Sunday, December 29, 2013

My Kids

Future doctors take care of the doctor.  I love my kids so much.  Sometimes they really know how to drive me bonkers but being their mom is the best part of my life.  Sweet dreams my loves.  I'm proud of each of you and so thankful you chose me to be your mom!  Capt E you are so funny and have such a great mind for wondering what makes things work and trying to make things better.  Gigi you are beautiful, hand working, and so sweet about taking care of everyone.  Peach you light up a room with your personality and spunk, you are a joy to all you meet.  Cheetah you are a whirlwind of terror but also delight.  You are so inquisitive and bright with a twinkle in your eye that makes everyone smile.  I know God gave me the world when he gave you guys to me.  I wish I was a better mom because you guys deserve the best.  All my love, mom.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Science and My Daughter

In an effort to curb our Christmas down this year I suggested that rather than buy family gifts for each person in the family we exchange names, and since I'm the self appointed boss of this family they all agreed.  Gigi and Capt E were excited because I gave them money to spend at the Santa shop at school.  A few days before Christmas Dr. J had a post call day when he'd gotten a little sleep the night before and wanted to go to Toys R Us to shop for his person Gigi.  He dragged me along and we looked at everything in that entire store.  We were on the science aisle for awhile where we looked at a mineral collection and a bug collection that we thought Captain E would probably like at another time, argued with Peach that she could not have a worm farm because I'm certain tiny T would find a way to dump it all over the floor, and I complained that they no longer carry full chemistry kits but instead have broken them down into kits that only do one or two experiments.  Then we moved on.  We looked at pink legos, and dolls, we looked at animal stuff, and finally ended up on a craft aisle where I showed Dr. J five or six things she'd like and he picked one.  Then we started walking back down the science aisle and a light bulb moment happened for me.  "J, why when we were on this aisle did I not think Gigi would like anything here?"  "I don't know," he said.  "I brought us here because I thought she might."

I can't really explain how disappointed I was with myself.  I read articles on how we need to spend time encouraging more kids into science and math, especially girls since in school we tend to encourage them away from those fields.  In our home, I'm actually the one who has the BS degree, while even though Dr. J is the doctor, he actually did a BA in Middle Eastern Studies.  Even though I'm a stay at home mom, I still think about science a lot.  This year I actually started keeping a record of when we are sick so I'd have a control year of data so that I could test the effectiveness of different things in trying to curb our illnesses.  I'm always wondering about why things are the way they are, then thinking up a hypothesis and a study to test it, and then having to remind myself I stopped at my BS and I'm going to be staying at home for the next 16 years.  With the kids I have a big book of experiments that we will pull out occasionally and for years now I've been nurturing Captain E's interest in science.  In fact this year one of his presents was a circuit board, but my big present for Gigi was an American Girl Doll.  I loved that doll and don't think is a bad gift, but it just bothered me that I've never really singled her out to encourage her in the same way I do Captain E.  This is what I was thinking about in the aisle when I realized I'd looked at everything there with just Captain E in mind, but hadn't even thought of how the girls would feel about it.  So we searched the aisle and found a crystal making kit we thought she would like and then I realized we should probably buy Peach that worm kit as well.  I don't know what the future holds for my children, but I do think that while it is my responsibilty to encourage their interest I also need to try to expose them to the most things possible so that they will have a nice broad base of experiences from which to decide what they really want to do with their lives in the future.  So here is to trying to do better, more science for ALL the kids. Now who wants to help me with the math part, because besides statistics, math has never really been my friend?

Monday, December 23, 2013


Blackfish poster
My sister insisted that I watch this.  We are a family of documentary lovers and when we find a good one we like to watch it together so that we can discuss it.  I was reluctant.  When we watched The Cove I didn't sleep well for weeks.  Even now I can't go to the zoo without feeling guilty.  But today with Dr. J working I decided to watch it.  If you ever want to go to Sea World again without guilt I suggest you don't watch.  Spoiler alerts: You get an inside look into how the whales were captured.  Let me give you a clue, it is not good.  You witness whale on whale aggression, how they are separated from family members(I cried), how the trainers are given a lot of misinformation and how in the end the combination of stress, aggression, and lack of knowledge leads to major safety hazards.  Orca are a beautiful, highly intelligent creatures.  For our own entertainment we have put them and ourselves into highly dangerous situations.  It is a pity that in an attempt to get closer to them and enjoy them better we have essentially created a situation that is a tragedy.  

Congratulations to Scott and Aaron

I don't know if you've heard about this story in Utah right now, but a federal judge struck down Utah's Amendment 3 which said that marriage was only legal between a man and a woman.  The state is currently rushing to have a stay put on the ruling before they can appeal in a higher court, but in the mean time same sex couples in the state have been flooding county offices to get licenses and to get married.  One of the more famous people has been Jim Dabakis, a Utah state senator, and his partner Stephen Justensen who were actually married by the Salt Lake Mayor but the marriage more personal to me was the one of my college friend Scott to his long time partner Aaron.  I've been following their saga via facebook texts.  On Friday they left work early and ran to the country office only to not make the cut because the line was so long.  On Saturday they were going to try to get in at Weber County but the office suddenly announced it would not be performing marriages.  They knew there was a very short window of opportunity to get married this morning before the state tried to push the stay through and Scott spent much of Sunday trying not to worry, but to hedge their bets they got in line at 3 am my time...1 am theirs.  At 5:49 their time they posted pictures of themselves freezing outside.  At 6 am they were finally inside.  At 9:50 am their time we got the post that they were now married.  I am overjoyed for them.  We are talking about a couple that celebrated their 8th anniversary just two months ago.  What a marvelous Christmas gift this was for them, as well as the many other couples who were able to join them this day.  I hope people don't think that this is some kind of political stunt.  We are talking about a couple who have been together, loving each other, taking care of one another for almost a decade.  These are not people who get married just to try and score political points. These are people who get married to make a personal point.  When I married Dr. J in that same state, I was a dingbat 21 year old who had never lived on her own marrying a guy she'd known 6 months.  Sometimes I find it shocking that all it took was a piece of paper and $50 and someone decided that we were qualified to tie the knot.  We were just two naive kids, but somehow we've managed to make a pretty nice life for ourselves.  I have no doubt these two will do nothing less and probably much more!  Congrats to Scott and Aaron, may your life continue to be full of happiness and great blessings!!  If you want to know more, you can actually see them waiting in line along with lots of other happy couples on the online Deseret News story here.  You can also find some really wonderful pictures here, taken by Pamela Berry.
picture by Pamela Berry

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Scary Shopping Trip

Yesterday we went to the mall.  I feel totally ready for Christmas, but Dr. J who was hasn't had any time to shop really wanted to go out.  One of our stops was the mall to get this years Christmas tree ornament.  We parked at Sears and were almost out of the store when an announcement came over the speakers saying that if you would just come to a table in the back you could get a free gift.  That was all Dr. J needed, he turned around and headed back into the store with Gigi, Captain E, and carrying Cheetah, but I was holding hands with Peach and she freaked out about turning around.  So I headed out into the mall to the ornament kiosk.  We looked at every ornament on the cart and still Dr. J was gone.  We sat down on some couches and Dr. J told me he was watching a slicer infomercial.  Next thing I know I see him at the front of the store, Cheetah on his shoulders, Captain E and Gigi and he's carrying a slicer in his hands headed for a cashier.  We sat a few minutes longer and then I see a man walking out of the store.  There are a couple of people kind of walking around him but I'm not entirely sure they are with him, in fact I sort of had the vibe they weren't.  He's carrying a little girl in his arms and her coat is the same color as Cheetah's, and as I watch him for a second longer I think, "Man that girl really looks like Cheetah," and then a second later I realize it is Cheetah.  I jump out of my seat and start running toward them.  "Cheetah," I yell out my hands reaching toward her.  A woman on the side of him says, "That women is her mother."  I grab her from his hands and he says to me, "She was walking around in the store by herself."  I murmur, "Thank you".  And then I turn toward Peach to make sure she is still sitting on the chair I just vacated.  I also reach for my phone to call Dr. J and as him if he realized Cheetah was missing, and in this moment the man is gone and the groups on either side of him are gone.  But as I'm talking to Dr. J my mind is whirling and my hands start to shake, because it hits me like a ton of bricks, why was he walking out of the store?  If you found a baby wandering around in a store, wouldn't you look for her parents in the store, take her to the cashier, look for a security guard in there?  Those would be the logical choices.  What you wouldn't do is walk out of that store?  Who would walk out of the store?  And then there is the fact that he just handed her off to me when I jumped up yelling her name.  There is no way that he could have known I was her mother.  I hadn't been in the store with them for over a half an hour.  He had no way of knowing who I was or that I was sitting right outside the door.  He just knew that I'd called a name out and grabbed her from his hands and he disappeared.  It was crazy and it freaked me out, I mean really freaked me out.  When Dr. J and I talked about it later he freaked out.  He told me he had just put her down for a second so that he can purchase the slicer and when he looked back down she was gone. I really feel like if I hadn't seen her being carried out of the store she may have been gone forever.  I don't have any proof of this but it just seems so off to me.  I'm so grateful I found her.  Many prayers of thanks to heavenly father for that one.  Can we all agree I really need to buy that monkey leash!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Transmormon Documentary

My brother-in-law, Travis Low, makes documentaries with his besties and movie making partners, Torben and Marissa Bernhard. Last year they released the documentary Boomtown that won several awards which was super exciting.  This year they just released this movie Transmormon.  It gives you a brief look into the life of Eri, formerly Ed, and her family as they come to the realization that she is transgendered, as she decides to have a sex change, and as she tries to find a place for herself within the Mormon church.  I watched it last night and was really impressed.  It is a super well done and gives you a touching glimpse into something rarely talked about within our culture.  Well done Bernhard-Low team!!!

You can find the video here.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Married to Medicine

Are you sick of post about my miscarriage?  Well this will probably be the last one for a long while.  Today I went to my first appointment with my new OB/GYN office.  They got me in within a week.  I was chatting with one of the nurses about how my other office had been so reluctant to see me and she told me how awful she thought that was.  Then she told me that one of their OBs had just made an unexpected move out of state and so they had all their nurse practitioners working five day weeks until they could get another OB in so that their wait times wouldn't be outrageous.  For those of you who don't work in medicine, 5 day work weeks for nurses, even nurse practitioners, is not the norm.  Anyway I appreciated it.  Everything is looking better.  On Friday I finally passed that last little bit, that they thought was a blood clots.  It wasn't.  It was tissue.  I saved it in a plastic bag to confirm with Dr. J. when he got home.  He was like "I'm both fascinated and also kind of grossed out."  Thanks sweetie.  Once that was gone, things got almost instantly better physically for me.  The new office is really nice and the nurse practitioner even carried Cheetah down the hall when I went to go get my blood work done to confirm with numbers that everything was good.  They also decided to do a sugar level test since she felt my sugar level had been a little high when they tested me.  The girls and I saw Dr. J for lunch today and when I told him all about my appointment and mentioned the blood sugar test his eyes got a little wide, and he said, "What was you numbers."  "100, not fasting."  Then he started to laugh.  "That my dear, is fine."  (I looked it up online, because that is just the kind of girl I am and of course he's right.)  Being married to medicine, when a second opinion weather you want it or not is just a meal conversation away :)

Speaking of medicine, Dr. J had his annual review this week.  His chair told him that he is doing well enough on the in-service exams that he can pass his boards without worry.  His advice is that rather then wait until graduation or taking them separately he take both sets of boards, his internal medicine and his pediatric boards in February at the same time.  He said to Dr. J, "The only downside...this is going to cost you a ton of money."  I looked it up today, $3630 dollars to be exact, just for exam fees.  You know the saying, you have to spend money to make money...well right now I feel like we are just in the whole spend money phase :-/

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dealing With Health Care Providers During My Miscarriage

Be forewarned that this post is sort of TMI.

When I found out I was pregnant with our fifth child I was at a real loss as to where to have the baby.  With Cheetah I had driven to a hospital downtown where she could be delivered by nurse midwives in a birthing tub...of course that's not what happened, she was delivered via c-section by an old grizzly man and a resident 11 weeks early but it was for the midwives I'd been driving downtown for all my appointments and paying for parking.  The ideal new choice for me would have been to have been at the hospital five minutes from my house.  It is fairly nice, has a level three NICU if something should go wrong, and the parking is free. There was only one problem, Dr. J and I had decided that five babies was our limit and since I was going to have to have a c-section anyway (the old grizzly man had to cut my uterus in a T with each cut going twice as long as normal because Cheetah had lodged herself in, and I'd be really hard pressed to find anyone being willing to do a vbac for me.) it was the perfect time to get my tubes tied. Originally Dr. J was going to do the big V, but the second he saw an opportunity to get out of that, he was all over it.  The problem, that super nice close hospital starts with a Saint...and so I'd have to go someplace else to get my tubes tied after I had the baby which just seems ridiculous, why not get a two for one surgery?  So we started looking at other hospitals. The next closest hospital to us could do the tubal but is really tiny and only has a level two NICU.  After our experience with Cheetah that made Dr. J nervous.  The next closest was the ones for parking.  And then after that is this huge hospital on the North side of town that is totally lovely, like spa lovely, but is so far away that it just didn't seem that practical, especially if something were to go wrong.  So I was in a dilemma, one that left me at ten weeks still debating who I wanted to see through this pregnancy.  Finally I just decided to go downtown and my friend Anita, a resident I met during my previous birth, had sent me a list of her top three favorite doctors who serve that hospital.  I'd decided I was going to go with the Mormon guy because I figured at least with him I wouldn't have to explain the fifth baby in my belly, but before I made the call I started to bleed.

So I called the ob/gyn office that is connected to my family practice doctor.  I had initially rejected them because they deliver at the Saint. hospital and at the too small hospital but as it became obvious this wasn't just some spotting, I knew I wasn't going to have to choose between either.  Unfortunately when I called their office they gave me the run around.  "Well is there really any point in you coming and seeing us if you aren't really going to be pregnant?"  "What?" I was thinking, "does your office not say OB/GYN...even if I'm not pregnant shouldn't I be able to come in for girl problems, and stuff coming out of my body in my opinion constitutes a girl problem?"  Meanwhile the two front office staff girls (the one on OB and the one in family practice) chatted about it, asked a doctor walking by and finally told me I need to come in to get lab work done to confirm I was having a miscarriage.  So I came in and had my blood drawn and then I had to go back two days later to have it drawn again.  The second time the lab girl asked me what I was doing having the same test done.  "Um, they are confirming a miscarriage."  "Well why didn't you just go to the ER?" she asked.  When I told Dr. J about it he was furious.  "That tech has no right to ask you that, and she should not be dispensing medical advice.  If she worked in my office I'd have her formally reprimanded"  Ironically it feels like maybe I should have followed her advice.  Instead I just sat it out, bleeding at home and taking it easy.  After two weeks of passing material it seemed like the bleeding was finally starting to wane a little but then in the later half of the third week the bleeding increased again and this time it was accompanied by a horrible smell (TMI RIGHT). The internet told me to go to the doctor, my hubby told me to go to the doctor, my mother and sister told me, "GO TO THE DOCTOR!"  I debated over the weekend going to the ER, but ultimately because I didn't show any other signs of infection and because I spend a lot of time listening to my husband complain about people using the ER for primary care problems I waited it out until my doctors office opened Monday morning although I did call them over the weekend to try and confirm that was the right choice but after pushing the button to leave a message for the doctor on call was sent to an answering service that said I had to know which doctor I was leaving the message for because they cover 600.  It was not helpful.

So Monday as soon as the office opened I called and left a message explaining my whole situation and asking a nurse from OB to call back.  Nothing.  So after dropping Peach off at preschool I called the office and asked if I could schedule an appointment, again telling the whole story again.  The girl went and got my file and said, "Well it was family practice who ordered these test so lets transfer you back to them."  This was the first time I'd even heard the results of the blood work that confirmed I had definitely been pregnant (um yeah) and also the following test with dropping numbers that I was miscarrying.  So again I had to leave a message for the family practice nurse explaining the whole story.  And then I waited, and I heard nothing.  And by this point I was just really upset, because I've been going through this for weeks and I need some return to normalcy and all I really wanted was someone to make an appointment for me so I could talk to a real doctor and confirm if this was or was not ok.  So I said forgot this office and I called a girlfriend up and asked if she could watch Cheetah and another and asked if she could pick Peach up from preschool and I drove myself to the ER and again had to tell the girl at the front desk the whole story before she could start my chart.

After waiting for about five minutes they came and took me back to a room where the doctor came in and asked me to tell him what was going on.  This was the fifth time I'd had to repeat the story that morning and with the added frustration of not being able to get in to see my doctor, and my just general emotional sadness over the whole thing I was a wreck.  So I started the tale again but this time I was almost on the verge of hysteria.  Wracking sobs were shaking my whole body.  I would squeeze a sentence out and then I would sob and try and breathe for a second.  Then I would cry another sentence out.  He just sat and listened to me cry and then when the nurse came in who had to ask all the same questions he'd just asked to record in the computer he stayed and said, "You know I'm going to give you all the information you need," and then he told her the whole story while I tried to calm down.  Then he reached out and patted my hand three times and said, "You're here now, and I'm going to take care of you."  It was such a comfort to me that he took the time and it helped me relax a little as the nurses got me set up in a gown, took blood and then got an IV started.  Then the doctor was back.  "This is what I'm going to do," and then he proceeded with what was going to happen.  He did a very messy, uncomfortable vaginal exam and then sent me off to have an ultrasound.

They did two types, the traditional belly one and the inter-vaginal kind.  I cried through most of the ultrasound.  I kept looking over and could see my empty womb and even though I knew I'd miscarried, I'd seen the evidence of it in my toilet over the last three weeks, seeing that empty hole in the image just put a finality on it I just wasn't prepared for. It was as if that hole in the film was a mirror of the hole in my heart, a testament to my arms that would be empty come June.  "I'm sorry I have to press so hard," the tech said as tears silently rolled down my face.  Then they put me in a room to wait while my blood test came back and my doctor got the results from my original doctor's office.  Finally he came back, "Well," he said, "the fetus has passed and your hormone levels have dropped a lot but the ultrasound and the blood work indicate there is still a little tissue in there so I'm going to consult with OB and see what they want to do.  Also your doctors office is horribly hard to work with, so I'm going to make sure those OBs are not on call first."  Then he left the room.  A while later he came back with the plan.  "We are going to give you this drug for three days.  It will increase your cramping and so probably your bleeding, but the plus side is it will hopefully expel this last little bit of tissue.  You are going to go in Wednesday to have blood work done to confirm if this is true or not.  You will make an appointment for the end of the week with this OB who made this plan where she will confirm either the tissue has gone or do a d&c."  After three weeks of dealing with the underwhelming performance of my doctor's office it was so nice to have a plan.  Finally after a morning of fears and tears I was on my way home with a prescription, appointment card, and lab work orders in hand.  The only downside of my visit when at the very end a nurse pulling my IV asked, "So what was the verdict?"  "Excuse me?" I asked, not entirely sure what she was asking about.  "What is the outcome?"  I gave her a blank look, then tears welled up in my eyes.  "Oh," she says, "did you lose a baby?"  I just nodded.  What else was there to say.  "I'm sorry," she said as she quickly moved from the room, but besides that one interaction everyone else made things easier.  They had been efficient and caring.  They had been absolutely complete in my care and they had not released me until they knew what was wrong and had a plan for me to follow.  I was grateful for that.  I saw the physician as I walked out the door.  "Thank you," I said, "I'm sorry I've been so...emotional."  "No, no," he said, "that was totally normal." So I guess he sees lots of crying girls.

I am not looking forward to the next three days of cramping, but I am looking forward to not bleeding anymore and normal hormone levels and hopefully the end of crazy monster mom.  This has definitely been a horrible experience, one I pray I will never have to repeat.  Just in case anyone is wondering I will not be going to my doctors office again.  I'm definitely in the market for someone new, because this was a case where the primary care system really failed me but luckily there was a second system in place to catch me.

I think the take home lesson for physicians, your staff and office practices are a make or break for me.  It doesn't matter how amazing or talented you might be, but if I can't figure out who to call when I have a question on a weeknight or a weekend, you have failed.  If your office staff makes it exceptional difficult for me to schedule an appointment, you have failed.  If your staff drops the ball and forgets to call with test results, you have failed.  If it is difficult for an ER physician to get his hands on my medical records in order to better treat me, you have failed.  I say it all the time to Dr. J and now I'm going to say it here, so much of my experience with an office is not actually with the doctor, but is just as important.  Physicians take note from what I've learned from this experience or the many more I've had while taking my kids to the pediatrician or looking for a new doctor or changing doctors. You need a good website.  It needs to be easy to find and easy to use.  It needs usable phone numbers on it, forms I may need to fill out before I come to the office, and pertinent information like your hours, where you are located, and where I can call and leave a message for the doctor or nurse on call.  You need good office staff.  They need to be courteous and knowledgeable, and if they don't know what they are doing they at least need to know who to ask to figure it out.  If they are not a people person then they should not be working with people.  I realize that costumer service can be a rough gig, but I am always friendly and polite when I come in your office or call so they have no reason to take that out on me.  You need to make sure your wait times are reasonable.  You need to make it easy to get medical information, either when I move, or if I go to the hospital, or if I just need to know something that happened.  You need to make sure that billing information is clear so that I can see what I'm actually paying for and you probably should make yourself familiar with the cost of things that you regularly do because sometimes I want to know how much things are going to cost me before they actually happen.  You need to know that if your phone system doesn't start taking messages until your office opens, that those phone lines had better actually open when you do.  Sometimes I've been counting down the minutes until you open and then I start calling and nothing makes me angrier then getting that message, "Please call back when the office has opened," for a good thirty minutes after the office has opened.  A good office manager who can make this happen is a must and if in doubt find someone who can audit your office, who can come in as a "patient" and tell you where the problems lie.  The final lesson, don't ever underestimate how much just a little care and concern mean to me.  I realize you see this all day, and maybe to you it has become rote, but to me the patient or the parent of the patient this is something I'm really worried about.  Sometimes I just need to hear the words, "I'm going to help you."  Those can go a long way.    

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Advent Ornament Calendar

Two days ago a friend posted this adorable advent calendar she found at Target.  I was in love with it because it is so colorful and actually quite large, so Saturday morning the kids and I drove over to purchase it.  First we looked in the Christmas stuff but we couldn't find it.  I saw another one that you could put candy but it wasn't nearly as cute and I figured if I really wanted to I could slip candy into this was as well.  So we headed over to the craft area because I remember she had said it was a Kid Made Modern brand and found it on an end cap by the kids craft area.  In the car Captain E said to me, "Why does it say kid made on it?  Does this mean a bunch of kids in sweat shops had to cut all these little pieces out?"  "I think it's because it is something kids can help do."  (Let's hope there is no sweat shop labor going on :(  When I got it home I pulled out all the pieces and read over the single page of photographed instructions.  There were pretty easy to follow and the stiching itself made easier by the fact that they'd marked off where each stitch should be, but it was still time consuming.  LIKE IT TOOK ME ALL AFTERNOON AND EVENING!  The kids kept saying, "Are you done yet, are you done yet?"  NO, NO, NO!  Gigi kept coming over and asking if I'd get her lessons to teach her how to sew.  I think even though I didn't go with the sewing machine this year (maybe next) because my hubby and mom were too concerned she was going to sew her finger I will definitely start teaching her.  Finally at ten o'clock I finished my last stitch and Dr. J and I got all the ornaments stuck together.  Then today after church we let the kids decorate them with the included pre-cut sticky felt and jewels.  They had a blast.  It was a great way to start the month and totally worth the 17 dollars and day of aggravation although seriously I wish I'd bought in the week before so I wouldn't have been in such a rush :)  So excited to use it this year and hopefully for years to come.  Thanks for the idea Kami.  (Speaking of Kami she said she added a scripture and Christmas activity to each pocket, which is a totally great idea).  Thanks Target.  Several of the ornaments are wood creatures and they are scrumptious!  I had the bird be the first one we put up because Dr. J's grandparents Jane and Wid always have a tree in their house that they only decorate with a few birds.  While I'm not ready to pare down that far yet, let's face it I'm in the middle of my crazy time of my life, I love how simplistic and outdoors it feels.  So in homage to them and their tree we started with a little bird as well.  I'm hoping they clearance these out at the end of the season and then I can make my sister one with a whole year to get it done :)  On a totally related note all my kids say ordament instead of ornament.  It has gotten to the point where I can't even say it right anymore, but being wrong has never felt so right because seriously people, it is ADORABLE!


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