Big D, little d, what begins with D?

Happy things starting with D:

Discrimination, death, delight.

I am happy that slowly, slowly, it feels as if there is change in the world and a decrease in discrimination. It is NOT gone by any means, but I think it is slowly being eroded.

My parents had a party when I was two and they were both in college. The party was raided in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1963 and my father was taken to jail. My mother and I were left alone and she was afraid we would be lynched by the neighbors. The next morning the paper wrote about a MIXED RACE COLLEGE STUDENT PARTY possibly with orgies. My parents were both suspended from the University of Tennessee.

They were both reinstated after a hearing, because there were no drugs, no underage drinkers, and it was not illegal to have a mixed race party. My parents never touched marijuana ever and I think it was because of that party. I don’t remember it, but I still feel cautious at parties and in crowds. My mother refused to return to the U. of TN and eventually finished her undergraduate degree at Cornell. My parents were so notorious that we left Knoxville as soon as my father graduated.

I grew up learning protest songs and work songs and joke songs. My mother joked about the party and it was years before I found out how terrifying it was. My mother joked that they sat at the one liberal table at the University of Tennessee. I hate discrimination and I do not understand it.

Death: is death a happy thing? Death is as much a mystery as life, and we cannot have one without the other. How could we value life if it were eternal? And we’d also get awfully crowded. I have the privilege of caring for all ages in clinic, all genders, any race that comes in the door, age newborn to 104, what joy! I get to be present when someone is dying and try to help the person and the family. There is no single idea about death or about how to “do it right” and often families struggle with multiple opinions and ideas and feelings. Death is as intense as birth and I have had the privilege to attend both.

Delight: there are many things that I find difficult and depressing, but I find delight too! The latest morbidity and mortality report from the CDC on overdose deaths, up from 52K in the US in 2015 to 62K in the US in 2016: Overdose deaths involving opioids, cocaine and psychostimulents — United States, 2015-2016. We have to work harder to prevent addiction, why do we choose addictive substances, why do people think it won’t happen to THEM?

And yet, I still find delight, taking photographs of bird, seeing patients that I know well in clinic, we laugh often, finding joy walking outside, my family and friends.


The photograph is from Mauna Loa last week. It is not a giant dinosaur nest, it’s a cinder cone. At least, that’s what a geologist claims….


8 thoughts on “Big D, little d, what begins with D?

  1. Colette B says:

    still here for MMPC#154 while looking in my folders for one of my photos to post and just spotted in comment at that *care was meant to state camera! Didn’t realise comment functionality had reduced with the recent WP business strategy changes, never mind, I’ll soon it :)

  2. Colette B says:

    I wonder how many drug-related deaths are the medicinal industry’s culpability while figures aren’t reported here in those ways but are obviously happening in droves as if some big idea-d plan. it’s odd isn’t it how we might feel guilty for having any happy moment at all in our lives when dark and depressing days occur but it’s necessary to cope in such times and we owe it those who are lost to value every moment of happiness we can. I’m pleased to see you feel a reduction in discrimination in the context of your life and locality. From here it seems discrimination is on the increase and the equality campaigns are root cause of it. Sadly.

    • drkottaway says:

      Have you read Emperor of Maladies: a biography of cancer? It is a long book but it describes 2000 years of trying to understand and treat cancer. The understanding changes and the treatments change. I see the management of pain as equally complicated: there has certainly been greed on the part of drug manufacturers, but there has also been demand and lawsuits from patients. As the information and medical knowledge changes, both the physicians and the patients have to change and that is not easy. We have to work together.

      • Colette B says:

        I do understand those kinds of issues at least a little. i lost loved ones to cancer too & my best friend at only 35 but she lived longer than the many children who die during such young lifetimes… no I’ve not read that book but when I get a minute i’ll look for it on Gutenberg or elsewhere. And I realised after posting my recent comment about care I can look for an old photo of mine as I have some on old disk or computer, I’ll try and get back to it before week’s out but not today now as behind agin :) Thanks for reply.

  3. joyweesemoll says:

    Delight is one of my favorite words. I love that you found things to make you happy from discrimination (I do hope you’re right that we’re getting better and I find satisfaction in working to make it so) and death (your perspective really helps me see it).

  4. HesterLeyNel says:

    Your last sentence was also my topic for today. We should determinedly seek out those things that delight us and enjoy them to the fullest.

  5. Ronald Bird says:

    Delight: unfortunately, Delight is also what is sought with drug usage.

    • drkottaway says:

      I don’t know… I think it’s often escape or trying to connect with a person’s own deeper self….

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