Friday, March 26, 2010


I confess....I'm not sure if I'm more disturbed by the recent result in a local court case or by the fact that I completely understand it.

A man was charged with sending pictures of his genitals to an undercover cop, whom he believed was a fifteen year old girl. He was brought to trial. He was convicted. The conviction was tossed out because the Judge instructed the jury to apply the standards of their county to the conduct in deciding whether it was wrong. The law actually required him to instruct them to apply the standards of a different county because of the details of the crime. Thus the conviction was tossed on appeal.

Okay, this is ridiculous. Really, I highly doubt a grown man sending a picture of his penis to what he thought was a young girl would be any more acceptable fifteen miles away. But, the lawyer in me gets it. The statute is clear on what standards applied and the instruction was wrong. It violated the defendant's rights. And we give rights to defendants for a reason....because there's the chance we'll be wrongly put in that chair one day and we want rights then. We can't change the game just because this defendant is utterly despicable. Darn presumption of innocence and all that.

I haven't been a practicing attorney for over three and a half years. But I really think that attorney-brain never goes away. The dirty little secret of the legal world is that you learn pretty much nothing about practicing law in law school. Oddly, this is even more true for the "elite" schools (yeah, like the one I went to). You do, however, learn to think differently. I felt this most clearly in Contracts class. There truly was one moment when I was befuddled and then the next moment when a cartoon light bulb went off and I just "got it." I remember a classmate turning to me first year and remarking how he now totally understood the remark "It depends on what your definition of 'is' is." Lawyer-think isn't always something that jives with emotional think, or even with what's "right," but once it is there, it's there for life.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

doctor talk

I confess...I feel like a one-trick pony. All I talk about these days is the pain. I annoy even myself.

I've written in pieces before about doctors. I'd really like to write something longer one day, something aimed at the medical world to tell them my thoughts. I'd be sure to set the context. I'm a doctor's kid but the doctor was non-custodial and I didn't see him much as a youngin'. Nevertheless, being a doctor's kid means you know from an early age that doctors have lives outside the examining room, that they are human and fallible. I've also battled several chronic ailments and injuries. I was the type that got an annual case of strep throat and every cold known to man. But I've never been seriously ill, I have nothing life-threatening. I prefer to avoid doctors when I can because I believe my body knows what to do. But life has conspired against me and I've seen more doctors in 32 years than many see in a lifetime. I've had 5 surgeries.

Which means I've met some truly awful doctors. During the saga of getting diagnosed with endo, I saw an afterhours doc and needed a pelvic exam. The nurse, dutifully brought in the room since it was a male doc, tried to be friendly. She remarked about how she always hates these exams. The doc glanced at my chart and said "Nah. She's used to it." Okay, I have had a LOT of exams. It's still no fun. I doubt the hamster likes having to run through the maze for his treat, even if he's done it before.

There are others but the real heinousness award goes to the first GYN I visited in Quincy. I was in my lovely paper gown and doing my verbal rundown of my history. This included years of pretty bad pain from the endo and the fact that the "treatment" (in quotes since it really doesn't fix the issue or the pain entirely) of continuous birth control pills is not very libido friendly. The doc, a male whom I'd met moments earlier, remarked "Wow. And your husband married you anyway?" Yeah, if I weren't in a paper gown, I'd have walked out. He was my doctor, not a friend at a bar (and even then it would have been too far).

BUT, I have also had some docs truly say the right thing. Another GYN (I promise, the next one won't be girl-parts related) was seeing me as a referral since he was known as an expert on endo pain. He said, "We may never know exactly why you are in pain and we may never fix it." This angered my husband...I think his protective male type instincts kicked in. But I loved the honesty. It was refreshing and true. He made no false promises. He did do another surgery but was open about the chances of success and he let me make an informed decision about that surgery. He put the chances of helping at 30%...he did end up helping, but it wasn't a cure, And he'd never promised one. I valued that. I'm a big girl. Talk to me like one.

The truly best example of saying the right thing came from my current spine doc. He told me that my spinal problem was, in a purely medical sense, quite minor. It is likely treatable (without surgery) and not nearly as bad as it could be from the doctor's viewpoint. And then he added, "But I know it's still scary, because I had it myself and was scared even though I know the medical stuff. And I know it still feels like you were shot in the back." This was perfect. He reassured me that we will get through it but he didn't belittle the pain or the fear. He knew (I'd told him) that I felt like a wimp and that I was frustrated and upset. He showed me that he heard that. Too many docs brush aside things that aren't medically troubling but that have a very real and very severe impact on the patient's life. I can't even say how much his words, the fact that I felt heard and respected, meant. It still hurts like hell. I'm still scared. But it helps to have the doctor say that's okay.

I need a conclusion here. Really, this carries beyond doctors. It's about listening and hearing people. It's about appreciating someone's "come from" place. It's about being human.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


I isn't love that's a battlefield, it's me.

I remember being in eighth grade and going to the nurse. I'd never been a healthy kid and, frankly, junior high was a hard place for me, so I was a semi-regular visitor. I don't recall why I went, but the nurse took me in a side room to have my pull up my shirt so she could see my back. She then sent me back to class. I came back a while later of my own accors...she hadn't asked me to come. The nurse said my mom was on her way. I was very confused since she hadn't said a word.

It turns out my back was covered in welts. This was the first appearance of hives that have plagued me ever since...they've been better in some periods (they seem to stay away more in the South) but they've always been around. We chased them down for a while with some medical experts, including a UPenn guy who was a hives guru. The end diagnosis was essentially that it was an autoimmune issue. So I wasn't allergic to anything external (okay, I'm allergic to LOTS, but that doesn't cause the hives), it was "just" my body attacking itself.

Many years later, I spent months doubled over with abdominal pain. I'd denied that I had painful periods for a long time (my mom told me we were lucky that we didn't have pain...I guess I felt like I was "wrong" because I did and I never told) and they'd gotten worse over time. After quite a bit of searching (and a very patient boyfriend, thanks j), they diagnosed endometriosis. No one knows what the real cause of endo is, but many lump it in as an autoimmune disorder.

And, now, the saga of the glute/hip/back pain. The verdict is a spinal issue that ends up being compounded b/c spinal substances end up outside the spine and my immune system goes after them. At least that my layman's interpretation.

In a way, it probably makes sense that someone with one autoimmune-related issue would develop several. My immune system is probably always in overdrive. Which is also probably why sometimes it struggles to defeat colds (I catch everything...) and why even the sniffles knock me on my ass since they lead to everything else flaring up.

Really, that's all just context. The issue on my mind is mental and emotional.

There's a peculiar challenge to knowing that your physical problems are all your body versus itself. I can't quite explain it. The enemy is within. And that's just hard to cope with in a different way. I use the word "condition" a lot, not "disease," because disease implies an other. It's all me. And it makes it hard to accept and swallow some days.

(I have another post I'll eventually write on the body-battleground thing...more ED and exercise related. not today though).