In Support of Snarky Millennial Women

January 23, 2018

Every time I’m confronted by a snotty 20-something woman who is either necessary to executing a task or a barrier to executing a task, I am simultaneously outraged and heart-broken.

On the one hand, if you were doing the job you said you were going to do, I wouldn’t be calling you. On the other hand, I am sympathetic to the monumental amounts of harassment and shit you take for just *being a young woman* in our society.

There is a difference between holding a person accountable for their failure to complete the task they agreed to perform, and joining the chorus of a never-ending condescending, rude, or otherwise inappropriate utterings and hollerings that they’re subjected to daily. All women are objectified as either mothers or lovers; 20-something women are also either infantilized or commodified, stripping them of any agency.

Obviously, I cannot have this conversation every time I make a phone call, so I struggle to find a balance between “just get it done” and reaching out to coax these twitchy cats down from the tree. Twitchy cats like me, like you.
We all get it. And the only thing worse, is when women do this to other women.

This occurred to me today when I had Cassie on the phone. Her defenses were up, claws drawn, and she was behaving badly. But on this particular day, instead of adding my voice to the cacophany of your-opinions-and-ideas-are-wrong-and-you-should-smile-more, I thanked her for her effort. I told her I appreciated her time and wished her a good rest of the week. It stung because Cassie was in the wrong, both in fact and in approach, but my hope was that she found it a little easier to get down from the tree at the end of the day.

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I watched Kimmel’s monologue Monday night, and like many parents who relived their own harrowing crises through Jimmy’s tears, I didn’t get much sleep. Yesterday morning I asked our now adult son for his permission to write this post, and he gave it to me.

Our son, too, was born with a heart defect. In our case, it wasn’t a nurse, but a preschool teacher who called, “Connor fell asleep in his lunch. We’re having a hard time waking him up. You should come.” He was 3 years old. The unraveling that followed that day went from preschool, to his pediatrician’s office, where Dr Leonard listened to Connor’s heart and left the room, came back and left, came back and left a third time. Then he calmly said Connor was tachycardic, “can you drive him to the hospital, do you want me to call anyone?”

I can’t explain the fog the set upon me, like a pall. My hearing seemed to fade in and out, and I wasn’t quite sure if this was an EMERGENCY. Maybe it was an Emergency and not an EMERGENCY. Dr Leonard didn’t call an ambulance. I went home to get Brad, and when I unbuckled Connor, he slid out of his booster seat onto the floor of the suburban in a puddle. He lost consciousness. Definitely an EMERGENCY.

Connor flat lined that day at Good Sam.

His heart rate reached 266bpm. Holding my long hair in his tiny fist, the crush of doctors and nurses pushed Adenosine into his IV. Our son’s heart stopped, his pupils filled the whites of his eyes. Then normal sinus rhythm. The longest 4.5 seconds of our lives. I still have the EKG strip.

That was only the beginning of the nightmare because Connor was then misdiagnosed by pediatric cardiologists in Phoenix. For months we returned to the ER w/ Connor’s heart racing out of control, or implemented strange and bizarre home remedies for re-establishing sinus rhythm. Then one day a physician we’d seen in the mix called me on my cell phone and said, “Take him to either Children’s LA or Boston. The guys here don’t have enough experience to diagnose him. That’s what I’d do if he were my son.”

The next day as I stood in my Phoenix driveway, speaking with Dr Michael Silka at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, he diagnosed Connor over the phone with a rare form of a rare heart defect: Concealed Pathway Wolff-Parkinson White Syndrome.

Connor was lucky. We had excellent, employer-provided health insurance, and his father is an attorney. Though it took us nearly 30 days to get the authorization, we prevailed and Connor underwent radio frequency catheter ablation surgery in the state-of-the-art Cath Lab at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in September, 2001.

Dr Silka strung catheters up through our son’s groin arteries and into the heart while Connor lay on top of a fluoroscopic x-ray table. When the catheters were in place, they literally shocked our son into Afib to locate the extra nerve in his heart. As was feared, the nerve was wrapped around the AV node (the heart’s natural pacemaker). This meant Dr Silka couldn’t do one sustained burn with the catheter and had to, instead, attempt several burns shorter in duration to kill the problematic nerve without damaging the AV node. That also meant they had to throw Connor into Afib repeatedly. We almost lost him that day, too.

It was a lot to reprocess this Monday night, alone in my dark living room, with someone in the national spot light who was weeping before he even started to speak. And Kimmel is right, his son was born with a pre-existing condition. Our son was born with several pre-existing conditions. Connor’s ablation at CHLA wasn’t his first surgery. His first surgery was also an emergency when he was just six weeks old. The day started like any other, fine. Fine, fine…then NOT FINE.

**Access to healthcare** is smoke and mirrors language. Like The Bern says, “I have access to a Mercedes Benz, but I can’t actually buy one.”

If you’re Republican, and you want to support your team on all kinds of issues, I get it. And, if your kid is born with a pre-existing condition, would you really be okay with watching them die because you just couldn’t find a rational moment to NOT support your representatives pushing this ridiculous healthcare bill? No, of course, not.

Thing is, and this is the kicker: no one thinks it will happen to them because they are Good and Righteous. That kind of thinking creates a false dichotomy; if your kid was born with a defect, it’s your fault. The underpinnings of religious fervor allow them to support legislation that the Good and Righteous understand could theoretically harm them, but their core belief that Your Kid Probably Deserves It And Theirs Don’t burns bright in their hearts, protecting them, they hope, from harm.



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