I am not a doctor, I just play one on the internet


Being a young woman who came of age in a time when everything was changing (born in 1960, I learned my, “who am I going to choose to be” lessons at the height of women’s lib), I’m a mix of old-school and new ideas.

I understand racism deeply, having never seen a non-white person until I was in Boston for medical care, and got my first black (and female!) doctor in about 1968.

I can still remember my awe in arriving in San Francisco in June 1985, and seeing Asian people everywhere.  Seriously felt like I was on another planet, and it made the effort to explore my world and expand my understanding of what life had to offer all the more fascinating.

However, I tell you all that to tell you this.  I’m largely self-educated.  Hated school, and my illnesses and many absences meant that I learned at lot more at home while recuperating than I ever learned in class.  I was always having to catch up with the pace of the class after an absence, so I learned early how to fake it and hide any gaps in my core knowledge.

My maternal grandmother, “Red”, only went to the 8th grade in school.  However, she was also sent by her employer to the “Fanny Farmer School of Cooking” in order to be able to grow from a mere scullery maid to possibly becoming a cook and housekeeper during her career “below stairs”.  Because she enjoyed flirting and got caught (in a time when married women didn’t generally work), she married “Fred” and her dreams of greatness below stairs were channelled into her family.  Red was NOT a happy stay at home wife and mother.

Ever see “7 Brides for 7 Brothers” ?  Remember the scene where the Eleanor Powell character realizes she’s allowed herself to be duped into giving up control of her life (and income) because she was foolish enough to fall for a good looking man, who expected her to slave for free for himself and his brothers because she was now a wife?  Yes, that anger and resignation to make the best of things was my interpretation of Red’s take on life.  And being played for a fool because she was born a woman.

My maternal grandfather, “Fred”, went to and graduated high school.  Not because his father was forward-thinking, but because his brother was a dwarf, and it was felt that Ray needed more education in order to be given a chance in life.  Well, Fred was always competitive, so if Ray was going, Fred was, too.  Fred was always determined to get what he wanted, and he loved Red ’til the day he died, determined that his love was enough to make up for her anger.

I have no idea of my paternal grandfather’s education level (John).  Too much mystery on that side of the tree, although I’m also told that my paternal grandmother (Mary Roberta) is a direct descendent of Paul Revere and thus I am a DAR.   Well, being a Daughter of the American Revolution (DAR) never did a thing for her or me, so that’s just an interesting side-note for this tomboy-turned-grownup woman.

My mother, Betty, was highly intelligent and should have gone to college after high school.  However, as all interesting women seemed to do on my maternal side, Betty fell in love with a high school bad boy (my, we love those bad boys in my family!), Jack, and her efforts to pursue academia after graduation and their divorce were futile.  Not sure if depression, lack of funds, or self-sabotage did her in.  I do recall her taking night classes after being passed over for a promotion at the bank (she ran that loan department with military precision), but since she was also passed over for a guy, sexism may have played a role in her situation, too.

Being Catholic really did a number on her mentally, too.  Having endured women’s lib and suffering the failure of her marriage, she – like Red – went through a horrible time with depression.  Unlike Red, though, she sought help both spiritually and medically, and learned to accept the unendurable loss of self-image or confidence.  Betty may have chosen to leave Jack for her own survival, but she could never break that hormone-driven, biological imperative connection.  I mourned her lost youth and idealisism right along with her.  Once broken – some things are never fixable, regardless of how much glue is used to patch ourselves back together and go on.

Daddy Dearest (yes, there’s sarcasm), never made it beyond high school, having dropped out before graduating.  While I think he did study for and obtain his GED when I was about 10 or 11, that period is so hectic in my memory that I don’t recall if the downfall of the family occurred before or after the test.  Since he never moved on to become a shop teacher (his goal for getting his GED), I’m thinking that he failed.  That failure may have contributed to his acting outside of the marriage.  I’ll never know, though, as he hates me with a passion reserved for my mother’s choices to fight to keep me on this earth.  His God is money, and my price in his life was too dear.

Jack was brilliantly talented, though, and produces art-quality cabinets and house upgrades when he chooses to work in wood.  That man can do anything he sets his mind to accomplishing.  Unfortunately, he’s decided he was gyped in life, so his goal for the last 40-odd years has been a complete mystery to me.  I guess he thinks life owes him.  Something.  He’s now almost 80 years old, and it’s beyond me to understand how his mind works.

But, all that’s that’s neither here nor there.  It’s just background for my views on education.

When running around in the woods of New Hampshire with my maternal grandmother, “Red”, I was fascinated to hear her talking to my mom about a friend of mine that had joined us at camp that weekend.  This young woman came from city people, and was pestering Red for information on flora and fauna, and fascinated about how much this “unschooled” woman knew.  Way beyond what was in the textbooks at UMASS Amherst, and what her professors were teaching this friend in her forest ranger courses, that’s for sure.

So, I respect education.  With limits.  We follow where our interest and our talents lead us.

I’m all about the fact that this world is changing faster than we can keep up, and that educational passion is vital for continuing to grow and thrive as life moves along.  However, I’m not so sure spending tens of thousands,  if not hundreds of thousands, is the best way to achieve a life-long education and cultivate the necessary resiliency to survive in this ever-changing world.

In my case, I managed to graduate high school (phew!), but college has been a whole other battle.

Constantly going to night school, enjoying studying but pointless required courses and passive-aggressiv teachers, (“look it up” is the most hated phrase I’ve ever heard in response to an honest question during a class), I’m an oxymoron of educated short-comings.  I’ve learned more from 1-time seminars than I ever learned in a classroom.

I do ok.

Because of my experience on the job as a lawyer-wanna-be, I did well enough to represent myself against a local utility company after they blew up my home in 1996.  I told them we had a gas leak and they were going to blow up our home if they didn’t repair it prior to allowing tent-style fumigation.  They didn’t listen, and now I’m in the books for having battled Goliath and winning.  But, that battle to gain recompense for myself and my neighbors didn’t protect anyone when San Bruno happened 14 years later…  Evil doers and the desire to cut corners will win against exhaustion and a limited public attention span (and purse!) every time.

So, while I can hold my own in a fight, I’m also lazy.  I’m pretty much a brain only when pushed.  Life is too important to spend it being angry and stirred up all the time.

In terms of success in a career, I’ve done ok there, too, however, I can’t seem to get out of my own way.  Sometimes forward.  Sometimes backward.  I have done well enough in life to be able to travel and have fun, and to accomplish some deals for my employers that I’m very proud of.  That being said, however, I am dyslexic, I suck at math (that doesn’t involve money – money is the easiest thing to count), and I am not a fan of learning for forms’ sake.  If the topic is boring, I’m nowhere to be found.  Unless it’s about the law or new technologies, and then I’m fascinated.

However, I tell you all that to tell you this.  I’m a lawyer-wanna-be.  A doctor-wanna-be.  I feel that anyone can accomplish anything they set their mind to do.  The biggest thing to remember from that statement is that people who accomplish amazing things do so because they won’t accept “no” for an answer.  They want to achieve.

So, anything contained in this series of blogs on the travails of dealing with COPD are my opinion.  100% my opinion.  Not medical advice.  Not science.  Simply my opinion, gathered from doing my own research and investigation.

In the event someone wants to come back at me for giving medical advice because I mention medicines by name… Grow up !  This is the internet.  This is a world of flying opinions and observations and in no way to be confused with real life.

If you need medical advice – go see your doctor.

If you need something to read to fill a spare moment – come see me.

7 thoughts on “I am not a doctor, I just play one on the internet

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