Tuesday, September 9, 2014


Wow! A lot of time has gone by since I've updated here. Life has been busy, and lots of things have changed. I have probably thought three or four times that I wanted to put up a blog post about _____, but then haven't done it. I've wanted to show my garden, all our canning, updates on the pregnancy and all the racial tension that has been going on in our country. I passed my written boards and now I'm starting to study for my oral boards that are in just two short months...

I'm writing right now during a lull in clinic. So I can't really do any of those things justice. But I think I'm going to try to carve out some time in the next few weeks to make some updates and try to get a bit better about posting to this site semi-regularly.

Until then...

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!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

On "Fitting In"

So we've lived in this new place for about 5 months now. Not too shabby. The practice is going well. Patients seem to really like me, and Charlie is making sure the business side of things is running smoothly. I've got plenty of patients and plenty of surgery. And everyone is happy that we're here. People keep asking if we're liking it. If we plan on staying.

I talked to my friend Ryan the other day. He and I met and became friends on my Ride for World Health. He's in the military and is an ER doctor in Washington State for the army now. He just got back a few months ago from deployment in Kuwait. It was so good to talk to him, we haven't caught up in several months, maybe longer. He asked the same thing, "So is this like your plan?"

And it is. We did not move here, buy a practice, buy a big house and furniture to fill it, because we weren't planning on staying (much to Barb's dismay). And when we first got here we were so busy with everything, it was all good. But now, 5 months in, it's getting lonely.

I think that's probably par for the course when you move to a new place. I've never moved somewhere new and not started school of some sort. And that always gives you a set of friends early on because you're all in the same boat. But here we are, from the "east coast" as far as these people are concerned. I've never shot a gun, I don't listen to country music, I have no idea what "calving" really entails, and I'm feeling lonely. I miss my friends from Columbus. I miss my restaurants in Columbus. I miss my house in Columbus. As spring approaches I'm thinking about my dogwood tree and my peonies and my heart hurts.

I've met a few women here who I like and think I could relate too. But lots of people have young kids, which means they don't really go out too much. Or when they do they go out with other people who have kids that are a similar age. And I'm finding it really hard to find common ground with many of them. They don't work outside the home, the most exotic place they've ever been is Chicago, and the vast majority of their spare time and energy are taken up with their kids or thinking about their kids (as it should be). But I'm the one who's the doctor.

And I feel like some of them are judging me, even if just a little bit. There is one woman in particular. I've met her several times, we even met on our first interview. She is nice. She's got 3 kids, the youngest is maybe 7 or 8 months old. Her husband is a general surgeon in town. They go to our church. Mike always says hi, but Kami pretends like I'm not even there. I swear. Last weekend I was talking to another woman and she came up and started talking to the woman I was talking to like I wasn't even there. She didn't even make eye contact until I finally said something directly to her, then it was fleeting. I'm not sure if she's threatened by me, or if I did something to offend her at some point. I don't know how that would be possible since we've barely ever spoken. But I can't help but feel that some of them judge me for the life choices I've made. Most people around here assume we don't have kids because we've chose not to until I got out of residency. You know as well as I do that's not true, and it's not a secret, but it's also not something I regularly bring up because it's sort of a downer in conversation.

I try not to give it much thought. I can't control what other people think of me. And there have been other women physicians that have been successful and happy here. And I think the honeymoon phase is over, this is where it gets hard. We will be here for at least 3 years. With any luck by the end of 3 years it will feel like home and we'll want to stay. All I can do is smile and be myself. Some people will like me and others won't and that's OK. But I really wish I had someone around here my age that I felt like I could relate to.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


We filled out our application last night. We had to name 4 unrelated references. We chose Billy, Sireesha, Melissa & Sean. I emailed all of them to ask them if that was ok. This is the response I got from Sean:

"Tell me when, where and to whom and I will beat the drum for you as loudly as my lungs can handle."

:) brought a tear to my eye.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Family Planning

I will keep this short, because I am supposed to be reading and studying for my board exam right now. I know that I had told some of you that Charlie and I were considering looking into adoption as a way to expand our family. I think we've decided to take the plunge and really start the process. It doesn't mean that we're giving up on having a family the old fashioned way, but adoption can take several years on it's own right, and I'm not getting any younger. Besides, just because we have kids of our own doesn't mean we can't adopt, and just because we adopt doesn't mean we can't have kids of our own later.

I'm just tired of worrying about it. After our last miscarriage, which was especially heart breaking for both Charlie and me, we are definitely open to having kids of our own, but I think we both realize that there is a very real possibility that may not be an option for us. And I'm generally tired of worrying about it, and worrying about how old I'm getting and how many more of these it will take and on and on and on. So we will remain open to having kids of our own, but we have the resources to adopt, and we are going to start looking into it, decide on an agency, and get the process started. I'm tired of waiting for my body to cooperate. It's more recently decided that it would not like to ovulate regularly. Which it has done in the past and which is a very normal thing that many women experience on occasion during their child bearing years. And eventually it will straighten itself out. But I swear if it's not one thing it's another.

I've been praying a lot lately that I will be able to have faith and be able to see what I am supposed to do. And adoption does not make me feel sad or uncomfortable anymore. It used to. And maybe that is not the path, or maybe it is just one step. Sometimes the path God has for you is not the same as you envisioned for yourself. But you have to have faith. And you have to be open to the possibility.

So for now we're looking into things. Hopefully we will be able to decide on an agency soon and get the ball rolling. I know this won't be an easy path either, but I'm excited and I'm hopeful and I'm trying to have faith.

I wonder what Grandma Arling will say if we end up with a little Ethiopian baby? :)