Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Vampire Diaries Healed Me

I've been thinking about healing a lot lately.

 It's funny, but I've always thought physicians should be required to take acting lessons. It doesn't matter what kind of day I'm having. My patients need me to be fully present. To be their doctor. It doesn't matter that one of my staff is a no-show and I've got a sick and crashing patient at the hospital and my 15-year-old riled me up to the point of explosion that morning. I act my way through each day.  I become what my patient needs.  I channel my inner doctor.

This weekend, as you read in my previous blog post, I had a full weekend to myself, including an entire day to be completely alone without responsibility. What did I do with that day? I had all of these grand ideas of things I wanted to accomplish. I read somewhere that it's the days where you feel that you've had too many things to do and yet you've accomplished them all where you feel the most satisfied.  I believe that. But it makes me feel guilty when I want, when I NEED to rest. When I want to do nothing.

Yesterday I did nothing but watch The Vampire Diaries. I watched all of seasons three and four. I accomplished nothing but watching that program and walking the dog. 

This morning I woke up, dressed, and got ready to go to the hospital to round.  I walked the dog and I went to work and discovered something important. The Vampire Diaries had healed me. I had needed healing and didn't know it. I needed a day to not feel guilty about doing Nothing at all--a day to rest-- to escape--to turn off my compassion and my empathy and my need to accomplish things and serve others.

 I immersed myself in a fantasy.

When I rounded today at the hospital I found that I was a better doctor. I was able to draw upon a deep well of empathy that I hadn't been able to dip into easily because I'd been drained. I was able to help a woman who has no reason on this green earth to smile and laugh--to do just that. 

It got me thinking about healing and how it's not just the purview of physicians and nurses and medical people. Artists heal people. Actors heal people.  Authors heal people.  They  allow us to disappear into another world, a fantasy.   I wonder if they ever think about that. I wonder if they know that they are healers.

Now you can laugh at me for enjoying the Vampire Diaries. It's a  program filled with INCREDIBLY good looking actors (Ian Somerhalder-ooh la-la!), acting out the things that vampires and werewolves and witches and what-not would do if they existed. It's totally engrossing and the actors are all quite convincing.  They are acting out things that I can't do anymore because I'm 51. I have done all that stuff already anyway. Well... I haven't bitten anybody in the neck and sucked their blood or healed anybody with vampire blood, or had sex with a werewolf,  but I've lived my life and had a good time before settling down, before getting married and having children. 

I wish that I could leave a body of work behind like a writer or an actor or a screenwriter or producer or musician. Something that people could draw on again and again--Something permanent and durable and healing.

I have a friend who's a singer and songwriter. He has a whole body of amazing music. He shares it with his friends and his family. He gives a little bit of himself to everyone he knows and loves. His music heals.

Actors and actresses, writers, and artists do the same thing.  Some are lucky enough to be able to share their gifts with millions of people. They have no idea how their work is going to affect their audiences. 

I wonder if they realize that they are healers. 

 I see people who come into the hospital and watch DVD's the entire time they're there, to maintain their sanity and block out reality.  They disappear into paintings on the wall and make up fantasies about where the scenes are from.  They read novels.  They escape their pain. 

 I  am also amazed by the actors and artists, musicians and writers who effect change in the world beyond the scope of their profession, develop a fan base and take on projects and causes. They activate entire social networks to make change in the world. They heal the world.  They use their fame for good.

I heard one actor say that he was just the microphone amplifying the message of the cause he was promoting. Somebody called him humble because he wouldn't take credit, but he's right. And it's awesome that he can be the microphone. He has that base of people that are paying attention to him right now because he's a famous actor, not because he came up with the cause.  He just amplified it using the power of his profession and loyalty of his fans.

 My friends Sue and Leslie and Sally are amazing and incredible artists.  I have high school  acquaintances who are actors or musicians. I have met people along my life path who are writers or actors, or musicians.

 They are all healers.  

The Arts are critical for the health of our souls, minds, and bodies. Yet they're the first things cut from schools when the monies get short. Don't get me wrong. I think that attention to the STEM-Science Technology, Engineering and Math curriculum--is great, especially for girls, but it shouldn't be at the expense of the arts. We need to experience a full and balanced education. If you focus solely on science and lose the compassion, depth, empathy, and ethics found in studying the arts, we all lose.

The arts center us. 

 As I continue in my own  little world, whirling around doing the things that I do, the shopping, the laundry, the house cleaning, and my life's work--being a physician and a parent-- I'm going to look for ways to change the world. I'm going to keep trying  out new things. I'm going to keep taking risks. I'll keep acting my way through life, looking for ways to impact others. I am looking for different ways to effect healing and leave a lasting imprint.  AND, I'm going to take time out to enjoy the arts. And to rest.

 I want to thank the cast of The Vampire Diaries for a brief respite, battery recharge, and for healing me for a day, AND for showing me a different healing paradigm.

And Ian Somerhalder, Wow. Those EYES.
 (Just because you're on a diet doesn't mean you can't look at the menu.  Stop being all judge-y! Okay?!)
Michele Carlon MD, a.k.a. DoctorDiva


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Am Going to Dance In My Underwear And Eat Popcorn For Dinner!!

 What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? I am thankful to be able to go to the bathroom for four and a half days without anybody else bothering me.

I swear that I have developed superpowers. I can never be in the bathroom without someone else  feeling the magnetic pull of my need to be alone----and then not letting me.

 It used to happen when the kids were little all the time.  I didn't really mind then. They were so cute and helpless and cuddly.

Now my children are pubescent, and much less cute and cuddly.  It matters not what I am doing in the bathroom. The moment I sit on the toilet, or get naked for a shower, someone will knock and without waiting for a reply, shove open the door exposing me in all my glory.

It's not that I'm ashamed of nudity. I have absolutely no problems with seeing or being seen naked. If I haven't seen it before, I point and ask questions. It's just that my children cannot enter the bathroom without pointing out my flaws. "Mom, you're fat." "Mom why do you have all that pubic hair?"  "Mom… your thighs hang over the toilet seat."

I am well aware of my imperfections. I don't need a an obnoxious 13 or 15-year-old to point them out. Unfortunately our bathroom door lock hasn't worked for years.  The thought has crossed my mind that I should buy a hook and eye and put it on the inside of the bathroom door to keep out intruders. The problem is that is I think of it, get busy, and forget.

 I've tried to set a good example by knocking first, waiting for a reply, and most of the time not barging in once they've asked me not to.


My family is leaving me behind for the Thanksgiving weekend because I'm on call. They're off to visit relatives in a faraway state. Everyone keeps asking me if I'm going to be okay being alone. Are they freaking kidding me? Seriously?

Being alone is a luxury!  I will enjoy a terrific Thanksgiving meal with my multicultural brother in law and his fabulous wife and kids. Friday I plan to quilt and work on projects that I have not had time to work on because I'm always doing stuff for other other people . I can eat popcorn for dinner. Or just not eat dinner. Or eat ice cream for dinner. I don't have to worry about anybody else but myself  (and Esther, aka Crime dawg).   I can walk around naked in the house (okay, It's too freaking cold to do that, but you get my drift).

 I don't have to rush anybody off to anything or attend any meetings or concerts. Granted I am on call for the weekend but that won't take up my whole day. I plan on making a turkey and stuffing and mashed potatoes for when my family gets home so they'll have leftovers to feast upon for a week and make turkey sandwiches with. But that will be enjoyable because I love Thanksgiving food.

So, What am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? I am thankful to be able to go to the bathroom for four and a half days without anybody else bothering me. Happy Thanksgiving!!

video credit:

Sunday, November 24, 2013



No one really prepares you for the onslaught of the failure of estrogen in your body.

As soon as you start menstruating, you can’t WAIT for it to stop.  The mood swings. The irritability. The questioning stares of loved ones when you are on the emotional rollercoaster of hormonal insanity.  The migraines. The cramps.  The expense of “feminine hygiene products.”    I can’t tell you how many pairs of pants and panties were trashed in my lifetime by miscalculations/timing problems. 

The first thing my 12 year old said after her first period was NOT “Oh, I feel like a woman now,” or “How can I feel fresh as a daisy?”  as the TV commercials for tampons and pads imply. 

She asked, “When does this stop?” 

In case you aren’t “UP” on all of the new PC language, perimenopause is now called the MT or Menopausal Transition.  I don’t care WHAT you call it, it sucks.  It can start 6 years before your last period. The menopausal transition  can start anywhere from age 45-55 with a Bell Curve distribution with outliers of  2.5 % on either side. 

  I think we should call the whole process, “ovarian hiccups.” That’s what it’s like. Your period goes wacko, either you’re skipping and getting hot flashes and night sweats for a month or two before you bleed again, or the periods come closer together, heavier, and more debilitating. Then, suddenly, normalcy returns for a couple of months and you’re “good.” Relatively, of course.

This reinforces your belief that you can’t WAIT for it all to be over and done with. 

Cue the ominous music. When you DO stop menstruating, a whole NEW set of issues crop up affecting you and your family and friends.

The night sweats:  My husband wears layers of flannel to bed because I’m whipping the covers on and off all night while the ceiling fan is set to “Hurricane Katrina.”
The Hot flashes: 
--You start to wear waterproof makeup, or just completely give up on makeup because dripping sweat pouring down your face is not fixable even with soft focus and air brushing.  The red flush glows/shines through makeup anyway.
--You discover why they sell those stupid little “personal fans” at the grocery store. 
--You fantasize about inventing a “hot flash button” for your car dashboard that when activated would shoot freezing cold air directly into your face and neck.
--You dream of inventing a car seat butt cooler instead of a heater

Vaginal Atrophy: 
--Your vagina dries up and gets stiff-losing it’s elasticity.  There’s no pretty way to say this.  It can be itchy, painful, and cause burning with urination. 
--Sex can be painful or impossible.  Lubricants may or may not be helpful. 
--Your libido goes into the crapper.  Here you are, for the first time in decades, not worried about pregnancy or emotionally psycho for two weeks out of the month and you can’t take advantage of it. 

Arthralgias/Arthritis:  Oh, did I mention that your joints become more prone to injury because you lose the estrogen effects there too? 

Your skin and hair change:   That one came as a big shocker to me the other day.  I’ve always had fine but abundant hair, and oily skin.   I HAVE WIDOWS PEAKS NOW.  I was just combing my hair and pulled it back and saw a big area of my forehead that didn’t used to be there!!!  WTF? 

My grandmother used to say, “Golden Years, Schmolden Years.”  My patients tell me, “Getting Old is not for Sissies.”  They are NOT kidding. 

As a physician, we want to fix stuff.  But here’s the thing.

Menopause is not a disease.  This is in contrast to what the drug companies want us to believe.  That’s how Hormone Replacement Therapy became so ubiquitous before they finally did the studies showing it could cause harm.  Harm like increased breast cancer risk with combined estrogen and progesterone.  Like heart disease risk if started 9-10 years after menopause.  Like blood clots.  Like endometrial cancer with estrogen pills used without progesterone in women who still have their uterus. 

What is a girl to do? 

There is so much out there in the lay literature about things like soy, and black cohosh, and testosterone.  Movie stars purport to be experts on menopause, selling their books and wares based on unscientific information. 

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA and God KNOWS what is actually in some of that stuff.  I’ve seen some Male Enhancement pills over the counter that actually have Viagra hidden in them –dangerous if you’re on medications that can kill you with Viagra and you don’t know it’s in there.  I’ve seen over the counter diet pills spiked with prescription amphetamines. You have to be so careful.

You ask, “DoctorDiva, What are YOU doing?”  Funny that you should ask. 

First, I talked to my gynecologist.  (doctors who treat themselves have a fool for a doctor.)

I discussed my concerns, my family and personal history of cancer, blood clots, my personal history of whether I smoked (I don’t). 

 I tried NON prescription fixes he suggested like personal lubricants, (glycerin and silicone based) and EXERCISE. (By the way, silicone is REALLY slippery, and the bottle will slip right out of your hands and slide across the floor if you're not careful.)

    I tried DIET and WEIGHT LOSS (a whole ‘nother column).  I discussed it with my husband too, since he is intimately  (pun intended) involved in this.
When that stuff didn’t work, my doctor and I decided on a prescription medication to try.  I elected for topical estrogen.  Not everyone can use it depending on their personal and family histories, or risk factors like smoking, hypertension, blood clots, strokes, etc.  I’m still in the trial period.  WELL, not PERIOD.  Thank God.  But you know what I mean.  So far, so good.  My Doctor and I will re-evaluate on a regular basis. 
Don’t depend on the internet for all of your information—and use reputable websites, like Mayo Clinic, emedicine/Medscape. USE YOUR DOCTOR.  Your gynecologist is an expert.   
  And Good Luck. 

Getting Old(er) is not for Sissies. 

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Talking To My Kids About Alcoholism

Talking to My Kids About Alcoholism

"You know that alcoholism runs in our family. I really hope that you guys make the right decisions when your friends start offering you alcohol and drugs.  YOU are at really high risk to become addicted."

"Mom, you've told us this a million times. We're not stupid."

"I know you're not stupid. I just think that you underestimate how powerful the urge to be to be like your friends is going to be.  Alcoholism just kind of sneaks up on you. It's pretty easy and you don't even realize it's happening until it does."

"But you drink."

"Yes but not very often and not very much. I get migraine headaches when I drink."

“So is that the reason you're not an alcoholic?"

"No. I made a decision a long time ago not to drink because I saw how easy it would be to become an alcoholic. Also life situations helped. I was working at a rural hospital and I didn't want to take a chance having a glass of wine at night to relax and then getting called in. Driving with even one glass of alcohol in me and trying to make critical medical decisions would have been a mistake. It was then I realized that having a glass of wine every day to ‘relax’ would possibly lead to two, three, four glasses of wine like my parents used to drink."

“What was it like growing up with alcoholic parents?”

"When my parents had been drinking they lost their filters, their inhibition to tell me exactly what they thought. There was no ‘constructive’ criticism. It was mostly destructive criticism and impulsive behavior. I remember one night when my mother sat in front of the kitchen sink looking for a detergent or something to drink to kill herself. She was completely loaded and when I went sobbing and panicked upstairs to beg my father to stop her, he was falling down drunk too and wouldn’t help.

“One time, I remember my father coming down from the attic with one of his antique rifles while he was drunk one night. He wanted to clean it up and kill himself with it. Of course he doesn't remember any of that. 

"There were always fights at holidays. My mother would get completely shit-faced drunk in order to deal with her social phobia. She hated everyone and everything about the holidays and one year actually spear chucked the Christmas tree out the front door. She did it because no one was interested at that moment to help her decorate it. It was not fun to be in that family growing up.

“After my grandmother died I spoke with her doctor who called and he said  ‘I don't know if you knew this, but your grandmother was an alcoholic.’ I started laughing because I knew very well that she was. She always laughed that she got her knees replaced because she couldn't get up on the barstools anymore. We kept a bottle of scotch at our house just for her.

"All of this is to say that you guys have to be super careful. You're not like other kids. It's in your genes to develop alcoholism. You can't do the usual things that kids going to college do, like drinking way too much.”

“It’s shown that kids who wait to drink until after they’re 21 years old have a lower chance of becoming alcoholic.  MOST kids are NOT drinking in high school.  NOT drinking or using drugs is the NORM, and you’re at risk if you do drink.”

“Okay.. OKAY.  Enough.  You’ve told us this a million zillion times!”

I hope they hear my voice in their heads as they get older, reminding them.  I hope they listen.  I hope they follow through.

image credit:

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bad @$$ Squirrels, Walking the Dog, and Shakira

Esther, Smacking her lips

She sees a squirrel.  LOOK OUT!!
We recently adopted a dog.

In our minds we were going to adopt a cute little lap dog.  At the shelter, a big, goofy, floppy-eared lab/pit mix glommed onto us and we were hooked. 

Who knew, but big dogs need big exercise, something that we didn't do.   I had no time to exercise or walk, (we all know the excuses) but when a dog threatens to pee on your shoes or poop in your bed, you see reason.  So we started walking Esther. A lot.

At first I was plagued with injuries.  I took comfort in my ability to diagnose myself--Plantar fasciitis, knee pain, etc. I  recovered (mostly) and started back to walking the dog again, at least once a day.  My husband takes the early morning shift, the kids the mid afternoon shift, and we walk as a family together at night. 

The kids love to walk with us. Who knew?  They've invented a game they call Stealthing, with rules, and everything! They wear black and run ahead, hiding in the bushes, and then jump out screaming, trying to scare the bejesus out of us.  That was great until they almost got skunked.  That's a whole 'nother story.

The fact that they enjoy walking with us at night doesn't stop them from bickering over whose turn it is to walk her in the afternoon.  I swore that I was going to make them hold in their pee for 8 hours  so they could see what the poor dog goes through.  But I digress.

Turns out I was walking---a lot.  I wanted to know how far I was walking and I figured there was an App for that.  Boy is there!  "Map My Walk" is a super cool app for your smart phone that maps out where you walked and how long it took you and  even pauses while you talk to your neighbor! (I talk a lot)  This is where I learned that if you walk three long sides of a block, cut across two short sides and make a rectangle back to your house in the city, you will have walked a mile!

Soon, I was able to see that I was walking anywhere from 7 to 12 miles a week!  Cool. My husband is doing twice that as my knee recovers BUT WOW!  A mile a day! 

It turns out that walking in the city has some hazards,though.

                                           City squirrels

Yes, you read that right.  City squirrels.  They are dangerous bad @$$ mofo's, who get very territorial.  There is a GANG of squirrels who have some serious attitude two blocks away.  They guard this  big dumpster like it's their own personal property.  There are like, FIFTY of them.  This weekend, my husband was telling me about these squirrels with 'tude.  I was laughing and trying not to pee in my pants (it was cold and I've had kids--'nuff said) as he walked a  bag 'o poo over to said dumpster.  As he lifted the lid, a squirrel came flying out and stood right on the lid staring him down and chittering like crazy.
  Juan jumped back as the squirrel leaped onto a pole next to the dumpster. It turned around and sat at eye level giving Juan the stink eye and cursing him out as he deposited the poo into the dumpster.
After depositing the poo, Juan pulled out his smartphone. He has an Android with a Translation App that includes  squirrel, dog, and cat dialects.  (Cat mostly is mostly insults.) 

The THINGS this squirrel was saying would make a sailor blush.

Juan backed away slowly, flipping said squirrel the bird and hoping it wouldn't pull a shiv on him.  I mean, these squirrels are tough.  Even Esther (a.k.a.Crime Dog, Esther-Bester, Goofy, Prancy-Pants) was afraid. 

Living in the city, you learn to avoid certain blocks.  We all know which blocks are safe, and which are not. These squirrels have marked their territory, and we'll have to avoid it unless we want to invoke their wrath. 

But at least we're exercising.  A mile isn't that far.  Now listen here. I DO NOT RUN.  My pelvic floor muscles and my knees decided that for me a long time ago.  But walking helps your bones, your heart and your brain.  It slows down Mild Cognitive Impairment from moving on to Alzheimer's dementia. It helps depression and winter blues. It prevents wrinkles and makes you sing and move your hips  like  Shakira.  Okay, maybe not, but I got your attention, didn't I?

Thirty minutes a day, five days a week is all you need to do and you can break it down into three 10 minute walks.  Just start.  Hopefully you won't have to get a dog to motivate you, like we did. 

And watch out for the squirrels. 

Photo credit:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Singing for Family Fun And Torture

We all know that singing has known therapeutic effects. It's GOOD for you. It increases endorphins and lowers cortisol levels--making one feel exhilarated and decreasing stress.   It helps improve depression.  Oxytocin (a brain chemical involved in breast feeding and  milk let-down and uterine contractions) is released during singing and helps you to bond with the people with whom you are singing. (Or want to breast feed them or extrude them from your uterus).  People who have had a stroke affecting their speech can learn to speak again through singing. Singing helps to improve diaphragmatic control and expands the lungs.  (So does shrieking at your kids.)

In the Carlon/Hereña  family however, singing has multiple roles.

1.) Singing for FUN and family dysfunction:

Take Christmas for example. We massacre Christmas songs just for fun.

We often sing the beloved "Jingle  Bells"  mutation-- "Jingle Bells, Santa Smells , Easter's on its Way."

The Radio City Music Hall singers have a beautiful little tune called "Christmas in New York."  It is a lovely song. There are descriptions of how beautiful New York City is at the Christmas season with lovely voices and good cheer.

We Carlon/Hereña's have changed the lyrics to describe our PERSONAL  experiences of New York City at Christmastime:

 "Muggers are beaming, Children are screaming, Tempers are steaming, It's Christmas in New York!  Car horns are blaring, Tempers are flaring,  People aren't caring, It's Christmas in New York!!  It's Christmas in New York!!!"

In the Carlon family, no dysfunctional holiday was complete without the Christmas fight. We would sit for a lovely meal lubricated with alcohol and the interactions between people who really didn't like each other very much anyway.

The Hereña's are so much nicer to eat with. They are the polar opposites of dysfunctional.  They don't have acrimonious meals.  (That really helps digestion! Who knew?) The Carlon's felt obligated to be together because it was Christmas, dammit. The  Hereña's look FORWARD to seeing each other. Weird.

In the Carlon household, holidays were almost always accompanied by a big brouhaha complete with screaming, yelling, cursing, and gnashing of teeth. One year my sister, my aunt, my mother, and I were hiding out in the kitchen washing and drying the dishes (no dishwasher) when my aunt noticed that we hadn't had our Christmas fight.   To the tune of "Oh Christmas Tree"  she raised her voice with glee and started singing:

"Oh Christmas fight, oh Christmas fight, we haven't had our Christmas fight!"

 I don't remember all of the other verses, but needless to say, this became a yearly staple of the Christmas holidays in the Carlon family.

2.  Singing to irritate your spouse

There are many ways to irritate your spouse by singing--WAY too many to go into here-- but one technique is to sing the wrong words on purpose and insist that they are the correct lyrics.

For example: Take the tune "Home on the Range". This is one of my very favorite shower songs. I sound FABULOUS singing this in the shower. My husband however, to torture me, changed the lyrics to:

"the skies are all cloudy all day."

I sweetly pointed out to him that it's:

"the skies are NOT cloudy all day"

but he said he liked it better the other way and sings it that way every chance he gets. (ARGGGHH!!)

3. Singing to embarrass your children (see previous post on "The Mother's Manual".
One of my favorite things is to put Bruce Springsteen on while driving somewhere with the kids and their friends.  "Born to Run" sung at the top of my lungs in the car ALWAYS SOUNDS AWESOME!  It cracks me up when my children apologize for me. Their friends inevitably say that their parents also sing in the car and a discussion ensues about whose parents are the worst singers or the most embarrassing overall.

(As pointed out in the previous blog it is in the Mother's Manual that as a parent one should take every opportunity to embarrass their children in public by doing completely normal things like singing to a song they like or talking to perfect strangers. The worst is when perfect strangers and parents start singing together. Mortification ensues.)

4.)  Songs to gross people out (OR campfire songs):

I am a gross out song aficionado. "Great green gobs of greasy grimy gophers guts" OR
"Did you ever think when a hearse went by that you might be the next to die?" (Did you know that depending on what area of the country you are from, the lyrics are DIFFERENT? Isn't that Cool?)

  I also love tongue twister songs and ballads--long ones. Oh, and SEA SHANTIES!! I LOVE Sea Shanties.  (My kids HATE them now...I wonder why?) But I digress. 

 Singing in front of your daughter's or son's Scout Troop in front of a roaring campfire sure is fun-- and the grown ups LOVE IT.  The kid's usually hang their heads in shame, but my endorphins and oxytocin are way the hell up there so I don't give a damn what they think 'cause I'm having FUN!

In conclusion, I suggest  that you take full advantage of singing for family fun and torture while your kids are young. Kids grow up so fast these days. Pretty soon they'll be OVER  being embarrassed and will be singing in public WITH you at which point it won't be fun anymore---until they have children of their own to embarrass.  Mawwhaaahhaaaa (Evil laugh).

Michele Carlon

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Mother's Manual

As most of you know, I am a mother and a Doctor.

I have two kids, a 15 and 13 year old son and daughter.  They are in their obnoxious years.

I keep telling them that all of the annoying things that I do are in the Mother's Manual.  For example, I sing in public.  Loudly.  The Mother's Manual says, (and I quote), "It is your solemn responsibility as a mother to routinely embarrass your children in public.  For example, sing loudly, yell across the school parking lot at the top of your lungs that you love them. Kiss them in public. Children cannot grow into responsible adults requiring years of psycho-therapy without these kinds of incidents to talk about to their shrinks."

The Mother's Manual has really helped me through the years.  "Children must play outside and must only be allowed back in the house if they're bleeding or a snake bit them."  It's there.  I swear.

There are handy recipes in there too.  Take for example, the late night "I'm too f*&^ing tired to Cook" recipe called the "Johnny Appleseed Sandwich".  This is especially good for youngsters who can't cook yet.  Take an apple  and cut it up into tiny pieces, put the pieces in a bowl.  Pour raisins in another bowl.  Put out the peanut butter and wonder bread.  Spread a drop cloth on the floor.  Tell them to make their sandwiches by slathering on the peanut butter first, then adding the apples and raisins.  Voila.  Dinner.   When they're done, roll up the drop cloth and pour the mess into the dog's bowl.  Of course this doesn't work if there are peanut allergies in the home.

The Mother's Manual is also very explicit about how to engage your children in helping with the chores.  As soon as they learn their colors, set them to work sorting laundry.
When you're sure they won't drown/fall into the toilet, put a rag into their tiny little hands and teach them how to clean the bathroom.  Dusting is always a good one.  I f(*#ing HATE dusting.  I think it is a giant waste of time.  IT just comes RIGHT BACK the next week.  I only dust for special occasions --like the Pope is coming over for a visit.  So the kids got the swiffer duster technique taught to them.  Once a year.

Okay, so the Mother's Manual never mentioned ASTHMA except under the "When to panic" section. 
When my eldest was 12 or 13, we were at El Mercado on Southport, in Chicago, (an amazingly great South American Grocery store) getting ingredients for a Peruvian dish to surprise my husband.  Suddenly, my son starts wheezing.  I didn't notice, of course, because I was paying for the stuff we'd bought.  Daughter says, "Mom, Tom can't breathe!"
I figure he's faking it and ignore him.  The Mother's Manual says that most of the time, the kids are hypochondriacs and are making shit up.  Daughter becomes more urgent.  "Mom!  He REALLY can't breathe!  I think he's wheezing."  (Being a doctor's child bestows diagnostic skills upon even the youngest).

Sure as shit, the kid wasn't faking!  (I felt just FABULOUS at that moment).  I put my ear on his back and listened and heard loud scary wheezing.  Of course, Tom panics which makes it worse.  We walk slowly back to the car in the humid hot weather, and the CUBS ARE PLAYING and traffic is TERRIBLE.  I'm thinking, "Should I call 911 to come to my car?"

I try the old Mom routine of being calmer than I feel.  Inside I'm screaming, "Holy ^*t" and "What if he dies in the car?  What if he stops breathing?"  He's never had asthma! 
My doctor brain KEEPS TRYING to talk sense into my MOTHER brain and tells it to STOP FREAKING OUT.  I calm him down by joking around and all the time trying to get around the A-HOLES holding up traffic on the way to Swedish Covenant.  DON'T THEY KNOW I'VE GOT A SICK KID IN THE BACK?  Oh yeah, they don't.  I try not to drive like a crazy person.  All this time I'm trying to keep my panic down so Tom doesn't panic and make his asthma attack worse.

I'll admit it.  I pulled the Doctor Card when I hit the ER door.  The Mother's Manual allows for obnoxious behavior in the event of an emergency.  "Do what it takes to get the care you need for your child, short of prostitution and drug running."  (Again, I quote).

Fortunately, the ER doctor saw him right away (the doctor card really helps) and got him started on medication immediately.  He was fine, and now has asthma and we deal with it.  Of course, just like the Mother's Manual said would happen, the sick kid wanted special privileges.  Here, it is very explicit.  You may indulge a sick kid for a day, no longer.  BOYS especially cannot be indulged for too long because they already have the handicap of thinking they are dying when they catch a cold.  Women/girls power through.  Men and boys are convinced they are dying.  Don't start the pattern in childhood and society has a chance of winning this battle against wanting to be pampered as adults."

My daughter keeps asking me, "When do I get to SEE the Mother's Manual?"
"Not until you have children of your own, dear."  I smile.  She is now thirteen.  I wonder how much longer she'll believe me?