Friday, October 14, 2011

Mama Bear Goes to Boston

Rhys: over it with the doctors, but still trying to stay balanced in the yin and yang of it.

Black bears rarely attack. But here's the thing. Sometimes they do. All bears are agile, cunning, and immensely strong, and they are always hungry. If they want to kill you and eat you, they can, and pretty much whenever they want. That doesn't happen often, but –and here's the absolute salient point—once would be enough.
- Bill Bryson, from A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail

The first 3 out of 4 days we spent in Massachusetts after arriving this summer from our final stop (the lower Hudson River Valley) at the end of our cross-country insanity, the front page of the local paper was splayed with pictures of bears. Bears, eating from people's compost piles. Bears, exiting people's homes through kitchen windows. Bears, just chilling in people's yards.

The animals were beautiful, striking in their bear-selves and the juxtaposition displayed: with an obviously wild nature that challenged everything about their domestic surroundings.

Despite the bear on the flag of California, I have never heard of one wandering into our old neighborhood. Judging by the construction drive that seems set on paving over every sage bush there, we'll be lucky if the skunks make it. The bears? They are long gone, having had to submit to things like the bear and bull fights back in 1800s Monterey with its red-tiled roofs and neanderthal modes of entertainment lit by whale blubber. But enough about our shining past.

The two times we came to see this house when it was on the market, the seller's realtor must have tripped over herself trying to mop up the puddles of drool she left on the floor after salivating about the young couple with the preggo wife who would surely be ensnared by all the charms of a 100-year-old farm house. She saw the belly and knew her marketing tactic immediately.

“Kathryn!” she'd coo to me. “Look at this!”

“This” would inevitably be some stupid-ass thing, like a picture of a laundry shoot window that once existed or her perceived convenience of the washing machine in the kitchen (?!?...coming in another entry...). She thought she'd found the perfect preggo, that sales push-over, the Nesting Mama. Unfortunately, she had me pegged all wrong. She'd found Mama Bear.

“Is that asbestos on those pipes in the basement?” I'd ask narrowing my eyes on her latest dream detail (“There's a light in this closet! And look, Kathryn!...”)


“If I can help the other 4 families you'll see this year with a kid with TOF, let me tell you, you need to explain more information up front. Nothing for nothing, Doctor, but that handout you left us with told us nothing and only made us scared.”

“Oh, well, I'm sorry. That was never my intention. My intention was to leave you with enough information to investigate. The name of the condition Rhys has is called Tet-tra-lo-gy of Fa-llot.” (Why, some of my best friends have Tetraology of Fallot!)

Bitch, start with me.

Can you say, fired? She's been replaced. (Why, some of my best friends are doctors!)

The local scene just beginning to show signs of hope with a new cardiologist on board, this weekend we also head to Boston – our first trip to Children's Hospital. We will be consulting with a cardiologist and a surgeon. Rhys will undergo a sedated echocardiogram and then have to spend the night for observation. I will stay with him. I'm packing my honey pots and holding my breath.

And since I don't yet know how to communicate the intensity of the stress we've been under for the last 4 weeks, that's all for now.

...Nothing worries and antagonizes a female bear more than to have people between her and her brood...


Daryl said...

I am not sure if there are cardiologists who specialize in infants vs adults but if you want a fabulous communicative gentle cardiologist I have one to recommend... I fired his predecessor ... and I am keeping good thoughts for you/Rhys and the new doc

jaykaym said...

From one mama bear to another - Although I'm certain you're very well organized, with an infant and a small child it's easy to get distracted. Get a notebook, with pockets, to keep all the notes you get from each doctor, pages to jot down your questions - leaving LOTS of space to write down their answers, and also use your smartphone or a small inexpensive recorder to record all your conversations with the medical personnel when you are asking questions and they are providing you information. You can't possibly accurately remember the details when you are under stress and having the recording means you don't need to worry about forgetting something they may have said.

Also, you are making the right decision to fire any doctor that you are not comfortable with or who evades your questions or belittles your concerns. When we were visiting doctors one objected to being "taped" so he didn't make the cut but the one we choose was very late to the appointment but apologized and explained that the earlier patient had needed extra time to understand the treatment plan and she didn't want them to leave until she was certain that they understood. As we discussed the treatment plan for my child she didn't object at all to the tape recorder, and when I was frantically taking notes as she sketched out things on a piece of paper, she told me that she would give me all her notes at the end of the visit so I could just listen and not worry with taking notes. We knew that with this doctor we would have her undivided attention and that no concern or question would be left unaddressed.

My mother-heart goes out to you as you start this trip. Namaste.

Kitty said...

Daryl - Thank you. We have scored a local pediatric cardiologist who seems really great so far. (He's leaving the practice where we saw the other woman; we'd tried to get to him before but were told he wasn't accepting new patients which we later discovered was news to him...)

Jaykaym - Thank you, also! I was thinking I would bring my digital recorder to the hospital and just get some stuff that might be an audio story later, but it somehow never occurred to me to record the interview with the doctors.

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