Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Broken tools

Baby update: I do not have any new news.  I have to go to the doctor twice a month- once with the regular OB and once with the specialist.  I have to get the MRI and the heart echo.  At thirty-two weeks, I will have to go to the specialist once a week.  I am not anti-medicine or anti-doctor, but I am beginning to weary of the doctor visits.  I should try to see them as encouraging and wonderful.  We were at the specialist's office today, getting yet another ultra-sound, and Josh commented that this was likely to be a very expensive pregnancy.  All I could think was, thank God medical insurance is not like car insurance!  They cannot raise our rates.

The air conditioner is broken.  I did not know it was dead, though I knew it was unhealthy, until I tried to turn it on last week when the temperatures were reaching up and over a hundred.  My parents, happily, had an unused window unit in their garage, which is now in our bedroom window- violating the homeowner's association agreements.  I refrained from further violation, in the form of a clothesline in the backyard.  I kind of want one anyway, and this seemed like a good excuse.  I was afraid, however, of incurring the wrath of the association.  Better to quietly break one rule, broken by necessity, than to flagrantly ignore all the rules.  Our dryer is upstairs in the hall, between the bedrooms.  I will not run it in the heat.  I chose instead to bring my laundry to my parents' house, like a college student. 

In other unrelated news, last week the Church celebrated the forty-fifth annual World Communications day.  In honor of this event, my computer was attacked by a virus, our camera stopped working, and my cell phone broke.  The message couldn't be clearer: I need to update and use newer, better technology. 

The annual event is one I had never heard of before this year.  It may have slipped by me again this year as well, except that my friend wrote a book.  Matt Swaim wrote a book last year, which I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend, called, The Eucharist and the Rosary: Mystery, Meditation, Power, Prayer.  This year he put out another book.  Prayer in the Digital Age came out this summer, and on the eve of the Church's celebration of World Communications Day, Matt visited to the parish where I grew up to discuss the topic.  If I am honest, I was not excited about the book.  I am not incapable of using modern technologies, but neither am I one to want the latest and the best- good enough is good enough for me.  Anyway, I thought that the book was going to explain how to incorporate the cool new gadgets into prayer.  I guess I thought Matt was going to explain how to use the confession app, for instance.  I should have known better. 

Matt discussed how changing communications can affect how we view people.  He warned us to watch out for online discussions wherein we attack people verbally in ways we never would in person.  He discussed the idea that in forums, like Facebook, we present the world with a created persona, and we use that created persona to interact with other like inventions.  These profiles are not like us.  We think about how we want to be percieved, and we project that edited version of self into relationships or "friendships" with other super edited personalities.  Though forums of this kind of a lot to offer, there are grave dangers in vesting too much in this alternate reality.  We can lose our sense of self.  Or, we can lose our awareness of the real dignity of each person.  We begin to view people as collections of data, rather than unique individual made in God's image. 

The latter leads to all kinds of problems, which are readily apparent in our daily lives.  Viewed as unexceptional compilations of bits, the people we interact with have no true value to us except to impart what data we might find useful.  That is a particularly ineloquent way of expressing that one of the dangers of this mindset is utilitariansim, which is the mindset which questions the value of the life of my daughter, Sarah.  It is a rampant and vicious rejection of the sanctity of life. 

Matt did not condemn modern communications.  He insisted that kept in their proper place, they are useful.  He discussed some of the various ways that technology can be an awesome aid to our prayer lives.  Whether it be to set our phones to remind us to pray at specific times, or perhaps to inform our faith, or to gather groups to pray and inspire without geographical boundries, contemporary communication can be an awesome tool.  With that in mind, I will share the statement which Papa Bene released discussing social communications:  Truth, Proclamation and Authenticity of Life in the Digital Age.

Again, in honesty, I have not yet read Matt's second book.  I have it in hand now, and will read it soon.  If the book covers the same ideas that Matt discussed in his talk, it is indeed well worth reading. 

As I decide what can be fixed, what I can live without and what needs to be replaced, it has been useful to meditate on the role of social media in my life. 

"Believers who bear witness to their most profound convictions greatly help prevent the web from becoming an instrument which depersonalizes people, attempts to manipulate them emotionally or allows those who are powerful to monopolize the opinions of others. On the contrary, believers encourage everyone to keep alive the eternal human questions which testify to our desire for transcendence and our longing for authentic forms of life, truly worthy of being lived. "  Pope Benedict XVI

Friday, June 3, 2011


We got the results of the genetic test back yesterday.  We have a diagnosis.  Sarah has Apert's syndrome.

I am not going to lie.  I am more intimidated by the diagnosis than I anticipated.  I have been reading about the syndrome.  The genetic counselor sent me a number of resources.  Some are medical, and they describe what the diagnosis means from a medical perspective.  Some are personal.  There are a number of different websites put up either by people who have Apert's or by their families.  It is simultaneously encouraging and intimidating to read these stories.  

There seem to be a wide range of potential symptoms for people with Apert's.  

"Do you not know that your body is a temple of the holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?"  1 Corinthians 6:19

We are each temples for the Lord.  There are a lot of wonderful teachings about how to interpret that verse.  The context of the verse is sin and immorality.  We are told here that we must avoid sin, not just because we fear Hell, but because we are temples.  We care for our bodies with the same diligence that would attend our care for His home.  

But let me take you back a step, to the old Testament verse which got me thinking in the first place:

"Then David said to his son Solomon: "Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.""  1 Chronicles 28:20

I was looking for an answer to my fears, and that is what I was given.  I have a friend who keeps reminding me that our children are not our own.  We are just stewards; they belong to God.  We do the best we can to teach, form, raise and love them.  But ultimately, the work is for the glory of God.  As we raise up our little temples, teaching them to hold God in their hearts, we are doing the work Solomon set out to do.  And God is with us as we do it.  "Go to work without fear or discouragement."  It is what I needed to hear.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

doctor frustrations

I went to the doctor yesterday.  It was a long overdue visit with my original OB.  I have not seen him in since we first got word that perhaps there was something to worry about.  I liked him when I met him, and he had come highly recommended.  I asked a few questions, and I asked his staff questions too.  I did not grill him, as I have grilled doctors before.  I liked that his staff has been with him for years- it is a small office and the staff has been the same for aver a decade.  I am suspicious of doctors who have a high turnover rate in their office staff.  I liked his manner.  Lily liked him, and he joked with her.  I liked that he not only plasters the walls with baby pictures, as many obstetricians do, but he keeps children's books in the office.

Now, I am beginning to question whether I want to stay with him.  What I do not like about him is that he seems to send me away for every possible test.  He does not even do the glucose test in office!  I have no idea how normal this is, but I do not like it.  That alone would not put me off, but in light of everything, I am losing confidence in him.

I want a natural birth.  I want the least medical intervention necessary for a healthy birth.  I do not want drugs and IVs.  I do not want to be tied to a bed in the hospital.  Women are very different, and it seems important to me that whatever a mother wants in this respect, should be her choice.  Some doctors push Ceseareans, some epidurals, some do not push at all.   That is what I want.  So, why do I choose a doctor in a hospital, not a midwife in a birthing center?  Keeping stress low matters in pregnancy, and my choice keeps my stress low.  I want a hands-off doctor, who will intervene only when necessary, and who will know when it is necessary.

Most troubling, when I asked him about the various tests, he seemed not to me familiar with them at all.  He did not know what they showed, or even where and why I had taken them.  So I asked, just to make sure, if he had received the reports from all my other doctors.  He had to look, but he had in fact received them.  If he had said something like, "I am sorry, I received them but I have not had a chance to look at them yet," or "Yes I saw them, but to be honest, I am not a specialist and I did not understand it all," I would be OK.  As it is, it seemed to me that he was not in the slightest interested in understanding my specific case.

If the doctor is going to hand off every test, every concern, every worry, to another doctor- why am I with him?  He would not even interpret the results of the last test I got, he just read me the report written by another doctor.  He would not tell me what was going on, whether or not he was worried, what, if anything, there was to be worried about, he just sent me to a specialist.  I do not want a baby-catcher with letters after his name.  I want peace of mind. The doctor's job, from my perspective, is to understand what is going on when I cannot- and to help me deal with it.  If everything is normal, I do not need a doctor.

I will have to make a decision soon.  I chatted with the genetic counselor about all this.  She agrees that I should feel like he is directing, not just externally participating in my care.  But, she thinks I should present him with my frustrations and give him a chance to respond before I leave.  Decisions.  I guess I should count my blessings.  It is not every mother who has the luxury of choice when it comes to which doctors we want caring for us.