Archive for the ‘Mona’ Tag

OUTTAKE: DOUG’S APPENDICITIS   2 comments

Warning, this is a long excerpt. It helped a lot in shortening the manuscript, though.

“On the way home from Vermont, Doug started complaining about stomach pains. Poor kid. I think we weren’t sympathetic enough. We thought the hotdogs we cooked out must have disagreed with him. It’s not like Doug to complain, so we wondered if we should take him to the emergency room when we got home to Hamden. Instead we called Bill Lavelle across the street. As a fireman he’s trained in emergency diagnosis. He asked us a few questions and then came over and poked around a bit. Poor Doug. He was really hurting. I wondered if it might be appendicitis, but Bill said no. I called Dr. Wessel too. When I told him the symptoms, he said it wasn’t appendicitis – that we should give him aspirin and put him to bed.”

“Oh dear, I can feel it coming,” Jennie had pulled herself out of bed when she knew who was calling.

“But when he woke up in the morning,” Mona went on, “the pain was just too intense. Lou was off to work, and Marjy Ehmer and I were in the kitchen planning for the fall semester. I called Lou to come home so we could take Doug to the doctor and made last minute arrangements with Marjy. Dr. Wessel was so sweet when we got there. Usually he chats with me while he examines the kids, but this time he gave Doug his full attention.

“What do you think it is?” he asked Doug.

“Appendicitis,” was the Pain-filled response.

“I think you’re right. Let’s get you straight to the hospital. I’ll call ahead.”

“Oh, mother. The poor kid. It turns out his appendix was about to rupture. Thank God we live after Sulfa drugs were discovered.”

“Oh my poor Doug,” Jennie’s memories went back to the baby she helped care for eleven years ago.

“Mother, it was so awful. Yale New Haven is a teaching hospital and the medical personnel kept coming in to poke him in the stomach while we waited for him to go to surgery. Now that everything is over, I’m just mad at myself that I didn’t make them stop. But I’m proud of myself that I insisted they let me stay in his room afterwards. I had to call Dr. Wessel to intervene and make them allow it. I can’t imagine leaving any child alone waking up from surgery.”

“How is he now?” Carl asked. “Can we come to visit?”

“The doctors agree with me that it’s probably best if only Lou and I visit. And Lisa wants to come, but I have to go the route of Dr. Wessel again to get permission.”

The next report set Jennie’s mind at ease. “He’s doing fine. He’ll be here for a week before they remove the stitches. Then they’ll let him come home in a day or two.”

“I stopped by school today to leave the materials I need to start the semester. I have to thank Doug for having his attack at a convenient time. It seems like my kids have always known to do their sicknesses when I could be home anyway. But the poor thing, mother. He looks so pale. And you can tell he’s in pain the way he orders me around like a slave.”

Mona, spending each day in the hospital with him, called every evening to report. “You wouldn’t recognize our Doug,” she told them. “He is so cranky and bossy, but it kind of pleases me that he’s not holding back.”

Then came the day of stitches removal. “Lisa was with me and we both watched. The doctors wanted us to leave, but I insisted we wouldn’t cause a problem. Lisa was great, sitting on my lap and watching. I think she has a stomach for this kind of stuff.”

Mona called Jennie and Carl right away on homecoming day. “He’s so happy to be home and quiet with me. Lou and Lisa have gone to Branford where Lou will be Godfather to Genny and Bill Goff’s baby.”

“May we come see him”?”

“Sure, I know it will make him happy to see you.”

They made it a short stay, giving him a gift of a basket organizer for his desk.

“It made me feel so good to see how happy he was when we came. Poor kid. He looks so pale, though.” Jennie settled into the passenger seat.

“Surgery is nothing to fool around with” Carl remembered. “It takes a lot out of a guy.”

A few days later Mona had another message.

“I’m sorry I didn’t call you sooner, but I had to take Doug back to the doctor. He said it was an abscess — very unusual. ‘He must have suffered some stress,’ he said.’”

“All I can say is, Lou’s parents came after you did — and stayed, — and stayed, waiting for Lou and Lisa to get home. Mama was so worried, she kept hugging him and pinching his cheek. It’s all because they love him, I know – and he loves them — but after they’d been here almost two hours, Doug drew me into the bathroom and, his face beet red and his fists tight, commanded ‘Get them out of here!” Oh mother, I felt guilty I hadn’t asked them to leave sooner, and I got in trouble with Alma for doing it. But all is well now. He’s getting better. I told him he could have one more day of being mean to me, then he had to stop. He did just that – one more nasty day, then back to his own self. Now he’s having a good time doing quiet things and should be able to start school on time.”

 

RULE #5: BE AWARE OF COGNITIVE DISSONANCE   7 comments

OK, now that my “Crash” is out of the way, I’m back to offering rules that – should you decide to accept them – will save time and money devoted to therapy. Well, maybe not, but I hope they are helpful.

So, what is “cognitive dissonance?” Well, first of all, lets go back to the issue of control. One thing control requires is a feeling that things make sense. Cognitive dissonance refers to the times when things don’t make sense, because we are trying to hold and/or act upon two (or more) conflicting beliefs. In order to restore a sense of order, we’ll change one or the other (or both) so the two are no longer in conflict. The other alternative is to avoid recognizing the conflict and basically give up trying to make sense. Let’s try a couple of examples.

Representative Donaught (obviously a made-up name) ran for office because he believed that to establish economic equity in the community is a basic moral requirement. Once he was involved in the political game, he discovered that the only way to stay in office to fulfill that moral requirement was to accept large financial contributions from people who expected him to support causes which would ultimately undermine his goal of economic equity. The stage was set for cognitive dissonance. It might be stated this way: the moral responsibility to work toward reducing inequity vs. the need to commit himself to causes that would maintain inequity. What might he do?

In order to stay comfortably in office, he may change his opinion about the morality of his contributor’s causes and vote to support them because he now sees their cause as good. He may decide that he was being too rigid in his earlier beliefs. Or he may stick to his original moral view and refuse the contributions, potentially being voted out of office. Or he might accept the money without modifying his moral convictions, consequently maintaining a high stress level resulting in psychological symptoms like perpetual anger, or maybe depression, or perhaps physical stress symptoms. And his constituents might complain that he is a do-nothing representative.

Maybe the potential for cognitive dissonance is a reason to prefer public officials who are super wealthy in their own right.

And don’t forget, this will all become more complicated if he isn’t wealthy and needs to stay in office in order to support himself and his family.

Or maybe changing his moral standards vis-à-vis the reason for public office will spill over into other issues, leading, perhaps, to formerly unacceptable personal behavior like sexual affairs. Now poor Mr. Donaught is really in a potential mess. I hope he had a back up plan before he decided to run for office in the first place.

Anticipating cognitive dissonance might be a very good idea before making an important behavioral decision.

Oh, but, most of you who have had the patience to read this far have no plans to run for public office, though it may be a good idea to increase understanding of those who are already there.

So, why read on… ?

How about parenting?

Try this. “I’m punishing you only because I love you.” Cognitive dissonance. “The person who is hurting me says it’s love.” Which is it?

The child may conclude, “She doesn’t really love me. If she did, she wouldn’t hurt me.” Or, “hurting me is part of loving. Love hurts.” Or, given the superior power of the parent, the conclusion may be, “She must be right. There’s something wrong with me. I am bad.” Or how about this, “If this is love, I’ll try to avoid it.”  One way or the other, the child has to modify the understanding either of love, or of hurt. Or maybe this could contribute to denial. “It isn’t really love,” or “It didn’t really hurt.”

Maybe one of those conclusions is one the parent really wants to encourage

(I hope it’s obvious that just one event isn’t going to change the child’s whole understanding of love, life, and relationships. I’m way oversimplifying here.)

How about applying this to spousal abuse?

And then there’s the cognitive dissonance some of us pick up in some churches. “God is love, but some things you do are so bad you may spend eternity burning in hell.” Personally, I’d rather give up the belief in hell. But maybe the best move is to get away from the church that’s delivering cognitively dissonant messages. (Again, oversimplifying for the sake of making a point.)

“Mona is good at making things clear; Mona has just messed with my brain. Mona has just created cognitive dissonance.”

 

Posted March 28, 2016 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

PERMISSION TO LAUGH AT FUN IN DALIAN, CHINA   11 comments

It was a day of fun in Dalian, starting with a tour which took us to the farmer’s market and other places. As I’ve pointed out before, it was interesting to watch the progression of markets. This one was tidy and tempting, but I noted especially the following offering, one we wouldn’t find in the U.S. — at least I don’t think so. It did remind me that the one food I would not accept from my butcher father-in-law was pigs feet. Any other part of the body was worth a try, but pigs feet look like pigs feet. (For obvious reasons, of course.)

Dalian Farmer's Market

 

One thing that stood out was the activity in the public squares — people dancing, for example.

Dancing in Labour Park

 

As we drove past another square, we were told that people came out after dinner to exercise.

And then there were the kites. Part of our tour was the chance to fly our own and take it home with us. The kites were beautiful, but the wind was not cooperative. OK. If you haven’t already laughed at the header, let me tell you I forgot I’m not six years old and ran, as instructed by the girls who offered help at the park. Of course, as I probably did when I was six — spending my whole life as I did being physically clumsy –I fell down. No damage done, and I especially appreciated the reaction of the girls who simply offered help in getting up and assumed I would continue (as I did). No tut-tutting, “Are you alright.” Believe me, once one reaches my age, being hovered over like you’re fragile is not appreciated.

The fact is, no one — except for Doug — got a kite in the air. That orange flying object above the man’s head is Doug’s kite.

Doug's kite - Version 2

 

But there’s more to the story in Labour square. While I was assisted by girls who just happened to be in the park, there were also  young people who had shown up specifically to help us, hoping to practice their English — American English. They were students planning to become teachers. We met many such young people in China, eager to practice their linguistic skill with us. We also learned that children, when they start school, are given American names. The name of the young man in the next photo, conversing with Doug, is Kevin.

Doug talking with Kevin

Notice the man to the right, recording the entire encounter. No, he wasn’t a government spy. He was doing what people all through China seemed anxious to do — photographing Americans. Unfortunately our tour guides hadn’t told us that to have a conversation was the hope of the young folks who met us to help at the park, so we didn’t chat as much as we would have had we known.

Before I left the park, I gave my kite to the helper girls. It was indeed beautiful, but there wan’t much likelihood I’d use it, or display it, at home.

Speaking of conversing leads me to the next, and last, stop, for our day in Dalian. A totally delightful visit to the apartment of a retired couple. The entrance hall to their place was dark enough that I strained to see my way to the steps. Once in their place at the top of the stairs, we were escorted to their everything room. Six of us from the tour, plus Victoria – our student translator – met with an eager and happy-to-see-us Mr. and Mrs. Wong. Three mats were set on the bed and four chairs were arranged around the small table almost within touching distance of the bed. These were for us tourist guests. Mr. and Mrs. Wong then pulled up folding stools.

On the table was a plate of delicious small tomatoes and oranges that I would call Clementines. Although we had passed an outdoor food market on the way to their home, we were told that our treats had been purchased at a nearby super market.

I also discovered that the Wong’s were like my mother-in-law. With Mama, if you admired something, she insisted you must have it. (I learned early on not to admire things too often — unless it was food, of course.) At any rate, when I raised the question whether the food had been purchased at the nearby farmer’s market, everything was passed for a second time, with the insistence that we must take more than one.

But, back to our initial reception. The first question was, as you might expect, “Where are you from?” The couple from Canada were greeted warmly, as were the two from the Philippines, but when Mr. Wong heard Doug and I were from America, he leapt to his feet and took off his hat to show us it was from the states. He was clearly excited to meet us, as had been so many other folks we encountered in China.

With Victoria’s help we had a conversation of some 20 to 30 minutes. We learned that Mr. Wong had worked for the railroad, retiring at (uh-uh, I think it was 60) as required by law. Mrs. Wong had worked as a nurse at the RR station, retiring, as mandated, at 55. They had also raised a family there.

Upon leaving, we did, of course, take photos with our hosts. Mrs. Wong reminded me of my mother-in-law when she lovingly and enthusiastically caressed my face — and Doug’s — in saying an affectionate goodbye. All in all, it was a highlight of my trip.

Having paid that visit, I noted a bit of social psychology in action. I realized the reason for the communal activity in the parks. There one could engage in physical and group activity not even possible within the confines of a small apartment. The very size of the home directed folks to a life of community.

There is one very sad note, though. If anyone out there can help me, I’d be deeply grateful. I intended to send them a thank you note, including a copy of the photo. To that end, Victoria gave us a template of their address. The sad thing is, we somehow lost the template, so I haven’t been able to let them know how much I appreciated the visit. As a matter of fact, I even called the excursion folks at the Holland America Line to see if they could help. Declaring that this was a first ever request, the woman I spoke to didn’t offer much hope, but did say she would try. Sadly I have heard nothing from her.

SO, IF SOMEONE OUT THERE SHOULD HAPPEN TO RECOGNIZE THE FOLKS IN THE FOLLOWING PHOTOS, PLEASE LEAVE ME THE INFORMATION HERE ON THE BLOG.

Mr: & Mrs: Wong

 

Mr. Wong, Mona, Mrs. Wong, and (my son) Doug

Mr. & Mrs. Wong & Victoria

Mr. Wong (and his American cap), Victoria, and Mrs. Wong

The journey is almost over. Nagasaki is coming up. (Remember, you can increase the size of every photo by clicking on it.)

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