Happy things

This is for the Blogging from A to Z theme reveal:

I choose my theme today: Happy things.

When we first moved to Port Townsend, my mother had recurrent of ovarian cancer. My husband was very unhappy and my son had to switch schools in January, leaving a teacher that he loved in Colorado and all his friends. I was working and finding learning all the new phone numbers, specialists, acronyms and patients difficult.

After a while, I instituted Happy Things. At bedtime I told my son that we each had to say three happy things.

“But mom,” said my son. “I am not happy.”

“Well,” I said, “They don’t have to be very happy.”

“What do you mean?” he said.

“Just a little happy. Like, only three patients cried today and not four. No one died today in my clinic. I didn’t forget my lunch like yesterday.”

He thought about it. “We didn’t have the awful pizza at lunch today.”

“Good job! What else?”

“I only got yelled at by the teacher twice.”

“Great! How about the other kids?”

“I only got hit on the playground once.”

“Good job. Yeah, stuff like that. A meteor didn’t hit the school and destroy everyone.”

“I’d get out of school then.”

“If you survived.”

So we did happy things every night and sometimes they were very dark and gradually they got better. I will do happy things from A to Z and some days they may only be a little happy….

The rat is for my son. He has pet rats. This rat is loose on Hawaii, which is not a happy thing for the native birds, but I think the rat may be happy. It came down the tree and was then holding very still, trying to convince us that we couldn’t see it. Be careful, rat, because we saw a mongoose there too.

For the Daily Prompt: toxic. Is the rat toxic? An immigrant? I would immigrate if I had to, so how can I scorn others who do?

It is a small picture, because I had my phone zoomed all the way in. Hello, rat. We see you.

 

 

toxic people

Are there toxic people?

No, I do not believe so….

I think there are toxic interactions.

Toxic behavior. And it takes two to tango, really.

Do I have to stay away from someone who behaves badly? Do they set me off? Well, that’s about me, isn’t it? I need to go look in the mirror and see what is bothering me. What does this remind me of? Are they getting under my skin? So what part of my skin needs better boundaries?

I realized that my father drank too much when I was in college. I read about it and went home, ready to intervene. My mother and my sister refused, much to my surprise. And slowly I realized that my mother was enabling the drinking.

I set boundaries with my father. I said that he could not come to my house drunk and he could not drink at my house. I refused to sleep in my parents’ house because he was falling asleep and there were cigarette burns in the floor and an 8 inch diameter one between the couch cushions. I told my mother I was having nightmares about fires. She joked that she would be mad if he burned a hole in the waterbed. I told my father I was afraid to sleep upstairs and moved to my grandmother’s, two doors away. I was lucky that I had that option.

My father stopped drinking a decade later. I took my young son to visit, and found that my father had started again. I asked my mother, “Why didn’t you tell me?” She replied, “I told you I would leave if he drank, but I am not going to leave.” I said, “We are not staying with you.” and we moved to my mother-in-law’s house.

As a family doctor, I try to help each person. My clinic and I do have boundaries. If they no show for three visits within one year, we ask them to change to another doctor. People call for referrals often. I can’t do a referral without documenting a diagnosis and doing an examination, so they need a visit. “But you’ve seen me for hip pain!” “Yes, and that was a year ago. Time to reevaluate, right?” And all doctors here are swamped: they want to save their over busy time for people who truly need them. The orthopedist does not want to see that hip unless I agree that they need to: if physical therapy and discussion can fix it, one less person that they don’t get to operate on.

I recently had calls for an emergency referral. I left a message with both the patient and the specialist. I had not seen the person for five months. I have no idea what is happening. If it’s an emergency, they need to contact the insurance, not me, because I have not seen the person: no diagnosis. And insurance should cover if it is an emergency. If it is not an emergency, well…

There is behavior that I prefer not to be around. There is behavior I will tolerate in clinic but not my personal life, since I get paid in clinic. There is behavior I won’t tolerate in clinic. But think of the great ones that are still spoken of: the Buddha, the Bodhisattvas, Jesus. They had boundaries to where any person was allowed to approach them and was received and was sometimes changed by that reception. When I say “I can’t be around him or her,” how do I need to change? Ok, not the crazy person shooting into crowds, no tolerance. But day to day, the things that get under our skin, it’s our skin that is fallible.

I do not want to label anyone toxic. I hope to make a small difference in the world through my clinic. And add to the joy in the world.

For the Daily Prompt: saintly. I am not there. 

Sweet Honey in the Rock: Would you harbor me?