Sunday, December 10, 2017

A Magnetizing Story.

The morning of November 20th started like any other Monday. Absolutely miserable. And chaotic. As per the usual, I believe I awoke to Mitch standing at my bedside asking, "Who is watching us?"


"Whyyyyyyyyeeee!?? Ugh."

Mitch, it doesn't matter, you have school all day, you will hardly see her. (It doesn't matter who I name here, he always whines. Unless I say it's me or his father. Even then he whines, because I'm not sure he can speak in any other tone.)

"Do I get my lunchbox?"

Yep, just like EVERY Monday.

No reply, he sulks off. Because, that's also what Mitch does...sulks. He's simply a peach.

I then got up, maybe I showered, definitely I gathered uniforms, then I proceeded to try to round up the 3 grade school boys, quietly, as Diana frequently sleeps in until 8 or so. Or, at least pretends to, then sings to herself for a bit. Lately, she has been doing recaps of her day in song to the tune of Let It Go, "We went to Science City, it was Science city, and the guy!!!! He fell down. And we played at Science City. And *jibberish, jibberish, jibberish, jibberish* Science City..."

After reminding Brock at least 7 times to get his shoes and socks on, he finally does it, but only after bribing him with breakfast. Or threatening not to give him breakfast if he doesn't get them on...does that qualify as a bribe? Maybe it's extortion. I don't know, there's a fine line there, am I right?

On this particular Monday, I'm pretty sure we were privvy to "uncooperative George". You know, as opposed to "screw waiting on these adults to help me, I can do everything myself, in fact, I'm looking for my own apartment George". Though the latter gets him into some pretty age inappropriate situations (I'm just waiting for him to attempt to drive himself to school), it's great because I will wake up to him 100% dressed, and potentially even self fed. Where as, "uncooperative George" has the most incredibly severe, frustrating, yet almost admirable stubborness one has ever encountered. Things that he can do in seconds become "too hard" or "take too long" or "my arms don't work" or "I'm too tired" or "I hate sk-cool" or "Why is *insert whoever the sitter is for the day* watching us!?" So, that's fun.

I haven't mentioned Curtis, because unlike ALL of his siblings, he kind of simply just does what he is supposed to...routine doesn't seem to bother him a bit. I think he might even enjoy it. Routine means he gets to mindlessly go about his day. In stark contrast to his older brother, who I feel has not less than 772 thoughts reeling through his mind at any given moment, I think Curtis might have 1, or 2...on a really hyper day. Bizarrely (but maybe the right adverb is: unfortunately) Curtis is our "Black sheep", yet I feel also the most "normal".

In other words, my other kids are all #$%*ing weird.

Which, perhaps, is a great way to get to the moment where this EXTREMELY typical Monday got a bit off track. I know, I know, I'm with you, at what point exactly was it "on track"?? All of us made it to our appointed locations, on time, and relatively cleanly dressed, so, yup, those are pretty much my standards these days.

I was traversing through the insanity that is Monday morning in a doctor's office. Seeing patients, returning calls and emails, checking labs...when my phone began to ring, and I could clearly see it wasn't the school, but the actual Kindergarten teacher herself calling. I didn't get to it in time...but that sick feeling was there. This was a first. A call during school hours from the teacher! That means the kid didn't even get to the school nurse, or it was so bad the nurse couldn't call because she was performing CPR or whatever they do for a child that has a tragic accident at school.

I try calling back. It's busy. I text "Sorry I missed your call, do you need to talk?" I then get this reply:
Oh thank God! One magnet, not a problem. And, it's uncooperative George day, so not much would surprise me. Then, I get to thinking, wait. But has he swallowed any other metal recently? Why do I even have to ask this? He's 5 and a half. Aren't we past the whole 'worried your child might swallow something phase'? Crap. Will we EVER be beyond that phase with this child? Ugh.

"It's fine unless he has swallowed any other metal! Please ask him if he has swallowed anything else."

A bit later, from 2 different sources: He says he has an entire piggy bank in his belly. But insists it's from when he was 3.

"Does he seem to be laughing about all of this? Can we trust his answers?" This is a real legit concern. George tends to do things simply to get a laugh. So, I really needed to know if he was making light of the situation.

Teacher's reply, "No, he was definitely a bit panicked after it happened. It wasn't on purpose."

After texting a few of my medical comrades, we deem everything to be ok, and that we will just become concerned if he develops some abdominal pain or stops pooping. Which doesn't happen. We aren't real diligently watching his poop either. Honestly, Brock is more stressed about the situation than any of us. Eventually, we all kind of forget about it. Except Brock.

Flash forward to the early, early morning of December 1st. George is writhing in pain on and off for hours through the night. So many families have had that stomach bug, I don't really think anything of it, except, please don't throw up anywhere except the toilet. Pleeeasse. But the kid just can't get comfortable. I push around on his belly, which doesn't seem to illicit any kind of pain, and it feels nice and soft and normal. I go back to sleep. Then, I hear him groaning, I wake up, and BOOM. It hits me. The magnet!!!! I punch Matt awake. "The magnet! We don't know if that has ever passed. Crap. Should we just wait until morning, and I'll X-ray him?" A groggy and confused Matt contributes very little to the discussion and I go check his belly again. All seems fine. It's now 2:30am and George has gotten up again, crying now. Matt very sternly asks him if it really hurts and if we need to take him to the hospital. George says, "I think so". (PS. In the meantime, Diana has awoken with a 102.4 fever and is miserable. No sleep for all!)

There it is folks, after a collective 28 years worth of children existing in our home, we took one to the ER. We all knew it would be George. I then get this text:

Two hours later, an exhausted 5 year old, and relieved 34 year old return home, and crawl back into bed. Matt mutters, they said if he keeps pooping it's fine, and give him some Mira-lax. George sleeps soundly for the next 3 hours. In the reasonable hours of the morning, I called some concerned grandparents to reassure them about the situation, but Brock overhears me saying the magnet is still in there. I get off the phone to see a pacing, bug-eyed and very worried Brock. "The magnet is still in his stomach!?" After a ridiculous amount of reassurance, we get all the boys off to school, George included. Reminding George that he cannot poop without telling us! And to quit flushing before an adult gets a chance to look at it. Brock becomes agitated and yells at George, "Stop flushing the toilet, George!!!" At this point, the whole house is in hysterics about George not taking this situation serious enough. Lucky for George, he has 4 siblings, more than happy to announce when he is pooping.

According to a few different accounts, George proceeded to proudly point at this right-lower quadrant, exclaiming, "the magnet it right here". I am sure the kindergartners were just soaking up the drama of it all, and George provided all the proper theatrics.

Meanwhile, I'm over-thinking things. Is it stuck in the ileo-cecal valve? If it is, what kind of procedure could get all the way to the small intestine? How long can we let this magnet hang out in his gut? I'm trying to get through my work day, to rush home and prepare my home for 30 women, after almost no sleep and a house full of tired and ill children, with no nanny, because she called in sick as well. December 1st will absolutely go down in history as one of THE most chaotic, difficult and fun days in the O Family Circus history.

Fast forward again to December 6th. A Wednesday. I am off other than a short meeting, so I scheduled George to see GI, because no one has witnessed a magnet in the toilet. If I'm being honest here, we didn't search real hard, Matt and I were far less concerned than Brock with seeing the poop. After impressing all of the Children's Mercy staff with his ability to loudly snap his fingers, George gets examined. They say just more Mira-lax and a repeat Xray. Also reassuring us, this could take up to 6 weeks to pass.
On December 8th, after many uneventful (thankfully) nights, we get a chance to x-ray his little belly again. The children entertained my entire office as we awaited the results. NO MAGNET!! It was gone. I'm not sure I've ever seen Brock more relieved. I'm not sure Curtis was ever truly aware of what was going on, anyway. Mitch seemed bored. Diana, I'm sure is working on a beautiful sonnet about the whole experience, and George? After I exclaimed, it's gone! Says, "Oh". That's it. After all of this excitement, chaos, stress...a simple shrug and an "Oh".

I know you were all hoping this story would have a really exciting and dramatic ending. But it, well, there ya have it.

Addendum: Upon texting the teacher to let her know of the good news, she was thrilled, and also informed me that if we had recovered the magnet that it belongs back in the Science center at school...uhhhhh...

Friday, November 24, 2017

*Not Actual Responses*

If all of your friends were to jump off a bridge, would you do it to??

Brock: *pacing* How tall is the bridge? Have I ever seen this bridge? Does everyone live, and what kind of injuries have previously been sustained? How long have they been my friends? How does one define "friend"? How long do I have before I have to make my final decision? Is there a statistical advantage to me or my loved ones if I do jump off this bridge? 

Curtis: *punches right fist into left hand* Fuck yes. 

George: ................. *tapping his chin* .................. Internal thoughts: Hmmmm. Is it going to a.) make anyone laugh or b.) piss anyone off? And if so, how significant are the consequnces? Does potential death actually outweigh being funny and/or defiant? Hmmmm.....

Mitch: *said with complete exasperation* Uggghhhh. *walks away*

Diana: *while talking on a plastic phone with fake purse slung over her arm* I too busy.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I am human.

I'm not being arrogant and I'm not trying say I'm unique here. I'm just listing facts.

I have a lot of skills.
I have a lot of energy.
I have even more ideas.
My thoughts are like an infinite movie reel.
I'm highly motivated.
I'm insanely passionate.
I have a really great attitude.
I will never be content.
I don't like to burden others when I am having a tough time, mad, anxious or stressed (except for those select know who you are.)
But I do struggle at times.

I enjoy comedy.
I strive to be funny.
I am extremely cynical.
I could talk {write} all day.
The more I make fun of something...
...the more I love it.

I am a comedian.

I am an extrovert.
I am a people person, despite aforementioned cynicism.
I could watch people all day.
I can find a pattern in almost anything. (I am Sherlock.)
I am a problem solver.
Above all, I am run by logic over emotion. Anger being my biggest Achilles heel.
I am competitive.
I am fair.

I get angry at expectation, false assumptions and incorrect observations.
I appreciate idiosyncrasies.
I admire accountability.
I prefer flexibility.
I promote honesty over loyalty.
I like to present things as they truly are, albeit with a dramatic flare at times.
I cannot tell a lie.
I am confident.

My passion is to help others, both emotionally and physically.
I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to obtain my education.
An education for which I took an oath to "do no harm".
All day I try to make decisions in the best interest of other people.
Only to be told my service wasn't worth paying for... be berated.
I get misplaced anger all day long.
Yet, I smile.
I continue to help.
I hope to be compassionate.
I work REALLY hard to figure out a kind way to tell someone they are overweight. Their smoking is a problem. Their drinking is a problem. Their genetics is a problem. They have a virus. They have cancer. Their fatigue is actually depression. They need to talk to someone to manage their stress. Their pain is chronic. They need surgery. They need to go to the ER.
I am a doctor.

I don't see dollar signs.
I see people.
I wish everyone could enjoy life and all it has to offer.
I wish everyone could see their potential and reach for it.
I think I could have been an Olympian.
I sometimes think I still can...

I am an athlete.

As much as I wish I didn't, I care...
...I care too much.
About everything, all the time.
I love to the point of smothering.
I believe firmly in tough love.

I am a mom.

I adapt.
I am self-reliant. This is different than selfish.
I love. A lot. All the time. Intensely.
I am happy.

I am human.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Guerilla Gardener

There is a man who lives in the somewhat dilapidated apartments behind my office. These apartments are surrounded by a parking lot, another parking lot, and office buildings. There is quite a lack of green space. I would not ever describe this man as well-kempt. I'm not sure I would go to the extreme of calling him filthy, or even dirty, but I might guess that he's not purchased new clothing, any time real recent. He never appears drunken, or disheveled. In fact, he always seems completely lucid and content. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say "happy" as he tends to have a more serious presence about him, but conversations with this man are very pleasant. If I had to guess, he might be a painter, or a "handy-man". Someone in these apartments is a "junk collector", for all I know, it's him. But there is one skill I'm 100% sure he possesses: gardening.

This man starts working on his garden in February. He loves on it, covers it with recyclables for freezing weather, waters it, preens it, weeds it. Every day. It flourishes. It is beautiful. It brightens my morning every time I park my car. At the same time, it also causes a sharp pang of guilt as my bumper covers, breaks or destroys some stems, nearly every morning. Because of this aforementioned complete lack of green space, this man is gardening on a 1.5 foot (at most) road verge. I have to pull up as close as possible, because this now beautiful and bustling garden separates our extremely cramped backside office parking from their apartment parking lot. This verge is so small, if it weren't now filled with flowers of all sorts, you might not even notice it.

I look at this man in awe. I silently thank him multiple times through the Spring and Summer, even Fall. He has brought wildlife to a PARKING LOT. This morning, there were Monarch butterflies. Through the Spring and Summer there are little Yellow Warblers (or Finches). And now the Hummingbirds are arriving to feast on the Morning Glories. There is a constant buzz from the bees, and many other small types of insect and butterflies. I once asked if he was hired to do this, and he just laughed at me. I felt it was a silly question as well. I would have been flabbergasted to hear that the owner of these seemingly forsaken apartments would hire someone to plant flowers, literally in the cracks of the parking lot.

I engaged him in conversation again, recently. I found out that he has affectionately and appropriately been named by his friends: "The Guerrilla Gardener". His unconventional tactics in gardening surprise me on a daily basis. We all reap the benefits of the beauty in our lot. I've seen some of the nurses and staff picking flowers, which the Guerrilla Gardener has always kindly suggested we do; "They're just going to wilt away eventually. There are plenty. You might as well take them home and enjoy them."

I think I love this garden a little bit more than I should because of this modest and humble man. I hope he knows how much we all admire his work. But I don't think he really cares if we do...


Tuesday, June 13, 2017


As a mother of 5, I think one of the most frequent comments I get from people with 3 or less kids is, "I could never do that."

Though, I think some of them mean, I could never do that and...

...still be sane.
...still keep my home in order.
...still get my kids everywhere on time. about life.
Et cetera and so on...

Often, my response is, "you're right".

Ok. That's really just in my head. But before you think I am being arrogant, let me explain.

You could never do this. WITH your current expectations, that is.

You see, with every change in life comes adaptation. You can't always foresee what these changes will be or how they will change your life as you know it. You can't always plan for them. When looking from your current view, some changes appear to be negatives. A loss. But what we so often forget is that sometimes there are unforeseen positives that outweigh these "losses" so immensely, that you don't even notice they're gone.

Once upon a time, I loved to shop. I enjoyed walking up and down aisles, imagining how I might redecorate my home. How I might re-style my wardrobe. I created Pinterest boards. I loved Pinterest. At a certain point, I was determined to become Pinterest famous (if that's even a thing.) I would physically shop in stores until I found things that matched my visions, but before I fully realized it had happened, I phased into online shopping. I had lost the time to walk through the stores. This didn't happen immediately. I didn't have a kid, then stop. I didn't even have 2 kids and stop entirely. Nor 3. I don't think it was until somewhere in the 4 or 5 range that I simply stopped wandering the stores...but I don't notice it. I don't necessarily miss it. I think it has been replaced by sporting events with my kids. By lunches with my friends.

Even with 5 children, I still go to lunch with my friends. I even make it to happy hours or coffee or brunch or dinners. It might require more planning, but I still get to do it. I could exercise more, but if someone asks me to join them for a social rendezvous, that run gets kicked aside. I'd be lying if I didn't say that I occasionally miss being in fantastic shape, but I simply don't miss the work it takes to get there. I've prioritized socializing over fitness (not health, they're not one in the same. Trust me, I'm a doctor.) This is right for me. It makes me happy, it makes me less stressed, it recharges me. If exercise does this for you, then you prioritize it. So, yes, from an outside perspective, the ideal would be to get in both, but from the inside perspective, you don't feel like you've lost anything, you've just adjusted your expectations. Adapted.

I used to write blog posts, with carefully chosen and edited pictures to compliment the story up to 10 times a month! I edited photos and updated albums. I was great about thank you notes and birthday wishes and thoughtful gifts. I hung framed photos or art in my home. I planned elaborate and well-executed parties on the regular. I spent time day-dreaming of home improvements. Now, I get a post up about once a month. There aren't any photos. The last photo album I printed was almost 2 years ago. The last item I framed?? No idea (though, I did, after nearly 3 years, finally update photos to include all 5 of my kids in the existing frames on the wall.) And if  day-dreaming about sorting through toys and throwing out broken ones and putting them all in their "place" counts as "home improvements" then, I guess I still do that on a pretty regular basis.

I laid out at the pool for hours on my days off. Leisurely swimming laps if the urge compelled me.

I fed my competitive spirit by being part of adult sporting leagues in volleyball, kickball and basketball. We regularly had game nights with friends. I now find ways to be competitive in the form of competing in corporate challenge, subbing for adult leagues in volleyball, soccer and pickleball. Maybe even playing with my children...but there's a fine line there, that I'm not certain I don't cross over. They need to learn how to be a good sport when losing, right!??

Now, I feel I need to add some perspective at this point. I have never been without a huge commitment filling most of my time. I played sports intensely; swam, lifted, exercised for 6+ hours a day from age 11-22. I then worked 2 jobs until the start of medical school, and after that, residency, and now, a full-time position as a physician. So the time I am speaking of filling, has always been tremendously limited for me. There has never been a point in my life that I haven't been forced to really assess my true priorities...and this might be where most people struggle.

To continue to adapt, you MUST establish your priorities. It's vital. And once you've done this, it's time to manage expectations. And once you've done that. You can do ANYTHING. You can have all the children in the world. Or none. You can marry. Or not. You can run a marathon. Or walk around the block. You can travel. Or never leave your home state. You can make choices and evaluate their impact on your quality of life and keep them up, or leave them. And instead of saying "I could never do that" you will find that you've started to say, "why only 5"?