Mind your own business

So, I wrote about this on Facebook, but it STILL bugs me. When we drive to Iowa City for clinic visits, I put Teddy in the passenger seat. I do this for several reasons. First, he mostly just cries if he’s in the back by himself. I can’t do that. I can’t listen to him wail and throw up for 4 hours on a weekly basis. And stopping to calm him down just means the trip takes longer, because he’ll start crying as soon as we get going again. I think he’s lonely, because just simply moving him to where he can see me makes a HUGE difference.

Second, he vomits. And his vomiting can sometimes make him choke, and sometimes it can just SOUND like he’s choking, but I have decided it’s not safe, for him, me, or other drivers, to have me not sure if my son is choking in the back seat.

Third, Ok, yes, it’s convenient. If we were making the trip less often, I probably wouldn’t sweat it, but having him in the passenger seat means that I can feed him while I drive, get him a toy while I drive, etc.

I asked our nephrologist about this, and she said that it’s OK with her, and perfectly safe as long as there’s not an airbag. She confirmed with me that it’s not illegal, and cautioned me to not be a distracted driver.

So the other day, returning from Iowa City, I got out of the car in the rain and gathered up: the diaper bag, my pump, my “car bag,” Teddy in his carseat, and my drink. Three bags, a carseat, and a drink. And my keys. I’m headed – in the RAIN – to my door. Someone pulls up in the neighbor’s driveway (we share part of the drive) and gets out and yells up at me, “EXCUSE ME!” And I’m all, “What” in a voice that says, Lady, I’m holding a BABY and THREE BAGS in the RAIN and unless a part of your body has actually been SEVERED, I’m not interested in talking to you.

Here is our conversation. Things I actually said are in quotes. Other comments are my internal dialogue. My internal dialogue is usually this sarcastic.

“um, did you just take a baby out of that car?”

Seriously. I’m HOLDING the baby. No, lady, I materialized him out of thin air because I’m just that good. “Yes.”

“um. Out of the FRONT seat?”

“yes.”

She stands there in amazed silence. “Well, is there an air bag?”

Yes, because I’m a TOTAL IDIOT and THANK GOD that you stopped to inform me about air bags and carseats because not only am I an idiot but I’m also illiterate and have been living under a rock for the past decade. “Yes, but it is turned off when he is in the front with me.” (note, very impatient tone of voice here.)

“Well, you know that the back seat is the safest places for babies?”

“Most of the time, yes, but he has special medical needs that require that he be in the front seat some times. Every week, we drive out to Iowa City, just the two of us, to see his specialists. He has a tendency to choke and there’s not always a great opportunity to safely pull over and make sure he doesn’t stop breathing (yes, exaggerating, shut up) so his specialists in Iowa City said it was just fine with them to put him in the front when we’re alone together for long trips.” Beeyotch, now back away before I go Jackie chan on your a**. PS, it’s still RAINING.

“oh, well… I mean… I’m a nurse. I hope you can understand, because I’m a nurse…”

Oh, gee, yes, because your job is to stick your nose all in everyone’s business, then? Is that your job? NO I don’t think it is. That is the problem with Medicine today, LADY, is that nurses and doctors often think that they are the only ones who know anything and that the general public just can’t possibly have brains that they use for thinking so we have to rely on medical personnel to do our thinking for us. HUH, LADY? So, I totally interrupted her and said in a COMPLETELY snotty tone of voice of which I am NOT proud, “huh, yeah, ok, well, his specialists at the University have said that’s where they want him and I guess I think they probably know more about it than you do.” B.  Then I turned my back on her and went inside, FUMING, because SERIOUSLY. Like my life is not hard enough, that I need total strangers stopping me on the street to tell me what a shitty job I’m doing? I need that? She’s freaking LUCKY I had my hands literally full. (ok, really, not really – I would honestly never get physically violent with someone.)  (note, deep down inside I realize she was just trying to be a concerned citizen. But there is nothing inherently dangerous about a baby in the front seat as long as there is no airbag.)

What I SHOULD have said:

Version 1: Well, if you REALLY want to be helpful, Ms Nurse, I’ve just had a very long day and I still have to do night meds, measure and prepare the feeding pump for his overnight feed, complete a dressing change on his PD Cath exit site, and also cook dinner for the family and get everyone ready for bed. How about you come in and help with some of that. Are you familiar with sterile procedures? I can walk you through the dressing change, assuming you fit into size M gloves.

Version 2: Oh, well, if you REALLY wanted to help out, consider the following. Consider if you have any patients who are children with chronic illnesses that are devastating, life-threatening, and overwhelming. Consider what their lives must be like, day in and day out, and what that means for their families. Consider what their mothers go through – becoming a nurse instead of just a mother to their kid. Giving meds, experiencing surgeries and hospitalizations. Struggling to cope emotionally and physically while also taking care of the practical health needs of their baby or child. Struggling daily to do the best they can. Having to justify their decisions to everyone under the sun – doctors who don’t understand, other parents who criticize, family who don’t understand, friends who don’t understand. Why don’t you nurse, why do you pump, why the Gtube, you should do X, I would never do Z, etc. etc. etc., all from people who actually don’t know what they’d do because they’ve never been even close to being in your shoes. Then consider if what those people need is a TOTAL stranger to stop them on the street and start criticizing them. Consider that. Because, lady, the answer is NO. No, they do NOT need that.

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One thought on “Mind your own business

  1. One lesson I have learned (well I think I have, but keep having God show me that I need reminders) is that we never have experienced life in the shoes of another. As much as we think we would do things differently, we don’t really know until we are in that exact place as the person we are judging (and we can never be in that exact place because there are just too many variables). Thanks for another reminder. And, yes, you are Teddy’s mom and you know him and his needs better than anyone. I haven’t told you lately, but you are still amazing.

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