Monday, April 14, 2014

Good reads

I've finished the Come Rain or Come Shine book. It was good, and I think gave a person a lot to think about. I've started In Their Own Voices which is also very good. I think a must-read for anyone who is looking to adopt transracially. They have lots of stories about transracial adoptees of all ages, who grew up in all different circumstances. It's a good one.

I also ran across this blog post the other day on White Sugar, Brown Sugar. You can find it here. I think it's a good recap of the loss and pain that adoption can bring, as well as the joy.

It's a journey, that is for sure.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

I Will not be Bullied

There is a bill in front of the Nebraska legislature right now that would expand the scope of practice for Optometrists in our state. It would allow them to prescribe more medications - such as oral immunosuppressives and glaucoma medications. It would allow them to do minor eyelid procedures like removing eyelid lesions and I&D chalazia. Across the country right now there are bills in the various state legislatures that expand the scope of practice for optoms.

As an ophthalmologist, these bills are a threat to my profession. Optometrists are the primary care doctors of the eye, we are the surgeons. Two separate entities. Both necessary.

A few days ago, someone from the Nebraska Association of Eye Physicians and Surgeons asked me to participate in a panel discussion about the bill on a tele-town hall meeting. I agreed. I barely talked through the whole thing. The only thing I said was in regards to the relationship between Optometrists and Ophthalmologists, and I said that in my experience, most people go to an optometrist first and are evaluated and then sent on if they need further care. That was it.

So one of the optometrist in town called me tonight. Livid. Yelling. Telling me I was arrogant, egotistical, and that I had no idea what I had just done to my life here. Saying that I thought Optometrists were second class citizens. I kept saying, "no, but we're different", which made him really mad. He tells patients that the only difference between me and him is that I can do surgery and he can't. Ahem. That is not the only difference. But I was comparing a family doc with a general surgeon. One is not better than the other, but they are not the same. I did surgery on his mother a few months back. One eye went fine, the other was a bit more complicated, but in the end she ended up just fine. He told me I "ruined" her eye, and that most people would take that as a little bit a humility, but not me. He has no idea how many sleepless nights I had over that woman.

He had gotten an email from the President of the state Optometric Association saying that I had participated in this meeting and that I bashed Optometry the entire night. Which wasn't true. But that is how things go. As ophthalmologists we get most of our referrals from Optoms. So that is partly why these bills pass. Because we are too afraid to stand up for our profession at the risk of losing referrals. But we can't do that.

And the crazy part is that out of all of the optometrists in town, I feel he is the least competent. And he is so arrogant about it. He will send me complete train wrecks and then go on and on about how it was already this bad when he first saw them, so it obviously wasn't his fault. And not once have a yelled at him. Asked him why the f#$k he didn't send me so-and-so sooner. Why? Because that is unprofessional, and that is not how you talk to colleagues.

It was one of the more unprofessional encounters of my entire life. And talking to Bonnie and some other people today, I realized that he would have never, in a million years, called Jim at 8:00PM to berate him. Never ever. But I'm a woman, and I'm young, so he feels OK to do that. Well, I am not really OK with that.

Charlie talked to one of the other optoms in town last night about it. He was upset too. Though he didn't call me to berate me. He told me to lie low. Said that it's OK to do all the donating, call your senator, whatever, but don't go public with it. But that is exactly why these bills gain ground. Because too many ophthalmologists are too afraid to say anything for fear of losing their referral base. We have got to stop being afraid.

I will not be bullied. This is something I believe in. It is important to me, and it is important to my profession, and I believe it is important to patient safety. I didn't say much to him tonight, but I did say that if given the chance I would do it again. I will stand up for what I believe in. I will not let you intimidate me into silence. I may look insignificant, but I am vocal. And I will not be silenced.

Now I'm not saying I'm going to start some sort of holy war. The next time he calls me after hours and tries to yell at me (because this is not the first time), I will calmly tell him that I'm not going to talk to him about this right now. That I'll be happy to talk to him at another time, when its not 8:00PM and when we're not seeing patients. And that I will talk to him as long as he is professional. This is not something I expect to see eye-to-eye on. I'm not sure if he is under the impression that every single ophthalmologist in the country is not against these bills or what, but we don't have to agree. That doesn't mean we can't be civil. If he had gone public in support of the bill I would not have given a rats ass, because I assumed he was in favor of it.

So. Bring it. Whatever happens I will figure it out. Maybe this one decision to participate in this tele-town hall meeting will be the end of me in North Platte. Probably not. But either way I will stand up for what I believe in.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Family Updates

Hey there everyone! My board exam is FINALLY over, wahoo! It was really hard, but I honestly don't know what more I could have done to prepare, so now I'm just waiting the eight weeks until they send me a letter telling me whether or not I passed. Hopefully the answer is yes ;)

So now that I'm done with that, I have more time to devote to other things - namely our adoption proceedings. All of our paperwork is in with the home study agency. Our paperwork for our FBI clearance and the Nebraska sex offenders registry is in (fingers crossed we pass both of those :)). We have our first meeting with our social worker on Wednesday in McCook, which is about an hour from North Platte. We have three meetings with her, two in McCook and one at our house. The last meeting with her will be April 30th. Then we're hoping we'll be cleared by the end of May. We both have to go to the doctor to get physicals to make sure we have a normal life expectancy. The adoption agency should be contacting us again in the next week or so in order to start setting up our webpage. That is basically a place where birthmoms can go to look at pictures of us and learn more about who we are and what kind of a life we could offer to their baby.

I've also been doing A LOT of research into transracial adoption and raising kids that are a different race than you, especially black kids. There are several good blogs out there, as well as many books. I've ordered two on my kindle already, so once I finish I Am Malala (the book we're reading for the book club I joined), I'm planning on diving into those.

I reached out to a few women on the blogosphere that parent transracially. It's really a difficult situation. As a white person living in America, I think many of us naievly think that being a person of color raised in a white family in a white community would not be a big deal. Yeah, you might have some people say things, but don't we all have people pick on us as we grow up? As long as your child has a loving home, that is enough, right?

What I'm learning is that is wrong. Very wrong. Yes, love is very important. But it is also really important for your children to know and associate with people of color of all ages. It is important for you to have friends that are black and for your children to have friends who are black. There is a significant body of information that this is really essential for your child to grow up with a strong sense of self, as well as a healthy self-esteem. This is especially true for black males. Being a black man in this country can be difficult. As much as we would like to think it is not true, black men are hasseled by the police more and they are looked at suspiciously by many people. And it is important for them to have other black men to talk to about this kind of thing as they are growing up.

To say that we live in a colorblind society is not true. And to treat your kids as if they are not black, or to not mention it or talk to them about it is a terrible misstep. One of the things that I keep reading over and over is that as white people, we do not talk about race enough. Whether we have white kids or black kids, we often pretend that race is not an issue, we don't talk about it with our kids, because we want to portray that it doesn't matter. But it does matter, and  by not talking about it, what we are really conveying is that it is something scary or something we don't talk about. Kids segregate themselves by gender, and they recognize that people are different colors and they will naturally segregate themselves based on this. As parents it is our job to nudge them in the other direction. To talk to them about it and teach them to be more inclusive.

Anyways, I am still in the beginning stages of learning about it. I think there is a lot to learn. We have not changed our mind about adopting a black baby, but we are beginning to see what a challenge it may be to raise our child in this tiny town. There are approximately 450 African Americans in North Platte. And we will need to find a way to somehow engage our children in their community in some way. Whether that is signing our kid up for cub scouts through the black church, going to the black church, I don't really know, but I'm learning that it is very important.

In the end of the day we are open to the child that God has for us. Whoever or whatever color that baby may be. And just like we would move if we have a baby with terrible breathing trouble who would do so much better with his/her breathing if we moved to Arizona, if we find it's too difficult to raise our black kids in this white community, then we'll move. It will be our child, and they will come first when they need to. Because once you are a parent, there is little that is more important that making sure you raise a kid that is well adjusted with a healthy self-esteem.

If any of you out there are intersted in the blogs I've found most helpful so far, one is Rage Against the Minivan. Another is White Sugar, Brown Sugar. The first book I'm going to read is In Their Own Voices: Transracial Adoptees Tell Their Stories.

It will be a journey, that is for sure!