Saturday, January 12, 2008

Glass half...?

I normally think of myself as a realist, and, truth be told, take a certain amount of pride in it. I am not, I tell myself, a wide-eye optimist who thinks everyone is basically a wonderful person, and if we could just look into each other's eyes and see each other's souls, we would all get along. But, I continue, neither am I a beyond redemption burned out cynic who thinks no-one ever does anything if it does not benefit their own selves about fifty times more than it benefits anyone else. In fact, I have, on occasion, gently teased my friend Irene, mother of three and generally thoughtful person, for her (for my taste) naively too kind view of human nature, as manifested for example in her inability to comprehend that people exist who view pregnancy as a punitive measure for having had sex.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Me, realist. Proud of it. Once in a while, though, something happens that shows me that I am probably much closer to being an incurable optimist than I care to admit. Take, for example, the Big Drama. The thing that was so crushing to me about it was in fact that a human being was capable of doing a thing like that to me, to us, to anyone, actually. Surprisingly, I could never muster being angry at her. Still can't. It's the people around the whole mess, the doctor, the nurse administrator, that I find myself thinking about, wondering whether they will one day realize what they did, and whether they will feel bad when that happens. I find myself hoping for that fairy tale version of capital J Justice where the mystery is solved by the end of the story, the wicked are punished, and the good most certainly rewarded. Better yet, where the wicked see the error of their ways and repent. Or, you know, the doctor calls us to apologize. I know, dream on.

Right before we found out of my current state, two weeks after having our medical care terminated and tired of waiting for the promised prompt new prospective RE referrals, we wrote a letter to the head of the practice group (which includes GYN, OB, and fertility services) asking him to intervene in getting us the referrals and pointing out to him the need for a thorough investigation in order to protect other innocent patients at the practice from being accused in the same way. On Monday, another ten days later, the patient advocate finally called with names (provided to her by the doctor via the nurse admin, yes a bit convoluted). She called me, but I was in a meeting. She left a message and then also called JD. She mentioned to him during that conversation that the head of the practice is going to write us a reply in the next week or two.

For a while I couldn't figure out why hearing that news sent me into another acute anxiety episode that lasted for several hours. Finally, it came to me-- I had made peace, of a sort, with the idea that we were all done with the RE, that while I would probably never get my apology, at least it was over. The promised letter, however, means new contact, which to me has come to mean another opportunity for someone to declare me a Bad Person (TM), an opportunity to feel disbelief and pain over being so casually and so heinously labeled and dismissed.

I managed to calm myself down a lot, and even to get some work done before making a serious mistake of listening, without anesthesia, to last weekend's episode of This American Life. You should listen. But do yourself a favor and have a stiff drink first. And a few more ready to go for during. No, really, have them sitting right by where you are. Because the show, particularly Act I, will shake you. At least I believe that it has to if you, like me, are an aspiring realist.

Act I tells a story of a family that, once they had kids, moved to a small town on the East Coast, opened a business, and lived their lives. Until, pretty much fall of 2002, when their oldest child, a nine year old girl called Cloe in the story, starts getting hounded in school. You see, the family is Muslim. And the district distributed a booklet as part of the lesson on the first anniversary of 9/11 that had on its cover a picture of the burning towers and inside, among other things, said "Who did it? We don't know. But here's a clue. Muslims hate Christians. Muslims hate Americans. Muslims believe that anyone who doesn't practice Islam is evil. Koran teaches war and hate." And you know that to nine year olds if it's in a book, it must be true.

This is not even the worst of it. The family weathers this part, not without scars, but they are getting through. And then, December comes, and with it, the declaration by the teacher that the class will be reading a Christmas book every day this month. Of which she has hundreds at home. December 5th the teacher brought in a book about Jesus' blood, and its ability to save the believers. She also brought in visual aids and spent a good deal of class time on the unique power of the blood to grant salvation to the believers. Cloe's question of what happens to non-Christians was answered with "Just believe in Jesus. His blood will save you." You understand, don't you, that it became immediately apparent to all of Cloe's classmates that she and her whole family are headed straight for hell? You can imagine then, begin to imagine, what that girl's school life became, can't you? Hounded by kids at the instigation of the teacher. One person who was supposed to protect her.

The story, which won a very prestigious award by the way, got to me on a very deep level. How could this person, this teacher, do this most inhuman thing-- cause the suffering of a child? How could the school and district administrators put out that booklet? How could they stand by and watch what was happening to Cloe? The people work with children. Vulnerable children. These people have the power to enlighten or to install and perpetrate misconceptions at best or bigotry at worst. How can anyone not take that responsibility seriously? I wonder whether anyone proofread that booklet. And if they did, what were they looking for-- margins, layout? Did it occur to them to ask, say, an actual Muslim, maybe a military chaplain, what they believe?

Most of all, for me, it's the teacher. The teacher who met this kid on the first day of school. Had her in the class for at least a week or two before the anniversary lesson. Did she not see her as human? How was it ok to make a child suffer? To keep making a child suffer. Did she actually believe that she was doing this in the name of her G-d? And because I actually want you to listen to the story (just remember-- with drinks, stiff ones) I haven't told you the last part. The part where this teacher outdoes herself in heaping humiliation on a nine year old.

I will be honest with you and say that I don't understand these people. When I first heard the story, I had a hard time reconciling myself with the idea that people like that exist, that there are people who think this behavior is normal, and justified, and they become teachers or school administrators. Don't get me wrong. It's not that I don't think bad teachers exist, even power-tripping teachers. I think often about how much we lucked out both with the school and with the particular teachers. But to me power-tripping is one thing. Instigating ostracizing of a student is very much another.

What was perhaps most amazing to me in the story, though, is Cloe's mom, Serry. Throughout the whole thing she continues to believe that this is not America, not her America, that this is not representative. I am blown away by that, impressed. But I also want to shake her, to tell her, look, back in the Old Country, there was an old joke told to describe the general attitude towards Jews. It went like this. Head of the government arrives at the meeting of the cabinet and announces that he has a great new idea-- to beat up on the Jews and the mailmen. Why mailmen, someone asks. Great, says he, I knew there would be no objection to the first part.

But I guess she is an optimist. Or does she think of herself as a realist?


I hadn't meant to not write for a week. In fact the part above has been percolating in my head since Monday, and there is a few more that have to get out. I just couldn't find the time. Ironic, seeing as I spend most of my work day on the computer. But I also had a huge backlog in my reader, and it didn't feel right to write without reading and commenting. I am done now. My reader is down to 0 unread posts. JD is skiing in Europe, and Monkey is at a friend's house. They spent the night and most of the day today here, and then I took them over for the continuation of this feast of togetherness. I should even have enough time in the morning to finally add to my roll and my reader, something I have been meaning to do since about Thanksgiving.

I did another beta and progesterone test yesterday, and called for the results today. They are, let's say, not entirely reassuring, although they definitely do not decisively spell disaster. Last Friday, hCG was 1732, giving me a doubling time of 1.43 days. Had it doubled from then on every two days, we would expect yesterday's result to be something in the neighborhood of 20,000. Instead it was 9173, for the new doubling time of 2.91 days. So my doubling time about doubled. I am not panicking yet because the doubling times do tend to slow down, and my overall value is still well in range, as is the doubling time for the current gestational age, but it certainly isn't putting a decisive end to my NVTs. Except maybe the one about the molar. I think these numbers are now too low for a molar. And I have to say that molar scares me a lot, mostly because of how long you can't try for after having one of those (at least six months). I will be glad when the ultrasound day arrives, I'll tell you that.


christina(apronstrings) said...

oh that is just horrible. how could that teacher...or anyone do that to that a 9 year old! blech.

i just can't believe it.

i wish the big drama would end, too! though, i am glad that you two let someone know what was really going on in that practice. troubled receptionist+passive doctor.

i am sorry that your beta isn't as high as would make you feel better. we both know that it is well within the range...but i'd worry too. and most likely needlessly.

Caro said...

That story is horrific, that poor kid.

I'm crossing my fingers for your ultrasound and that you can finally draw a line under the big drama.

Bon said...

i too don't think i'm an optimist, yet have a pretty righteous sense of justice and am horrified when people blindly trespass over my sense of where the lines are. in the case of Dr. Youngun's office and the teacher in the story you told, i think those lines were pretty clear (ie in the realm of human decency) and the actions in both cases make me shake my head in disbelief.

i will say in the case of the teacher's blatant ignorance and prejudice that that attitude is not being, erm, improved by stories like the English teacher in Sudan being imprisoned and having thousands march in the streets calling for her death because her kids - almost all of them Muslim - chose to call a teddy bear Muhammad and she let them. i wish we heard more from moderate Muslims in the western press. i don't know whether this is a lack of coverage or a dearth of outcry over ridiculous situations like the Sudan one...but either way, it does help reinforce equally ridiculous and harmful reactions from people like that teacher.

all that aside...i'm just happy to hear from you. i was worried. i know you still are. here's hoping that the u/s hurries the heck up. Friday, yes?

Casey said...

I love TAL, but I've listened to several episodes that really needed a Stiff Drink Warning.

Casey said...

Ugh. I just listened to that episode. I am pretty sure that I would not have had the same response as Serry. In fact, just hearing that story leads me to a different conclusion. It's so awful.

Magpie said...

I'm sending the happy thoughts in advance of the u/s. Stay well.

Anonymous said...

I am a realist.

I think she sees herself as hopeful that her children should be given what they deserve - equality and fairness.

I hope the ultrasound shows you great things.

Mijk said...

doing what that teacher did in my country would have landed her in court. It is a criminal act..

niobe said...

I didn't listen to the story, but, sadly, this kind of thing happens all the time. We just don't always hear about it.

kate said...

Ya, America -- land of the free & home of the brave.

I haven't listened to that story but i will soon if i have a chance.

Amelie said...

That teacher sounds terrible. Outrageous.
I'm sorry the big drama is not over yet, I had wondered what finally happened, but I hoped it was, at least, settled. I really hope for you that no more ridiculous acts follow. And that the ultrasound brings good news.

Mel said...

wow what a horrible experience for you. I have not lurked for a while and just wanted to say congrats on your BFP your HCG numbers are very simular to mine and I and currently 17weeks pregnant. Goodluck for the 18th I hope everything goes well for you.

Tash said...

It hurts terribly (enough for a drink) when our expectations about people in certain roles let us down. You'd think people in the medical profession would be, um, professional, and that teachers would be curious intellectually and empathetic of their charges. Hobbes has been right so often lately, I'm almost ready to charge right into his and Machiavelli's camp and put up my flag.

And fk it, we expect those beta numbers to keep right on doubling. So, I'm going to be a realist here and say: the shortest distance here is a live baby, the outlier is a molar or anything else rarely bizzare. Hang in there. And thinking of you.

meg said...

Hang in there J, it won't be long until the u/s. Positive thoughts.