Monday, January 16, 2017

When Things Aren't Going Well at the Hospital

In the past, I've written about my husband's role as Chief of his surgical department. While you may think this is fantastic and full of bullet points to put in the "Pro" side of a list; really, it's not so wonderful. At this point, the "Con" side outnumbers its counterpart.

I mean, seriously, I'm beginning to realize the only thing Shondra Rhimes hit nail on the head in Grey's Anatomy, is that the Chief is always under stress. Don't believe me? Here's my proof... simply Google Dr. Webber and the majority of images are much like these...

Angry and tired, or, "I can't believe you pushed that case on a partner when you have open OR time."
Disbelief, or, "You're getting paid a full-time wage, you're expected to work a full-time schedule."

 Simmering Anger, or, "Don't you ever talk to me like that again."

Schedule inequality, or, "Why the hell am I Chief and carrying the largest amount of patient volume?"

 Shock, or, "Are you seriously hiding in the bathroom with the reading material, while we are being overrun by patients?"

And, ultimately, it's sad and lonely at the top, because no one likes the person who has to lower the boom.

There are hardly any happy photos of Chief Webber until you hit these...

"Oh, thank my lucky stars. I only play a Chief of Surgery on TV!"

"I get my scrubs from wardrobe, not Aramark!"

James Pickens, Jr. is a lucky man. He only plays a Chief. In reality, he's not being squished like an overly-tall sandwich waiting to be devoured by budget croonies, having to justify every move of his department to his higher-up (oh, puh-leeze, don't let me get started on the hospital higher-ups)

I'm just going to say it... there's dead wood in Doc H's department. I'm telling you, there's nothing worse than having a lazy surgeon for a partner.  For Pete's sake, don't become a surgeon if you really don't have a passion for surgery. 

And, *sigh*, here's the deal. Everyone know it. Even Dr. DeadWood knows he's dead wood. Yet, he doesn't seem to care that he's: weighing down the department, causing stress to all his partners, being incredibly rude and unfair, creating a hostile work environment by spreading lies and untruths, and costing his partners and his department money

Despite all this, Dr. Deadwood has the audacity to believe he's being treated like a child, being told when he has to work, how he can take time off, how many patients he has to see, etc, etc. 

Um, no. It's called working a full-time job. If you don't like it, go find yourself a private practice who needs a part-time physician!!

I'm tired of Dr. Deadwood's actions bearing down on my Doc H. 

Can you tell?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I Hope You Never Understand How Lucky We Are To Have Husbands Who Are Doctors

So, here's the deal. I knew my Doc H was awesome, but not THAT awesome!

Like I've told my kids, "I hope I never have to give you advice on how to be a step-parent", I'm telling you, "I hope you never REALLY get to understand how incredibly lucky we are to have a doctor for a husband".

Confused? Let me explain.

I am absolutely, two hundred percent certain that my father would not be alive today if I was married to, let's say, an attorney or any other professional.

WE ARE SO LUCKY TO HAVE A DOCTOR IN THE FAMILY WHO CAN UNDERSTAND AND ADVOCATE FOR US WHEN LIFE TEETERS. If you do understand this like I understand this you've been through a terrible medical ordeal with a loved one, and my heart breaks for you.

My friends, I don't swear much, but when I do, it is because I cannot emphasize it any stronger. So, I tell you, this summer the shit hit the fan, and my family experienced a fucking nightmare when my father went into surgery. Not once, but twice, I knew my father was dying when Doc H CANCELED his OR cases to spend the day with us at the hospital. He never cancels. He operates with a fever. When he told me he was canceling his day, well- that was when I began to panic.

My mother, siblings, and I took turns sleeping bedside in the hospital. Even Doc H, despite his hellacious schedule, slept in a chair in ICU several nights as my father laid alive in his hospital bed thanks only to full life support. Besides the vent, we had 24 hour dialysis, no kidney function, albumin levels through the roof (liver failure), low blood pressure, tachycardia, high triponin numbers, yada, yada, yada. You get the idea. Things were bleak. It was quite evident my father was suffering. He had to be restrained; he was removing tubes. He tried to chew through the vent tube. I screamed, and with tears running down my face, I begged him, "Please, Daddy, don't chew!" {I haven't called my father "Daddy" in over 35 years. Yet, somehow, in that moment, I felt so helpless, I resorted to being his child.} His eyes and veins in his temple were popping out of his head. The doctors couldn't come up with the right "cocktail" for sedation without his BP bottoming out and his heartbeat flying too high.

Finally, through a cascade of tears and snot, I asked DocH, "How do you know when it's time to give up and stop? He's suffering!!" I'm pretty sure I would have began the campaign to disconnect my father's support if Doc H hadn't replied to me, "We owe it to your father to give him the time he needs to get through this. Things can still turn around."

We were a mess. Yet, doctors, specialists, were constantly coming by to update with new labs, questions, and changes to the plan. We were in a fog. If Doc H wasn't there, we needed two of us to fully recall the conversation and be able to regurgitate it to Doc H on the phone for advice.

I cannot understand how non-medical families make such life changing decisions without fully understanding medicine. 

Let's back up a bit...

My father's initial surgery went okay. But, without going into a longer story, he had complications on top of complications after surgery. One early morning, we found ourselves talking face to face with his surgeon, who wasn't sure if taking my father back in the OR was the right thing to do. We were faced with two options: 1- surgery, but it would be high risk thanks to new heart issues- he most likely would not survive, or 2- wait and see, but he (most likely) would go septic. Gee, let me do some risk assessment and analysis here... on one hand we have death, and on the other, -oh-look!- again, we have death. {Excuse me? Last month my father was cycling 10-20 miles a day.} 

And, here is the point where DocH swung in like THE FUCKING SUPERHERO HE IS. He made phone calls, went over labs, and convinced my father's surgeon and the other supporting surgeons there was a third option.

That is the option we took, and through happy tears, I tell you it all worked. Today (almost six months later), my father is alive and well, almost back to his pre-surgery baseline. He still has some strength to gain back and some weight to put on, but he is back to living life. And, it is in large part due to Doc H. My father knows it, I know it, we all know it. So, later, when we all thanked him, Doc H was true to his humble self, and just said, "No, it was my pleasure."

My family and I are so, so, SOOOOO LUCKY to have Doc H in our lives!! If you have a husband who is a doctor in your life, I pray you never realize how truly lucky you are, because this is a chapter of life we can all do without.

And, to Doc H... I know you'll get around to reading this someday.. no words, just tears (you know the ones) of sheer happiness, gratitude, and love. YOU are my Superhero.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Blogger Derailed, or, What Brought on My Writer's Block

I started this blog January 12, 2012... almost 4 years ago. For two years I wrote religiously; little could stop my blogging habit. I had plenty to say and did so without regard. Never once, had I experienced writer's block.

Then, a funny thing happened- I discovered some of my daughter's friends (who were interested in nursing school), began following this blog and it's social media accounts the summer of 2014.

I panicked. My anonymity has allowed me to write the truth. Anyone close to us and who read the blog would be able to connect the dots.

I did what any sensible blogger would do. I blocked them and (temporarily) deleted the entire Beau Hunk series despite it being the most popular story line. I admit, it chipped away a little at my blogging spirit a bit, but I continued blogging.

Then, in the Fall of 2014, a terrible thing happened- so terrible I said to the male voice on the phone, "This can't be real. Someone is trying to pull a prank on me. If you really are a Sheriff, give me your name and I will call the station and talk to you." I called the station. They connected me with him right away. It was all real, heartbreaking, devastating, confusing, and subsequently has driven a wedge in my (normally close-knit) extended family.

In early 2015, I spend more time sitting in a courtroom than any one person ever should unless you are employed by the court or are an attorney. There I sat, as my family was represented on both sides of the case. I was, and still am, Switzerland. I don't understand what happened. I don't have the whole story. I have so many unanswered questions. I don't know what to write. So, I wrote nothing and my blog went silent and for the first time, I fully realized I was suffering from writer's block.

Then summer of 2015, brought more heartache as we quickly and dramatically lost a beloved member of the family to lung cancer (she never smoked). Her passing brought on more issues, questions, and family drama. As that wasn't enough, because she was a bit of a public figure, we had to hold a public memorial attended by dignitaries and some high profile people. I spent the rest of the year accepting posthumous awards on her behalf. It was bittersweet, but also sucked the life out of me.  All this activity brought about a seat on a Board of Directors. I am proud and happy to be continuing her legacy. But, my blog still laid silent.

Then, my closest cousin, the one person who I can consider a sister, was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. I was upset and angry; yet, I just stared at my blank post page with no words. My blog remained silent.

Then in April 2016, my father went to the ED with what we thought was kidney stones. I'm going to make a very long story short here... Whipple done, complications ensued. We spent eight weeks in the hospital,  in and out of ICU, time spent on life support, round the clock dialysis, liver function practically nothing. Medically speaking, my father should have died two times over. Doc H even claims his full recovery is nothing but a miracle. My father is a pancreatic cancer survivor! Yet, still, my thoughts locked up in my head, and my fingers froze on the keyboard. My blog was to remain dormant.

Then, one of our girls was admitted to the hospital with an infection. Doc H had the chief of every department working on her case. I can't tell you how crazy it makes them all when they CANNOT figure out the cause of an infection. I spent another week in the hospital at her bedside (with her mother!). Surely, that would open the locked blogging gates- but, no- I still could not write a thing and my blog laid in its own type of life-support.

Then, one of our son's (he's in high school now) classmates and friend died in a horrific car accident right after school one afternoon. I can't even think about that tragedy. I will never write any more on it.

Then, the day of the election, we learned my beloved sister-in-law was ill and had been admitted to the hospital. Next day, we are told she has stage 4 (aggressive) breast cancer. She is receiving treatment and with broken hearts, we pray for her.

There is more, but I cannot write it. This is enough. I am trying my best to revive this blog and overcome my writer's block. I simply don't know where to start. There is so much compiled in my brain. But, this is a start.

This is how this blogger derailed.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

It's Christmas...yay.

It's Christmas.

The tree is up. LB (now a tall, high school junior) strung the exterior lights. The stockings are hung. I've shopped, wrapped, planned menus for Christmas Eve dinner and Christmas Brunch. I'm gearing up to grocery shop, cook, clean house, and somehow still manage to make myself look as magnificent as I can get (despite being fifteen pounds overweight) for the social media holiday photo.

DocH is OFF this holiday.

Notice there is no exclamation point after that sentence. Subtext reads: He won't be at the hospital, but he will be on his hospital laptop catching up on charting, administrative duties, etcetera, while I run around in the kitchen like a woman with her hair on fire. I've come to learn and accept there is no true OFF with my DocH.

It's okay.

He will be there to eat with us, he will be there to toast with us. He will be there to open gifts, play some games, and he will bring life, laughter, and love to the table like only he can.

I'm gearing myself up. Who's gearing up with me?

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Today Marks the Day

Today marks the day.

Exactly a dozen years ago, at almost this exact moment I type, my life was spared.

It was spared by a skilled, intelligent, young surgeon who took his time to listen to me, was confident enough to ignore other surgeons, and took care of the business at hand when others weren't willing to deal with my "incredibly rare" situation.

Dressed for success in hospital gown, blue drapes, and IV tubes as accessories, my surgeon asked me how I was doing.

"Fine," I said. "Did you get a good night's sleep?"
"Yes," he replied. "Are you ready for this" he asked.
"Yes," I said.  "Don't cut anything you're not supposed to."

And with that, he chuckled as I counted backwards from one hundred and fell asleep.

This morning, I opened my eyes and said, "Thank you."

Monday, June 22, 2015


I'm just going to say it.

Despite a week of vacation, Doc H is exhausted and I'm exhausted. It's our first day back at work and obviously one week off was simply not enough.

Life at the hospital has been rough the last couple of years. We've been down a surgeon for two years, and during this time his patient population has multiplied thanks to ACA. Simply put, it's worn him down. He comes home with dark circles under his eyes and his tall physique a bit slumped over from the weight of his lead vest. Swirl in his administrative duties and daily life is an unreal, nonstop, full boar, circular race to a finish line, which quite frankly, doesn't exist.

And, here I am at home, doing it all solo, and feeling terrible that my husband is so damn tired. I'm simply exhausted of all the exhaustion.

But, you know me... I'm always trying to find a bright spot in this blender of life.

August will be an exciting month! Our third daughter will be heading off to university and Doc H's newest hire will be joining the team! I'm praying his work load will lessen and we can enjoy some time to breathe during a normal work day.

A simple, daily lunch break would be a nice place to start.

Monday, May 11, 2015

And Every Now and Then, Being A Doctor's Wife Comes in Handy

I've spent the last year worrying so intensely that Daughter #3's driving abilities were going to send her to the ER that I now own deep, permanent furrows across my forehead.

And, yes, in one year she's managed all the following:

  • one speeding ticket
  • one trip to traffic court
  • one round of traffic school
  • two calls for roadside assistance for locking the keys in the car
  • one call for roadside assistance for leaving the lights on, and killing the battery
  • one totaled car (it was such a cheap car, it just took one fender bender to "total" it - no injuries- THANK GOD!)
  • one hit-and-run (she was rear-ended in our *beautiful* '97 minivan), the guy ran, she (here's what kills my nerves) ran him down, and pinned him in a parking lot.

Apparently, my girl has ballz.

Given this information, you must understand my incessant need to always have my phone handy, right?

Well, the other night I get the phone call from her just as I sat to dinner with some high school friends. Some of us hadn't seen each other for over five years. Our water glasses had just been served. Only her voice on the line allowed me some room to breathe.

She states, "Mom? Okay, I'm just calling to let you know where things stand."
"What's wrong!!!"
"I needed a study break, so I rode my skateboard around the block and fell pretty hard and bumped my head. I have a little bit of a headache. My butt really hurts.... and my phone took a bad hit."
"Okay, is that it?"
"Well, my vision in pretty blurry."

I practically had to verbally assault her to convince her a trip to the ER was necessary. To rush things along,  I instructed her to have her older sister drive her to DocH's hospital and I would meet them there.

As luck would be, Doc H was on call for his service, so he wasn't able to meet us in the ER. He did say he would try to finish up and come meet us down there at some point.

Fine. I get it.

At check in, we flashed our insurance card. We were escorted to a room right away.

A nice, young resident took care of her evaluation. He did a good job, but I wasn't completely sure about his call to forgo a CT. By this time, my daughter is crying and can't stand up due to dizziness.

So, I insert this, "Thank you so much Doctor. My husband works here and he insisted I bring her in."

He begins to fumble through her chart, asking if he might know my husband.

I answer, "Dr. ________, Chief of __________ Surgery? Do you know him?"

"Oh, YES! I'm going to get [my attending] to come in and take a look at your daughter."

And that's when DocH entered the room and took over.

It's nice when (after all we go through) being a doctor's wife comes in handy.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Because Waiting Does Nothing

The goal in a young doctor's wife is clear. It even has a specific milestones and dates. Survive medical school, internship, residency, and fellowship to enjoy the payback of that first REAL paycheck.

But, during those tumultuous years, life happens. Life happens fast. Marriage, learning to deal with one another's quirks, learning how to deal with the stressors of medical training, education and careers are put on hold, babies come along who cry, poop, vomit, and also love, bills and debt accumulate, family birthdays are attended solo (even wedding and funerals), vacations are skipped, and the other parents at school assume you're divorced, because your DocH has never been able to attend any school function. 

And, all that is meet with a stiff upper lip, because of the mutual understanding of medical training rigors... and the knowledge that it will all be *over* one day when training ceases. So... we wait.

But, let me warn you, dear friends, for many of us it NEVER ends, and money, unfortunately, doesn't bring happiness.

Sure, the hours get better. He is home for a late dinner. But, he spends his free time in front of the computer charting or attending to the "business" medicine. If he is truly type A and has that desire to climb to the top of whatever mountain stands before him, he will always be attending dinner meetings, writing papers, piloting programs, joining committees, boards, directing leadership groups, and attending conferences. Whether he's building a practice or climbing the hospital's administrative ladder, his focus will always be up rather than down, in the here and now. 

*It* always continues. I came to this realization over the last couple of years, and like many med school wives, I simply shifted my focus down the med life timeline. For me, that meant looking towards retirement which is just over a decade away.

But, even that was wishful thinking. 

I've come to peace with the realization DocH will never fully retire, he may slow down, he may not work full-time, but he will never fully relinquish his life and love of medicine. 

My point? Let's all stop waiting and just get on with our lives as best as we can. Let's support them and love them, but let's not forget to support and love ourselves in this journey. Let's not forget to feed ourselves with whatever energizes us, and nourishes our souls so we may bring happy to our lives, our marriages, and our families, because waiting does nothing for us.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

TBT: The Beau Hunk Update

*Originally posted March 2012*
  -Click here for the first installment of the Beau Hunk saga
Sometimes, as a mother of teen girls, you are simply left shaking your head. There are no words, no comfort a parent can offer or give a teen daughter who seems to flourish in her own drama. In your heart, you want to help the pain go away, however any efforts will be deemed as "butting in" and "none of your business". Teens. Gotta love 'em.

So what's a (step)mother to do? Stand aside. Watch from the shadows. Text "love you"s and make small talk to avoid the big, bad, ghostly Beau Hunk who's sitting in the middle of the room.

Event #1: Beau Hunk still has not left for boot camp. He's still here. Here's where the miscommunication took place... Hubs and I were told he was leaving for boot camp. To us. that means a flight directly to the military check-in. Pardon us for misunderstanding. Apparently, in teen language, it means he was flying out to spend a couple of months with his father before boot camp. Our bad.

Event #2: The night before "shipping out" to his father's, father and son had an altercation over the phone. Beau Hunk's father cancelled the airline tickets. No visit. At all. Yeah, he's not winning Father of the Year, but lucky us! We get to enjoy the turmoil Beau Hunk inflicts on D2 for two more whole months. We are all certain it will be a pleasurable 61 days.

Event #3: The young couple is blissfully happy for a brief period.

Event #4: Beau Hunk breaks up with D2 for the 17th time. De-friends both her and D1, so neither of them have access to his FB account. Brilliant on his part. His FB page is completely public. Regardless, D2 is devastated. The walls in our home shook as she grieved her loss. Again.

D2 is hopeful the relationship is once again salvageable. She is still wearing the promise ring. After all, why not go for round 18? Where's the harm in that? It seems to be the cycle of teen drama.

I can't wait for May.

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