Am I cut out to be a blogger?

See the source image

Hey everybody. Today I am celebrating my 11 weeks and 2 days anniversary of blogging. So far, I think it is going ok. I feel like I am making, or at least attempting to make, a solid contribution of value to the blogosphere. I feel fortunate that the writer in me that laid dormant for 20 plus years while life intervened is finally batting her eyelids and emerging into my consciousness. It feels good to be writing consistently again and so far, it seems like at least some people are reading and enjoying my content. I’ve had over 2000 hits in under three months. To me that seems like a big deal, but I realize that, in the grand scheme of things, it probably isn’t.

I am diligently attempting to be a good student as well as a creator. I have poured over Cristian Mihai’s sage advice in THE ART OF BLOGGING regarding the 7 habits of highly effective bloggers. He says that effective bloggers are prolific, while balancing quality over quantity. Ok then. I have about 50 posts in the last 12 weeks. I am unclear on the exact definition of prolific, but I think my 50 is a solid start.

He says that effective bloggers are creative. If creative is a euphemism for variety, I think I am doing reasonably well in that department as well. I have talked about everything from COVID 19, to vaginas, to teenagers so far.

He says that effective bloggers are really, really, really passionate. I definitely have that down. I don’t blog about anything that isn’t backed by strong conviction, fact and some opinion as well.

Effective bloggers never stop learning. I think I am definitely on the steep part of the curve at the moment. As a physician, I have always been a perpetual student when it comes to medial topics, but now I have become a perpetual student of life as well. This is a truly wonderful part of blogging for me. I am learning and researching new things every day as I search for the perfect idea and more ways to stretch myself intellectually and creatively. Sometimes it takes me hours or days to complete my research on a particular topic and I find myself diving into books and articles that maybe never sparked my interest before. I have become braver in my interactions with the world around me and more willing to explore new things. These are welcome side effects in my world.

Effective bloggers are also focused and consistent. This is something that I am continuing to work on. I do not have the schedule down pat just yet. Some days I will post three times in a day. Sometimes I let 3 days or more go between posts. It all depends on my work schedule, when I can get near a computer and how much the creative juices are flowing that day. I guess we will call that one a work in progress.

He says that effective bloggers are visible and engaging. I feel that this element is a work in progress as well. I try to respond to every comment, if I get any at all. I have linked my blog to my other social media accounts so that I can reach more people and some dialogues are slowly starting. It all takes time I guess. Reader loyalty does not grow on trees. You have to cultivate it. I try to write as though I am having a direct conversation with the reader as a peer and sometimes as an expert. I am always striving for new ways to engage readers because I truly want this blog to be a vehicle for information, empathy, and humor. I value every reader, even the ones that make a negative comment. Even negative feedback is still feedback has the potential to be valuable. I am not writing this stuff for praise or self-validation. I am writing because this is what I truly think and feel and I am hoping that it might help someone else as well.

Lastly, Cristian says that effective bloggers are persistent. He says successful bloggers don’t give up. They do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. He says that overnight success is a myth. I feel like this rings true for everything in life. It falls along the same lines as anything worth doing is worth doing well…or hard work pays off. The trouble is that no one is ever very specific on the exact timeline that you are striving for. Hmmmm. I guess I will have to decide that one for myself. I am no stranger to hard work nor do I have no plans to give up in the near future. Onward I say!

So, let’s end with a very real question. How do you think I’m doing? I’ve got my own opinions, but what do you think? I am bravely asking for feedback. What interests you my readers? What would you like to talk about? Let me know and let’s keep this momentum going. Have a fantastic day.

Dr. Katz

Flattening the social skills curve: a side effect of the COVID pandemic

See the source image

Does anyone else out there notice that they have forgotten how to have a normal conversation lately? I feel like somehow in my mind these last five weeks have really been ten years and I have become sort of like Nel and am losing some basic language skills due to lack of exposure…lol I really have no excuse. I am still working, when I can get patients to show up, and I have had to leave the house a few times for essentials. I do see actual human beings every day at my house and at least once a week at the office and the hospital. And yet, I find myself talking to my dogs like they are my best friend and mooning over 5 year old Facebook memories as if I cannot even remember what those times were like. If I happen to be out walking the dogs( which is often whenever I am home. I am going to have the most fit Shih Tzus on the planet!) I find myself doing an intensive mental prep just in case a random person were to show up and want to have a conversation… a safe distance. I try to have any one of a dozen pre prepared things to say because when it does happen, I find myself blathering on endlessly like a 5 year old just to make the conversation last longer until the unsuspecting person finally tears themselves away. Yikes! I am so sorry! I just can’t help it right now. I find myself doing the same thing at the grocery store, just in case someone would want to talk to me. I give over exuberant responses to the basic, polite ” How ya doin?” question as if it might be the last question I am ever asked. I realize that it is ridiculous, but I can’t seem to stop myself just the same. It seems like I am attempting to flatten my own curve right now: the social skills curve. Here’s hoping that that is as temporary as our quarantine. Have a great day everybody!

Dr. Katz

Isn’t it strange that it’s ok that I’m human now, but it wasn’t ok before?

See the source image

Traditionally, it seems that most patients do not view their physicians as actual, potentially flawed human beings. It’s just too uncomfortable a concept. If patients viewed their doctors as humans, that would mean that they would have to acknowledge the fact that they can make mistakes, have emotions, have physical ailments, and emergencies as well. To most patients, that is an untenable thought. Their doctors need to be superhuman, infallible, and infinitely available at a moment’s notice. This kind of thinking allows patients to engage in demanding, unreasonable, and entitled behavior at times and puts a significant burden on the doctor patient relationship.

Interestingly, this seems to have turned around somewhat now in the time of COVID. Now it seems like patients are attaching themselves more to doctors who are showing their human side. The videos I post of myself at home in regular clothes or talking about how I finally figured out how to do my nails by myself get tons of views. Patients are listening with baited breath to see how I might be struggling with all of these changes. It’s as if listening to me is giving them tacit consent that it’s ok not to be ok right now. I feel like giving them a glimpse into me as a person is actually helpful right now. I can potentially help guide them through the proverbial tunnel to the other side of this thing. I get excited when I post my Facebook live daily video in the morning and all those people tune in. Knowing that I am able to reach all those people in a positive way helps me too. Personally I am loving it. If I can be myself with patients and still help them at the same time, I am all in! I would prefer to be that way all the time, within reason of course. I still stand by what I have said in previous blogs. Patients who are suffering or have just been given a terrible diagnosis do not necessarily care how I am feeling at the moment. Common sense still has to reign supreme here. I guess what I am really saying is that I hope the compassion doesn’t die out when the pandemic does. Have a great day everybody!

Dr. Katz

Umm….since when are vaginas NOT essential?

I saw a meme the other day with a woman straddling a lap top computer and it read: The new face of gynecology. At first I totally laughed out loud, carefully distancing myself safely into the ” That’s so ridiculous.” response category. Then, I stopped and realized whoa? Are we that far off from that right now? The struggle to get on the list of essential businesses right now is real and we all want to get there, but who decides what is essential and what isn’t? There are some things that are black and white in regards to this decision…..or are they? Ice cream shops are not essential, unless you have that sudden, overwhelming craving or you are a pregnant woman and nothing else will do to go with your pickles. Paint shops are not essential, unless you were trying to finish painting your wall and ran out just prior to reaching the last quarter panel. Movie theaters are not essential, unless you are on your last nerve with multiple bored children and seeing a movie is literally the only thing that they are able to reach a consensus on. I realize that these examples are somewhat facetious, but you get what I mean about perspective right? I totally agree with social distancing and restricting interactions to essential ones to help flatten the curve and decrease the spread of this awful virus. I am just not sure that we are all on the same page regarding what is essential and what isn’t.

I hear lately that gynecology is not essential and that obgyns should only be seeing ob patients or patients with infections. WHAT?! HEH?! I guess that seeing ob patients is more of a black and white call since there are two humans involved and we cannot monitor them over the phone or perform ultrasounds…..or c sections, but why isn’t gynecology essential? Why aren’t vaginas important? I am living in fear of fines or getting reported right now as I continue to see gynecology patients( with a zillion precautions of course) that I deem to be essential. It’s all I know how to do. Gynecology patients still need care, COVID or no COVID. The key to the relatively high success rate of cure in gynecology is timely, proactive, and preventative diagnosis and we are removing that advantage all together by denoting gynecology as non-essential.

I have heard patients say that they were turned down by other offices when they called to make an appointment because they were having abnormal bleeding. I confess, I got them right in! To me, bleeding is essential! I have had to turn down multiple patients whose incontinence I am treating with our awesome in-office options because that is not considered essential. I am sorry, but not peeing on yourself uncontrollably seems very essential to me. I am not allowed to do gyn surgeries for right now unless life or limb is imminently threatened or cancer staging is affected. Well, how am I supposed to know if cancer staging is going to be affected if I can’t go in and look with hysteroscopy in the first place? I can’t make that call without all the information. What if doing that surgery would make a life or death difference and I just don’t realize it? In addition to that, if I wait until someone is bleeding to death( life or limb risk), it may be kinda too late to do anything about it. Just sayin. If we get a bad outcome in the end because of delay in care due to COVID, are we going to be able to use the COVID-19 defense in court? Do we think that patients will care that we had to hide behind COVID restrictions if they lose their own lives or the life of a loved one? I feel confident that the answer is no when this is all said and done. I feel like all of these delays are just a tiny sample of the reality of the socialized healthcare that people think they want because it sounds good on paper. Just something to think about. Have a great day everybody.

Dr. Katz

You are stronger than you know.

These are the words on my right arm, complete with a tiny butterfly, making up my very first tattoo at the ripe old age of 49. This was a culmination of 20 years of thinking about them, yearning for one, and worrying what people would think if I got one. Gasp! A doctor with a tattoo? Would people see me as an entirely different person? Would they respect me less? Would they still take me seriously? Would I still look good in a short sleeve dress? It went on and on. You know what finally changed my mind and made me stop worrying? I finally realized that life was just too short to have it controlled by what other people think all the time.. Now please understand, this does not apply to all situations. There are some things that you should take into consideration the potential reactions of others. For example, if you are considering running nude into a colony of porcupines or considering lighting someone’s hair on fire or considering throwing your career in the toilet by attacking an administrative official….you know, those kind of things. You should really stop and consider the consequences before doing those….lol

I got that simple tattoo (followed by several others by the way…It is true what they say about getting addicted.) at a time in my life when my level of emotional despair almost had me at the breaking point. My daughter had some very serious health issues and we almost lost her multiple times and I was looking for any spot of hope or strength that I could tangibly sink my teeth into to hang on to. I tried counselling. I tried talking to family. I tried meditation. I tried medication. I felt like I was at the end of my strength rope. Then, it occurred to me that if I could have just a little visual reminder that I could get through this, something just for me that I could focus on whenever I needed to, then maybe everything would be ok. Thus the idea of finally going through the tattoo was born. I put it right on my right forearm too, a place that I had never previously considered because I couldn’t hide it if I needed to. It turned out that it was the perfect spot.

Interestingly, I waited to try to fall apart until after she had recovered. It’s as if my mind realized that it was ok to fall a bit now that the immediate crisis was over. I didn’t even get the tattoo until later and she was actually able to come with me. She helped with the design and the letters and the little butterfly that we added. I am not sure that she fully realized at the time why I was getting it and that was ok. She wanted to be there and I was grateful with my whole heart that she even existed for it to be possible.

Inner strength is a interesting thing. It seems that we can’t even define it without mentioning struggle or pain or brokenness. Maybe that’s is because our finest inner strength seems to emerge from waging mental battle and we can’t think of a battle without using those terms. Inner strength is defined as integrity of character: resoluteness of will; mental resistance to doubt or discouragement. Gandhi said,”Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength. People also talk about strength in terms of not hurting those who hurt you and forgiving those that have. Trent Shelton said,” Never be ashamed about being broken, because strength is nothing but pain that’s been repaired.”

It is interesting to me how inner strength and physical strength are not mutually exclusive. Strength itself is defined as the quality or state of being physically strong or the capacity of an object or substance to withstand great force or pressure. It’s the same word but with a much more literal meaning. The ability to lift a 500 pound dumbbell would qualify you as strong, but it doesn’t guarantee that you could also withstand a crisis situation. I am sure Gandhi could not lift 500 pounds, but his inner strength allowed him to be an anti-colonial nationalist and political ethicist who used nonviolent resistance to lead the successful campaign for India’s independence from British Rule. To me that is much more intrinsically valuable. I am by no means knocking physical strength, and it can be truly awesome to witness. I just think that inner strength is more intrinsically valuable. If I had to pick between Gandhi or Zydrunas Savickas ( 4 time World’s Strongest Man Champion) regarding who I would want in my life corner, I am going to go with Gandhi. Have a fantastic day everybody.

Dr. Katz

Is anyone else getting maskne lately?

See the source image

The struggle is real! I have discovered yet another snarky perk of the war against COVID 19: chronic mask-wearing acne! It is a beast that is not likely to be tamed any time soon…lol Our skin is under attack from chronic suffocation, bacteria and the extra dry environment under our masks. Who knew we would be fighting a blemish war too! I did not sign up for this. Having said that, would I rather battle a pimple than a life-threatening respiratory infection? Yes ma’am I would. There are things we can do to try to save our skin for now. There is nothing we can do if we die from COVID 19 so, in terms of the big picture, the war on acne is decidedly less important. However, I just don’t need one more thing to frustrate me when I look in the mirror in the morning and neither do you so here are a few tips. Personally, I have stepped up my skin regimen to include three times a day face washing with my Neutrogena Cooling Gel Scrub: once in the morning before I put the mask on, the second I take it off when I get home, and again before bed. I have also added cleocin wipes twice per day for the bacteria that are now allowed to lay on my face all day. To combat the additional dryness, I am adding a little bit of Neutrogena Oil Free Moisturizer. Now, if you are not experiencing dryness, please don’t add the moisturizer. It will only make things worse.

Now that I am done complaining about my skin, let me start out by saying that I believe in almost all of the precautions that we are taking lately to help prevent the spread of COVID. Or, at least let me say that I understand them all, but I still have mixed feelings about some of them. We need to wear the masks when we are around people and patients and have to go to the store. We need to practice social distancing of at least six feet. Yup I get it. I have to admit that I am still not sure about the limiting going between two houses and the not being able to paint or plant part. I understand that if you are going to your cottage you probably also have to go to the gas station and grocery store, but if you want people to distance, what better place to do that than their cabin in the woods? The same kind of goes with painting and planting…..unless people are throwing plant and paint group events. So, the store is open, but the parts of the store that people could use to stay at home and do home projects to keep themselves busy is not. Hmm. I can understand people’s frustration with that one. I think that if you are asking people to do necessary self-quarantine and social distancing, why not facilitate it being easier to do so? But, keep in mind that the government is just trying to keep us safe and that restrictions are necessary. Also keep in mind that some people would take these extra allowances and run with them and forget social distancing all together and put us all at risk. I guess it is a balancing game: potentially over calling restrictions to balance out risk for the people that would abuse the extra allowances and cost thousands of extra lives. It is an incredibly difficult game to play and I do not envy the government officials at all. The responsibility of just caring for my family and my patients is a lot to take on at times. The responsibility for a whole nation must be overwhelming to say the least. I don’t think I could handle it. Could you?

Dr. Katz

First day back

See the source image

Today was our first day back after vacation. I am using the word vacation rather loosely since I still delivered babies and gave all my OB patients my cell phone number. I mean, I did this willingly since I know that they are all very anxious lately with all of this COVID scariness. I felt that I owed it to them. I also cleaned like a madwoman for the last week, exercised like crazy, and cooked like a 1000 home cooked meals. So, it wasn’t really the break that I truly needed, but I have the whole rest of my life to take breaks. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

Anyway, back to the first day back. The whole environment was different. We were all really trying hard to pretend that it wasn’t, but the fear and tension were in the air. Everyone was masked. We nervously joked. The nervous laughter just didn’t feel the same. Patients were nervous too. You could tell when they walked in, also wearing masks. We worried too much about what other places were doing and how they were handling the pandemic. I proceeded with doing my usual daily Facebook updates to let patients know about any changes and give general advice and reassurance…only to be greeted with a stranger’s post response asking me why we were essential in the first place and why we got to be open? What? Really? We are in healthcare. We take care of pregnant patients and gynecology patients with pelvic issues, infections, cancer, and a multitude of other health issues, most of which are just not amenable to telehealth. I can’t express enough how much this comment got to me. Before I could stop myself, I started second-guessing my decision-making and why we were open and my nervousness rubbed of on the already nervous staff. We are already worked up enough without someone trying to make us feel like we are trying to get away with something as opposed to just doing our job. I know that it sounds ridiculous that we could allow one comment to cause so much nerve-wracking damage, but that is just how things are right now. People that are working right now, ourselves included, are struggling to keep it together for themselves and for their clients/patients. We are trying to balance our fears and our work ethic to do what is best for everybody. The extra negativity is neither desired nor welcome. We just don’t need it right now. So, let me clear this up once and for all. We are essential. We cannot use a computer screen to examine a vagina. And last but not least, patients cannot do their own c sections. I hope that clears things up for everybody. Have a great day.

Dr. Katz

It was still a good Easter.

Yes I said it. Easter was still good. I saw everybody posting in despair about not being able to see family members. Umm. Unless you live alone, you still saw some family members right? Or, even if you do live alone, there is still skype, facetime, zoom, etc. You can still see people that way. Yes, you can’t hug or touch them, but we are not supposed to right now anyway remember? It’s a saving lives thing? So, even if you were able to get close enough to see them, it would still be like a tease because you couldn’t go up an grab ’em like you want so what would be the point?

Anyway, moving on. Like I said, Easter was still good. We still had good food. We still enjoyed the company of just the four of us: my husband, myself, and our two daughters. We ate at the dining room table with no cell phones. My husband did all the cooking! We formed a group chat with the relatives. We still had an Easter egg hunt. I still left baskets out for my teenagers with chocolate and goodies….and autographed pictures of the Easter Bunny of course. We still decorated eggs. We still stopped to remember what the day is really about and gave appropriate thanks. No, we did not attend a live church service. No, we did not go to a big family party. We just laid low. It was a great excuse to not wear a bra and stay in pajamas all day. I don’t think I even showered as a matter of fact, not because I was depressed about COVID or angry at the Governor, but because I just didn’t have anywhere to go. The pressure was off. That’s a plus in my book.

On a side note, we groomed the dogs out of desperation. That really just reminded me of how indispensable our groomer really is and how much I respect her for keeping safety in mind and also laying low right now. Both are dogs now look like a five year old took the kindergarten scissors to them with no supervision. Hey I tried ok? I mean, they don’t seem upset about it. I didn’t cut anything I wasn’t supposed to. There was no biting, blood, or whining. As a matter of fact, at one point they just laid down and surrendered because I think they realize that all other options had been exhausted. So, I am gonna take that as a win…for now. But the second the groomer is back in business I will be begging at her door and bringing bribes…lol.

I think the thing that I enjoyed the most is that the four of us were together all day long. My 16 year old even made an appearance instead of lurking in her room. We had great conversations. We admired our own handiwork in literally every room of the house that is now organized and purged for the first time in like seven years. Whoo! I took the time to just look at my kids and my husband and listen to them and soak up every minute. These things seem so small and trivial, but I treasured every one of them. They all remind me of how precious and wonderful life is and how we should never take even the smallest thing for granted. Hope everyone had a meaningful and happy Easter!

Dr. Katz

When is it time to stop whining and be grateful?

In a word….NOW! Yes, I mean now. Emotions are running hot and the stress level is high, but, it is still time to stop complaining and be grateful. Please. If you or a family member are not on a ventilator or have lost someone you love to COVID-19, please think before you speak about how this virus is inconveniencing you. It’s really boils down to that big of a picture. People are facing death with this thing. In comparison, the cancellation of activities is pretty minor. I get that the economic stress is significant as well. My husband and I just finished a somewhat grueling loan application process to try to keep our businesses and our employees afloat during this time. The whole thing just re-bubbled all my pent up anxiety to the surface again. I couldn’t help it. But, I had to take a step back and regain some perspective and be glad that this option is possibly available to us in the first place. There are no guarantees even if we are able to get the loan. I am hoping against hope that my own cleverness combined with opportunity and a good deal of altruism will carry me through somehow. I am working hard every day, even though I am supposed to be on vacation, researching ways to get through this thing. I am trying to figure out how to remind people through advertising that I intend to stick around without seeming tacky. I am begging lenders and trying to build bridges just like the rest of the world, while trying to keep my family’s spirits up, home cook every night and ration the toilet paper the best that I can. I know how hard it is. I understand what is going on. I am just asking that you take a second before posting your latest Covid complaint post and put things into perspective again. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, let’s try to enjoy today if we can. Have a great day everybody.

Dr. Katz