Friday, February 20, 2009

Medicine, Women, Blogging and Other Thoughts

Just over five weeks ago I was getting ready to head to ScienceOnline09. I was really looking forward to meeting in person so many of the bloggers I regularly read, as well as my own session on a topic I love. My only worry was that living in Southern California had made my skin too thin for the anticipated winter weather. Then I got the phone call from my mom - my dad was in the hospital and I should come as soon as possible. So I canceled my flight to North Carolina and booked one for Northern California that very afternoon.

At the time I had no way of knowing I wouldn't be back home for a month, but so it happened. I spent a good chunk of that time at the hospital, either sitting with dad or in a waiting room. I guess I could have blogged during those times when I was just sitting and waiting, but honestly I didn't feel much like it. I also didn't really feel like reading other blogs, or novels, or much of anything else either. I kept mom company, I used my laptop to do what I had to get done, read the newspaper and did the crossword puzzle, but that's pretty much it. That, and sat and thought.

One of the things that's immediately obvious is that when you enter the hospital your care is largely dependent on women. Most of the nurses are women, as are many of the physicians and surgeons. It makes me wonder how people who think that women are intellectually inferior or don't have a strong commitment to their careers are able to cope with the idea that their very lives are in the hands of women. Racists and xenophobes must have an even tougher time. At the world-class hospital where my dad has spent most of the past month, many on the medical staff are non-white and/or immigrants. Perhaps there are hospitals in the US staffed predominantly by white American men, but that's certainly not true at the hospitals I've seen.

It turns out I have biases too - I keep thinking that some of the doctors look way too young to be practicing. For some reason I fell like doctors should be older than I am - that was true when I was 20, but not so much now that I'm in my 40s. It's a bit silly, I know, and if I were sick I wouldn't complain if Doogie Howser showed up, as long as I received quality care.

So now dad has been transferred to a skilled nursing facility, and I've returned home, at least for a short while. I've done a big pile of laundry, finally put away the Christmas decorations, and am trying to catch up with the backlog of things to do that have piled up over the past month. I've slowly been working my way through my emails, so if you wrote to me and I haven't responded yet, I apologize. I'll get back to you soon.



Arvind Mishra said...

Welcome ! Seems tough times are now over ! I dont think any person on the earth is devoid of baises nd prejudices -We are humans not robots !! So cheer up !

Anonymous said...

I read you compulsively and noticed you were gone for a month. Sending positive thoughts for you, your dad, and family.