Sunday, September 30, 2012

Yo Mama. Yo favorites.

Sunset in my mama's favorite place


Hey! The moment you've all been waiting for is here. . .okay. . .maybe it's the moment I've been waiting for. . .but still! It's here. It's here!

Yes!

A guest post, y'all!

Now. I know you know that this is a very unusual occurrence on this here blog. In fact, the only guest poster that I've ever had has been the two awesome visits from Neil W.-- one in "No Sleep 'til Brooklyn" and the other in "History Will Teach Us Everything."

Otherwise, you've been stuck with me. Ha!

But not today. And on top of all of that, I actually have a different guest poster. Ain't that exciting? Even if your answer is no, it's pretty darn exciting to me.

Here's why:

The esteemed author of this guest post is. . . . .wait for it. . .wait for it. . . my mother!


Also known as Shug. Also known as Grandma Shugsie. Also known as just Shugsie. Also known as Tounces. Also known as Grandma.  And also known as MY MAMA!

Yay.

Do you guys have any idea how groovy it is to have your mama write something for your blog? Well if you don't I'll tell you. Very. Especially if you are still in touch with your inner child who remembers how good it felt to have your mama volunteer to read a book in your class or participate in any kind of thing that you were a part of as a child.

The other special part is that my mama is not only the very first reader of my blog, but also  the person who seems to read what I've written even before I've hit publish. I don't know how she does it but I feel like I get the "typo text" before I've even finished the post. But seriously? I love every second of it. And even though I'm forty two years old, her dedication to following my blog kind of feels like having a parent at every single soccer game or clapping on the front row of your middle school drama production no matter how lame.

And that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.

As some of you know, last week I put up a post about the writings from my archives that I revisit the most. Tounces got super excited from that and said (without solicitation) that SHE wanted to do a favorites list of her own. From her daughter's blog. How sweet is that?

And can I please just let you know that my mother is the only person I know who surpasses me in thinking, over-thinking, and then warming thoughts back up to be over-thunk one more time. Which means that having her agree to write and then release what she's written to me for all of you to read is kind of a big deal.

Mmm hmmm.

So. You know what to do. Put your hands together for my mama and show that woman some love as she brings to you:

THE TOP MORE-THAN-TEN POSTS ON THE LITTLE BLOG THAT COULD THAT GRANDMA SHUG (AKA TOUNCES AKA MY MAMA) LOVES THE MOST

Like to hear it? Here it go!


So . . .last week I promised Grady Doctor (my daughter) that I'd write a guest post about my favorite ten posts on her blog – the ones I go back to most often. The fun part was going back over my list (Yes, I’m forgetful so I keep a list) and revisiting some that I hadn’t read in a while. The hard part was trying to narrow my list down to only ten. But here goes. I’m calling it The Top ___ Posts that I Love Most. And yeah, the blank is there intentionally because I’m not sure how many will end up here.

Kimberly sidebar:  Remember when Mrs. Carter said that rules don't apply to the elders? Now that you're sixty five the top ten rules don't apply to you.



Needless to say, I always enjoy the family posts because there’s love in every word.



And for the record:  The BHE is also the BSILE. (That's the Best-Son-in-law-Ever.)



And the Grady elders? Love each and every post about them!


But before I go any further let me just say that, hands down, my all time favorite is “We Love Her More."


Not only is the post about me (ahem!), but it tells about what was The.Best.Birthday.Ever! for me, and at the age of 65, that’s saying a lot.


Three of my kids, my son-in-law and daughter-in-law, and all six of my grandkids were there. Love was in the air that night. So much so that even total strangers were wishing me Happy Birthday and hugging me. Best of all, though, is that the elephant that had been in the room for much too long dissipated into thin air like those elephants in the Dumbo movie. . . it just floated away, out of the room and into the night.

image credit

Because as it happens, the problem with those elephants in rooms is that they cause spouses to side with their spouses which deepens the rift and the tension permeates the family like a fog. It’s heavy and there, but you can’t touch it. But all of that disappeared that night because everyone loved me more than enough to come together as a family. Whenever I want a feel-good feeling, I read that post and watch the video!

Sigh . . .


I love “Acute-On-Chronic Parental Pride” for much of the same reasons. But mostly because when I look at the picture of Kimberly’s Dad standing there with her, I can see how happy they both were. It was a wonderful day, indeed!



“For the Love of Grady – A Love Letter” – I love this post because it just expresses everything Grady Doctor loves about what she does. I love how she defends and honors Grady’s authentic voice.


Nuff said!

Tops, too, on my list is “Please and Thank You." I can never read that one without getting teary-eyed. Just seeing the picture of the roses makes me feel full.


It reminds me how kindness can touch people’s hearts. Which leads me to “A Piece of Cake."  Because that? That is what being a kind person is all about - ordinary people making the world a better place! And then when I got to “meet” Miss Regina again  in "The Woman in the Elevator"-- I was just thrilled. I actually gave her a virtual hug.


Yes.I.Did.

“Fearfully and Wonderfully Made” makes me feel sad every time I reread it. I just wish Mrs. Bates had a better lot in life, you know?

That’s also how I feel about “Little Mama” which I have read dozens of times and shared with many people. In that piece, the descriptions are so vivid that I can see the scene happening in my head every time I read it. Kids with “noodle legs”, “. . .two small children floating behind her running legs like two human kites”. And if that didn’t move me enough, then emmy’s (now known as Lisa)  comment just took me over the edge. Damn!


“Letting Go” makes me think. It’s a sad piece about a young man fighting for his life. It also introduced me to Atul Gawande’s writing and I read his piece as well. Food for thought, there!


And “Jeremiah, The Butterfly” made me feel more compassion for those who struggle with choices that aren’t always theirs to make. As did “This” where the transgendered Brazilian woman called Grady Doctor out on not being as enlightened as she believed she was.




I enjoyed “Sounds of This American Life” so much that I actually did it with a class in which I substituted and called it “Sounds I Heard Today”. The fourth grade students came up with some great lines – “Bus doors hissing, Feet shuffling, Friends hello-ing, Teachers greeting . . .”

“I’m Here” and “You Make a Grown Man Cry”  both touched my heart because each person was treated with the respect and compassion that they needed and deserved.

And “We Cool” contains such a good word that I wrote in down and put it on my mirror.

"What you hear sometimes got more to do with where you at than what the other person say."

That’s some profound talk there!



And the one I go to when I want to laugh out loud?? “Grady Seinfeld Moment on a Tuesday – Rusty Butterknives." Hilarious! I’m even laughing now as I write this.

My final word? Anytime I open up Grady Doctor’s Blog and see a new post, I know I’m in for a good read. Because Grady Doctor is not only my daughter, she is a gifted storyteller.



And me? I’m an acute-on-chronically proud mama!

xo, Tounces

***

Thanks, Tounces!

Okay, now y'all show my mama some love in the comment section so she won't be over-thinking this whole thing. But mostly because she's awesome and insightful. A quote from her TODAY (no exaggeration) was:

"I love it when a post makes somebody. . what do you call it? DE-LURK?"

But seriously--Mom, thanks for all of your consistent love and support. Real, true support often involves time. And you consistently put it in. You have taught me how to make love a verb. Thanks for that.

xo,

The Knee-baby



P.S. This random photo of Neil W. and David M. is for you, Tounces.  (Mom is super fond of Neil--who she regularly describes as "fetching." Several other readers have a thing for David, so I figured I would please all of you, too.)

***
Happy Sunday.


Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mass confusion.



It a little bit sound like the Charlie Brown-cartoon-grown-up voice. All wobbled up and hard for somebody to understand. I keep looking at her and she looking at me. I'm smiling so she won't think I'm confused.

But I am.

Okay. I ain't stupid. I know I ain't. But this? It's so much so fast. Something 'bout how at first there was one medicine but that one did something and now she want to try another one. Big words for no reason keep throwing me off. She seem like she in a hurry, too. At some point, I just said bump it. I'll just see if the man at the WalMart pharmacy can help me.

Keep smiling. Smiling while she looking over all my pill bottles.

"This one is renal protective. Since you have diabetes that's a medicine you need to be on but your potassium has been creeping up. We'd thought about holding that one but there's also the added benefit of ventricular remodeling with your heart failure. In other words, how the heart is shaped and how it responds to all that's going on with you."

She set that bottle down after she said that part. It felt like a door slamming on me. Right in my face.

"Uh huh."

Still smiling.

"You with me, Mr. Allen?"

I just nod 'cause I don't want her to start over.

Now. What the hell do RENOPROTECTIVE mean anyway? I don't know. But she been talking  so much and for so long that I don't even want to ask. She seem like she care so much, too. But she talk so fast and with all these fancy ways to say stuff. RENOPROTECTIVE? What? And the remodel part don't mean nothing to me. I hope it mean something to the man at the WalMart pharmacy.

Smiling. Head nodding.

"There's a lot of compelling data to support us keeping an eye on the the K since the benefits far outweigh the risks of you being on an ACE."

K? What the hell is that?

"Oh. I almost forgot. K is just our abbreviated name for potassium. It's a salt in your body."

"Oh, okay."

"So, we'll keep the ACE on board and the thiazide, too. I also think it's a good idea to switch this atenolol to Coreg. I have no idea what you were doing on that atenolol when you have known systolic dysfunction."

Because y'all prescribed it when I was in the hospital, that's why. "Okay, then."

"Carvedilol is the superior beta blocker for patients with heart failure. There's plenty of good data to support that. It's more potent, too, so I think we'll get the most bang for our buck there."

I thought you just said a different name. Now I'm confused.

"Question, sir?"

"Uhhh. . . what is Coreg?"

"Carvedilol. That's just the trade name for it."

"Oh, okay."

Trade name? Whatever that is. So why the hell are you going between two names for it anyway? I don't even know what it is. But something about it being superior or whatever the hell she keep saying sounds okay, I guess. I guess.

Smiling. Nodding my head some more.

Here's the thing. I don't get ninety percent of what she say to me. But it seem like she care and like she smart. So even if it sound crazy, I just go with what she say.

Now she studying all my pill bottles like somebody gon' test her on 'em later. I kind of have to pee but hopefully we almost finished.

"Hey! What's this?"

Now she's looking at another bottle and her face is all twisted. Shit, I don't know. I just brought in my bag with all my bottles like you said to do. They changed some medicines when I was in the hospital last month and I thought all this was in that computer. Why then, she got to act all surprised like nobody is talking to nobody?

"How long have you been on this clonidine?"

Cloni-who?

I take the bottle and look at it. "That's from when I was in the hospital. I started it after I left."

"Uggh. I hate clonidine. What the heck were these guys thinking? Clonidine? Atenolol? Are you kidding me?"

I don't think them questions was for me. It was for the air, the situation and for herself. Words that woulda probably been spoken even if I wasn't there. Here's what I just decided. It make me kinda uneasy when one doctor make it seem like another doctor ain't doing right by you. Seem to me like everybody need to get on one page.

But the cloni-whatever wasn't my favorite. I stopped it like a week ago since it didn't agree with me. Why not tell her?

"That pill make me feel a little bit drowsy so I don't always take it."

Damn. What did I say that for? Now she shaking her head and mumbling some more stuff about the other doctor who gave me that medicine. But I was just being honest.

"Clonidine isn't always best for everyone. Yes, it can make you drowsy and it also causes rebound hypertension."

Whatever that is.

"When was the last time you took it, sir?"

"Ummm, I think yesterday." And by yesterday, I mean last week.

"Yesterday? Ugggh. Okay."

Now she typing all fast into that computer. I kind of like that they put the notes in the computer. But  look to me like they'd have some better idea of what's happening if they looked at what each other was doing.

"Maybe I took the clonidine last week. Not yesterday."

"Okay. Well we're stopping that anyway. The Coreg should do the trick, I think." She paused for a moment like she was about to say something else. "You still smoking?"

Shit.

"Uuuuhhhh. . . "

"I can smell cigarettes on you, sir. It's okay, you can tell me."

I smell onions on your breath from your lunch break but I didn't just call your ass out on it. Damn.

"I cut back a lot, though."

"What's that mean?"

"A pack last me three days now. That's a lot less."

Now that part was true. Last time she was pushing me to make a 'quit date' and to get her off my back I just went on and said I'd quit on my birthday. That day came and went.

"Hmm, okay. I know we'd set that quit date before. How are you feeling about quitting?"

"I want to quit."

That's true, too. Eventually I want to quit. But as far as being real, real ready to quit right this second, no. I drive trucks. I ain't really in no position to not smoke. What truck driver don't smoke? Well. There's Jimmy who quit. I think Big Marsha quit, too and she was a chain smoker. They went cold turkeys and I ain't so sure about that.

"Okay. We can set another quit date and this time use some nicotine replacement. How's that sound?"

It sound good for somebody ready to quit. I said I want to not I'm ready to. And I heard them nicotine patches make your skin break out and make you feel all jittery. She looking all up in my face so I better not say nothing, though.

"I guess that's okay."

"Okay, great." She starts squinting at this calendar on the wall. "What do you think about Thanksgiving?"

"What do I think about it?"

"Yes. As a quit date?"

"For the cigarettes?"

"Yes, Mr. Allen. That would be a great way to celebrate your Thanksgiving. What do you think about Thanksgiving?"

Here's what I think about Thanksgiving. I think I'm gon' have me some pie and loosen up my belt buckle after a big plate of food. Maybe two plates. I think I'm gon' play some bid whist, spades and dominoes with my sister and my brothers and my sons and we gon' talk shit and drink Jim Beam. And we also gon' smoke. That's what I think about Thanksgiving.

"That might be a little soon."

"Okay. How about Christmas?"

How about changing the subject? How 'bout you recognizing that we do the same thing on Christmas as we do on Thanksgiving?

"What do you say, Mr. Allen?"

This time she winked at me.

"Um, yeah, okay."

"Great, sir. That's great!"

More typing.

"We have flu shots in. So we'll give you one of those today, okay?"

Today? Damn. I'm not so keen on those. Last time my arm hurt for two whole weeks. But if I say no she gon' say what she said last year about me having sugar and how if I get the flu I could die. I don't know anybody who got the flu and died. Not a one person.

"Can I wait on that?"

"I wouldn't recommend it. You know you have diabetes and heart failure and if you were to get influenza it could be life threatening."

Told you. Now it's heart failure, too that will kill me with the flu? I just don't have it in me to fight. Plus my bladder feels very, very full and I want to just pee and then leave. See? That's why I don't like taking my water pill on the day I see the doctor.

"Okay."

"Okay for the flu shot?"

"I guess."

She holds a thumbs up. I smile. Again.

The last part involve something about this colon test I have coming up in a month. How it's very, very important for me to get this, especially since I'm Afro-American. I don't even remember saying I wanted that test. Or us talking about it. I do remember when my brother Charles Edward got that test. He said that stuff they give him the day before had his bowels running off so bad he thought he had the choler-y.

"It's only every ten years. Unless they find a mass or something."

A mass? What the?

"You know, like a polyp or something."

Charles Edward didn't say nothing about that.

"What happen if you don't get that test?"

She already revved up. "Well, if you had a colonic mass and it went undetected you could have colon cancer spread all through your body. The most aggressive forms affect African-Americans."

Here we go with that again. When did we switch from being black? Are we still black? I don't even know. I know we ain't colored. But NAACP still got the word 'colored' in it. I wonder why? Hmm. Hell if I know. I'm just ready to go.

"So that's on the twenty-second, okay, sir?"

"That's fine, ma'am. Are we just about finished up? I want to get to this pharmacy, you know." And to this bathroom. "Plus my son waiting on me, you know, and he got to get on to work."

"Absolutely."

Typed some more. Said a few more things, this time even faster than all the other stuff. Then when she was done with all of that she reached out and touched my hand.

"I love taking care of you, Mr. Allen. I hope you know that."

I smiled because that was kind. "I like you, too, doctor."

"Let me know if there's ever anything I can do to take better care of you, okay?"

She still got her hand on my hand and she looking all in my face like she really want to hear what I got to say. And man, I do got so much stuff to say.

Like:

You can slow down. You can use some smaller words. You can maybe draw it on a piece of paper for me. You can know that ACE and K and COREG and CARVEDILOL and COMPELLING DATA are words that sound like another language to me but how you say them in my direction seem like you think I speak it. I don't. So you could know that.

And:

You can not say nothing bad about the other doctor that saw me in the hospital. You can look inside the computer to see what they did. You can let me see how I feel about cigarettes. And flu shots. And not scare and confuse the shit out of me by saying something about a mass on my colon. You can just overall explain stuff to me different. Slower. Less fancy-like. You can know that even though I can read and write it don't mean I get all that you say. You can remember that when you talk to me. All that. That would make it better for me.

It would. It really, really would.

But that's a lot. And saying all that would make my son wait longer in that waiting area and my bladder almost explode. Plus it might hurt her feelings 'cause Lord knows it seem like she thinking hard and long about me. So I keep it simple.

"Okay, doc. I will."

"Alright, Mr. Allen. See you in three months?"

"Yes, ma'am. Three months."

***
Happy Saturday.


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Shut the front door.



Okay. Here's something to make you smile.

So I was talking to this Grady elder and her granddaughter this week and she was doing well. Like so well that, really, there wasn't a whole bunch to talk about other than small talk. That small talk included questions about her life including how many kids, grandkids, and greatgrandkids she had.

Mrs. Carter had ten kids that grew into adulthood. Then three of her own kids had ten, too. The rest all had at least four but most had somewhere around "six or seb'm." Now. This woman was easily into her late eighties so by now all those kids' kids had kids, too. That was a lot of lineage.

"Well, I know I gots well over fifty-some-odd grands. I done lost count of the ones after that."

"Over fifty grandchildren? Shut the front door!"

Right when I said that last part Mrs. Carter narrowed her eyes and had this look of disdain. Her granddaughter chuckled and wiped her face with her hand. Shaking her head she said, "Here we go."

Mrs. Carter lit right into me. "Shut the front door? I don't like that figure of speech. See, I don't like it when somebody say 'shut the front door' like that 'cawse I know what you really want to say and it ain't nothin' you need to be fixin' your mouth to be saying."

Eek.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Carter."

"See, 'caws what you really wontin' to say is the f-word. And don't no lady need to be saying no f-word. It jest make you look ugly when you do. 'Specially in front of your elders."

"Yes, ma'am," I answered, "I can see your point."

"See, y'all go and take something that's PRO-fanity and then go on and twist it into something thanking you being all cute. But see to me, it ain't cute hearing no lady saying 'shut the front door' when I know what she tryin' to say."

"Yes, ma'am."

"My next door neighbor had her little great-grand over to the house and that little girl gon' tell her grandmama that somebody could 'kiss her asphalt' thanking it was funny. Naww, see. That ain't funny to me."

"No, ma'am, it's not funny at all."  Although I kind of secretly thought it was. Just a little bit.

"We was right out front, mmm hmm. She betta be glad she ain't no kin to me. I woulda pulled a switch right off that bush out front and got her legs with it."

"Mama, you can't spank nobody in public like that," her granddaughter chimed in. The expression on her face was soft and amused. I could tell this kind of banter took place often in their house.

"The hell I can't. If you one of my chil'ren and you 'round here acting a damn fool, I'll beat your tail whenever and wherever I choose. Kiss her asphalt. What a ten year old child know about somebody kissing anything?"

I just nodded and tried to look more deferential than entertained. I'm not sure I was succeeding.

"THAT'S the problem with these chil'ren now. What business you got being a doctor in the doctor's office telling somebody 'shut the front door' when you really want to tell somebody 'shut the fuck up.'"

Whoa, Mama! That is NOT even what I was saying! 

Besides. It sure sounded much worse when put that way.

"Mama!" her granddaughter interjected. Her eyes widened at her grandmother.  "Mama! Don't say the f-word. That's horrible. Plus you a lady, too." Granddaughter shook her head.

"Well, I been here long enough to say what I wont to say lady or not."

Love how the rules don't apply to the elders. Fair enough.

"Mama! Really, Mama?"

She ice-grilled her granddaughter while making this chewing motion with her mouth. I think her dentures were loose. "Well you know. . . I could just tell YOU to kiss my asphalt, now couldn't I?" 

Freakin' awesome.

"Or you could just say shut the front door." As soon as I said that Mrs. Carter swung her head in my direction. I offered her an innocent expression kind of like Steve Urkel.


"Did III do that?"

Mrs. Carter was not EVEN amused.

Her granddaughter was still reeling from Mrs. Carter's f-bomb. "Mama! I can't even believe you jest said the f-word! Mama!"

"She said it first." Mrs. Carter pointed at me.

"What? Nuh unh, Mrs. Carter!"

Now she was on to something else. "What's that other one, Gayle? That other one that Marshawn 'nem was sayin' that day?"

"When Mama?"

"When we was watching the TV conventions. With Obama and all them that day."

"Ohhhh!" She clapped her hands and chuckled simultaneously. "Ohh, yeah!"

"What he said, Gayle? Said somebody going . . .some kind way."

"Marshawn said Miss Obama was going HAM"

"You know what that is?" Mrs. Carter gave me what I am certain was the hairiest of eyeballs when she asked that. "You know what H-A-M. is?"

Eek. I'm afraid I do know. But if you think I was about to admit it to this octogenarian who'd just torn me a new one for saying "shut the front door" you could forget it.

"Uhhh, HAM? No, ma'am, I sure don't." I felt my nose grow just a tiny bit.

"Well," Mrs. Carter said, "I know the 'm' stand for 'mother' even though you know they really mean 'motherfucker.'"

"MAMA!"

"It do! What it mean again, Gayle? The whole thing?"

"Dr. Manning, you heard somebody say they going H.A.M? Like they going hard as a mother?"

"No. . . .I've never heard that expression."  Fingers sooooo crossed behind my back.

"See, that's what I mean. Everybody done got all cute with these expressions like somebody don't know what they mean. Then you got little bitty kids saying HAM and shut the front door and all that foolishness."

Foolishness. Such a grandmama word. Love it.

"You know this man on the radio named Tom Joyner? He always saying that somebody using some BIG-A words and that make me mad that he can say that full out on the radio cawse everybody know he really trying to say 'BIG ASS.'"

"Yes, ma'am."

"What you thank about beating chil'ren? Kids don't get no real beatin's no more. Tha's they problem."

"Uuuhhh, beatings?"

"With a switch. Don't nothing put you in your place like a switch."

"Uuhhh, yes ma'am."

"If I heard any of my kin talkin' 'bout some 'kiss my asphalt' I woulda got them legs good. Sure as I sit right here."

"Yes ma'am."

"And 'nizzle'. You know they be saying shizzle for sure and nizzle for --"

"--Oh LORD. Please Mama."

"Now what somebody look like saying that word? That's some foolishness if I ever heard it. Shizzle and nizzle.

And after that, Mrs. Carter spent no less than ten more minutes lamenting about the same thing. Seeing as she was in her eighties, I just sat there and took my lumps.

Finally, finally, finally I managed to get out of the room. But as I did--I kid you not--I could hear one of the residents clear as day belly-aching about the four patients still waiting to be seen by him. The schedule was busier than expected.

"Are you freakin' kidding me?" the voice rang out. Her granddaughter dropped her head and I cringed.

Lucky us. Mrs. Carter was so busy still going off about kissing asphalt and the shutting the front door that she didn't hear any of it.

Phew! That was close.

And can I just say how much I love working at Grady? And especially how much I love the Grady ultra-elders like Mrs. Carter? Because I do.

Like, OM-eff-G, I do.

***
Happy Thursday.

Gone home.


"When the world turns blue
you will turn into
rhythm, words and melody
that show a power anew

And though the past may find you
with all I left behind you
I still will play the song
that I played for you. . .

And when we are gone
the song will live on
Some stranger will hear 
and he'll say this is just how I feel
Every line, every moment is true
When the world turns blue."

_________________________

Text exchange earlier this week:

Me: "Your dad sounds like an amazing man."

Her: "Yes. Dad = Amazing."

May we all be so fortunate to have our children and grandchildren speak of us this way in life  . . . and to leave such a legacy behind in death. 

Yes, the song will live on. The best songs never leave your head or your heart.


"His master said, "Well done, good and trustworthy servant!". ~ Matthew 25:23

***

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The doctor-friend.


When the world turns blue
somewhere after you
I'll just have to handle it
with all I know how to do
I'll write a song about you
how love can't live without you
and every place you touched me
made me feel new

And when we are gone
the song will live on
Some stranger will hear 
and he'll say this is just how I feel,
every line, every moment is true
when the world turns blue..
When the world turns blue

~ from Joe Sample's "When the World Turns Blue"

____________________________________________

Here is the message the doctors have given to the family:

"Things don't look good. You should call the family in because it seems like things have taken a turn for the worse."

That is the code that doctors use when trying to avoid those sticky words like death or dying. That feeble attempt to try to make it less wobbly and unpalatable. But it isn't really a code. Because codes are things that someone has to decipher and being one of those family members that just got called in because "things have taken a turn for the worse" takes very little interpretation.

Especially compared to all of the things that preceded it. 

Like, the treatments and the follow up and the prognosis discussions. They were layered between different scenarios and different hospitals and different doctors and different family members. And when you're in one city and all of those variables are in another city, that's a lot of layers. 

So you wonder. Like, how bad are things anyway? Kind of bad? Really bad? On the way to bad? Which is it?

A call to a doctor-friend sort of helps. But not really. Some of it makes sense. The rest, when placed in the backdrop of love's myopic view, does not.

You should come -- now.

But this? This can't be misunderstood. Calling in loved ones suggests something that's far more than kind of or on the way to. Especially when that APB is sent with no regard for how many planes, trains and automobiles will need to be involved. 

Get here. 

So this is a message that a friend of mine was given today. Get here. Come. Now. And we'd talked several times about all of this and how things were and how things could eventually get but all of that is totally hypothetical, really. Even when your doctor-friend is telling you all of this it isn't real until that pseudo-code comes through. The one urging you to drop everything and come -- now.

So she and family got that message and headed there. Including a child who somehow gets that love never dies even though human bodies must. Yes. They took those planes, trains and automobiles because the code was clear and required no cracking.

Things were urgent. Things are urgent. Get here. Now.

And so. Here I am a doctor and a friend. Or better yet, the doctor-friend. The doctor parts were more  in gear through our earlier conversations back when there were codes that needed my expertise to understand but now? No. The doctor is put on ice. No complex information to break down or explain. "Get here" says far more than I can.

I say a prayer while still holding my cell phone in my hand. Wondering if this will count as touching and agreeing. Will it? I don't know.

I send her a message:

How can I be of support? 

That was one of the last texts I sent. It was just a few moments ago. Moments later she responded:

All you can do is keep checking in on us. I appreciate it.

That was her response. 

So now I'm just sitting here. Feeling like I should be doing something like explaining or even straightening up covers. Asking if the room is too hot or too cold or if I can get anybody something to drink. Something. Seeing as I'm the doctor-friend and all.

But tonight I know that my job is to be a friend. To keep checking in as a regular-friend and not a doctor-friend.

And so I will.

Hang up the stethoscope and all the technicalities. Hang up the phone and wait for the part that I wish I didn't know so much about.

***

Now playing . . . .listen and feel peaceful. I did.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Life in Pictures: Good Stuff.

Here are some images from the past few days of my life that make me happy.

Like to see 'em? Here they go!


Isaiah had just made his second goal in their soccer game on Sunday. He was running that field like a big boy and I couldn't help but feel a little choked up. Seems like yesterday that he was picking up autumn leaves on the opposite end of the field. While the game was in play.

Uhh yeah.



There was big boy plotting and discussion taking place on that field, too. Like plots on who to pass to and who on that other team seems a little like they might cheat. (Yes, I overheard that part.)

Most of all, he was having fun. And I was proud.


Next.

Mehndi and Maya.

I was working in clinic yesterday with Maya V., a resident that I adore. She had just attended a traditional Indian wedding and had the decorative mehndi designs on her hands and forearms to prove it. For those who are unfamiliar, mehndi painting wears off over a few days or so and is something celebratory and festive in Indian and other South Asian cultures.

What I like is that it opened up this rich discussion about culture. India is not a small place. So like all not-small places, being from from one part of India is almost a world apart from some other parts in terms of traditions. The mehndi painting is shared by many states, but Maya talked a lot to me about weddings and marriage and all sorts of things related to different Indian cultures.

I also like that her painted hands led her patients to learn a bit more about her, too. It's a beautiful thing when we let each other into our worlds.


Next:

This is Zachary after one of his last football games. His team remains undefeated after six games. They were in their huddle and he was feeling good.


Now. This look on his face would suggest otherwise wouldn't it? Let me tell you what had just happened.

Zachary had asked me if I would mind not yelling out his Mama-pet-name during his game or any other public place. That nickname is "Toogie-Woogie." Which I have shortened up to just "Toogie" or "Toog." I think it was originally "Shuga-Wuga" but since my mom is Shugsie, it evolved to something else.

Well.

Didn't I mention that the team is 6 - 0? I was excited y'all! So in the post-game huddle when the coach gave Zachary a shout out, I pumped my fist and yelled out, "Yaaaay, TOOGIE!"

Epic. Fail.

Fortunately, none of his friends caught on that I was talking about him.

Oh, and this:

Turns out that I was considered as one of Atlanta's  "Top 25 Influential African-American Physicians" this year. Who knew?


You can see that the red dress that I wore to the ball last March (the one that coincided with the anime cartoon convention) got a little re-wearing.


Kind of funny -- this function was at the same hotel as the one above. But don't think that didn't stop me from putting that same dress right back on.

Mmm hmmm. Sure did.

The BHE was hanging that tux, do you hear me? Chile please. You can't even get the full glory from this photo but let me just say that the man has broad shoulders made for tailored suits.

Mmm hmmm.



Now THIS man is not the BHE, at least not mine. He is Dr. Maupin and he was President of my medical school when I was but a wee little medical student. He was being honored with a lifetime achievement award. It was really cool to be there with him and for him to remember me as a former "pesky little medical student in student leadership."

I was the one who always set up meetings to ask "why come this, sir?" or "can we have money for that, sir?"

And look at me now. Ha!

I do admit that I was tempted to still ask him "why come this, sir?" or "can I have money for that, sir?"  What can I say? I'm still pretty pesky.

Here's some more:

I had concession stand duty for football last week after our game.



And the bars in the concession booth are perfect because it sort of feels like. .  um. . . jail.

(Whoops. Did I say that out loud?)


Especially when your family chucks you a deuce and leaves you there to take your lumps. Oh well. Every football family has to do their time. In our house that translated to me since I'm not one of the coaches standing out there getting bitten by mosquitoes all the time.

Yup.

Oooohhhh. . . and what about this?


"Oreo Truffles" made for me with love by two dear medical students, Jenna M. and Katy A.

Lawd.

Talk about a party-in-yo-mouth. I was sure to snap this picture prior to inhaling the box. Which Harry, Isaiah, and I most certainly did. Isaiah even slapped me. And that was okay because these little balls of deliciousness were slap-yo-mama good.

What about Zachary? Oh. Zachary is not a sweets fan. Bizarre, yes. The kid just doesn't do too many sweets beyond frozen yogurt. He does like hard candy, but cakes, pies, truffles and such? Naaah. He doesn't do "rich."


Which reminds me of these images from last year when he turned five. He didn't want the cupcakes so we just sang to him with me holding a "five" candle lit in front of him. He blew it out and let the other kids have cupcakes.

Who does that?



But I digress.

And lastly, this:


My nephew, David, after my brother went with him to get his drivers' permit. This could quite possibly be one of my favorite pictures of all time. It just says so much. Doesn't my brother, Will, look so proud? And I promise you, it feels like yesterday that he and Poopdeck were sitting in that same position.

Little does poor David know that, just like his father, he will be toting his younger sisters hither and thither to Girl Scouts, drama, cheer practice, etcetera, etcetera  from the second he gets his official license until the day he moves far, far away. Bless his heart.

Shhh. Don't tell him, though. Heh heh.

This picture was taken on September 22. Exactly fourteen years to the day after David took his first steps, which I was there to witness -- back when I was just a pesky little medical resident.


Life is good.

***
Happy Tuesday, y'all.