Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the month “January, 2013”

A Very Bad, No Good, Very Awful Day

This daily blog post thing is really hard when the bad days hit. I had the most unbelievably bad day today; I am so agitated I can barely sit still. I would talk about that except I really don’t want to talk or think about it any more. I wrote a blog post yesterday, but I had to publish it privately because the person I was discussing would be easily recognizable from my post, and I don’t need to get sued. Too bad. It was an interesting post. We talked about snuff films and stuff.

This morning I found out that my new job in North Dakota may be in jeopardy, due to some creative scheduling by the hiring hospital that involved them hiring four doctors instead of two.  So my two weeks work a month is cut at least in two.  I don’t know if we can get by on that money.  The locum company rep assigned to me made it sound like a sure thing that the two weeks at the end of the month was mine, and now I found out that it is all screwed up only because I CALLED HIM with some questions.  I have no idea when he had planned to let me know otherwise.

I had to go to a meeting of our two OB/Gyn practices that are being joined at lunch today.  I had to go despite the fact that my last day of work with them is in two weeks.  They made me go anyway.  The meeting was hideous.  The group across town that my group is joining spent the entire meeting bitching and moaning about problems in THEIR clinic, leaving those of us from across town wondering why we had to sit there for an hour and a half.  Eyes were rolled, names were called.  They clearly all HATE each other.   And now they hate us.  I would be so grateful because I’m leaving, but now my new job is in jeopardy.  I may have no job at all, or I may have to go crawling back to this awful old job.

I had the worst patient (with mother in tow) that I have had for MONTHS, if not years.  Put together ignorance, entitlement and sheer craziness, and you get something really awful.  The girl was complaining because her birth control was making her bleed.  She was on a form of birth control KNOWN to make people bleed – in fact – I notify patients of that when they want it put in.  We switched it out two weeks ago, and she hasn’t stopped bleeding yet (this stuff takes a while to work, people) so she demanded an appointment.  She had her mom call a few times too.  The girl postured, strutted, and burst into tears and attitude and informed me that she wanted a pill that would make her stop bleeding TODAY.  I told her if I had that pill, I would have given it to her already.  Her mom started with the major cray-cray.  “If we had done a D&C when she had her MISCARRIAGE like we SHOULD have she wouldn’t be bleeding now.  My FRIEND was bleeding and they looked and looked and then didn’t find anything and SHE had a TUMOR.  How do we know my daughter don’t have a tumor?  I want a SPECIALIST.  This girl been bleedin’ for SIX MONTHS and ain’t NOBODY should bleed six months,  And I don’t think it was them HORMONES.  There somethin’ WRONG with her.  You ain’t doin’ NOTHIN’ for us.”  I then honestly informed them that I was leaving the practice in two weeks and I would need to transfer their care elsewhere.  I also told her that the gynecologist IS the expert for this problem, and that we were doing the best we could.  They stormed out to the lobby and proceeded to throw a massive fit.  “The doctor LEAVIN’ and she don’t care NOTHIN’ about us and my daughter have a TUMOR and she won’t send us to see no SPECIALIST.”  She then started to demand an ultrasound TODAY (schedule full, sorry) and demanded to see one of my partners TODAY so THEY could send her girl to a specialist.  My partners refused to deal with the nut cases.  I got a phone call from the receptionist, who was freaking out.  What was I going to do about this scene in the lobby?  I told her to call security.  And of course, the patient is on Medicaid, which means that my tax dollars are going to support her, her pregnancies, her birth control, and her attitude.  So all afternoon, all I got to hear about was the scene in the lobby.

Now, this evening, my husband and I have to go through all the emails from the rep at the locums company so we can find things to yell at him about, because of my job getting all screwed up.  And tomorrow, I will start an entire weekend on call at a very busy hospital that is new to me, and I will probably not get to come home for days.  So I am having an awful day, and this is what I’m going to write about.  My apologies if my sense of humor seems to be lacking.

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Congratulations, It’s A Green!

Awkward much?

As an Ob/Gyn, I freakin’ love this cartoon. This moment has happened to everyone in the Ob business, way more than once. The whole issue of paternity is serious, of course, but it can also be seriously funny. We’ve all had those patients, who, on the first visit of their pregnancy, look at you and say, “So. What day did I get pregnant?” And you look them in the eye and say, “Questions about who the father is?” And they say, “Yes. So what day DID I get pregnant?” We of course are not miracle workers, but with a good ultrasound (early) confirming the due dates, we can put the conception in the range of about a week. Embarassingly enough, this does not narrow the field down sufficiently for some people.

Paternity can be established during the pregnancy, if you want to pay a thousand dollars or so and have a needle stuck in your belly to draw fluid from around the baby. We really don’t recommend this route. Amniocentesis is risky, and if you can wait until the baby is there, all you need is a mouth swab and a couple hundred bucks. You have to swab mom’s mouth, the baby’s, and at least one (preferably all) of the potential baby daddies. We find ourselves doing that a bit.

What kills me are the patients who are accompanied by their boyfriend or husband, who look right at you and tell you they need a paternity test because they don’t know who the father is. I’m looking at boyfriend/husband, and all I can think is, “I am so embarassed for you right now.” A lot of them don’t even bat an eye. They are completely and totally not impressed. It blows my mind. I had one couple who was even more memorable. The little girl announced (tongue in cheek, I assume) that when she conceived she had been abducted by aliens and given a probe, and that’s why it wasn’t her boyfriend’s baby. He sat right there with his mom and they both looked at me like, “Help me.”

Those awkward moments as illustrated in yon hysterical cartoon are a little more dicey. We’ve had plenty of caucasian couples who miraculously gave birth to an African-American baby. You can cut the air in the delivery room with a knife when that happens. Sometimes the mom gets falsely accused. If a baby is born light, and was expected to be dark, things can also get a little tense. You can reassure the family that it takes a few days for the baby’s pigment to darken. If you look at the baby’s fingers, or scrotum, or labia, you can see the darker pigment.

When I posted this hilarious (to me) cartoon on Facebook, I got a lot of comments. One person said Yellow had better watch his back. Another said Red’s color was darkening rapidly. Another one said that Blue had obviously been coloring outside the lines. But one of our Labor and Delivery nurses posted an even funnier story. She said a few years back, she was in a delivery room with a young (both 18) caucasian couple, and the baby was born and was fairly obviously Hispanic. She said the dad looked at the baby, and back at the mom, and back at the baby, and back at the mom. The mom kind of burst into tears and said, “I was really hoping it was yours, but you’re gone so much, and the maintenance man was around all the time!” The father said, “That baby is Mexican. What in the world are we going to do? Neither one of us speaks Spanish!”

Think about that one for a minute. That was the funniest damn thing I heard all day. Just had to share!

Off To The Movies

Going to the movies with my husband is always an adventure. Which is partly why I don’t go out to the movies much. This is also because I prefer to watch movies in the peace and quiet of my own home, on my own couch, minus the sticky seats, sticky floors, enormous hulking man with big hair who always sits in front of me, and ten dollar popcorn. I prefer to be able to pause and get up to pee whenever I feel like it. I like to make my own movie snacks. But lets assume, for the sake of argument, that we are going out to see a movie.

First, we must choose the movie. My husband knows his way around the IMDB website like nobody’s business. Before I married him, I had no idea that the IMDB website even existed, or what it was for. He begins skimming the reviews: “Hey, IMDB gave Murderous Zombie Apocalypse in 3D 7.4 stars!!!” Major enthusism ensues. Just not from me. We then go through the superhero movies: “Hey, Thor Part 3 in 3D is out! Isn’t that awesome?” No, that is not awesome. I was forced to sit through the first Thor movie, and the thought of there being sequels just makes me want to cry. “What about Abraham Lincoln?” Excellent, I think. The one with Daniel Day Lewis? “No, no, Abraham Lincoln the Vampire Hunter!” Of course. We finally compromise on 0-Dark-Thirty, a violent movie (of course) but nominated for an Oscar, which sounds appealing enough for me.

Next is ticket buying time. No, we’re not at the movie yet. We must buy the tickets online, from home. We must secure our seats. Then we must battle the twenty year old printer to print out our barcode to take to the theater. Then my husband decides, why waste the space to bring the WHOLE sheet? He rips the barcode out of the page and sticks it in his wallet.

My husband does not like to arrive at the movies early. He does not even like arriving at the movies ON TIME. He maintains that this is because the theater shows over thirty minutes of previews before the movie even starts. I have to agree with this, but I don’t like walking into theaters late and I kind of like watching the previews. How else would I know what movies are coming out? But despite me prodding, we always leave so that we will be about fifteen minutes late for the movie. This triggers my OCD and I get irritable.

Next, we must drive thirty minutes to get to the movie theater. There are theaters in our town, but they are dingy beyond belief. My daughter and I got stuck in one of them in a fluke downpour, and water began to cascade out of the ceiling tiles at every juncture. The employees must be used to this, because they put garbage cans under all the dozens of leaks. They ran out of garbage cans. Anyway. The theater thirty miles away has stadium seating, and a special seating section for adults over twenty one where you can order drinks, and it is all around just nicer than the ones in our town. So we hop in the car for a session of my husband’s swoopy driving. Before we leave home, he has to pee. I don’t know why he bothers because he will have to go at least three times more before the movie even starts.

When we get to the theater, we have to beg the guy at the desk to give us our tickets, because we should have had the whole page we printed out, and not just the curled up little shred that my husband chose to bring with him. Then he has to pee again. I wait in the lobby. When he gets out, we proceed to turn in our tickets and hunt down our theater. The lights are always out by the time we get there. We find our seats, and oust the squatters who are sitting in them. My husband starts to grumble about all the previews. He pokes me to make sure I’ve muted my phone. He’s the only one who calls me anyway.

Then we watch the previews and he gets all excited about World War Z, a movie ostensibly about a zombie apocalypse, which seems to be all the rage these days, which includes Brad Pitt in shaggy hair, who is some kind of inexplicable ex-Special Forces guy, who apparently has a set of skills more important than anyone else’s in killing zombies. We see another preview, this one called After Earth, which features Will Smith and his son, about their spaceship crash landing on a Level 1 quarantined planet, which turns out to be Earth. He gets excited about this too. Then it’s time to pee again – off he goes, Mr. Walnut Bladder.

The movie starts, with auditory recordings from September 11 emergency calls. The screen is blacked out. The story is told from the perspective of a CIA agent named Maya, who was instrumental in finding and capturing Osama Bin Laden. It really is an amazing movie. The movie is long, but it goes through the fascinating process of finding a ghost like Bin Laden. There are some torture scenes that are pretty intense. At the end, the invasion of the Seal team into the compound is shown, with the end results that we have all heard by now. We left the movie in an intense mood, very impressed, and discuss it all the way home. Of course, peeing was necessary before we left the theater. But that was expected. The movie was a hit. The evening was a success.

Doing Nothing, Feeling Bad

I am in hiding. It is Sunday, my almost-least favorite day of the week. I dislike it so much because of the acute pain I feel knowing that tomorrow is Monday, and I must go to work. Friday and Saturday are rapidly becoming un-favorites as well, not because I have to work but because I am supposed to work. My husband would like me to get some things done around the house.

What do you get when you have an irritable depressed person crossed with someone who has a hideous job that occupies almost all hours of the day and a lot of the nights, who has finally gotten out of work for the weekend? You get an irritable depressed person who is burned out, with zero motivation, who will do almost anything to avoid doing anything. I am basically useless on the weekend.

My favorite winter spot is the leather recliner in my husband’s office, which has the pleasure of his company plus a really toasty fireplace right at my feet. Its siren song is almost impossible to resist, combined with my humming laptop in my lap. The problem is, my husband is now acutely aware of all the hours that I spend doing absolutely nothing. And he wants me to do something. I think he feels it would be good for my sanity, and it would be much more fair than to allow him to do everything around the house.

In all fairness, I do some things. We finished all the laundry together yesterday. I wash and put away all the dishes. I spent the morning reading to our daughter, and would have spent longer doing it but my husband made us stop and do something else. I am thinking about some things to do. Granted, the house is a mess. A lot of that is due to my daughter, and it feels really futile to try and put that stuff away, because it occupies every room in the house, and if I put it away, she will just take it right back out. If I try to make her put it away, she just shoves everything under the couch, and thirty seconds later thinks she’s done. That’s a no win.

Every time I think about doing something, I just get so tired. And I just so don’t feel like doing it. I could tackle so many things. I could clean out the sunroom (but where would I put all those papers? And it’s so cold in there). I could clean out the bathroom, where there is a lot of stuff piled up. I could work on the attic, which is a perennial source of friction. All my craft stuff is up here, and my husband wants me to get rid of a lot of it. I don’t do much with it, but I don’t see parting with it either. I am a bit of a packrat, and it seems sure as I get rid of something, no matter how long that something has been sitting around, two days later I will need it for something and will be pissed that I got rid of it.

I could work on my clothes closet. There are partially assembled enamel earrings in there, waiting for me to finish putting them together so I can sell them. They are occupying all of the floor in the back. I could work on reconstructing my friend’s jewelry set, that I made for her, because she has lost an earring and needs another one so she can wear it all together again. I could work on my workshop, up in the attic, with all the copper debris, and the blowtorches, and the bits of wire where I make some of my jewelry. Or I could make some jewelry. God knows, it’s been long enough since I’ve done that.

I just have no motivation. All I know is, I have to go back to work tomorrow, in that hateful clinic, and muster up the energy day in and day out to be enthused about patients who, well, sometimes don’t enthuse me. In fact, a lot of them astonish me with their hatefulness and their demanding attitudes. What happened to all the nice people? So here I am, holed up in the attic and doing the one thing that I do make myself do: a daily blog post. I have only missed one since about July. I am not sure this will be much to read, but at least I will have done it, and if I am captured downstairs and set on a task, I will have already gotten it done and can slink off and do an unenthusiastic job on whatever it is that I have been given.

I don’t want to leave the attic, but I’m getting hungry. Of course I’m on a diet, so my husband won’t like seeing me eating either. And I am thirsty. I need something to drink. This will eventually smoke me out of the attic. Or my husband will come looking for me, realizing that I must be up from my nap and I still haven’t done anything all day. I should probably go show myself before I get nabbed. I will make a show of busying myself with something, so I can claim I did something today. Oh, the guilt. It just really gets to me. I just want to hide out and do nothing, but I know I should really be doing something. But what? Zero motivation.

OK. Deep breath. Hit publish. And hit the stairs. Go and find something to do, before something worse is given you. Bridge the time between now and when the alarm goes off in the morning, still in the dark, to force me out of bed, into the shower, into some scrubs and out the door. I need help. But if I get put on any more meds, I will be gulping handsfull at a time. I already am. The list keeps changing, but it never gets any shorter. Looking for that perfect cocktail that will make me more than a hollow person when faced with down time. Help me.

Twenty Reasons To Live In My Neighborhood

1. Doesn’t everyone want a Stepford wife?
2. Clear Christmas lights really are the best choice. For everyone.
3. Parking in your own driveway is so passe. Being forced to hide your car in your garage is much more in the now.
4. Nobody wants to drink alcohol at the pool. It’s just so boring.
5. No need to worry about the issue of religion – everyone goes to the same church!
6. Gardening is so much more fun when edging is mandatory.
7. Avoid the agony of being a unique individual – around here those people simply disappear.
8. Having the acceptable materials for a child’s playset dictated to you really simplifies your playground decisions.
9. Audible music is forbidden – thank goodness we needn’t be exposed to other’s musical tastes.
10. It’s an ego booster knowing people are talking about you every time you drive down the street.
11. Everyone gets to live on a street named after trees!
12. It’s so much fun to live with radical Right Republicans.
13. Martin Luther King Jr. was highly overrated. Why do we have a holiday for him, again?
14. It is comforting to know that the Neighborhood Association Nazis are watching your every move.
15. Uncouth people leaving their garbage bins out an extra day are brought to swift justice.
16. Everyone should have the same color fence. And the same height. With the same wood stain.
17. The mandatory $500/year fee for the Neighborhood Association is undoubtedly going towards all the best things.
18. Push mowers are so last century.
19. The country club is right next door. Who wouldn’t be happy about that?
20. Grass piles are the devil’s work.

USA Gas

I went today to my favorite gas station. And by favorite, I mean “Conveniently located across the street from where I work.” The place is run by unkempt men of the Middle Eastern persuasion, who to our eyes as uneducated Southerners appear highly suspicious and are most likely on the TSA No FLy list.

I have seen some fascinating things happen there. The place is a drive thru gas station. You pump your gas and then the four aisles funnel all together into one common exit that is the drive through portion of the store. Everything is outside. There is a small nomadic appearing inside place, but it is not really separated from the outside world by a door. We peon customers are not allowed to go in there. You have to slow down in the mouth of the outdoor shop, where all the candies and drinks and cigarettes are racked on outside shelves, and persuade the nice scary men that you have, in fact, paid for your gas. If not, they try to charge you again. They REALLY want to you to buy drinks and cigarettes. Even if you don’t smoke.

The place has been busted several times for selling alcohol to minors. Nothing beats the convenience of a drive through booze joint, I always say. And who needs that pesky ID? I have also seen all kinds of drug deals go down in that place. One car (juiced up Honda Civic covered in Bondo with aftermarket dual exhausts) will pull up and wait. A few moments later another conveyance directly out of the “Too Slow Too Stupid” series of movies will appear. One of the persons in car two will hop out and hop into car one. Clouds ensue. Then the car two punk hops back in car two, the deal is done, and they leave. There are also a lot of people putting in pocket change worth of gas. I see numbers on the pumps like “0.53” for dollar amount.

The owners of the gas station recently built a Popeye’s franchise, and they arranged the parking lot so that when you pull out of the exit of the gas station, you are in the drive through entrance for Popeye’s. How convenient is that? Hard to envision, I know, but perfectly true. They have all but put up tire puncturing strips to keep you from exiting any other way.

Most recently, today, they had a truck pulled up delivering more cigarettes and energy drinks. (Condoms too, no doubt, you can never have enough drive throughs that feature condoms). The truck was pulled up to the only exit from the gas station so, guess what? You had to put the car in reverse and drive backward around all the other patrons to exit. And if you were actually handing them a credit card at the exit, you then had to back out of there. Really, I’ve never seen a more interesting system.

They are also untrusting bastards (and who can blame them, really, given their clientele?) and cut their pumps off at fifty dollars whether you want more gas or not. I hate gas stations that do that. I drive a fine minivan, I’ll have you know, and this gas tank doesn’t mess around with any paltry fifty dollars to fill it up. We’re talking SERIOUS MONEY to get ‘er up to the top.

I also noticed today that the pumps have not been certified and inspected since 2011. I’ve never been to a gas station that had literally not seen the light of regulatory day in well over a year. I would like to call the inspectors on them, but I’m afraid the scary gas station denizens would lynch me. At any rate, there is never a dull moment over there, and I am just waiting to become the victim of a drive by (through?) shooting. I can’t stop going there though, because it is so damned interesting. And I haven’t seen the hookers yet.

The Glass Is Half Empty (And There’s Cholera In The Water)

I am examining myself and trying to figure out why I am such a pessimistic person. The immediate answer would, of course, be that I have been a depressed person for most of my life, and we are quite prone to pessimism. The slightly less immediate answer would be that I am basically a born cynic, have been since a young age, and believe that some cynical thoughts don’t count as cynical if they are true.

The longer answer is, I am a physician, and physicians are by nature a VERY pessimistic bunch. It’s ground into us early. Before medical school, it’s all about the frantic studying, and a lot of people get culled out applying for medical schools. So you’re not ever sure that you’ll get to go at all, and you have to steel yourself for that possibility.

Before you even START medical school, the pessimists get ahold of you. You are told to read House of God, by Samuel Shem, and this book tells you more than you ever wanted to know about the attitude you’re going to have. I read that book the summer before med school and cried. It’s a must read if you want to understand what your doctor is truly probably thinking, and what they’ve been through.

Then the skull fuckers get a hold of you in med school. Sub-par students try to terrify you into believing you’ll fail. You’re not sure who’s sub-par and who’s not, but once you figure it out you realize that they are the skull fuckers. They approach you before tests, regaling you with tales of how much material they’ve studied and how much territory they’ve covered. This is to trick you and frighten you into believing that you are underprepared. And if they take a test a section ahead of you, they’ll tell you horror stories about how impossible the test was, how you’d might as well give up, so you’ll be so nervous going in that you’ll do much worse. Nothing increases your view of other human beings like these moronic pieces of shit. It goes on constantly.

Once you get into the hospital, as a third year med student, you realize you are the lowest of the low. You are given jobs that not even the nurses or the orderlies will touch. At the VA, if labs were ordered, WE had to go draw them. We had to do our own EKGs and read them. We had to clean out disgusting bedsores and shotgun wounds that nobody else wanted to touch. We were woken up to do a history and physical on a patient (after the residents and the attending had already done one) who was too batshit crazy to communicate orally, and too combative to touch. The residents just laughed when they woke us up.

About this time, you start with the pessimistic magical thinking. This is the polar opposite of magical thinking where you hope for a good outcome. Around this time, you’ve learned that the worst possible thing that can happen probably will. And you’re trained to think that way. You’re paid not to miss the bad things. So you have to look for them everywhere, and expect that the patient will have the worst possible disease, the worst possible complication so that you can quickly detect and treat it when it happens. When it doesn’t happen, so much the better, but you never unlearn that negative point of view. It persistes all the way into private practice.

When you’re on call, you expect the worst. You’re all alone in the middle of the night; it is just the right time for a five hundred pound woman to come in needing an emergency c-section, which you will have to do all by yourself. You lie there in the call room and stare at the ceiling, unable to sleep because you KNOW somewhere out there is that woman with her name on you. You NEVER make plans when you are on call; the simple purchase of a movie ticket will cause a ruptured ectopic pregnancy to show up in the ER before you even get in through the theater doors. Yes, it happened to me. Fortunately they gave us our money back on the tickets. As you get older and older, and less and less optomistic, and have seen some of the truly horrible disasters that can happen in your profession, you just become more and more nervous. Every woman who comes through the door in labor – will this be the baby that dies? That one in over a hundred thousand MOMS that die on you? Every one could be the one. This haunts you so much you begin to lose all perspective.

And things like today can happen to you. The person on call (who is NOT me today – I’m on some time next week) is in charge of all the delivered patients and all the laboring patients, and all the unattached Gyn patients that come through the door. If you’re not on call, you should be immune from having your day yanked out from under you by a wayward patient. But the group across town that we’ve just joined has a rule – we take care of our own Gyn patients EVEN IF WE’RE NOT ON CALL if we’ve operated on them or if they just show up in the ER and say that they are our patient. And that’s what happened to me this morning. My husband and I made dinner plans with friends, which I never ever have time to do (not to mention, I don’t have any friends since I’ve been on call all the time for years) and which I felt perfectly safe doing, because I am not on call. But at 8:15 this morning, the OB/Gyn on call from last night called me and announced that a patient had come in through the ER, with a possible cyst or pelvic infection, she might need surgery, and because she said I was her doctor, she was all mine for the day. WTF? I had to call the nurse taking care of her. I had to order things over the phone. And I had to spend my whole lunch hour over there seeing her. The worst part was, my morning was RUINED. I was CERTAIN that the patient would need surgery this afternoon, because that would be the worst possible outcome for my day. I was CERTAIN I would be missing my dinner fun. Of course, when I went over there to see her at lunch, she wasn’t sick at all and I was able to let her go home. But the morning was spent CERTAIN that my night was ruined. And I was furious. And I still didn’t get any lunch.

So that doctor pessimism has ruined me. It has permeated every aspect of my life. I don’t know how to turn it off. And the magical thinking persists. I feel like, if I don’t think of all the possible bad outcomes, one of them will happen. And if I don’t expect to get my plans ruined – well- that’s when they will be. So this is why I’m taking some time off. I’m going to work as a travel doctor two weeks out of every month, and be off two weeks out of every month, so I can spend some time with the family and break the cycle of constant terror that something awful is going to happen. Not to say I won’t feel that way the two weeks I’m working. But at least I get two weeks free of the terror. And maybe that will be enough for me to turn some things around.

Like A Bat Out Of Hell

I guess my husband isn’t the worst driver in the world. I mean, he doesn’t have accidents (except for the one where he backed into a pole in a dark grocery store parking lot). He just has a certain personality type, type A with a dollop of OCD, and it all comes to the forefront when he drives.

He is IMPATIENT. If he gets behind someone who is going just a mile or two under the speed limit, or even a mile or two over, he will swoop around them, radiating impatience. He isn’t too cautious about which way those little dotted lines are going on the road either. If the person is going MORE than a few miles under the speed limit, he swoops around them with a derogatory blare of the horn. The horn going off never fails to startle me, and it irritates me to death. Hasn’t he ever heard of people getting shot because of road rage?

When my family comes to visit, he drives us all in the van. I wind up sitting in the very back, because my dad has to sit all the way up front because my husband’s swoopy driving makes him nauseated. It makes him so nauseated that he has to take Benadryl or Antivert to keep from getting sick. If he finds out we’re going out somewhere, my dad will medicate himself about thirty minutes before we leave. Sitting in the back is an experience, because when the husband takes sharp turns up front, you get cracked like a whip in back. I get pretty dizzy back there.

I gave up driving with him in the car a long time ago. He barks orders from the passenger seat, “No, turn there! TURN THERE! Turn there NOW!” or tells me how to navigate traffic, whom to pass, and yes, he reaches over and helps himself to the horn, so I look like I’M the one with road rage. Great. He’ll probably get me shot.

He is so anal retentive, he won’t wait through a red light. When he wants to go straight and is approaching a light that is red, he actually gets in the right turn lane, turns right on red, makes a left into some parking lot, and right back out onto the road he was on. It doesn’t even matter that the light has probably changed in the meantime. He just refuses to stop moving. He doesn’t undestand why I refuse to do this when I am driving. Which is why I let him drive. I just don’t want to hear it.

On long trips, he is always exceeding the speed limit. He complains bitterly about speed traps but blazes right through them. He’s gotten several speeding tickets since we’ve been married, and is always so irked when he gets caught. He actually drove forty-five minutes to court with photographs to try to protest one of the tickets. They didn’t buy it. He got traffic school instead. He has gotten tickets with our daughter in the car with him, and she always gleefully reports the details, what the cop said, what Daddy said, etc.

I have begged and begged him about the horn honking thing, partly because it sets my teeth on edge and partly because now that we have a daughter, I am more worried than ever about road rage and somebody pulling us over and trying to hurt us. He has improved a little bit, but I have to remind him every time he passes, “No horn. No horn.” And woe betide the unfortunate soul who takes a little long getting out of the gate when the light changes. He fumes, blares the horn, and zooms around them if he can.

And his treatment of vehicles is abysmal. It’s not that he doesn’t do oil changes and maintenance stuff, because he does. But he treats any car he is in like a rolling dumpster. Any drink or food wrapper that he is finished with gets tossed right over the back seat. When you open the door of his Explorer, cans come clanking and rolling onto the ground. It is mortifying. And he NEVER washes anything. His white vehicle is dark gray. Back in the days before we had our daughter, I had a Porsche, if he ever drove it (which he hated, because the hard “feel” of the road made his hemorrhoids hurt), he would unhesitatingly hurl coke cans into the back of my Carrera. I wanted to hurt him. Badly. I kept that car IMMACULATE.

His impatience when approaching restaurants is legendary. He doesn’t even want to wait to see if he has to wait. As we approach the front of the restaurant, he slows down just enough for me to leap out and go find out how long the wait is. I have to text him what the wait is and he’ll decide whether to come in or not. I am always hurled out of the car so fast I forget and leave my glasses on, or forget my purse in the car. And Heaven help me if I should try to walk around the FRONT of the car to get into the restaurant. He’ll just about run me over in his impatience to get out and find a parking spot.

I don’t know what else I can do. I just avoid riding with him whenever possible, and try not to think about it the rest of the time. I realize the crazy driving is just an extension of the competitive, controlling, type A personality. But I just worry that one of these days it’ll get us killed.

Lady Gaga

I have a secret, guilty pleasure. It’s not really a secret, but I don’t think I’d just mention it to anyone I met. I’m a forty-four year old Ob/Gyn with a husband and daughter. And I LOVE Lady Gaga. Just LOVE her.

I have all of her albums. Even the remix ones. I think she is an incredibly talented songwriter. And, WOW, talk about building a brand. Before I knew anything about her, I heard her deragatorily compared with Madonna. Not even close. Madonna was pretty good at branding, and has certainly hung in there a long time, but Lady Gaga just makes her look like a piker.

I love her awful fashions. They are basically just a big fuck-off to the high fashion world, and she dresses just as she likes. She dresses like she were a five year old girl who just became famous. It’s every crazy little girl’s dream of fame that she lives. That meat dress? Brilliant? Showing up for an awards ceremony in a giant egg? Priceless. That see-through thing she wore in Paris? Delightfully shocking. Yes, she is totally bawdy and over-the-top hypersexual. I will fully admit that. That is not what I am, but I enjoy her interpretation of it.

Is she a good role model for kids? Well, she does not hold herself out as a performer for kids. She is definitely a performer for ADULTS. Her clothes are raunchy, her songs are raunchy. She is the queen of raunch. And yet, there seems to be a sweet person in there. She has made herself a spokesperson against bullying, a supporter of the LGBT community, and a supporter of straight up originality. She encourages her listeners to be individuals, and not apologize for that. She has a tremendous fan base who LOVES her for that.

And her songs? Just contagious as hell. Yes, my daughter and I listen to them in the car on the way to and from school. I’ve listened to them all before I let her hear them, and yes there are some I just definitely skip. She’s not old enough for those yet. Especially the one that says, “I wanna take a ride on your disco stick.” I don’t see me trying to explain that one. We have had some very interesting Gaga-related conversations. We’ve talked about poker, and boyfriend-girlfriend stuff, and every now and then my daughter asks a question that I am just plain not sure I know the answer to. But she loves Lady Gaga’s music, and that’s just fine with me. We have sung the Telephone Song so many times we have a little routine worked out to it.

She has a new album out, Artpop, and I can’t wait to get it. I’m not really sure why I haven’t gotten out to buy it yet. I know a lot of people disparage Lady Gaga and find her to be disgusting. But there you have it. My secret guilty pleasure. I don’t let too many people know I’m a closet Gaga fan, because I live in the deep South, and people like her just don’t go over really well here.

I also follow her on Facebook. (I know, I know. Embarassing, right?) I have probably lost all respect from my readership by now. But she, unlike many performers, makes her own Facebook posts. And she seems to love a joke that’s on her. She posted a film clip of her in concert in Brazil. Someone filmed her throwing up in the middle of her song. And for some reason, instead of being embarassed and trying to hide it, she posts it herself. She found it hilarious. She also posted a conversation she had over the Christmas holidays. She was at home, with her mom and dad, and trying to persuade her mom to stop calling her Stefanie. “Mom, that’s so eighties,” she said. “Call me Gaga.” Her mom said, “Stefanie, you have been changing your name every year since you were four years old. Now cut the ends off those snap beans.” I found that just hysterical. I could imagine having that conversation with my mom, had I just become a big star and trying to get her to take me all seriously, and then being deflated by being handed a pan of snap beans. Love it.

But seriously. I highly recommend you pick one of her albums and buy it. If you like dance music you will find it just too good to resist. And she doesn’t skimp on the songs. She doesn’t just come up with one hit song and pad the hell out of the rest of the albums with duds. They’re ALL good. And she puts LOTS of songs on every album. She just can’t seem to write a bad song.

The other day I came home from the grocery store with a magazine I found in the check-out lane, all about Lady Gaga. My husband looked at me and said, “Please tell me you didn’t just buy an entire magazine about Lady Gaga.” So I said, “OK, honey, I did not just buy an entire magazine about Lady Gaga.” I caught him reading it later. I also bought a copy of her concert at Madison Square Garden. I would love to for real see her in concert. I’ll be the chubby short chick with the greying hair, loudly singing along.

Another Day And Night At The Hospital

Tonight, I am sad. I am on call, and I am all alone in the call room, which can be relaxing with a TV and a recliner and a couch and some beds in some sleep rooms, but I am well past relaxed and on to lonely. I have already delivered one baby today. The mama didn’t speak very much English, which didn’t lead to very much interaction in the delivery. It was her third baby and she only had to push a couple times, so it didn’t take very long. I have another baby on the way, but this lady is taking her time a bit. I am waiting on her to get her epidural so I can break her water, since contractions hurt so much more when the water is broken.

My loneliness was broken pleasantly by a visit from my husband and daughter, who joined me downstairs in the cafeteria for dinner. The cafeteria was actually closed, which was kind of lonely too, but they had brought barbecue from a nearby barbecue place and we had good chicken and turkey and salad. My daughter had a chicken leg and waved aloft some veins and pinkish meat from it to try to gross us out. Unfortunately, they didn’t get to stay all that long. My daughter was out of school for Martin Luther King Jr. Day today, but she has to go back to school tommorrow, so they have to go home and get her a shower and get her in bed.

I spent some pleasant time napping today here on the couch, and some time reading a book that turned out to be pretty depressing. It was a memoir (I’m in a memoir phase these days) about a woman who grew up with a pushy stage mother and a sister who died of alcoholism. When I finished the book I felt pretty stark. I wandered out to the Labor and Delivery desk in search of some company. I discovered that neither of my inductions were doing much. Hence the epidural and the breaking of the water.

I will sleep here tonight because this is a busy enough hospital service, with us taking care of the patients of seven doctors, that if I go home, I will surely be called back. I live quite a few miles from the hospital, and I do not enjoy the drive, day or night. Especially at night when I would rather be sleeping. That way, if someone comes screaming in in labor, they will not deliver the baby without me, because I will be here.

I also spent some time today texting my friend, who lives in a city not too far away. Her sixteen year old son impregnated a fourteen year old, and now they have a baby. They are not even dating anymore. My friend is concerned about the liability of statutory rape, since apparently the girl’s family is beyond pathologic and there is no telling what they may do. She is trying to spend time with her grandson (and she was SO not ready to be a grandmother) and make his life better. The girl’s family has apparently decided that my friend’s family is “rich”, so there is no telling what they may do to try to take advantage of what they see as free money. That kid has really gotten his mom into a lot of trouble. She is NOT happy.

I have eaten a large quantity of Atkin’s bars today, since I am on the Atkin’s diet. The barbecue chicken salad is the only real meal I have had all day. I have also had like four Diet Sierra Mists today. I just got a text from my husband – Target has Atkin’s bars CHEAP! I never even knew they had them. I’ve been there like, a million times. Very odd. He can pick some new ones up for us.

I missed seeing my daughter today. It was so good to see her for such a little while, put her on my lap, smell her hair, tickle and tease her. She is growing up so very fast. One of the main reasons I am leaving this very busy job is to be able to spend more time with her and my husband. I will work two weeks a month, then be off two weeks a month. Hopefully this arrangement will allow us to pay the bills. I am a little anxious about that. I will miss reading my daughter her bedtime story tonight. We have been reading a series of books that were great favorites of mine as a kid, the Great Brain series, about a family of boys in the 1890’s. One of the boys is a genius and a con artist and they get into all sorts of trouble. We have just gotten to a very exciting part where the hero’s little brother has been kidnapped by an outlaw, and they are trying to figure out how to save him. My daughter is very nervous, wondering if the little boy will be OK. Of course, he will.

I am about to head back out to the desk and check to see if that epidural is in. Then we can break some water and get some action going! Maybe I can get some sleep before we deliver. I am not certain if I am sleepy, but I will try to make myself sleepy in case I get kept up late tonight. Either way, tomorrow I have to drive across town to the other hospital, where my clinic is, and see patients all day. It is hard to do that when you have been up all night the night before. It makes you not too sympathetic to other people’s problems. Well – the call room phone is ringing – they say the patient is actually about to deliver now! Good thing I didn’t try to go out to eat!

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