Thursday, October 30, 2014

Why Teens Need Parents

Recently a company that provides In-Home Care slipped a brochure into my mailbox at the hospital.

It was a beautiful 4 color pamphlet with an explanation of all the services they provide. They provided a helpful list of questions to ask to help determine whether or not you needed the services they provided.

As I read through this list, I realized how many of these applied to teenagers.
Teenagers want their independence in the worst way. Older people who need help will do anything to maintain their independence.  It struck me that maybe teenagers need more help than we give them.

These were some of the questions they posed:

  • Has there been a recent emotional or medical crisis?
There is ALWAYS some kind of crisis with a teen. Not a day goes by that they're not  having some emotional melt down or needing stitches, or physicals
  • Does the individual bathe less often or not at all?
Any mother of a teenager will tell you what a battle it is to get them to shower.
  • Are pills left over or running out too soon?
Getting teens to take their medications is like pulling teeth. Asthma, allergies, depression, ADHD, etc.  It's a daily battle. We resorted to pill boxes and checking.
  • Does the individual need help walking?
Okay, Do all mothers feel like glorified chauffeurs, or is it just me? Oh, and walking the dog? That is a battle royale.
  • is he/she verbally or physically abusive?
Well, calling your parents "lame," "stupid," "fat," etc., seemed like normal teen behavior to me. Not necessarily abusive. Besides, I just ignore them..
  • is he/she becoming more forgetful?
  "I didn't KNOW I had homework!"  "I didn't know I had a TEST today!"
  "I forgot it was my turn to empty the dishwasher!" 
 "You didn't TELL me that I had to do my laundry!"
  • Have there been recent falls?
Read my blog post on concussions. Scared the bejeebers out of me.
  • Is your loved one having problems sleeping?
If staying up until 2 a.m. playing MineCraft and then arguing about being too tired to get up in the morning is problems sleeping, then yes.
  • Has there been recent weight loss?
Okay, NOT in my household. My kids eat  me out of house and home. My food bill is 1/4 of the GNP.
  • is his/her hearing or vision affecting the ability to function?
 "I didn't hear you call me" (for the four thousand six hundredth time).
 "I didn't SEE the garbage all over the kitchen floor from the dog knocking over the can!"
  • if he/she smokes, are there burn marks on clothes or bedsheets?
 Thank God for this=NO. Their father is a pulmonologist and there would be hell to pay if they started smoking.
  • is your loved one able to do errands alone?
Able is a relative term.  Willing? There's the crux of the question.
  • is clothing being changed daily?
HAH!!! Seriously? Not.
  • are there scorch marks on the pot holders or dish towels?
Teenagers learning to cook require a working smoke alarm and team parenting.
  • are there signs of burnt pans on the stove?
  Um, Yes.  But that was MY bad. (Looking down embarrassed.) I was trying to dry the cast iron skillet, and forgot it was on when I went to binge watch something on Netflix.
  • Is routine house cleaning not being done?
They do it. Under duress. Badly. I just close the door to their rooms. I insist they "re-do" if they don't do a good job in the family areas though.
  • Have social activities stopped or diminished?
We have a rule. No screens when family is over. Period. It helps.
If you checked even one of these questions, perhaps it is time to consider in-home care. But before you select your care provider, make sure you ask the right questions.


  • When is cocktail hour in this place?

  • Did I really sign up for this?

  • What was I thinking?

I deserve my portion of the Halloween candy. It's a parenting tax.
photo credit:

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Okay, so EVERYBODY is talking about Ebola. 

Nobody is talking about influenza. 

I had a patient yesterday who refused to take the flu vaccine because she said, "I don't know what shit the government is putting in those vaccines. I might get Ebola from it. Nuh-Uh. I am NOT getting Ebola from the flu shot." 

NOTHING I said would change her mind. She really believed this. 

I am sorry, but this is the stupidest thing ANYONE has ever said to me. EVER. 

I have heard a lot of excuses for not getting the flu vaccine. 
  • "My next door neighbor's cousin's son got sick from the flu shot." 
  • "I get sick EVERY TIME I get the flu shot." 
  • "Nothing you say will convince me to take it." 
  • "I never get sick." 
  • "I've never gotten the flu. I don't need it." 

Okay people. You are freaking out about 3 cases of Ebola and yet you don't want to protect yourself against something that is WAY more common and can also kill you? 

Few of us have been in car accidents. We all hope that we won't be, and we wear our seat belts to protect ourselves from dying in a car accident-- EVEN IF WE'VE NEVER BEEN IN A CAR ACCIDENT.  Seatbelts PREVENT death in a car accident. 
Accidents aren't predictable. 


MORE IMPORTANT. If you have any sense of caring for those around you, get the flu vaccine. 

You are contagious the day before you get sick with the flu. 

That means that when you visit your elderly mother or father, or your cousin on chemo, or your best friend whose sister had a bone marrow transplant, you've JUST EXPOSED THEM AND PUT THEM AT RISK OF DEATH FROM INFLUENZA, YOU SELFISH JERK! 

Children, old people, diabetics, asthmatics, people with emphysema or autoimmune diseases, and people who are on chemo, radiation therapy or who've had bone marrow transplants:

You don't know who you are affecting by making the decision not to take the flu vaccine. 

You could infect someone at the grocery store. They go home and a couple of days later infect their baby, spouse, cousin, best friend. They die. YOU JUST CAUSED A PREVENTABLE DEATH. 

Yes, it's harsh. 
Life is not fair. 
You live in a society and have an obligation to it's members to keep them safe. 
There's a reason they call it "public health."

Do you realize how freaking lucky we are to have safe and effective vaccines? 

Do you think the people in Africa would refuse an Ebola vaccine if it were available?

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Moms of Teens: I'm Good Enough....

 Teenagers:  The Battle Lines Have Changed.

I read a lot of blogs written by Mothers of babies and toddlers. Not as many are out there by Mothers of Teenagers. I think it's because teenagers are like another species. They make us feel like we've lost our "cool" factor--- Our "je ne sais quoi." 

I don't know about you, but according to MY teens, I'm fat, out of shape, out of touch with what's cool (just using the word "cool" is an illustration), and embarrassing to be seen with.

 I think that's why Moms of Teenagers don't blog as much. Teens infect you with Low Self Esteem as a human being, much less a parent. Who wants to blog about THAT?

Having teens is a whole new parenting paradigm for me.
I am accustomed to the paternal/maternal decision tree method of parenting. 

I tell them what to do. 
       They (theoretically) do it. 

Now, with teens, I'm learning there is a subtle shift in the power arc. 

I tell them what to wear to stay warm/dry. 
       They refuse and tell me "I've got this, Mom." Or they lie about the umbrella/poncho/sweater they
       have in their backpack for later.

I tell them they have to get up to go to school, if they want a ride. 
       They ignore me and I have to call them four hundred zillion times to get them out of bed.

I tell them I want the dishwasher emptied and the dog walked before I get home so I can cook dinner as soon as I get home.

       They have learned to be passive aggressive and "forget" that I told them this (every single day
       for the last year and a half) and I scream until they do it.. Then I make dinner after they do the     
       When called to eat: "I'm not hungry, Mom. I ate a sandwich before you got home."

Clearly, a new tack is required. 

My husband is a champion at this. He is the eldest of five. His responses are more of the "give them enough rope to hang themselves" sort. Learn by screwing up. Make mistakes and live with them. 

He also knows what motivates a teenager. I have a lot to learn. 

He puts his iPad with LOUD OBNOXIOUS Classical music/Marching Anthems/Peruvian Dance Music on the stairs after he calls them to get up, until they get mad, get up and turn it off on the way to the kitchen.

He leaves and lets them take the bus or walk to school if they don't get up.

He tempts them with a yummy breakfast like french toast or bacon, and then threatens to eat it if they don't get up RIGHT NOW! Then, he follows through. 

He lets them get wet/cold/hungry if they decide our safety/dressing "advice" is stupid and unnecessary. (unless personal safety is at real risk-like camping in 30 degree weather with no long johns, extra layers, etc.)

He yells much less frequently than I do so that when he does, it's more effective.

I asked him his philosophy on raising teens. He said: 

     Lead by Example
     Teens JUMP on hypocrisy or inconsistency and throw it back into your face. 
     (You have to obey your own rules which is difficult to do at times)

     Then he sighed. 

     "Survival. That's what it really is. You simply have to survive their teen years (and so do they). Once they become young adults, they metamorphose back into pleasant beings."

So there you have it. 
Lead by Example. Be Consistent. Don't be a Hypocrite. Follow your own rules. 

And don't drink the Kool-Aid of teenager's insults. 
 I AM cool. 
I AM hip,
 and as Stuart Smiley says:
"I'm good enough, I'm smart enough and doggone It! People Like Me!"

Okay, there's a lot more to it than this. There are leadership skills, faith, kindness and compassion, etc. BUT all of them will spring forth from the above. I hope I'm good enough. 

DoctorDiva  10/4/14

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Broken Toes and Mondays Always Get Me Down

OR:  Do As I Say, Not As I Do

My son has inherited the slob gene (and jeans). He undresses and leaves shoes, socks, underwear (seriously? dude!) and clothing, books, bookbags, dropped wrappers, plates, utensils... all over the house.

I like to walk barefoot in my own house despite my klutzy tendencies.

This is a recipe for DISASTER.

One of the things we tell our older patients is to make sure that the pathways in the house are clear of detritus, scatter rugs, books, etc. and are well lit to prevent falls and accidents.

While running around preparing for a plane trip while barefoot, sans eyeglasses, with no lights turned on:

I whacked my little toe up against my son's perfectly mis-placed shoe.

I know what you're thinking."So What? It's just a shoe!"

Okay. Picture this. Said shoe is pushed up against a basket meant for clutter, across from the closet meant for shoes and coats, and sticking out in the pathway from living room to dining room, meant for walking through.
I hit said shoe at just the correct angle with my baby toe so that the shoe got shoved up against the immovable basket.

I heard a snap.
I assumed it was the basket.
I screamed.
I waited for the pain to stop.
It didn't stop.

The snap wasn't the basket.

Then 3 days later, I broke it AGAIN against the kitchen table leg.  It bent out at a weird angle and I had to put it back in place. I, stupidly, was barefoot and uncaffeinated at the time.

(I'll wait for you to stop cringing and open your eyes again.)

When you limp, it messes up your body mechanics all the way up. My hips, knees, back, shoulders and neck are all hurting.

SOOOoooo....4 weeks have gone by and my toe is still in pain because I am a doctor and have to walk all over the hospital, from the parking lot 2 blocks away to my office, etc. and it was not getting better. In fact, it was getting worse. Every night it would be swollen and purple and painful when I took off my sneakers. (I wore sneakers hoping they would be good enough to let it heal) (They weren't)

I am now wearing a walking boot to fully immobilize the darn toe. I feel like Frankenstein, except that I don't have the cool neck electrodes, flat head and scar on my forehead.
My toe, however, feels better.

I wrote this on a Monday, hence the title.

  • So, don't let your kids clutter up the floor
  • Wear your glasses while you stumble around in the mornings.
  • Put the coffee on the night before and drink some before attempting anything dangerous, like walking.
  • Put shoes or slippers on for goodness sake.
  • Turn the lights on before you walk around.

This has been your public service announcement for the week.