Thursday, August 17, 2006

the zoo story

[originally written on Thursday, not posted until Saturday]

Was on call again last night, and in the OR all day for some gigantic face tumor resection case with reconstruction. It was kind of fun at the beginning, because there was a lot of stuff to do (fiberoptic intubation! lines! replace lines when old lines stop working!) but then by the mid-evening when it was clear that the guy was stable as a rock and the plastics team was fussing endlessly with the free flap, it got kind of boring. And it's never fun to be trapped in a room for 16 hours straight, unless it's a room with toys and candy and books and movies. And maybe a trampoline.

I got home earlier this morning, took Cal to the playground, and now he's down for his nap. He can be a little clingy when I'm post-call--maybe because I've been away for so many hours and now he doesn't want to let me out of his sight, or maybe because he knows that fussing and clinging ceaselessly is the path to snuggling and cookies. (But they are Nilla cookies, which are wholesome and old skool and therefore OK, right?) Part of me is excited for Cal to start talking already, but part of me is also dreading the moment when he's going to know enough to say, "Don't go to work, Mommy! Don't leave! WHY DON'T YOU LOVE ME?" Yes, that's the sound of my heart breaking into a million pointy shards and flying up into my lacrimal ducts. Crying? I'm not crying. Why, I'm just tearing because of those damn pointy heart shards.

I was talking to one of the new first year residents last night when I got spelled out of my room briefly for a late dinner. He has a kid too (actually, two kids) and we were talking about residency and this and that, and how we're making do with the childcare and such. "You know, residency is hard enough as is," he was saying, "but none of my classmates who don't have kids really understand how much easier they have it." Preach it, brother.

Anyway, blah blah blah, same old story.

* * *

So! Who wants to see picture from the zoo? Yes you do, don't lie.

Central Park has a pretty good smallish zoo, and even though I have some mixed feelings about zoos in general (glad to see the animals but feel bad that they are caged and such) I think they do a pretty good job there. You know, neat, clean, animals keep their dignity, etc. And Cal had a good time, though it seemed that he enjoyed picking microdebris off the ground and handing them to us just about as much as seeing the polar bears and the sea lions.

So speaking of this polar bear--you all know he's crazy, right? I mean, it's been in the New York Times and everything. I think there are two or three polar bears that they have in Central Park, but one of them is, like, psychotic. As in requiring psychotropic medications and everything. I guess he's adjusted poorly to captivity or something. They had to bring in some animal psychiatrist, who said that the bear was probably bored, so they threw a whole mess of toys in there a couple of years ago, like some giant ball and a floating blue plastic spool, and these fake ice floes. But the bear kept acting crazy. Now it looks like all the toys are gone, so maybe the Prozac is kicking in or whatever, but still, all this bear does is swim back and forth his tank all day long. The same path, the same stereotyped movements. It was not hard to get those pictures of the bear's feet swimming away, because even if you missed the shot, all you had to do was wait fifteen more seconds and he'd be back, pushing off against that same wall like some Olympic swimmer doing the freestyle.

Maybe aquariums are better. Animals lower on the evolutionary web have less mind to lose. I would like to take Cal to the Brooklyn Aquarium sometime, but it's somewhere out in Coney Island. And that's far.

* * *

So Joe's flying out to his conference in Texas tomorrow. So not only am I upset that he's going to be gone for a week, now I have to worry that he's going to get blown up by a Gatorade bottle. He pointed out that now is actually probably the best time to fly, since everyone's all hypervigilant and whatnot, but still. I'm more worried about this all than he is, but Joe did say in passing that if he and I were ever to have to fly somewhere together without Cal, that we should take separate flights, just like the President and the Vice President, so that if one of us gets exploded by a shoe bomb, the other would survive. Part of me thinks this is overly paranoid, but part of me thinks, orphan insurance, damn straight we'd be on separate planes. Not that I can forsee a scenario in the near future where we'd both be flying without Cal, but still.

I suppose there really is no point in worrying so much, but we do. If you live in New York, I think there's always that undercurrent of worry. For instance, even now, five years after 9/11, everytime the subway stops on the tracks between stations, my heart rate picks up a little bit. After all, it's not so much a matter of if terrorists will strike here again, but when and how. I mean really, it's frighteningly easy. There's all this focus on air travel, but hell, people can blow up anything they damn well please. Detonate a bomb on the subway during rush hour. Release sarin gas in Times Square. Walk into a hospital lobby strapped with explosives. It's easy. Anyone could do it. I don't know why it hasn't happened yet, frankly.

So I guess you could sit in your home and worry, or you can realize that crazy shit can always happen, and that if you tried to avoid all potential dangers, you'll just end up a prisoner in your home, hunkered down in a panic room with canned goods and toilet paper. So I try not to worry, but I still do sometimes. I didn't worry as much before Cal was born, but now, it's more of a concern. And honestly, the fact of New York City being such a huge, obvious target may be one of the only compelling reasons that could convince this diehard New Yorker to finally move her family out of the city.

Currently watching: "Lost: Season 1." OK, so one of the first years brought a DVD of the first season of "Lost" on call last weekend, and we all got a chance to watch a few episodes in the evening. At first I was all, "What is this 'Gilligan's Island' shit? And where are the coconut bikinis?" But then I became curiously captivated. I do have to say that it's a hard show to kind of pick up in the middle, because the story is pretty complicated and there's a lot of backstory, but luckily Adam knows every damn thing about this show and filled me in.