In her first 2 years of life, my darling daughter, Calamity Jayne, had more than 20 ear infections. It seems that every time she caught a cold, she got an ear infection. And she caught a lot of colds.
I feel totally cheated by this injustice.
I nursed her for nine months – throwing caution and modesty to the wind by pumping in offices, airports, and hotel rooms. I took nursing-lunches in our car when my uber-understanding hub drove down to my office to afford me baby time during my post-partum battle.
Yet my bub was a snotty, sneezy mess for much of her young life. She had several ear infections that lasted months because the antibiotics we used to treat her didn’t cure the infection.
Pediatricians we saw offered little advice.
Instead, we were reassured that “kids get sick.” I admit, I was comforted that this wasn’t my ‘fault.’ As a first-time parent, I was fairly convinced that I was doing it wrong. (And by “it” I mean everything.)
We saw plenty of pediatricians. This wasn’t a situation where one doctor was responsible for our inability to prevent or treat her ear infections. Our Chicago practice has more than a dozen doctors on staff. We love being able to get an appointment at any time and having the diversity of experience, thought, and treatment that all those doctors provide. Our St. Louis practice was smaller but seemed wholly competent in their
treatment and fairly advanced in their technology and organization.
We thought we were doing everything we could. And our doctors agreed.
Earlier this year, we saw a doctor at our Chicago practice in her 50s. She took quite a long time with us (a rarity among all sick-care providers) and reviewed CJ’s charts all the way back to her birth. She was really shocked at the volume of infections and the frequency with which we returned to the office.
She raised the red-flag.
She told us she suspected that the antibiotic courses we’d been given our daughter (non-penicillin because of an allergy) weren’t strong enough to kill the underlying sinus infection. So, although the ear cleared with the single round, the sinus infection raged on and then landed right back in the ear(s).
This made sense.
She put us on back-to-back rounds of antibiotics. Until the cough was gone (that pesky post-nasal drip from my childhood seems to have been inherited by Big Red), we kept re-upping the antibiotics.
Finally, after three rounds, the child was cough-free, sniffles free and ear pain free.
Around this time, my sage sister-in-law also raised the issue that no child this age should be doing so many rounds of antibiotics. Drugs, as they say, are bad, mmkay? Well, not ALL bad, but certainly this was a disproportionate amount of unnatural toxins for the itty-body of a toddler. That, and she might just develop immunity to the only strain of antibiotics she can take leaving her susceptible to horrible sickness that most people would, well, sneeze at.
My sis also recommended that we see a specialist. An Otolaryngologist. So we got a recommendation, made an appointment, and saw a specialist.
The specialist asked us why we had waited so long to get our daughter seen.
Instead of “kids get sick,” we were told that CJ was having far too many infections and could absolutely benefit from getting grommets inserted to help with drainage. We were also encouraged to hear that the surgery might improve her mood and manner considerably.
Calamity might very well be acting out because of her constant discomfort.
Like any parent of a toddler wants to enjoy additional fits and general obnoxiousness just for giggles!
I hated the idea of putting my precious little baby girl under anesthesia, and my growing belly was wrecking havoc on my logic and emotional stability, but I didn’t see how I could justify not giving my daughter some relief.
So we had the surgery.
And I cried buckets when she went in and buckets more when she came out.
But she’s been ear pain free ever since… for six months. And that’s a miracle.
So, my hub and I have asked ourselves… what did take so long? Why didn’t we know to see a specialist and get the ear tubes done after the first six, ten, twelve, fifteen, etc. infections/ rounds of antibiotics?
Sadly and cynically, it seems the clear answer would be because our pediatricians don’t get paid if we stop coming to see them for ear infections. And was the surgery necessary? How can we know for certain? But we do know that the Otolaryngologist wouldn’t get paid if she didn’t absolutely endorse her speciality.
Medicine for profit is bullshit.
It makes a mess of patient care and breeds mistrust.
I want to respect and trust medical professionals. I want to know that they have my and my family’s HEALTH in their best interest – NOT what procedures are billable, NOT what drugs they are incentivized to promote, NOT what the insurance company covers at a higher percentage.
I don’t trust any of this is happening.
Medicine is enough of a guessing game without making patients wonder if they’re actually getting their doctor’s best recommendation or the best priced one?
The system is broken and it is making us broke.
Part 1: Lumpy
Earlier this year, I found a lump in my breast.
Since I’m not a regular self-examiner, I found it because it itched. It was huge.
The timing of this discovery coincided with a) a report about breast cancer during pregnancy in older women and b) finishing a book where the heroine’s best friend dies from breast cancer leaving two young daughters.
What went through my head was
Or something along those lines.
What’s worse is I forgot to mention it to my OB. For a month.
When I finally did, she suggested I get it checked. (um, yes.)
So I had an ultrasound done by a radiology technician. The doctor never came in, never introduced himself, never called me with results. The results did not indicate cancer (evidently cancer shows up on film like bright white alien life) but because it was so big the radiologist wanted me to have a biopsy. He never mentioned that to me. Instead, my OB followed up with him, heard that a biopsy was the way to go and relayed that info to me.
So I called several oncology offices for a biopsy.
No office would schedule a biopsy without an exam appointment first, which meant not only the delay of getting the original appointment (two weeks) but also the delay of the follow up appointment (unknown time) and double the appointment with a specialist appointment (what am I made of money?).
Being five months pregnant at the time, I lost my mind. I literally scream-cried at several people. I’m not proud of this but it is what it is. I had reached the point where logic and rationality left and hormones took over.
My OB and her reassuringly competent nurse took over. They got me a few names and told me what I needed to say to get the right appointment. The exam/biopsy by the first doctor who would see me was nothing short of violating. I don’t know if what he did was normal or not but it was mortifying and I felt abused and disgusted for weeks. Those biopsy results were “inconclusive” so I was told I needed to go through the process again. I would have rather “died” but since that was actually on the table, I decided I’d better suck it up and get a second opinion.
I chose a doctor via my hospital network rather than revisit the site of the ‘attack.’
That experience was SIGNIFICANTLY better – sterile, clinical and very very public. Rather than one dude in an office exam room, I had two doctors, a radiologist, and three nurses in the room with gloves, gowns and masks. Two nurses were hands-on comforting at all times. The doctors were slow and careful in their practice and talked to me about my family and in particular my unborn daughter the whole time, sharing anecdotes about their own families and offering kind, reassuring commentary.
They definitively concluded that the lump was normal breast tissue – likely a duct that went haywire under hormonal showers and would
either go away on its own or be a benign part of my breast until I wanted it removed in a simple surgical procedure.
Here’s the kicker: my sister-in-law, a nurse in Australia, suggested that exact diagnosis when I first discovered the lump.
Maybe this was a case of CYA. Maybe our litigious society mandates that doctors ignore Ockham’s Razor and pull as many levers as possible in our complicated and expensive sick-care system.
I have an estimated 47 separate bills from this experience – from the doctors, the hospitals, the labs, the radiologists, the techs, the
offices, the insurance company, etc. Everyone billed me separately with terms and codes I couldn’t possibly understand. I tried calling a few times to determine what exactly I was paying for and why more wasn’t covered by my insurance but I quite frankly gave up.
It was exhausting and confusing. I’m pretty sure that is intentional.
Whatever the case, the system is broken and is making me broke.
I’ve been rereading some of my posts to see how closely my project is aligning with my mission. It seems that I talk very little about this “schugar” I claim as my own. Money is a funny thing in my world. It is very personal and usually painful to discuss. Some of this is residual inheritance that I haven’t cured and some of this is my own wackadoo creation.
This past week I finished Michael Lewis’ The Big Short and watched Too Big To Fail on HBO. If you’ve a strong stomach and enough mistrust for rich people to want to study them like lab rats, I recommend both. The WSJ reviewed the latter as more aptly titled “Too Boring To Watch” but if you approach it as documentary-like viewing, you’ll be fine.
I do agree with Mark Gongloff (the reviewer) on two things – I wish the characters had been more developed and more “real” people had been included. Don’t misunderstand me, the characters were all actual people – but I hardly count the ex-Chairman of Goldman-Sachs as representative of the rest of us, even if he tries masking his shady background with a bit of public service.
Now here’s where I endure a little painful confession: Before I read the incredibly compelling Lewis book, I really didn’t understand that Wall Street was like Vegas without the strippers.
A couple of important things to note:
- everything I know about Vegas is 2nd hand or from the movies
- I’ve had a 401K and separate stock portfolio since my late 20s
- investing, saving, and money management were not among the lessons taught in my childhood home
One thing at a time.
The third bullet, my financial upbringing, warrants its very own post. I just have to consider how to tactfully discuss in print.
I’ve never been to Vegas because it appeals to me the same way that a Pride parade, Jersey Shore, or the actual Mardi Gras do – not at all. I support others’ right to enjoy them but I find them vulgar and tacky. I actually enjoy gambling. I like to play cards – blackjack and hold ’em. I usually play the pokies when in Oz. I’ve even won a bit of money at cruise ship gambling which purchased a pair of diamond earrings. It’s a pasttime, a source of entertainment, and I can’t possible imagine throwing money on a felt table expecting to “hit the jackpot.” That, my friends, is sucker behavior in my world. Nothing comes for nothing. At least, not for real people like us.
Yet, I have regularly invested my little pennies in a retirement fund because “it is the responsible thing to do.” I thought that my investments into individual stocks (companies I support directly or believe in conceptually) and in mutual funds were my “vote” (put your money where your mouth is) for their success. By supporting their stock I was saying to the company, I think you’re worth saving please keep up the good work. Except, that’s just a teeny weeny part of investing. There are masses of jackholes who are betting – literally gambling – with their own and other’s money AGAINST companies. So instead, they are saying – and usually with much more significant sums than my 15% – ‘we bet you suck it big time. ‘
The book(s) and the movie that startled me out of my naive investment cloud told the story of how massive deregulation, minimal oversight, bribes, incompetence, greed, marketing, and widespread sucker behavior allowed a whole lot of people and companies to bet that we’d all ‘suck it big time.’ And anyone who didn’t bet that, lost their asses.
The thing about the financial industry that blows my mind – no matter what happens in the market, someone is making money. It just isn’t usually you or me.
So what is our alternative to investing? Pensions are all but dead. Social Security will be insolvent when I’m 52. My parents, your parents, and pretty much everyone over the age of 60 will bankrupt us when they run out of retirement funds and have no healthcare. At 38, and the bread-winner for my family, I’m pacing so far behind my personal savings that I will work until I’m dead. And I’m way ahead of the average woman.
Do you know the financial statistics for women? They ain’t good, honey. Pretend for a minute that women make as much as men for the same work (they generally don’t) and that earning less over a career equates to a smaller pension/social security payout. About half of us are out of the workforce at least part of our foundation or earning years because of children. Even if we work full-time throughout, our earning power is impacted by our breeder status through job-changes, missed promotions, under-utilization/employment.
Now consider this – 50% of marriages end in divorce in this country and 70% of married women are widowed at some point. Please TELL me you aren’t counting on a man to take care of you. Even if he is the most kick-arse, generous and loving man… you are responsible for your own financial health. To believe otherwise is sucker behavior, my friends.
Try these statistics on for size:
- women live seven years longer than men, on average
- over 70% of the US elderly poor are women
- one year after divorce, the average mid-life woman remains single with an average income of $11,300
- women have higher healthcare expenses
- over 58% of boomer women have less than $10K saved in some form of retirement
(Some of these statistics come from the slightly outdated and heavily dog-eared WOW! Quick Facts on Women 2007 edition I keep by my desk.)
Now think about the absurdly insulated jackholes in charge of our stock market who make money whether your stocks go up or go down – who are betting against your mortgage, your life insurance, and your employer. Who are handing over big campaign contributions to other jackholes to make sure they don’t get hampered by any pesky rules of engagement.
I change my mind – Wall Street is like Vegas meets UFC, without the strippers or the blood.
And these people have my money.
I’m starting this post, not knowing exactly what I want to say.
Usually when that happens I end up writing forever and never ‘landing the plane,’ so to speak. Somehow, if I don’t map out my train of thought, and organize in my head the bullets I need to cover, I can meander down an interminable road of language without ever stumbling over a point.
But then, maybe this topic doesn’t need a point.
No, I’m not writing about Britney Spears. I’m actually writing about babies. And more specifically OTHER people’s babies. It seems like a whole crop of 2nd babies have hit my industry in a hurry. Most of those having them had their first less than 2 years ago.
While I was “ooooohing” and “aaawwwwwwwing” over their announcements, something struck me.
Every one of my friends who has announced their second child have been men.
Having a baby won’t even be a hiccup in their progress up the corporate ladder or toward the sweet life where money grows on trees and retirement is an eventuality.
The story for most women (emphasize MOST) isn’t as sunny.
How many women do you know who’ve left their company immediately after their leave ends? I’m not talking about the lucky few who can afford to stay home with their children. That luxury just isn’t a reality for most people.
No, I’m talking about the volume of women leaving one job for another and the timing of their departure aligning too closely to their maternity leave end to be coincidence.. Happy employees don’t leave jobs. There is nothing more distasteful than a corporation mistreating or even antagonizing a pregnant employee. (I could write a book about this topic alone but that’s for another time.)
And then, yesterday, I realized how I would finish this post. My twitter stream blew up with commentary on the newly released Forbes Top 100 Powerful Women list.
The controversy? Included on each woman’s profile are her marital status and number of children.
Perhaps it is a testament to the kind of thought-leaders I follow (progressive) and the women I find inspiring (feminists), but without exception the comments were negative, ranging from Rachel Simmon’s (twitter.com/@RachelJSimmons) *Heavy SIGH* to outright outrage.
Mary Elizabeth Williams wrote in her Salon.com article, “if you’re female, you’ll still be ranked, assessed and quantified by your ability to mate and reproduce.” Amy Jussel (a.k.a. twitter.com/@ShapingYouth) replied to me with ” seems off-topic=best & sexist=worst. How many kids does Steve Jobs have? How would they list Jack Welch?”
On this topic, I break the line of solidarity.
It reminds me of the Oscar Wilde quote I have hanging in my hallway, “The Irish have an abiding sense of tragedy, which sustains them through temporary periods of joy.”
Some people just need something to fight against.
Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely see the disparity between the report on People and the report on Women. But instead of insulting me, it inspires me. I have no more respect for a powerful woman with 5 kids than for a powerful woman with no kids. I do, however, feel totally empowered to know that my ambition to raise genius, charismatic, world leader children AND be a rain-maker for my family’s finances is not an anomoly. Oh and I won’t be alone in doing so.
Have you read Kahlil Gibran? Yeah, yeah – I’m a wannabe hippie sometimes. I discovered The Prophet when I first read this quote:
“And when one of you falls down,
He falls for those behind him — a caution against the stumbling stone.
Aye, and he falls for those ahead of him — who though faster and surer of foot,
Removed not the stumbling stone…”
I think the brouhaha over the inclusion of marital status and children is missing the forest for the trees.
Why don’t they include marital status and number of children for men? Maybe because it is assumed that any successful man has a family behind him. Maybe because men who don’t marry are viewed as high-risk to companies and untrustworthy as politicians. How do you think gay men feel about the dues to the inner circle of the boy’s club? Is it fair? No.
But at the risk of stating the obvious – life isn’t fair.
In a country where 50% of marriages end in divorce, machismo bullsh#t runs counter to successful women outearning their mates, and motherhood starts sometimes decades later than it did 50 years ago, I think having a marriage and a family is significant ESPECIALLY if you’re also curing, saving, leading, or entertaining the WORLD.
The list’s anecdotes are not about the haves and the have-nots; they are simply what is. Listing “single” or “0” by marital status and children, doesn’t detract from their accomplishments. These powerful women aren’t listed in order of how many marriages or children they have. (Isn’t the suggestion that they could be ranked by their ability to mate and reproduce counter to the feminist cause?)
Rather, I see the diversity on the list in nationality, age, industry, skin color, marital and parenthood status as a win for us regular-folk women. Can’t we all find something to relate to? Be inspired by?
What do you think? Did I miss the point or did they?
Have you seen the new series on HBO, Boardwalk Empire?
It’s all about some seriously ridiculous sh*t that happened during Prohibition in Atlantic City, New York & Chicago. But mostly Atlantic City.
I have only one experience with Atlantic City. I went there for a bachelorette weekend for one of my all-time best friends. She invited about 12 or so of her all-time best friends. Unfortunately for me, I was at an all-time fat and being the girl NOT from Philly or New York, was kind of like the cousin from HeeHaw. I was always inappropriately dressed. When I didn’t try, everyone else was immaculate. When I tried, everyone else was carelessly perfect. It was maddening. If I hadn’t had such a stick up my bum about watching out for a dozen drunk, silly girls, I would have gotten extraordinarily drunk and laughed it off with some scary codgers at the losers bar. As it turns out, I was practically a mother hen, clucking at the girls that belonged to me (I drove) regularly and making sure they hadn’t been carted off by the medium-rollers trolling for plucks.
From what I saw, Atlantic City wasn’t anything to die for.
But evidently I missed the hey-day.
“Mr. Pink” plays the head bad-guy in Boardwalk Empire, Nucky Thompson. He is kind of a self-made mob boss. So far, he’s kept his hands clean by having his people do the dirty work for him. That’s how it goes, right? When you’re at the top of Maslow’s Heirarchy, you get to be squeeky clean. In the first episode, one of the muscle guys revealed himself as “Al. Al Capone.”
I got a shiver.
What is it about the Gangsters of that era?
How have they been romanticized into legends and heroes-of-sorts? (I mean, it’s not just me, right?)
They were criminals, right? They did break the law, contribute to thefts, murders, etc. etc?
This show has my mind racing about a myriad of things: prohibition, conservativism, revisionist history, immigration, entrepreneurship, the legal system, law enforcement, corruption, power, money, bravado, testosterone, and morality.
I am a woman who likes to know a little about a lot, so I’ve been sneaking in searches when I need a break at work, and after my daughter is asleep. Here’s what I’ve compiled so far:
- The Volstead Act (Prohibition) was the 18th Amendment to the constitution.
- It was passed in 1919 and became law in 1920.
- Prohibition lasted THIRTEEN YEARS. (How the bloody hell?)
- Among the unintentional consequences of this folly were: bootlegging, racketeering, increased organized crime, increased prostitution, increased theft, increase murder, and the spread of speakeasies and jazz music.
In retrospect, this seems like a joke. Like the smart people took their hands off the wheel of our country for, like, a second and it went to sh!t overnight. But isn’t it more likely that I feel that way because alcohol is legal now? Temperance was a pretty big movement. Prohibition was enacted by a fairly significant margin in Congress. The reports I could find said that Democrats voted 140 to 64 in favor of Prohibition, and Republicans voted 132 to 64 in favor.
Of course, as the Great Depression wore on, the belief that prohibition was a local issue (and not one that should be legislated by our consitution) grew in popularity. In addition, the lost taxes, jobs, and temporary relief of a good stiff drink seemed to outweigh the importance of having a sober society, or at least a society that was legally supposed to be sober. With all the trafficking of liquor across borders, home distilleries, and smuggling, people who wanted to drink still did. I mean, evidently.
So what I can’t help wonder is Will we feel this way about drugs someday?
I mean, drugs were legal before they were illegal. We’re spending a bajillion dollars on a “war” against them that is totally unwinable. We have criminalized possession and use and STILL our jails fill up. We’re missing out on, I would guess, trillions of dollars in taxes. It is widely believed to be the source of significant crime, including theft and murder.
And though I keep my nose clean these days, I know too well that if you want to find drugs in this country, you can.
The illegality of drugs seems like Prohibition deja vu all over again. You know, if I’d been around in the 1920s.
So I keep thinking to myself, those who don’t learn from the past, are destined to repeat it. And, well, aren’t we? I wonder if our grandkids will watch movies about drug runners and think, “Man how stupid was that era?”
I don’t know. But I can’t stop thinking about it.
One thing I do know – Boardwalk Empire has made me fall in love with Supper Clubs. I know it’s hollywood and entertainment but how aaaahmaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaazing is the idea of a big open club where everyone dresses up to eat, drink and dance?
Ok, we go to restaurants. Yup, we go to bars too. BUT WHERE DO WE GO TO DANCE?!?!??!!
And to do all three in once place? Heaven.
I’m not talking about those OONZ-OONZ-OONZ clubs where people chew glow sticks and dance with their cell phones. I’m not talking about hooker gear or girls night out or bachelor parties with “hostesses”. I’m talking about groups of couples – marrieds & nots, groups of friends – men & women – going out to share a night of laughs while consuming and burning calories. Why the hell did that go out of style?
Where’s Al when you need him?
I’ve been debating for a week about this post. After listening to Mayer Bloomberg’s speech, and Chris Matthews’ closing words tonight referencing that speech, I know I can’t be among those who don’t speak up. And seeing yet another post in my Facebook feed with anti-Islam/anti-mosque sentiment, I know anyone who wishes for peace and appreciates freedom shouldn’t keep her tongue either.
When I was celebrating the last* of our troops leaving Iraq, I came across a thread from a High-School phriend. Phriends are people who don’t know you (and maybe never did) but want to add you to their list on Facebook because you a) know some of the same people, b) went to school together, or c) grew up in the same vicinity.
After moving back to St. Louis for a few months, I acquired quite a few new phriends, mostly from my hometown.
Many are conservatives.
Some post highly political comments.
A few make my blood boil.
Reading that thread which insinuated that our President, addressed as “Hussein Obama,” is secretly a Muslim (and that there would be something horribly wrong if that were true), I felt my face redden. Seeing violence threatened against the mosque to be built within blocks of ground zero by profile pictures of happy smiling 30-somethings, I recoiled with disgust. There were posts that attempted to justify their proposed hatred and violence because “they,” meaning Muslims, started the violence & hatred. The ugly commentary was labeled ‘patriotism’ and somehow bled into how the U.S. has gone to hell because Christianity has been taken out of our schools. Some people find that frenzied fear-mongering entertaining. I think it’s fascist and hypocritical and I said so.
It earned me an “unPhriending.”
You’d think an uber-conservative would have gleaned my lefty disposition from my very candid profile but in case anyone missed it,
This Just In: I am a Liberal, A Capitalist, and a Cubs-Fan.*
Sure, I felt frustration that mine was likely the only contrary commentary his circle might hear and by removing me from the thread, I was taken out of the conversation. Discourse and diversity are core to this country. So while the poor fella who couldn’t stomach my retort to hate speech might not read this, I cannot keep quiet about hate.
Here is the comment that earned me an “unphriending.” I wonder how many more are about to bite the dust.
There isn’t much about this thread that doesn’t appall me. The initial post is blatantly xenophobic and propagates disinformation circulated during our shameful election process.
The outrage over the mosque in NY is absurd. There are plenty of religious buildings near ground zero. Why is a mosque any different? Because the terrorists were Muslim? I’m pretty sure Oklahoma didn’t raze every church after the bombings there. It’s just ‘too bad’ we didn’t have any foreigners to blame for that despicable act or we could have started a few more unnecessary wars! Isn’t that the great American way? Do as we say or else we’ll bomb you to death?
Do you know what a terrorist is? Do you know the 100+ definitions for the term? Don’t you think that we are considered monsters for invading and ravaging sovereign nations whose guilt has yet to be determined?
As for religious freedom and the “taking back” of your country? Your privilege to worship as you choose is only as good so far as it does not interfere with mine.
Your right to wave a flag and threaten with shotguns and say God Bless America will and must be tempered by my right to burn that flag in protest, plant a daisy in your gun barrel and exercise my right to not practice a religion.
Pluralism, my friends, is what makes America great. Not Christianity or Conservatism or Democracy. Pluralism. We allow for a great many ideas, beliefs, habits, persuasions, and truths.
To support otherwise would place you squarely in the fundamentalist camp – not unlike the extremists we claim to have been fighting.
You can’t have it both ways.
It wasn’t that long ago that the Russians were the most evil people on earth according to the great American propaganda machine. It turns out that they love their children, cherish their spouses, and bleed just like we do. Huh… what do you know about that.
I’d be careful about using terms like “us” and “them.” We are but one people, universally. You can choose not to accept that but to your own detriment.
Since when is it appropriate to only do right when others do? If we are to ever fulfill our promise as a nation, we must learn to lead by example. Our pluralism is revolutionary. Clearly, 200 years on, we still breed people who aren’t prepared for the responsibility it imbues.
I hate to tell you, but Jesus was a liberal.
As of 8/25/10, 10:15 p.m. CST, the count is at 738.