IMR: 1998: July: 27 -- Monday, 3:32 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i
Sometimes I really hate the medical profession.

Not that I have any right to talk, studying to be a practicioner in a field that's about as prestigious as used car sales. And not that all contact I've had with medical specialists lately has been bad. But I'm still exhausted and annoyed, so I'm going to vent a bit.

Turns out now it's Katie's turn to have a lousy week. It started on Friday with a fever of 102 degrees, and worsened over the weekend with the onset of the worst bout of teething yet.

Best as we could figure, with frequent consultations with "What to Expect the First Year" and the friendly on-call nurses at Kapi`olani Medical Center, she was in the unfortunate position of fighting both a viral infection of some kind and an impatient tooth or two at the same time.

Actually, the fever didn't seem to faze her at all. At times, she'd be burning up (and thus scaring the shit out of Jen and I) but act as if everything was fine, smiling and laughing as usual.

The only thing that cheesed her off was the pain in her mouth.

Saturday, while Jen was at work, we spent the day at mom's in Mililani. While Katie's temperature was down to a managable 99 degrees, her teeth were pushing especially hard, and she whined nonstop for hours. Drool regularly soaked my shirt as we walked circles around the house.

Sunday, Katie and I hooked up with dad, Gayle and Eathan and spent the day in Waimanalo at the Hawaii Economic Study Club's annual beach picnic. While all the activity distracted Katie from her gums, she also got a little warm and by the time we got home she had developed a mild heat rash on one side of her face.

And this morning, while I was at work trying to find a typewriter I could use to apply for a job somewhere else, Jen called and said Katie had developed an altogether different type of rash all over her body.

Jen had to go to work, so it was up to me to get Katie to the doctor. We had a 1:30 p.m. appointment with Dr. Boyens at Straub, which would have been no problem except the elevator in our building decided to conk out shortly before noon.

So there I was, holding a 6-month-old baby in my arms, trudging down eight flights of stairs, listening to her grumble while she struggled to shove her whole fist in her mouth, worried and a little embarassed that her body was spotty 'cause of some bug and her face face was spotty 'cause of her stupid father.

Ack. Katie just woke up. I'll finish this later.

Monday, 5:11 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

I've calmed down a bit (and so has Katie). But I'll still finish my story.

Believe it or not, I'm not annoyed with Dr. Boyens this time. Sure I've poked fun at him in the past, but I like the guy, I really do. Any snide remarks are the result of his occasional (but endearing) absentmindedness and of course jealousy at Jen's unending admiration of his tall, blonde handsomeness.

In fact, today, he was particularly attentive and humored my paranoia, endured a good hour of questioning about Katie's condition. By the preceding fever and the mild rash, he figured Katie has "roseola," a virus most likely transmitted via the respiratory system (and thus could have been caught from anyone, including a stranger in a mall or elevator). By all accounts, it's a very mild condition that subsides on its own after three days or so.

He also confirmed that Katie has a mild heat rash, which is actually less serious than a sunburn, and goes away in about two days.

He also determined, sadly, that the small white bump that Jen had just this morning gleefully identified as a rupturing tooth was, in fact, an "apthous ulcer" (canker sore).

Just to be sure, he ordered a routine blood test.

And that's when things started to suck.

Katie had fallen asleep in my arms, and would not be put down without crying. So with her on one shoulder and the diaper bag on the other, I badly navigated the stroller down to the ground floor, into the next building, then up to the third floor to the lab.

The friendly receptionist (the only person who, by the end of the visit, I didn't want to strangle) oohed and ahhed over Katie while we waited, the other people there half smiling, half scowling over Katie's less-than-healthy-looking face.

After about ten minutes, a lab technician, a stocky Japanese guy who could easily be mistaken for a Long's Drugs shift manager, stepped into the waiting room with a clipboard.

"Katherine Ozawa?" he called, looking around.

I turned and smiled.

He took one look at Katie and said, "Oh a baby."

The disappointment in his voice wasn't half as insulting as what happened next.

"I don't want to do a baby," he said, to no one in particular. "Um, wait right here."

And he ducked in back, the receptionist smiling helplessly at me as I stood there in shock.

Finally they found another technician gullible enough to take her -- a small Filipino woman who clearly wasn't having a great day -- and I was led in back, squeezed into a chair and instructed to hold Katie on my lap.

Like last time, this technician decided the tip of Katie's fingers would be the best place from which to draw blood. This despite having intially planning to prick her heel (with me even chiming in, "that looks good!") and despite Katie making it quite clear that she would much rather have her fingers in her mouth. I braced myself for the inevitable.

Click! The blood trickled out, getting all over my hands and the woman's gloves, and Katie was shrieking and jerking her hand away and kicking the nurse's arms and making an enormous mess.

With all the wriggling and the nurse's unsteady hands (more blood dripped outside the vial than in), it seemed to take forever. Katie was starting to get hoarse. The nurse ultimately had to call in reinforcements -- another flustered nurse who couldn't immediately figure out how to help. Ultimately she stood by and held a piece of gauze while the chaos continued unabated.

Finally, she'd filled a small vial and also dabbed drops onto a handful of slides (one of which had to be replaced, as it had a speck of dirt on it). I was instructed to return to the waiting room until they'd determined the viability of the samples.

"Oh, and make sure she doesn't put this hand in her mouth," the woman said, indicating the sloppily applied bandage. "She might choke."

Keep her hand out of her mouth? While she's teething? Right.

So I returned to the waiting room, pushing the stroller out with my stomach as I had her cradled in my arms, one wrist bent back awkwardly so I could hold her flailing hand down.

Upon seeing me again, the receptionist fawned some more. Some people in the waiting room, however, quickly got annoyed at her cries and decide to wait outside. One person who should have waited outside, however, didn't.

She was a wrinkly old woman whose face would make an elephant's hemorhhoidal ass look like the work of Picasso. She spotted Katie in my arms, stood up and hobbled toward me.

"Oh no," I might have said out loud. I pretended not to see her and turned around to pace the other way.

"Well, well... now let me see her..." she croaked. I half expected her to add "my pretty."

Eventually cornered, she peered around me and put her face in Katie's and blubbered like an idiot. "Where's your mommy?" she asked in that rhetorical way people ask babies things expecting their parents to answer instead.

I didn't say a word.

Katie's crying got louder, so I started pacing again.

Wrinkled Old Woman waved her cane in the air (or was that her arm?) and said, "Put her up, over your shoulder, like this!"

I ignored her and kept pacing.

When I hit the corner and turned back toward her, she waved to make sure she caught my attention. "Like this, like this!" she said.

I walked past her and out the door. I counted to ten as I walked to the end of the hallway and back. As I came back in, Wrinkled Old Woman was gathering her things, having finally been called to have her blood sucked out. Still, before disappearing into the examination area, she turned to me again and said, "Put her over your shoulder like this, you should try it!"

"I would, lady, if she didn't have a bandage on her hand that I have to keep out of her mouth so she won't choke to death on it."

The f-word came this close to leaping out between 'to' and 'death.' Even in its absence, however, Wrinkled Old Woman clearly heard it simmering down there and shuffled off in disgust.

"Katherine Ozawa?"

I turned.

"We need to do it again," the technician said, looking at Katie crying in my arms. "Maybe in five minutes?"

"How about another day?" I asked, ignoring the answer.

So we left, Katie passing out on the way to the car. I was so mad, I was telling her she would never give up another drop of blood, ever.

Of course, I was lying. And what sucks is I'll tell the same lie again and again as she grows older and begins to dread visits to the doctor as much as I do. Because she will be healthy; she will see a doctor regularly. "Do as I say, Katie, not as I do."


Now that we're home, our day has gotten considerably better. She's sitting up with ease now, and sometimes it's just so amazing that she's grown from being a helpless little blob to a miniature version of a person. For nearly an hour, she was hanging out in the corner of the couch, picking up and dropping a rattle. I just watched her, entranced.


© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 27 July 1998 · Last Modified: 30 July 1998