Thursday, August 28, 2008

Yay! I'm off to see Katie

Tomorrow I travel to the far north to pick up my girl. I haven't seen my daughter Katie since I put her on a plane July 5. She's living with her father and step mother and their other children in Parker, Colorado which is on of the many suburbs of Denver. I'm starting to get used to her absence, not comfortable but more like an amputee. Yes, I can get around and I'm learning to compensate for my missing limb but what wouldn't I give to have that piece of myself back. I've talked to other women whose daughters moved away from them as teenagers. They all say their relationships changed for the better, their girls all came back to them. I don't necessarily expect this but it doesn't change the quality of the longing.

I'm reading the biography of Dame Freya Stark who started traveling in the middle east in the 1920's at the age of 36 and wrote about the religions and cultures she found there. There's a wonderful quote from one of her letters about the nature of relationships

One is apt to think of people's affection as a fixed quantity, instead of a sort of moving sea with the tide always going out or coming in but still fundamentally there: and I believe this difficulty in making allowance for the tide is the reason for half the broken freindsips.

So perhaps this is the key to the cultivation of love. Keeping the bonds loose enough to allow for movement.

Monday, August 25, 2008

the $700billion question

Yes, we know, Michelle Obama was brilliant, moving, elegant; basically everything you'd want in a first lady. Barak's video entrance was charming, the kids were cute. If they'd had the family dog in denver (or better yet live via teleconference from Alaska) it would have been perfect. Beyond perfect.

But here's the real deal.

The war in Iraq/Afghanistan has cost the American taxpayer $70 billion dollars and some experts are now saying we should look at $1 trillion to cover George and Dicky's little kegger on the beach. That doesn't count the amount of euro's and pound's sterling thrown into the kitty. It also doesn't take into account the amount of money spent to blow things up over the ocean just to see how well they spread mercury into our tuna steaks.

Well, here in New Mexico I had to tell an uninsured woman that to definitively diagnose her with Multiple Sclerosis, she needed to have a $6000 MRI. This was so that I could see whether she just had a cold or a chronic degenerative disease which would slowly incapacitate her, burden her family (if she had one) and eventually lead to her early death. Thirty minutes later I had to search the Wal-mart $4 drug list to see if there was something that I could give a single mom, who was going to school full time and working, with bronchitis and what is likely untreated asthma. The woman who was in tears because even with the sliding scale co-pay at our non-profit clinic was not sure she could afford to be treated and still cover the groceries for her and her two year old.

So folks, where are we going to go this year? More of the same? Putting up 8 foot fences around Mexico? Blowing up our freinds and neighbors? Or will we wait till those freinds and neighbors are us.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

wait, wasn't June just 10 minutes ago?

From my porch I have a view of the Bosque del Rio Gallinas. For the rest of you gringos that's the woods along the Gallinas river (Gallinas means chicken... funny name for a river, I'd love to have been hanging around the day they named that one). Its filled with cottonwood trees that are older than the United States and perhaps where saplings when Coronado was busy getting lost on his way to Kansas. There's an old apple tree, some wild plums and roses, red willows and fragrant red clover. The little Gallinas river that flows behind my house is full of fingerling trout, big bull frogs and mosquito eating spiders that spin their webs over the swift flowing water.

Today I looked out at the trees and the cottonwoods were starting to yellow. I smelled roasting green chile on my ride home from work. This means fall is creeping in. Soon, the aroma of pinon wood smoke will be coming up from the sleepy chimneys in the morning. The birds at my feeders will head south, to Mexico and other warmer places without hard mountain freezes.

Fall is my favorite season in New Mexico. The oppressive summer heat has passed, the hardness of the unremmitting sunlight and perfect turquoise sky slips into something more comfortable. The smells change from the sweetness of clover and sage to the spice of chile, woodsmoke. Every year I go through the same shock. As if I didn't know that the chamisa and astors wouldn't fill the mesas with gold and purple and the pueblos wouldn't start their feasts and I wouldn't start bringing out the mittens and sweaters. My porch sitting days are numbered.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

oh, by the way...

So everything was going along swimmingly yesterday at the La Loma clinic. Not too busy, plenty of time to finish charts, do a few Continuing Ed on-line courses, read a little fluff at lunch. At quarter to four a mom and son come in to see me. Son, a precocious 8 year old, has a cold. Piece of cake. Mom says she has same symptoms but is a bit worse. Also has a recurring gyno issue. No problem. I whip out my winning combo of western medicine and nutrition/supplements. Ta-da! Score one for the home team. I can still get out of the clinic by 4 o'clock.

As I'm getting ready to send her out the door, she says to me,

"I've been having this chest pain"

"Excuse me?"

I go through all the standard chest pain questions: sweating, nausea, pain in other locations, stress level, digestive problems, cough, weight loss... No clear picture was emerging. Great. I can't really let her leave without checking out an EKG. She doesn't have insurance, of course.


I send my nurse, the fabulous Antonia, in to do the EKG. Five minutes... NOT! Our EKG runs the single lead strips instead of the nice, neat 12 lead page.

30 minutes later: I come into the exam room to see poor Antonia tangled up in about 12 feet of EKG paper. If we both hadn't been so frustrated, it would have been hilarious. Fortunately, there wasn't anything scary looking on the rhythm strip. I gave her the appropriate precautions and sent her on her way.

So, if you have chest pain, make sure that's the first thing you tell your health care provider...

Monday, August 11, 2008

And we begin

So here is the blog I've been threatening to do for the last year! I'm a single, long distance parent, a brand new Physician Assistant, and a dabbler. Since graduating from PA school and starting my job, my real primary occupation has been porch-sitting with Wanda the Wonder-Shepherd, bird watching, and wine drinking on said porch.

Where did the title come from? I've recently move to Las Vegas, NM, a city of 14,000 souls 2 hours north of Albuquerque. It still retains the aroma of the wild west, and no thats not just the cows you smell. There are hundreds of dogs running loose around here (note to self: talk to the humane society/animal control about spay-neuter programs), a few who chase me down the street while I ride my bike. I've made friends with some of these fur-balls but some require a shot across the bow with a little pepper spray. While I've never made actually pepper-spray contact, its nice to know I've got it if I need it.

The live grenade part... During my second week at work I stopped off at Dick's Liquor's (I'm not making that up) to buy a nice red that would go well with porch-sitting. There were several police cars blocking traffic a block or so down the street. Hmm, interesting. As I was standing in line with my selection I overheard a conversation between some other customers. Apparently the owner of the pawnshop down the street had bought a box of junk from someone but hadn't gone through it at the time of purchase. When he finally decided to sort through the box, he found a pair of live, vietnam era hand grenades. Needless to say, downtown Las Vegas was (mostly) evacuated, the bomb squad brought in, probably from Santa Fe and the ordinance disposed of properly.

That's when I knew I wouldn't be bored...