our oldest son’s journey to UC Berkeley, which was an 8 hour drive. The move-in was relatively simple. Boys are easier that way. He had four big IKEA blue rectangular bags and that was it. We helped him make his bed with the ubiquitous mattress topper that everyone has, and tucked in the extra-long twin sheets that Mr. Plastic Picker ordered on amazon. He had his cat anime plushie and the green cylinder pillow he has flipped around since he was little, almost in a nervous habit. It’s amazing to watch him do it. You can tell his emotions depending on the complexity of the trajectory of this pillow. You can only find them at the Korean market. He has three and brought two up to Berkeley. The extra one is safely tucked at home in his bedroom.

But I think he is probably doing okay. I didn’t expect the emotional cycling during his leaving home and arriving at Berkeley. Sadness and parting. Tears and goodbyes. A little bit of anxiety and excitement. Amazement and joy. And now a sense of stability and settling into this new reality for our entire family. I’m sitting across from his seat at the kitchen table and it feels empty. I’m like every mother and I break out into tears once in a while. I don’t let him know, because he’s being a good boy and up at school and grateful for the opportunities he will have at Berkeley. My older brother said we raised a good boy, and I know he is. I had him talk to each of his uncles before he left, to get some words of advice. My younger brother will stop by to see him in a few weeks. I’ll be up at Berkeley too, to check in on him. We won’t hover, but we’ll be there to remind him that he is part of a loving and caring community.

And he was there too at H3SD Summit. I emailed my friends this paragraph which I believe in my heart.

We were saying goodbye to our son, and realizing that the time he spent tabling at the summit and the interactions he had (especially getting to meet Adam Aron and now working with him a bit even though he’s up at berkeley) fundamentally affected him.  I have lots of funny stories about getting getting a freshman off to college from a parents standpoint. He’s in a triple. The three boys (thank goodness) all don’t smoke/drink nor vape. I’m relieved. But then made ground riules about how to signal each other if they bring girls over and they’ll vacate the premises quickly (LOL my son was intrigued but is just starting to think about dating now, it just never happpened in high school I think too small of a student body).  But as I have the normal worries of a mom (he forgot to brush his teeth the first night LOL), I know that the work we did envelopes all of our children in this blanket of security that loving and caring adults are doing the right thing. As I was cautioning him about Raves and drugs, I know he listens to me a bit more because of the wonderful adults that have surrounding him doing climate work.

I usually end my emails with “Green hugs and thank you for being my friends!” And yes thank you for also being my virtual and real friends! Thank you for letting me share my journey. H3SD was filled with an overwhelming sense of love, and it was fun! It was exhausting but fun and most importantly impactful. We will definitely do it again next year. What will it look like? I don’t know. It’s really the collective we who will figure it out. I just know it will be likely mid to late August at UC San Diego School of Medicine, and I’ll get to hang out with all my San Diego climate friends especially Dr. Luis Castellanos again. And I hope all my other friends come back if they are free. And we bring along new friends who are good-looking and want to help save the earth. And the secret is when you are happy and you have a good heart and do good, the joy and beauty just shines through you. It’s true. When you see that beauty, you can’t unsee it. I see you. And gosh darn it, I’ll never forget all those real genuine smiles during the summit.

Oregon Island National Wildlife Refuge.

June 27, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

We are back dear readers from our 5 day and 4 night vacation. It was a time to partially disconnect and reconnect. I partially disconnected from work and our lives in San Diego, and reconnected with our family and with climate friends that joined us. I like to think of it as really rewiring things. Breaking those old thought patterns that are no longer helpful, and reforming new connections and patterns. It was a transformational time away for our family. You could fundamentally feel the difference during the vacation and when we got home.

Mr. Plastic Picker and I slept so deeply. I’m not sure when, but I am generally healthier but had been getting up at night more at least once. But for three nights in a row I slept the longest stretch I’ve slept in years. My matcha green tea soy latte habit is somewhat disrupted in a good way. It didn’t taste the same anymore, and this morning is the first time I’m drinking just a bit of black tea. I told Mr. Plastic Picker that I may not even need matcha green tea soy latte anymore, it tastes too sweet and too matcha for me now – does that make sense? I didn’t even start drinking caffeine until I was 30 so after 15 years of it, I’m down to just some tea. I think that is generally healthy? I did have a matcha green tea soy latte last night to get through my late shift, but even that didn’t taste as good as it used too. I think that is a sign of healing. Everyone around me seemed to be talking too fast, I think the whole world is a bit overcaffeinated.

And it’s the first time we’ve ever gone on vacation with friends, and it was with true friends who are also climate friends. We cooked dinner together and our daughter made her famous foccacia bread. I think this is partially why Mr. Plastic Picker seemed fundamentally healed. It was experiences and conversations that we’ve never had before. Kind of awkward adult friendships that we need and are good for us, but really new. We are really good at being good family members, and I realize that I’m learning now in my mid 40s how to be a friend. My co-worker Lea is teaching me that. I never had a friend like her before and I’m learning how to be a friend, at least the kind of friend I want to be.

Our daughter is also learning about friendships. About what kind of friendships she needs, amongst boys and girls. We’ve been talking about boys so much that I realize that she really needs just to learn how to be friends with boys and not boyfriends. I need to shift that conversation with her. It’s awkward still being 15. She’s so beautiful and creative and loving. The love that emanates from that child is really difficult to explain, but she aims in directly at me. I’m the lucky recipient for now and I’ll take it, but she needs to learn how to share it with others. But it’s hard being 15.

I just wanted to let the readership know that we are back from an wonderful disconnecting and reconnecting vacation, and that it’s still been so much fun organizing H3SD San Diego’s Heat and Human Health Summit. It will be hard to see the entire process end. I have already plans for the next round of fun climate projects, and I’ll let the earth lead me to the next and just flow with the climate work.

You don’t have to go far to disconnect and reconnect. These beautiful places are everywhere really.

Inspiring still.

June 18, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

I’m still in the whirlwind of climate work, and trying to still do this massive thing which is get H3SD San Diego’s Heat and Human Health Summit to happen. It’s definitely going to happen, and I’ve learned to listen to other climate advocates/activists, myself, and the earth to let this thing happen. I am more mindful of myself these days, as the last month was an absolute whirlwind of going to DC for the Kaiser Permanente and World Economic Forum Launch of “Connecting Climate Change and Health.” I still haven’t processed it all, and I’m not sure if I ever truly will. It was a moment that I realized I needed to be there. Traveling to DC for such a short trip and the massive emotional output and carbon output that trip entails was worth it, because it was part of the larger national conversation on climate change and health.

I was emailing someone at UCSD that I think of us as an ecosystem of climate activists, and each of us playing a different yet vital role. We are all interconnected to address this existential crisis. But as with all organisms, my own organism which is my body needs to rest. I’m not doing the furious emailing as much as many moving pieces are already in motion. We have about 2 months until the H3SD summit and an op-ed should drop soon this week regarding heat waves and human health. My name is not on the op-ed, but I had a big part in putting the writers together and they took it and ran with it. Another two op-eds are in the works that will hopefully drop in the LA Times, one on fossil fuel divestment and the other on lead pollution in k-12 drinking water. My name is on one, and the other is a team I helped put together. And then the breakout sessions for the H3SD San Diego Heat and Human Health Summit are mostly teams now linked together at least by email. They’ll figure it out, the hour they have to get things done. I’ve initiated the CME/CEU credit process already through our own HMO, and that has been a huge benefit and promise to those that are taking time out of their busy schedules to help make this happen. We should at least get some CME /CEU for it at the same time. If this summit doesn’t have educational content, than I don’t know what does?

I’ve been pushed to rethink about how we address fossil fuels, and Prof Adam Aron in an intense conversation advised that simply changing our personal banking over to Credit Unions has a huge impact https://aronclimatecrisis.net/. So I’ve started looking into switching some stock funds over and how to move things to ESG funds. I’m already trying to unravel our banking to move it away from the big funders of fossil fuels especially Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Step by step. We’ll get there. And at least my collective patients and children of the planet, and my own children know that I’ve been trying.

So I saw a big dead sealion on the beach and it was very shocking. I think I’m going to try to head over there to see if it’s still there. I need to pick up coffee grounds from my friend and drop off some lemons anyway. So I’m off my friends! Just wanted to let you know that I’m still fighting for us and our planet, but I need to be reminded of the why – which for me is when I go to the beach and get healed by the waves and the beautiful nature on this little stretch of the Pacific Ocean called Pacific Beach.

From the internet

June 8 , 2021

by Dr. Plastic Picker

Good morning dear readers! I’m back from a epic less than 36 hour trip back and forth from San Diego to Washington DC. It was an epic and carbon spewing trip. Quebec/Canadian wildfires caused the Washington Monument to be clouded in smog. But I had to spew carbon to help address climate change. It’s the paradox of climate work. But I had to be there because of who I am and where I work, and the earth called me to be there.

I’m typing this and watching the recorded live-stream broadcast at the same time. It was epic. The room in DC was packed and it was live-streamed by over 115K viewers. Likely many of them were internal within my own health care system. I’m honored to have gone, but know I did something big yesterday by playing my role and talking about my climate work.

But honestly, what did I want to let you know? I literally sat next to the Vice President of Mars, and he isn’t a martian???????!!!!!!!! LOL. I thought I was more popular than the Vice President of Mars because I got to tell over a hundred thousand people that I was a plogger!!! That was so much fun! I also told them very briefly about my journey and about H3SD San Diego Heat and Human Health Summit.

I’m grateful to have been there and got to tell my friends via email all about my adventures. I have that on record in my emails. I also received my new favorite reusable water bottle. It’s really nice. You can see it on Instagram.

I think that might have been my peak. The Green Dragon has been awoken. I think I helped wake the Green Dragon that is our health care organization a bit earlier. I still have more projects to work on, but it was hard for me. It was absolutely hard for me to go there and be away from my family. It’s not easy for me to be vulnerable and put myself out there. It’s not easy to put oneself out to be judged. It’s not easy to try to balance telling everyone about my journey and never getting to say the word “fossil fuels.” It’s not easy to use precious vacation days to travel out there, literally probably over $5000 of my own time and funds to be there and pay my own way because my time is valuable when at times I feel nickle and dimed by some. But I have the big picture in mind, and I have so much love for the place I work in a global sense. It was not easy, but I know it was where I was meant to be. I absolutely was in the right place yesterday and helped set the tone of hope for the room.

I don’t think I’ll be back there. But I’ll continue to work on climate in a smaller way. I think Dr. Plastic Picker may have peaked and I’m glad. I really am tired and I need to take care of myself. It was absolutely fun but in a “I can do this” not “true joy” fun.

But what was really fun, was this interview I got to do about wellness and decompressing. I really like Joshua Fitch from Contemporary Pediatrics! He is so nice. The Vice President of Mars was nice. But Joshua, was awesome!

Chalk drawings from the clinic recently.

May 27, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

A mother I know well came in this week and it has been a while since I had seen her. She’s really sick right now and has around a year left to live from a cancer diagnosis, and I have been the children’s pediatrician for well over a decade. It’s one of those relationships where I know them well, and my nurse knows them well – just because we’ve seen them since birth. The children are in with therapy and the supports and resources have all been deployed.

What does one say as a pediatrician to a parent? How should a pediatrician react?

There is no answer because each relationships is different, each family is different, each parent and each pediatrician is different. For me, it is about responsibility. I have been lucky to be there for all those moments in clinic. The first visit when the parents come in so nervous and exhausted, meeting their pediatrician for the first time. We teach them how to swaddle the baby, or reassure them about the pooping frequency. We ask them, are you doing okay? Being in the clinic rooms, I often feel like being on a sitcom (I often laugh in clinic with my patient’s families) or sometimes it’s more of a series of commercials. But those moments are so powerful, the first weight check, the bilirubin visits, the anxiety about the high fevers, the first viral rash, and first broken bone. The main characters are of course the little adorable toddlers, and it’s true for me – my little patients even when they are big and grown, are perpetually toddlers in my mind. They are the adorable 15 month olds that are so mischievous that you forgive them their tantrums and their scowls when you try to examine them. It’s hard to be mad at little beings that have such huge eyes. Toddlers are really the manifestations of anime proportions, round face and big eyes and perfect skin.

After being there for a lifetime of those sitcom episodes or the short commercial visits for very focused moments, you get to the point in your career after practicing for 20 years when one of the parents have died. And that for me, is something I’ve been mulling over the last year and had been thinking about and reflecting on. It’s hard for those families of course, and as a pediatrician – the more connected one is the harder it is for us. I’m a connected pediatrician to my families and my community, and I hope it’s true for most – I know my families and I care for them. And because of this, when Stephanie was diagnosed with cancer, when Nicole died in a tragic car accident on Christmas break, when Jonathan was murdered when he went back home to Detroit likely because he was a young black man – it forever affected the lives of their children and the pediatrician who remains.

I needed to write out their names to make sure I remember them, and to my families I do. I remember the arguments I had with Johnathan about Malcolm X and race issues, and found it amusing that he trusted a small Vietnamese-American pediatrician about vaccines – despite his mistrust of the world in general. I remember Nicole all the times you drove down from East County to see me, trusted your boys with me and we talked about just random things – but always really liking each other for some reason. And I remember Stephanie each visit you had with your two little ones, how blond they were and the interplay within your family and felt sad when your family separated and now after we talked – I know a bit better why since your life was more complicated as a child then I ever realized the first years I knew you. I needed to write this down because I remember. I was there with you, and you were there for me as well.

It’s powerful mindfulness and being present. Yesterday I had what was probably just a ho-hum clinic day, where I worked the late staggered shift. But there were the two cephalohematomas that I’m still worried about, attached to two set of parents. There was the stress of finishing three triplet wic forms and doing the third version of them because I dared to spell Similac incorrectly , and me wondering if the WIC office really had so little to do to perseverate over my spelling, but attached was a loving uncle that always wears a certain kind of shirt and sweater , and so lovingly holds one of the triplets when his younger sister who is the mother comes in.

I’m still here. And what I said to the mother that came in this week who is dying of cancer was simple. I’m so sorry that you and the kids and your family are going through this. Can I let my old nurse who knows your family too know? So that he can pray for you, because he goes to church? He transferred to Bonita about a year ago. Do you need more supports? I am so glad the kids are in therapy, and we have more social workers now. Do you feel comfortable reaching out to me if you need help? And of course I’ll fill out that camp form that you need and this is when I review things for the kids through puberty. Maybe we should talk about sex sooner than later, especially so you don’t worry about them not having had the talk before you go. And, I will be here for them Stephanie. I’ll be their pediatrician until they turn 18, and please let me know if you need anything. And what I didn’t say was “I really want to give you a hug but our relationship is different. So I didn’t hug you, but I hugged the kids after you left the room, because it really sucks when your mother has cancer.”

Introverted me

May 18, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

We are getting there. We are getting there. It’s been an absolute whirlwind of meetings and support, and emails and coming of like-minded hearts. For those of us deep in the climate work, we know that there is a very narrow window of time. It’s a literal planetary code. And that’s why that even though I know this the San Diego Heat and Human Health Summit won’t solve everything, it will move the climate work faster. We will get to averting rising global temperatures and ecosystem disruption a bit faster. Every act counts. Every bag of trash counts. Every major summit that changes the national conversation counts.

But it’s been a marathon of meetings and marathon of emails. Convincing and cajoling. Talking and persuading. Pleading and asking. And I’m doing this all for our collective children, but honestly for my own as well.

To all my friends, let me have my innocent dreams of my daughter and innocent hopes for her future. I need it so badly because I know how truly dire the situation is. Rising temperatures, hurricanes, atmospheric rivers, asthma. I usually have hope. But this morning I have to put on my happy persona which is mostly true. I’m excited to go to DC. I really am. I’m excited to be invited to the World Economic Forum. I’m mostly excited to see all of my friends on August 12, 2023 at UCSD School of Medicine. But I’m so much of an introvert , that it’s hard for me. It’s hard for me to reach out again and again. Usually people say yes, but sometimes I get a no. And the no, they hurt so much. But I keep on re-engaging and re-connecting, because we have to do this together as a region and as a community and as a people.

I think the introverts, those like me. We are the beautiful ones that the world does not see, because we are afraid to get hurt. We hide. But after being hurt and being healed, it gives you this sort of super human strength and knowledge. Those that tried to hurt you. The naysayers, The negative people. They are gone now. And all is left is the stark reality of the climate crisis and the planetary code, and I’m there and you are there – and what does one do, but try to resuscitate the patient.

So it’s really happening, The summit is really happening and thank you to my real friends who have seen me run up and down the hallway. I’m exhausted because I was so happy. And being so happy, you crash. It’s not a natural state for me, this extremes of emotion. But I’ll take it, for the earth and realize that I am meant to be where I am and to be who I am. And that I’m allowed to look at a picture and smile, and dream for my daughter.

The epic selfie!

May 12, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

That was honestly way too much fun! My good friend Dr. ABG and I stopped by UCSD AMSA Premedical Society and spoke. Dr. ABG is one of the doctors I admire the most, and also happens to be on the San Diego Air Pollution Control District Governing Board. I had a part in getting her elected and I did so because I believe so strongly in her heart, her clinical skills and her ability to enact change. But she’s also a good friend, and UCSD alumnus. So we headed over to UCSD AMSA and amused the premedical students with our anecdotes about climate and health, but mostly about our friendship, our families, our husbands and our kids.

We were REALLY FUNNY!!! Totally not planned but I kind of knew what the trajectory of our open flow dialogue would go. Our premedical students and high school students said we were hilarious and entertaining and inspiring. The room was filled with laughter, and filled with beautiful young faces looking for leadership and inspiration. I’m hoping that two middle-aged pediatricians in our 40s gave some of that to them.

We also invited them to the San Diego Heat and Human Health Summit! It’s at their college and university and 100% they should be involved. So we’ve invited the premedical students. I got ALOT of new really cute UCSD premedical instagram followers yesterday. And I think we picked up a few new premedical interns. We have two graduating so we actually do need a few more to fill out our ranks.

new student! So cute!

The big push on our side. Webinar.

April 26, 2023

by Dr. Plastic Picker

It happened. It was a big win last night, and I was home when I received the text. I can’t be everywhere but I have amazing premedical interns that need meaningful projects in the route to medical school admissions, and I deployed one to advocate on our behalf at the San Diego Unified School District and he helped get this done. I forgot to tell him to sign up to speak, and honestly there was no need. He was there in the rally crowd bringing his and our might. The news landed on Fox already https://fox5sandiego.com/sustainable-san-diego/san-diego-unified-school-district-approves-fossil-fuel-free-resolution/ and it is positive coverage. We had done our part, after I dropped the San Diego Union Tribune Op-ed and gas stoves, and also we deployed on Monday the webinar on the Public Health Benefits of Building Electrification. These two actions added to the cacophony we need to create to accomplish this for our region. AAP-CA3 San Diego and Imperial County (which we are proud members) have an email listserv and puts on Coastal Currents every month. And there were three huge climate mentions including my op-ed and a link to the webinar.

Last night when I heard, my heart was so happy. Even though I was not there, I knew I was part of it by organizing and cheering and writing and planning for the webinar over the course of several months. I am so grateful to these beautiful faces that helped get our webinar through.

Beautiful people

If you have a chance to watch the webinar, I highly suggest it. You will learn a lot. Save yourself some money. Improve your health. Help stop climate change. But more importantly you will see how happy and connected San Diego area climate activists are.

I sometimes get exhausted as I’m still trying to push the climate work forward as this remains an existential crisis. But the wins with the op-ed and the webinar and helping be part of this huge coalition to pass Building Electrification at San Diego Unified School District has been HUGE. I only learned about building electrification really about a year ago, but it’s the solution to so many things.

But I’m a person too and riding an emotional climate high, I know that I naturally crash kind of afterwards. I stopped myself from sending more climate emails this morning. I only sent one. I have to save energy for a climate meeting that I’m having with a student this afternoon. My son is also graduating from high school this early summer, and I want to enjoy him and plan his graduation dinner and a family party for him. I’m going to let myself be a mom today. I’m traveling to a conference soon too, and honestly need to do it for the earth but I’m going to really miss my kids and my family. I love them so much. I’m truly an introvert and if the world wasn’t warming, I would have never ventured into this world.

But it’s made me a better person and changed my personality. I will treasure them more when I come back. I will have fun of the trip, but today I will give to my family. I was going to write our newsletter but I really don’t need to. No one is asking me to write it. I’ve done enough today. I want to go look at my daughter more too. I just like to sit there and look at her at times.

Just sharing the real live musings of your local litter picking pediatrician (I picked up a big piece of plastic near the ocean yesterday and binned it) who is part of this amazing climate and health movement.