Monday, May 17, 2010

Familiar Song, New Verse: Talk!

Well. This explains a lot: Florida's doctor discipline system not tough enough, critics say / Most cases dropped, few serious penalties imposed.

It's no secret in Florida that the Department of Health and the Florida Board of Medicine, in particular, are lax in regulating, policing and disciplining Florida's medical profession. Even though I've known this for years, reading this article makes my stomach churn. It makes me angry.

This isn't about a hair salon allowing unlicensed cosmetologists to cut hair in their shop. It's not about whether yacht and ship brokers and salespersons have a license to do business.

This is about physicians appropriately and accurately treating patients, and the State of Florida taking appropriate action when they don't. Treating patients -- people. Our children, our spouses, our parents, our siblings, ourselves.

Physicians are not infallible. But worse, some physicians aren't honest about their credentials or limitations.

We are so quick to openly and publicly pan a restaurant over lousy customer service. We tell our friends all about the hairstylist who left us looking like we went to a pet groomer. We will tweet all day long about how bad the in-air service is on a flight we're on.

But when it comes to telling someone about a bad -- or worse, harmful or life-threatening -- experience with a physician, dentist, nurse, anesthetist, or other health-care professional, so many of us tiptoe around the subject.

Even if Florida dismisses your complaint, you still have every right to talk to people about your experience. Especially if it jeopardized your life or the life of your child, or other loved one.

Bad restaurant service is temporary. Hair grows back. As long as you get safely from point A to point B, who cares if the flight attendant was rude or nice, or if the in-flight food was fabulous or foul? 

Physicians, dentists, nurses, anesthetists and other health-care professionals have the potential to improve your life or end it. If your health-care experience was a threat to your well-being or life, tell someone. Tell everyone.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Happy Mother's Day, and Merry Christmas

Yes, I know Mother's Day was Sunday and today is not Sunday. But I love my brother's Facebook post about our Christmas stockings so much, I begged him to please let me share it here. So, I give you my first guest blog. From my brother, Bob. 

Happy Mother's Day, and Merry Christmas
by Bob Thurston

Mother's Day is a good day to talk about Christmas stockings.

Every December 25, I dig into a stocking my mom knitted by hand before my first Christmas. My brother and sisters have one just like it. So do our spouses, kids and grandkids.

My favorite Christmas memory is of waking before dawn with my brother and sisters and plundering our stockings, knowing they held enough treasure to tide us over until breaking light made it safe to nag our parents out of bed to open presents. We rummaged through a king's ransom of knick-knacks and candy that stretched the red, green and white yarn of the stocking to its limit: distorting our knitted names at the top, distending Santa's angora-bearded face at the shin, and bulging the crossed candy canes at the arch.

Only now do I marvel at how it all got in. As a kid, I just dug and delighted, giggled and sighed, pulling out an astonishing assortment of the wondrous, the silly, the sentimental and the practical: candies and tree ornaments; puzzle books and playing cards; Matchbox cars and Army men; jacks and Slinkys; toiletries and school supplies; and a plump Florida orange nestled in the toe.

When we became parents, we learned the how-to. The orange is your anchor, and a magazine or a thin pack of notebook paper, tucked in around the calf, props the stocking open – the better for fitting in the bigger things. When those are all in place, you drop in the doohickeys and the thingamabobs.

Mom's other secret is Dickens: keep the Christmas spirit all year long. Bargain bins, clearance shelves, impulse items at check-out – stocking stuffer nirvana.

Through the years, those stockings have been stuffed and emptied, torn and mended, time after time.

They captivate our children and make children out of us.

And even after we've dug down to that orange in the toe, they overflow with a mother's love.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

When Doctors Fail

Adventures of a Funky Heart writer Steve Catoe posted a story I sent him over the weekend about a heart mom I know who lost her baby at 40 days old.

Michael should still be here. He would be 2, and this Sunday would have been his third Mother's Day.

One mom who read this post asked if there was anything she could do. There is: Tell every heart parent you meet and know to be sure their child is seen and evaluated by board-certified pediatric heart specialist. Trust your instincts. Ask questions. Expect answers. Don't tolerate ego. Demand to be part of your child's care and treatment. Advocate, advocate, advocate.