Tuesday, November 17, 2009


There used to be a time when I wanted another baby. I would think of my life as a mother and refuse to believe that that chance to cuddle a baby was over for me. And I would hide the sadness by feigning relief at infertility. That was years ago. Evan was 3 or 4 years old: still young, but undeniably growing up on me. About 5 years ago. But it never happened, and I just assumed that God forgot.

I always said I wanted to be a doctor. I guess secretly I never believed it could happen. But then something crazy happened, and I made the first step that was more of a leap of faith. And then came progress. And before I knew what was happening, everything I have always wanted was right there within my reach.

I did that for myself. Suddenly the idea of Evan being an only child wasn't so bad. It meant I could have everything I wanted: a career in medicine, a husband I love, being a mother. I didn't have to sacrifice a thing other than sleep and some elbow grease. Perfect.

But God, if He or She exists, does have a sense of humor. Immersed in my world of school and work, I never noticed that my boobs hurt that badly until one day when I stopped to pay attention. So I took the test that had nothing to do with pre-med, and it was positive before I could even put it on the counter to wait the requisite three minutes. Of course it had to be wrong, so I took another. Same result. So I called a doctor and got orders sent to a lab, just to be sure. Yes. We are having another baby.

I was completely in shock. Not according to plan. Evan will be 9 about two months after this one is to be born. Then I thought about how I was almost done. About applying to med school with an infant in tow. About another mouth to feed. And I was upet.

But nature took care of that. Over the weeks, as my belly first turned softer, then started to firm with the swelling of new life. And I saw the flutter of a heart beat, strong and persistant, on a screen. Saw the smile light John's face and the excitement flicker in Evan's eyes. And suddely, my outlook changed.

I get to try it all again. I get a chance to amend the errors I made with Evan, as we parents do sometimes. I get the last chance to be the perfect mother. To smell thebuttermilk breath of a newborn and feel the flutter of batting eyelashes against my cheek. I get to sing lullabies again without anyone insisting they are too old for them. I get to witness first steps and first words again. To hear a baby's giggle. To buy those tiny clothes and smell baby lotion.

So considering names, I go for meaning and not trends. And my first inclination is the Emily I have always wanted. But then I see Amelia's meaning: work, strain, effort. And I know that this is the one. But what for a boy? John and I could not agree. Until, at the very end of the alphabet, I found one that brought tears to my eys.

The meaning of Zachary: God remembered.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Surviving H1N1

Where in the Hell have I been lately?

Well, Organic Chemistry is trying to kill me, I swear. And I have been working like a dog thanks to the pesky H1N1. I havemore updates later, but those will come unde separate cover...

What is it like to be a respiratory theapist in the throes of an early and horrendous flu season? "Suffocating" would be the first word I would choose. Everyone with a cough is in droplet precautions, which means I have to mask up before entering just about any room in the hospital. And we have gotten so out of hand with it! I had a vent patient who was known to have aspiration pneumonia. He had been on the vent for weeks when I went to treat him a few days ago. Imagine my surprise when I see a large "Droplet Precaution" sign on his door in the ICU. Why? Because he has pneumonia, we assume he has swine flu. Ridiculous.
Another example: I was working the ER the other night. The doctor was ordering my services for everyone. After about 5 unnecessary breathing treatments, I asked why a patient in with nausea/ vomiting with 100% clear lungs would need it. His response? Well, I think she has H1N1, so she may wheeze in the future. Again, ridiculous.
People are so panicked. Checking into the ER for sneezing, literally. Entire families checking in together. The ER's are clogged with this stuff, limiting access to care for people who need it most.
It irks me in a big way.
I know the flu sucks. I also know a new strain of anything is scary. But if you are healthy and just having manageable symptoms, there is nothing that can be done for you in the ER that cannot be done at home. So stay there. Tylenol works for fevers, Gatorade and Jell-O work for dehydration. And these are all infinitely cheaper than an ER bill.