Sharon Dobie

Touch

As of this week, I have gone two and a half months without a single human touch, by me or to me. How strange is that? I don’t think I ever before went more than eight hours of daytime without some human touch–a hug, a kiss, a handshake or touching a child’s shoulder in class, demonstrating a physical exam technique, examining a patient. Never.

Dogs and Cats and Nouns and Verbs

Two maxims come to mind when I think about parenting, maybe because I was pretty lucky until the teen years. 

In the early years, I didn’t need maxims. As a single parent, I needed support and friendship, child care, a good job, health insurance, and a bit of luck–all of which we had as a family.  

Happy Birthday

“Oh my god, this whole thing was so crazy!” the patient exclaimed, relief tinged with exasperation.

“Yea, that was crazy –,” I caught myself and glanced nervously at the resident, hoping I hadn’t committed a classic medical student-gaffe.

He responded diplomatically, something about having made the right call for the situation.

We should have been in the OR hours earlier, at the first sign of fetal distress. Instead, she was left writhing in pain in the labor bed. I wet a cloth for her face and watched the fetal heart rate drop lower and lower. We helped her change position at every deceleration. She cried out with every turn.

Belonging

Why did I avoid science and math in college? Why did I feel my successes in high school were somehow a fraud? When I earned a B.A. in American Studies and a Masters in City Planning, these did not feel fraudulent. They made sense: I cared about civil rights and social equity.

As for my undergraduate premed work, I viewed it as an experiment. If I didn’t make it to medical school, I still had my former career, even if I had decided it was one that would not fulfill me. My wonderful grandfather told me, “If you can’t see yourself happy in 30 years, leave!” He told me his own story: “When your grandmother was pregnant with your mother, and it was a recession, I was at lunch with a friend. I told him it was not the job for me. I did not even go back for my hat!”

MaMA

 
Day Three: “Mama”–­ accent on the second syllable, “maMA” – how he opened all calls to me. They had put in the PICC line, a catheter in the arm used for long-term intravenous antibiotics, medications and blood draws. “I don’t know how much longer I can do this.”

Who Will Hear a Stored Voice?

I’m crying a lot these days. Goes with the territory, and the triggers are everywhere.

My thirty-one year-old son had a newer laptop than mine and an iPhone 6. My iPhone 5 was a hand-me-down from him. (Prior to that, my iPhone 3 was given to me by a former resident, now friend, who upgraded to a 5 and was tired of mocking me for my flip phone.)

I have been paying my son’s cell phone bill since he died on 1/16/17. I told myself I would do this until I could get it backed up so I could have his contacts, pictures and music (most of the music that I do not even like) until I can face going through the contents. And then I could expropriate it to be my phone. It’s the same with his laptop: I don’t want to lose what’s on there. 

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