Seattle Mama Doc

161 Years Later

Elizabeth Blackwell, MDToday while I was waiting for an elevator in downtown Seattle, a man whisked in front of me and another women to get in the elevator.  The woman had on a fancy coat and red, powdery lipstick. She stopped me as I was getting in and said, “Oh, it’s going down.” I stopped and waited and thanked her for alerting me to getting on the wrong elevator. I liked her. It didn’t really faze me that the man had pushed ahead of us a bit, but he had. The woman looked over at me and said, “what a man, can’t even wait for a woman to get on.”

I said, “well, chivalry really is dead.”  As if to state the obvious but also assert the okay-ness I had with it all. Then I said (maybe over-stepping my boundary with this stranger), “funny thing is, yesterday was January 11th and that marked the day that the first woman in the United States was awarded her MD.  And that was over 150 years ago.  So, if I lose the chivalry over those years and gain the opportunity to practice medicine as easily as I do, it seems a pretty good trade off.”

The woman just kind of looked at me, smiled, almost laughed a bit, and then stepped forward as the elevator re-opened. When we got in and headed up she said, “well, at least he’s not on our elevator.” Read full post »

Verbatim: The Wife

One little thing that really gets under my skin if you must know is the title, “The Wife.” When I hear it, it rings through me, moving and shifting my electrons in just the wrong way.

I’m sure most of you wives or mothers out there on planet earth don’t really mind it. But I do.

Here is how I often hear it. Let me set the scene:
Exam room, child center stage, father stage left.  Meaning no harm (or disrespect) the dad says, “Oh, and the wife wanted me to ask you about this rash.”

I remain calm, usually leaking no erratic response, remark, or expression. This is my issue, I’m sure. But the internal alarm goes off.  Just something about that woman being distilled to “the wife.”

“My wife wanted me to ask you about this rash.”               No alarm.
“His mother wanted me to ask you about this rash.”          No alarm.

But,“The wife wanted me to ask you about this rash.”     Alarm-tastic.

With permission, I’m going to refer to my partner and husband, father of my children, as The Husband. Just to even the field. For today and maybe tomorrow, too. He’s ok with it; I’ve cleared this.
Thank you, husband, The Husband.

Verbatim: Pink Ones, White Ones, Good Ones

PinkWhiteExam room 3. Me at the computer, a 16 year old patient sitting on the exam table. We’re discussing her starting oral contraceptive pills for birth control. After her exam and a lengthy discussion, we talk about the pink ones, the white ones, the row of green ones, the ring, the depo shot, and the patch. I’m reminded of my mentors in pediatric gynecology who taught me that if you choose birth control that a girl is interested in trying (if it is the appropriate dose and safe for her) often her compliance in using it improves and her reports/experiences of side effects lessen. Translation: girls are more likely to take the pill correctly and continue to take it if they are motivated to use it. A dangerous reality when it comes to marketing directed at teens. But a good reality if you’re working to help teens avoid unwanted pregnancies. She has her mind set on the pill. I move on to the choice of what pill she has in mind, if any. I uncover concrete sincerity. One of the best responses to my question yet.

Me: “Is there a particular birth control pill you want to start with?”

My patient: “A really good one.”

Hopes, Dreams, And Predictions

Twenty Ten, Two Thousand Ten. However you say it, we have arrived. Welcome back to school days. The rigor of productivity. We had the tantrum of the century this AM at our house which we’ve decided to include in our new in-home, Swanson special list of “mega-tantrums.” In medicine, mega is inserted into terminology as if to clarify like in, “mega meatus.” Translation: a big meatus. Re-entry to real life is mega-tough stuff. In the hope that we can continue to live out our previous week’s break from the route schedule that is upon us, I’ll hit rewind and go back 3 days. Read full post »

The Juggle: Working And Breastfeeding

ShadowA study in Pediatrics highlighting the importance of breastfeeding and the challenges for working moms was published earlier in 2009. Today, it circulated through a business journal and got some more attention.

I read the study today for the first time. Then I re-read it a number of times. I talk about breastfeeding with moms and parents in clinic on a daily basis. I certainly know the challenges of trying to breastfeed through a transition back to work. I also know how hard it is not to be able to do what you set out to do.

I had my go. With my first son, I saw about 9 lactation consultants in the first week. I am not exaggerating. Me with those women hovering over me trying to help while my little man screamed his head off. The beginnings of motherhood. I breast fed, finger fed, pumped breast milk, finger fed, breast fed, then pumped my way into a sleepless oblivion. Read full post »