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Friday, August 1, 2014


Two of my friends evoked memories of dense cruelty yesterday:


A dumb doctor in the ER, at UCLA no less, who insinuated that my husband must be an alcoholic since he has liver cancer. Or so he sounded to me anyway. 

Janie: (In reply to Inger had her own memory):

 Inger, I was in the hospital once with a liver problem and a doctor I didn't even know came in the room and shouted at me 

that I needed to get myself to Alcoholics Anonymous. I was appalled and embarrassed to the point that I didn't know what to do or say. I rarely drink.

Once Upon A Time ...

Mother was just starting her battle with Cancer.  

She promised her doctor she would not smoke.  Mother always kept her word.

She said everything could be taken from you but honor.  That you had to give away yourself.

Alas, the Nurses Break Room was right next door, and they smoked like chimneys!

One evening I walked in to find Mother sitting, shivering with eyes filled with tears.

My face become flint, and I said low, "What happened, and who is going to be sorry they see me?"

Mother smiled evilly, "Oh, your friend, Sandra, and I have decided how to handle it."

"Uh, oh," I said.

She said, "Oh, nothing obscene, nothing twisted, nothing illegal."

Her doctor had come into her room, sniffed the smoky air (courtesy of the Nurses Break Room) and yelled for ten minutes at her.  

"It is bad enough you lie about smoking but to blame the nurses!"

Mother told him to leave and not to come back.

"I will go when I am ready!"

Mother picked up the steel bedpan and weakly stepped towards him.  

"You are about to be the first doctor crowned with a bedpan ... and this one is full."

He left, promising to be back tomorrow.

And that is all Mother would say.  

She had me repeat all the terrible, corny, but heart-healing jokes my young customers brought each day as their presents to my sick mother.  

We ended the evening visit by softly singing SIDE BY SIDE, our song when I was very little.

I came the next morning, but she would still say nothing of what she and Sandra planned.

As I walked down the hospital hallway that evening, every nurse I passed tried to keep a straight face but broke out laughing.

Uh, oh.

I walked into Mother's room.  A big smile on her face, she sat on the side of her bed, twirling a rubber chicken. 

"I lied about the twisted."

The next morning there was an 8 X 10 framed blow-up of the picture taken by Sandra 

of Mother swatting the stunned doctor with the rubber chicken.

Sandra smirked, "Hey, what was he going to say to the police?  I've been assaulted by a rubber chicken?"

The doctor's partner always came after that.  But he walked in smiling.  He didn't like his partner either.


  1. Jump or leap... taking it all in stride, waiting for the next disaster... hoping all is SWELL, things are but a dream... sometimes we just wake up too soon.

  2. Some doctors are far too quick in claiming demi-god (at least) status for themselves. And they are usually the ones with no empathy whose ears do not function.
    I LOVE your mother's solution.

  3. That's great. I feel better.


  4. Your mother sounds like someone I would like very much. Such spirit!

  5. This has been a really great post.

  6. Oh I like the way your mother handles things. I knew those rubber chickens were good for something.

    I've found out in the last few weeks it pays to be a frequent visitor, and to ask a lot of questions. I've met two docs I wasn't fond of, very blunt men; but also a few caring ones. I complained about one of bad ones to the hospital and the nurses. I almost punched the doctor, as one daughter was in the room with us and he spoke about 'letting them go'. I told the social worker at the hospital I didn't like his manner. I really wanted to tell him what a jerk he was.

    You're capturing the feeling very well here, Roland, and I know you've had some at your work be less than considerate at times.

  7. Jeremy:
    Sometimes life is a nightmare, too! You're right: just take it as it comes. :-)

    Elephant's Child:
    Yes! Many doctors confuse the M.D. after their names with Me Diety! Thanks.

    I'm glad. :-)

    Yes, mother was a one of a kind spirit. I wear her love and memory like a ghost of a rose.

    Thank you. Not very many visited today. I thought I had done a poor job of writing the great heart that Mother was.

    Doctors have become our new priesthood. "Oh, Doctor, here is my money sacrifice. Oh, Great One, have mercy on me!"

    Sometimes great power is too much for fragile ego's.

    I suspect that particular doctor wouldn't like to "be let go."

    Some at work were ... unique today. I could hear the spirit of my Mother say, "Just let asses bray, son. It is their nature. Do not break your heart on the stone that they have made of their own hearts." :-)

  8. I wish I would have had your mother's spirit when I was staying with my son when he had skull surgery when he was one year old. Overnight the NICU nurse would come in and talk with the anesthesiologist about whatever they talk about when a kid is kept on a breathing tube because they ended up having lots of anesthesia, and wake me up. I'd ask if things were okay (because of the tone of the tone of their conversations) and he'd be all nurse-like. The next morning, when they switched nurses, he didn't close the door when they talked (which they're supposed to) and told the next nurse how wonderful the mother was for the kid next to us, and then proceed to tell her how I was (basically)nuerotic, pushy and (gasp) pregnant (I was five months pregnant w/ my second son). I totally lost it and started to cry, bewildered about what I'd done that was so terrible. The doctors (of course) had to show up for their rounds early that day, and so I was an emotional wreck, but I wasn't going to sound like a whiny parent and rat out the nurse. They, in turn, sent the hospital social worker to come talk to me, because they must have thought I was having some severe mental issue because of the stress of the surgery. Even then, I still didn't rat out the nurse. I think the second nurse heard my sobbing phone conversation with my husband about the whole thing, and so maybe knew what had happened. If nothing else, it taught me to never, ever talk about clients/students/parents in the hallways, because they might just hear you, and that's just mean.

  9. Your mother was very clever. And she got what she wanted by sticking up for herself. Sounds like that doctor wasn't liked by many people (otherwise the nurses would have been outraged on his behalf rather than snickering) and even the guy's own partner didn't like him. Some doctors should have chosen research or autopsy. Just sayin'.

  10. Lara:
    I am so sorry they treated you like that. It was THEIR behavior and speech that was out of order. But too many take a little authority and let it go to their smug heads and withered hearts.

    Of course you were upset and concerned -- not to have been would have been the dysfunction!

    Mother has a witness, my friend Sandra, too! No, the doctor was full of himself and rude ... to anybody with less authority than he.

    Mother had won over the nursing staff with her concern for them. I made them smile with my drawings of Bugs Bunny, Wiley E. Coyote, and Snoopy in various humorous poses, joking with Mother from the walls. I am a good Con Artist -- give me an image, and I can replicate with a twist or two. :-)

    Yes, some doctors do not have people skills!!

  11. Hi Roland .. thanks for letting us know about Inger and then the other thoughtless conversations ... people.

    Your mother sounded a great character .. a floppy rubber chicken - what a great thought ..

    Cheers Hilary