It Was Terrifying, and I Don’t Have to Take It. Grateful to Threat Management.
February 22, 2023
by Dr. Plastic Picker
It’s 442am and I’m up more at my more natural awakening time. I’ve honestly watched most of the Kdrama netflix/Vikipass that I need to. So no more binge watching for me. I’ve caught up on most of them. And I stretched and did some light weight exercises to help me fall asleep last night. I asked my very tall and gentle son to hug me twice. I asked my husband to hug me last night, which he did before a little 12 pound poodle mix snuggled in between us and I had to scoot away. I could push her out of the way, since I am the alpha in the house (well maybe not the alpha, but the beta that pretends to be the alpha). I didn’t talk to our daughter too much about things, because I don’t need her at 14 to be exposed to the ugliness of the world too early. She will see it all soon enough, but while I have some semblance of control – I am raising her in a bubble of security and stability.
I was terrified yesterday. I had a parent patient interaction that I found absolutely terrifying. I find it helpful to process these emotions relatively quickly so things don’t fester. The details are not important here on this blog, and things need to be confidential – but it’s important to share my reaction. I think some of my reaction is because I’ve been mostly healed from many traumas, past emotional and professional abuses from blogging. It’s helped to write things and process, and for the most part I’m surrounding by positivity and joy. I also try to be positive and a force of good at the office and in the world, and certainly at home. But yesterday a person tried to emotionally pull me down into the darkness of chaos, and tried to provoke in me evil – and it terrified me. I was acutely aware of my racing heart beat, my hands began to shake, and I stood up even though that person was on the phone. I could feel my fight or flight response kick into gear. And I knew to politely set limits and hang up the phone. And then called the appropriate supervisor and threat management was alerted.
I felt threatened and I don’t have to take that cr@p anymore. I’ve certainly been in more dangerous situations. We all have. I’ve had scalpels thrown at me by angry surgeons. I’ve had other surgeons berate me as a student for no good reason. I’ve had parents threaten my own safety and the safety of my team, when they were often child abusers as we’ve tried to protect children from the same abusers. I’ve seen fellow physicians haze younger colleagues, and it ate me up inside to sit there and witness the hazing that is done really indirectly through decisions that are obscured. But I am 100% me now, and daughter of my father, the wife of my husband, the mother of my children, and the pediatrician for over 2000 children. And I called someone who called threat management, because I don’t have to deal with that cr@p anymore and neither should you!
Yesterday was an epic climate date. I spent two hours writing our newsletter updates for SDPCA and AAP.-CA3 Climate Change and Health Committee. I mentored and recruited another premedical student who will help with the heat and human health summit. I reached out to patients and extended extra care to those that are subject to poorer health due to environmental toxins and racial discrimination. I attended the above clinic meeting where we all whacked at the COVID pinata (brilliant idea by a colleague) and ate half of a cookie without guilt. I also took a good whack at the COVID pinata because it’s been a rough few years for sure. And then I went home and attended an epic meeting between the Office of Health Equity and Climate Change and the League of Women Voters and got to talk more about the idea for the heat and human health summit. I was late for that meeting because I took what I thought would be a quick 30 minute nap but ended up being a 45 minute nap, but the League of Women Voters Environmental Justice Subcommittee were very understanding of my working momma/climate warrior exhaustion! I even got invited to their gala!!! My premedical intern was there which is like I was there on time, so we were able to meaningfully contribute to the conversation.
And all this was important for the earth. What scares me the most about the worsening heat waves is that it will drive up rates of interpersonal and domestic violence. That is the scariest part. We have to try to mitigate the climate crisis by continuing to reduce green house gas emissions. We have to better prepare for the heat waves, because no matter what they will be getting more frequent in the summers. And when they do, tempers will fly and the situation I was in yesterday – will happen more often.
But I’m so lucky. I’m so incredibly lucky to be able to see the link between it all. I am no longer scared. My heart rate is normal. My vitals are stable, as is my mental health. I thought about calling in sick for a mental health day, because it was terrifying yesterday. I thought about punishing the system for putting me through this. But I realize that I’m better and I can whether this one incident that was terrifying because I have you. I have climate work. And I have my loving family. And I’m thinking of someone who is very brave and I’m sending you out a virtual hug. Signing off now, to do a few climate emails! Your local litter picking pediatrician!