Our tween daughter and I finished watching the documentary “RBG” yestserday in preparation for our Cadette Girl Scout Meeting. It was a special night to have the time to watch it with her and answer her questions, and watch her expressions. It was meaningful for so many reasons. As someone who considers myself of a historical bent, I did earn my undergraduate degree in History of Science, I am always curious as the origins of quotes. The original quote that RBG credited but is often forgotten by our modern society comes from Sarah Grimke https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sarah_Moore_Grimk%C3%A9.
Time has slowed down for me. Other than litter-picking and making home-made apple-cider vinegar, that is my new super power. Time has slowed down. Yesterday was an odd Wednesday. I usually work in the mornings and am “OFF” in the afternoon (but who is really OFF right?). But we had a “Diversity” Leadership Meeting that was virtual in the morning, and then I worked in the afternoon. I was incredibly upset after the Diversity Leadership meeting which had over 500 attendees. It was a corporate attempt to address racial justice in health care. Our HMO is light-years ahead of everyone, yet we are all so behind. I made some comments in the chat box about hiring more black doctors, but was dismissed as being too political by another physician leader. I know when to push and when to stand back plus I was one of 500 attendees. It was not the venue to waste efforts. So I just listened laying in bed.
Dr. Plastic Picker has given me the gift of reconnecting with friends. We are going through this period of shared panic and grief, and now action regarding the climate. Recently I checked back in with Dr. Young-Ho Yoon, who will forever be my senior resident from Mans Greatest Hospital. He continues to work as an outpatient private practice pediatrician in the Boston area, and being the center of his community of family, friends and patients. Pediatricians are powerful and connected figures. His is also living in a two-MD household and we were sharing common frustrations of educating kids during the pandemic. He shared with me some pretty awesome spreadsheets regarding different childcare options, that is just how organized and precise his mind is. Remember, he is the senior resident that drilled into me proper fluid management and a love of renal physiology. To this day, it has remained a strength for me and I hardly every need to IV a patient as I vigorously push oral rehydration because I know the details on Sodium and Potassium concentrations for most intravenous and oral solutions and common foods/drinks and can explain it well to parents. We had a beloved renal attending who would always look at urine samples for the residents at any time of day, and I was sent several times from the inpatient floor by Dr. Young-Ho when I was an intern to bring the urine sample to this attending’s lab. Dr. Linshaw would call it liquid gold. I often tell that story to my patients when I ask for urine samples, and I think of Dr. Linshaw and Young-Ho when I think of how much a urine sample can tell you about someone’s health.
Yesterday morning I was in the state of FLOW. The creativity and the environmental work was flowing. I organized multiple projects for San Diego Pediatricians for Clean Air, AAP-CA3 Climate Change and Health, and various work projects. And then the real world intruded, and I had a full slate of patients. It was a good day, but emotionally draining due to one interaction. It’s interesting how the chaos in patients’ lives spills over into the lives of their doctors. As pediatricians we try to put up professional barriers but when parents delve into conpsiracy theories and choose not to vaccinate their children and put their children at risk – it’s one of the few things that can make any pediatrician irate especially if that young baby has fever. Yes ma’am, I’m telling you to go to the ED or a nearby urgent care clinic during a pandemic because your baby can be septic and at least needs blood work, urine cath, and a COVID test since you are not in our service area right now. Your baby may need a spinal tap, and it’s your own damn fault and the Lord help that baby that did not chose to be born to these set of parents. Did I say those words out loud that every pediatrician has thought? Of course not. But the irritability I’m sure comes across in my tone when the parents go off onto different tangents. As a pediatrician, it’s very important to stay focused when you are dealing with sleep deprived newborn parents that are crazy enough to believe the anti-vaxers. Yes I want high patient satisfaction scores, but I more want to make sure that baby does not die. I have realized afterwards that those same parents were suffering post-partum depression, actively using drugs, undergoing spousal abuse, homeless, or maybe just experienced some sort of trauma in their former home country and now has an inherent distrust of all large government-like systems (which includes the medical establishment). I in no way blame parents, but I deliver stern advice as I know my hair is grey underneath my monthly hair-dye. Ma’am, do you want me to call you tomorrow and check in on how you are doing on my day off (I of course did not say the last part)? Angry reply and tears, “I’d like to hang up so I can call those numbers that you gave me.” So my words had the intended effect to make her semi-panic and seek care and not sit on that fever for another 24 hours. With true sincerity I said, “I wish you the best of luck and please drive carefully.” Anyway, it’s frustrating right? I got home and some of that irritation spread to our dinner time as we were trying to throw pasta together and not get take-out. The kids were trying to tell me about their school progress, and I listened but not fully. I’ll ask them again about it today.
The world is in chaos these days. I was obsessively checking CNN and Politico since Thursday night, since every time I checked someone else who I would think of as evil doers was getting COVID-19 due to not wearing mask. But as a pediatrician and generally one that does not wish anyone harm (I just wish they would not get reelected), I realize that it is a sad situation for the country. I think the moral of the story is not to doctor shop. When you have a good physician who does not bow to your every whim, then probably you have someone who cares about you and will take care of you rather than worrying about “satisfaction” scores. Again, it’s just sad all around. I do not wish harm to befall on anyone. I do wish the next administration will help stop climate change.
One of the neighborhood cats was stalking our two bunnies who live on our second story balcony! I had been hearing some commotion out there and figured it was just Peter and Bella hopping around. But it was a cat! Apologies to all the cat lovers out there, but our household is definitely a bunny and dog house. I was so mad! I may not dote on our bunnies but I do love them, and any vet bills would cost hundreds of dollars. Once Peter had some congestion and Mr. Plastic Picker took him into the bunny vet and Peter needed Azithromycin for $150! It looked exactly like the Azithromycin I prescribe to kids. Mr. Plastic Picker wanted to leave them out there, but I insisted on bringing them in the house. So the married bunnies in our house hopped back inside and will just shed like crazy indoors When I spied the neighborhood cat on the rooftop where she had leaped onto our awning, I was so mad. I grabbed one of the bunnies dried poop pellets and threw it at her while it was pitch dark! Go away you killer of songbirds!
Did I tell you that I’m trying to make home-made vinegar? It’s my second batch. The first batch I attempted after having left over apple peels and cores from making apple-sauce. That attempt was a failure. It looked pretty on Instagram as the fluid became more amber and I used Korean shot glasses with black lettering that had the Korean letters artistically distorted by the yellow hued viscosity of the liquid. Half became moldly, and the other container essentially was just apple juice that I pasteurized and made into an apple slushy. The second batch I started a week ago. I had half given up on the vinegar project, but I found an unopened can of Modelo beer during Saturday’s plogging run. I washed the can well, and decided that the earth had decided that I should try the vinegar project again. I made one with the Modelo beer, and the other one reusing a glass container we store our coffee sugar. The coffee sugar glass jar needed to be updated but it was “clean” just with that old residue of sticky granulated white sugar on the sides. I thought, huh, that’s about the amount of sugar I need to make vinegar? It takes a lot of water to clean that sugar off. Why don’t I just try again? So I made apple sauce again with some mushy apples, and saved the apple scraps. I sterilized everything this time with hot water, both the apple scraps and the water I used to make the vinegar. This was the ultimate food waste project, because the sugar residue in the glass container I am using to make the vinegar, and the apple scraps, and the Modelo Beer would have all been discarded. I am also reusing two glass jars. I learned from the first attempt. I used a different fermentation weight that is not as pretty but works better and keeps the apple scraps underneath the liquid line. I stirred it a few times well with clean spoons a few times a day the first week. Yesterday when I checked on the vinegar project, I kid you not – the thing is working. “The Mother” is forming.
Plogging is jogging while picking up trash. Plalking is walking while litter picking. Plurfing is gathering plastic while surfing. #fillabag is when you find a bag and you fill it with trash. There is an entire lexicon and culture within the Instagram trash collecting world. You can clean the environment while jogging, walking, paddle-boarding, kayaking or surfing. You can make the trash you find into art and be an artivist. You can knit with discarded fishing lines into a scarf like @grannyplastic. You can spend hours picking up litter or just 2 minutes like #2minbeachcleanup. You can even be an awesome dog in the Netherlands like Bob The Plog Dog. The only rule is that you have to show some of the litter you pick and care about the environment. I am Dr. Plastic Picker, this community’s unofficial litter-picking pediatrician. I am a Harvard-educated pediatrician and Assistant Chief of Pediatrics at Kaiser San Diego. I am Co-Chair of AAP-CA3 San Diego Climate Change and Health Committee which is currently the largest AAP committee chapter in the country. But I’d rather be known as Dr. Plastic Picker.
Wow. Did you watch the presidential debates last night? LOL Mr. Plastic Picker turned on CNN for me (I am still unable to figure out the TV) and exited the room quickly. He refuses to watch any political coverage as it gives him too much stress. I watched last night with our teen son, and I had a great time! Yes it was very scary to hear all of the Orange Man’s nonsensical utterings. The current occupant of the White House is clearly unhinged and his refusal to disavow white supremacists is downright scary. But I had a great time yesterday because Vice President Joe Biden showed just how decent he is and he did great. He stayed in there, and he uttered things to the Orange Man that no one else but a fellow 70-year-old white male could say to him “Just Shut Up Man.” That is Joe Biden’s white old guy priviledge and I appreciate that he used it! And Dr. Plastic Picker applauded gleefully. It is so odd. Last night was the first night I slept a full 8 hours and deeply. I don’t follow too much political news, but my heart was content with Joe Biden’s performance. I’ll donate some money and I’ll move on. Yes everyone needs to get out the vote. But the Dumpster Fire that was the Presidential Debate showed how much the Orange Man looks down on the common everyday person. He made fun of Joe Biden attending Delaware College. Who does that? Does the Dumpy President really believe that blue collar workers and immigrants or anyone likes someone who makes fun of where someone went to college where they are worried about 200,000 COVID-19 deaths and many can’t even attend college? If the Irish-Catholic white senator feels Trump is looking down on Irish Catholics, how do you think the rest of the brown and black and yellow and green and purple people are feeling? Oh and don’t forget! While the US was distracted with COVID-19 deaths and the farce that has become our presidential election, Russia claimed the entire planet on Venus. Yes, the Russians claimed Venus. Do you think that was Putin’s plan to begin with? He distracted us enough to claim an entire planet. If American Democracy and our laws and institutions can’t prevail over a clearly incompetent and not that talented and clearly not-smart President, than we are toast. Because when the Klingons come, what is going to happen? If the Vulcans come we will be okay, because they believe in Infinite Diversity in Infinate Combinations.
Life is full of contradictions. As a pediatrician I worry about children being exposed to too much screen time, as this has been shown to disrupt sleep and has replaced some of the time children are interacting with real people or moving their bodies. Social Media has been a conduit for child exploitation as well, as adults who are evil-doers have made contact with children through the different platforms. Yet at the same time, Dr. Plastic Picker is a social media Instagram creature. I exist because of social media, Facebook and Instgram, although I think my heart belongs on this blog and in clinic. How can your social media semi-savy pediatrician advise you to limit your social media?