Monday, October 19, 2009

In Praise of the Old-Fashioned Doctor

And I don't mean my husband. Though I do think he is an 'old-fashioned doctor.' Anyone who can deliver babies, take out appendices, do colonoscopies, take out tonsils, see peds cases, do nursing home rounds, handle psych medications and even do the odd home visit seems to me to qualify as the sort of all-round physician fast disappearing nowadays. And he's rather good at it. But he's an unusual one these days -- particuarly because he's young and just starting out in practice. He doesn't deliver babies or do surgeries currently -- there are specialists in this area for that sort of thing, though he came out of residency qualified to do such things. But put him down in a tiny one-doctor sort of town, and he would run the show; heck, he'd BE the show. They don't make them much like that anymore.

I thought of this particularly this weekend. Last Tuesday, I randomly and suddenly got a rather severe pain in my right lower side. By the next morning, I was having chills. Scott hied me off to the ER, fairly sure I was probably having appendicitis. I had the usual dr. look at me briefly, poke me a couple times, do some tests, tell me I didn't have a high white count, no fever, cat scan showed nothing, etc. Go home and wait -- your husband can tell if you're dying and you need to come back in.

By Saturday night the pain was worse (and had lingered all week), and I felt like a wet cat at the dog pound. I went back in. Different doctor this time. Mid-70s; spent most of his practice in a very small town, being the whole show as mentioned above. He had the wisest eyes. He came in, sat down next to me, and said, "Tell me what's wrong." Then he proceeded to ask me exhaustive questions, poke and prod extensively, listen to my lungs, look in my ears (the pain's in my side, but you have to be thorough), etc., etc. The ER was extremely busy, but he still stopped to say (twice!), "Is there anything else you want to or can tell me about this? Anything you can think of you didn't remember before? Have I got everything?"

He took blood tests again, got the same result as before. "Well," he said to Scott, "this is not immediately evident. I've been around a long time, and I know sometimes it takes some digging." He did test after test, obviously enjoying the mystery, never making me feel like I was in his way or that he thought I was being over-reactive or silly (by this time, *I* had about decided I was making it up!). He talked with Scott about appendectomies he had done, mused over the cat scan report, and finally said, "My money is on her ovary." "But I don't HAVE an ovary on that side!" I said. (Sorry for the wealth of gynecological information.) "I know," he said, "but your abdomen can do some pretty funny things."

Then he ordered an ultrasound, something no one had thought to do before. That did it. Partially ruptured ovarian cyst on the left side; blood from the rupture collecting on the right side above my appendix, causing pain (internal bleeding always makes your body grumpy). "Well," he said. "NOW we have a diagnosis." He sent me home with medication and an order to see a surgeon for a consult this week.

I guess my point is that, had he told me my problem was my wishbone was infected, I would have believed him. His air of confidence and care-taking, his calm unwillingness to announce he couldn't "find anything," and his obvious experience with everything from ears to toenails, was the most comforting thing in the world. "I've been in this business long enough to know that you can be fooled," he kept telling Scott as he worked.

He was the best kind of old-fashioned doctor.

love, kristin

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I Love Easy Recipes That Make a Ton

A blog that I find really fun to read is Like Mother, Like Daughter. The main writer is just the nicest kind of mother -- the sort who had a well-functioning home full of children, and is herself full of good advice, delicious recipes, warm ideas, and gentle encouragement. You just long to go visit her.

Recently, she did a wonderful post on how to make a fruit crisp (apple for example, but she tells how to use other fruits, as well) with crisp topping that you keep extra of in the freezer to pull out and use later. I have a recipe that uses dry cake mix for a fast crumble top, but a homemade mix has to be healthier, tastier, and, if I have actually planned ahead this way, just as fast. Such a smart lady, she is! At least I can visit her in a bloggy sort of way ...

love, kristin

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


Fall has rather abruptly arrived here -- it tends to be that way in this area of the country. Last week we were having gorgeous days of mid-60s weather and warm sunshine; this week, it's downright chilly and near-freezing every night. The fall colors are becoming lovely, and this morning I was considering the lovely presents of the season around me on the homestead:

We get between 7 and 11 of these beauties each day -- for all the effort of dumping some feed into a hopper, filling a water dispenser, occasionally re-laying some straw or wood shavings, and making sure the chicken-run fence is secure. Small cost for such lovely oval gems.

A pumpkin from our garden. Once again, this beauty was almost effortless -- we planted the seeds, made sure the sprinklers ran every other night or so, and watched the vines trail and climb all over the shop. The children picked six of them on Sunday, and now they march down the porch steps, looking officially autumnal.

And then there's this Rome apple I got from our local farmstand this morning. It's 13 INCHES in diameter. If you ordinarily have such gorgeous apples, I can only assume your address includes the word Canaan. And I don't have to buy it from a store (as if a store would have such a lovely apple) -- it comes from people I know; people who know my family; people who grow their produce without pesticides; people who support the local economy; people I meet at the armory when we go to welcome the local National Guard home from tours of duty abroad.

How can I be so blessed and fortunate in the ordinary everyday?

love, kristin

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I'm Back ... and a Memorial

I can't believe it's been so long since I've written. This is the traditional opening for most diary entries and not a few personal letters and emails. In this case, however, it's strictly accurate. I really can't. One of the things that has kept me busy in the "real" world has been the final illness of Bev, Scott's "adopted" mom. Most of you know about this, and have been so supportive and kind to me. I've appreciated beyond words your emails, calls, cards. I've needed them.

I've been so privileged to spend several days each week most of the last month in Orofino, keeping house for Gordon, Bev's husband, and being "the thing that is not quiet in the house"--it was the silence that was killing him. I knew that Bev was well-taken-care-of at the hospital, and had a steady stream of visitors (Gordon was there every day), and decided that my duty was to make sure he stayed on his feet and had a lighted house to come home to every night possible.

Bev slipped away last Monday night about 8:30. One of her sons had left to go home to Florida that morning. Before he left, he told her, "Mom, we have everything all organized, tidied up, and taken care of. If you're tired of fighting, just let go. It's all right if you're ready." 10 hours later, she was ready.

Her funeral was last Saturday. Over 250 people crammed into the Lutheran church in Orofino -- people were sitting in the hallways. The service was liturgical, and I found the well-known texts and the bread and the wine comforting. The window I sat under was a memorial stained-glass window that Bev gifted to the church after the death of her parents. The sun outside shone through Christ arisen and poured over my children playing on the pew beneath Him. Mara spent the prayer trying to kick her sister's head.

All four of Bev's sons (to include my husband) wept during the service, but at home, it was like the best kind of Irish wake. We sat around the kitchen table and laughed, reminisced, drank (liquids of varying strength, depending on your preference), ate. Gordon told stories of his wife, and of his boyhood. Sven and Scott told stories of waterfights through the house, playing football together in the yard, wrestling in the back of the pickup on the way down the river road until they both became violently carsick. Emily looked for Grandma Bev to ask where the art paper was, until she remembered.

How I'll miss her. But yet, it feels "normal" -- a part of the roll of seasons, the movement of life. Children are born, others die. Bev had great faith in her Redeemer, and I have no doubt that I will find her on the Resurrection Day, delighted to see how the children have grown, eagerly searching for her friends and children. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

love, kristin