Monday, May 9, 2016

Report from the Tiny Little Mother Mind™

I spent quite a bit of yesterday in my bed in my nightgown reading Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. I'm having another Books & Bakes salon at my house in early June, and that's what I assigned. I've never read the book and am completely and utterly smitten by it. I am an admirer of Hemingway but not a lover, so it's taken me by surprise. With the exception of my beloved A Farewell to Arms, I thought that I would perhaps live to the end of my days without re-reading anything else by him, and I certainly didn't expect to be gobsmacked by his nonfiction. But there I was, all day, picking it up, reading a few pages and then having to lay it down to savor. In between I watched a couple episodes of The Wire, my other new obsession.

Where was I? Isn't this supposed to be a Tiny Little Mother Mind™ report? Yes. Yes, it is. Somewhere in the middle of my relaxing day, my land line rang (who knew that we'd be typing and reading with such ease a phrase like my land line rang), and because the caller ID was the name of a famous physicist, perhaps the most famous physicist of all time, I picked it up and answered it. If you're like me, you rarely get a phone call on your land line, and if you do, it's inevitably someone masquerading as the FBI, threatening you with jail over nonpayment of back taxes or someone trying to convince you that solar panels on your peaked roof might possibly work, or even a representative from your prep school asking for your contribution to the year's $500 million capital campaign. It's rarely a person with the name of the most famous physicist in history, so I imagine you'd answer it as well. Hello? I said, and the physicist introduced himself as the anesthesiologist who would be working with Sophie on Tuesday morning at the dentist's office. He had some questions for me. Because I was subtly influenced by Hemingway, I thought There is no reason to trust that this is a physicist. He is a doctor. The weather is bad. I am lying in my nightgown on my bed. It is the middle of the day. It is Sunday. The doctor with the physicist's name proceeded to ask me a series of questions about Sophie that included what medications she was on and what, exactly, her issues were. I guess I should backtrack and tell you that Sophie has been getting so feisty at the dentist's office of late that it's nearly impossible to clean her teeth, much less get x-rays. In fact, she hasn't had x-rays in years, and who knows what's happening with her wisdom teeth? Hence, the scary procedure tomorrow morning. Think about us at 10:00 am when the physicist/anesthesiologist does his work.

But back to the tiny little mother mind™report. During the questioning, the doctor with the famous physicist's name learned that Sophie was taking Onfi, Vimpat and cannabis. Right, he said, you mean Marinol, don't you? I said, Um, no. Marinol is synthetic THC. Sophie is on a high cannabidiol product and THC oil at night. I quickly explained The History of Sophie's Seizures and Use of Cannabis. You know it, right? The doctor with the famous physicist's name did not respond in any way. He was, naturellement, not interested in hearing how cannabis has helped Sophie so dramatically. I say naturally, with a French sneer because it's been my experience that doctors are, actually, not interested.


I began to feel the encroachment of the tiny little mother mind™in the middle of the good doctor whose name is a famous physicist's explanation of what the effects of benzodiazepines are on the brain, particularly with the addition of anesthesia. He was quite thorough despite my periodic interjections that I'd been doing this thang called epilepsy for more than two decades. In other words, as my old friend Susan might have said to a very famous neurologist Tell me something I already don't f*^ing know. Reader, I refrained from speaking like that, but by the time he'd finished mansplaining, given that I was still in bed in my nightgown with Hemingway lying forlorn next to me, I looked like this:

Now, ya'll know what really sustains me is my dogged sense of humor, so I thought I'd tell the doctor whose name is a famous physicist's that given my tiny little mother mind™and his famous name, I felt super confident about my daughter being under his care. He did not laugh. Not even the tiniest laugh. I refrained from asking him whether he'd been the doctor who administered propophyl to Michael Jackson that time, but I did ask are you, like, The Famous Physicist's Physicist? and he replied, Yes, and I asked, Are you related? and he said yes, a distant trace but he had not one, not one tiny little trace of laughter in his voice so I knew he'd either been asked it too many times or was, perhaps, a doctor whose name is a famous physicist's without a sense of humor. He moved quickly into A Discussion of Reimbursement. I learned that he was paid on the day of service, although proper insurance papers would be given to me to fill out and mail in myself. What is your rate? I enquired in my bravest tiny little mother mind™ voice.

The doctor with the famous physicist's name said, $800 an hour, and I said okay, and at some point said good-bye and see you Tuesday morning. And then my tiny little mother mind™ told my mouth to let out a tiny little moan, even as I picked up the Hemingway and turned to the marked down page because I had to, I just had to reread this:

I closed up the story in the notebook and put it in my inside pocket and I asked the waiter for a dozen portugaises and a half-carafe of the dry white wine they had there. After writing a story I was always empty and both sad and happy, as though I had made love, and I was sure this was a very good story although I would not know truly how good until I read it over the next day.


  1. I loved that book, though it's been years since I read it. I generally like Hemingway, with all his cafe-hopping and wandering around Europe. I could do without the bullfighting, though.

    Not to take the doctor's side, because he sounds like a humorless prat (as the British would say), but I wonder if he is legally required to go over all the effects of the benzodiazepines and their interactions with anesthesia. He may have to run through all that stuff with you, even though you know it already.

    (Which doesn't make it any more fun for you, admittedly!)

    As for his fee, well, I'm speechless. I always heard anaesthesiologists make a boatload of money but REALLY?

  2. Katie needs an anesthetic for dental work as well. We tried conscious sedation once and the poor dentist was shaking when we went back to pick her up because he had given her so much sedation, about four times what we normally give patients. What can I say, I've got a tough girl on my hands:)

    Katie is not fond of anesthetics, they often make her vomit which involves pinching and hair pulling, I imagine she doesn't like the feeling of nausea. I know I don't.

    As for the doc, meh.

  3. Who knew going to the dentist when you have epilepsy was "A Thing". I already have a number of obnoxious stories. My favorite was when my little boy had a psychotic reaction to the meds I paid extra for to keep him extra calm.

  4. The thing I find most astounding here have a landline?
    I do because I can't get cell phone service in my house but I thought maybe I was the only one in the world.
    Beautiful lines from Hemingway. I'm sure he would have been the king of mansplaining but oh, he would have done it with such beauty.

  5. Just reading this makes me want to take to the bottle.

  6. Oy. Thank goodness for nightgowns and Hemingway and brilliant mothers. Having worked with many anesthesiologists in my past life, I can say that they either have very, very dark senses of humor or none at all and I suspect it is because of the dizzying array of chemical interactions and possibilities that abound when you are responsible for putting another person into a state where they cannot move or react and (you hope) they cannot feel a thing. I think it must be imperative to believe that you are always right and never let anyone see you flinch. In any case, it sounds like, while he is not someone you would like to be around for any length of time, he knows what he is doing and so I will hold him and Sophie in my thoughts at 10:00 and send a call to the Universe to rain $100 bills down on your head so that you can fold them into tiny origami birds to fling at him when he sends you the bill.

  7. I think you should get t-shirts/business cards, etc with the diagrams and graphs you've made that show how much Sophie's seizures have been reduced. Maybe have your sexy new Mazda custom painted with said diagrams while you're at it.

  8. Your tragic story is killin' me here. You've managed to weave in a lot of life in this post. And yes, it's the humor that sustains you, and thank the heavens for it. Plus, it's just great to read, if I may say so. Good luck at the dentist. I'll be coming back to read this post again, because there is so much in it. Rock on, brilliant E.

  9. It is a very good story, if only it wasn't also true.



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