Archive for the ‘Yale-New Haven Hospital’ 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.”

 

A HEALTHY WOMAN IS A CRAZY PERSON   14 comments

Bumper stickers and T-shirts hailed the message in the New Haven CT area, from the 1970s well into the 80s and 90s. It was the theme of my talks around town, based largely on my teaching the psychology of women at Southern Connecticut State University, and elaborated by experience with clients, and even my own life.

Women seemed to know immediately what it meant. Men “got” it when I explained it.

I’ll tell you where the title came from, and what I want to do with it now, but first I want to tell you why I’m inspired to write about it at this point. Recently a nurse blogged about e-bola, evoking many responses. I’ll bet the total has reached into the hundreds. Here it’s not my purpose to respond to the content of the blog. What caught my attention was the stubborn assumption that the nurse in question is a female. Even after he identified himself as a man, people continued to refer to “her” and “she” in their responses. That’s when I was struck with the way stereotypes hang on.

 I believe it was in the early 80s that one of my advisees came to me in really heavy stress. He wanted to go into the relatively new and very powerful nursing program being developed at SCSU.  The problem was his family was practically threatening to disown him if he did that. Oh no, that would mark him as too feminine. I think he courageously chose to defy the norms and I’ll bet he’s a great nurse. But the stereotype still exists, without the stigma, I think.

 So why am I writing about it now? In general, I want to remind myself and others how a little patience – and activism – will see positive changes in cycles of twenty or so years. And of what some people went through to get us there.

I think I don’t have to add the “now.” It’s pretty obvious – at least, that’s my take on it. But these are reminders.

Just a little more commentary about that period of time.

 My daughter, age thirteen in 1973, was moving on from Drs. Lacamera and Wessel, two absolutely wonderful [male] pediatricians who had cared for her and my son. She wanted a referral to a female physician but none were available to her. Residencies were basically denied to women at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

 In the late 1970s, my women clients were longing for female physicians, and some were becoming available to them.

Let me go back a little farther, to the late 50s when my husband and I moved to the New Haven area to follow his job. I had completed all but the dissertation for my Ph.D.  Warren Bennis, one of my Boston University professors had given me a referral to a colleague at Yale who seemed like a good potential for a job for me. I solicited and got an interview with him. It went pretty well, I thought – possibly a position as a research assistant. But my parents brought me up with this hefty superego that led me to tell him at the end that I did think I might be pregnant. I left with the message he would get in touch with me.

Some time passed and I called. “Oh, the secretarial job has been filled,” I was told. Interestingly in light of the waters of the time, I blamed myself for having told him of the possible pregnancy. I have a different take on it now as I look back.

A former student at SCSU, teaching at a school in Hamden, CT in the 70s, was much smarter than I. She concealed her pregnancy as long as possible, knowing she would have to leave the job as soon as she “showed.”

Oh yes, more stories from “ancient” times before I explain the title. In 1958 I was blessed with a mentor. I didn’t know at the time that he was a “mentor.” That word wasn’t yet in intentional vogue. He was just a psychology department chair who respected me and my potential. He agreed to hire me to teach a couple of evening classes. (That way I could be a full time wife and mother during the day.) But before the deal was completed, he had to introduce me to the college president. “I’d like to plan for a full time evening faculty member,” he told Dr Buley, “and Mona would be the candidate of my choice.” The president opined that he didn’t approve of hiring married women whose first obligation was to their husbands. He would allow my teaching a couple of evening courses since Dr. Trinkau enthusiastically recommended it, but that was as far as he was willing to go.

I want to rush to say that Dr. Buley did turn out to be much more tolerant as a couple of years went by and I was hired to teach days. In fact, he was very willing to support Dr. Trinkaus in his desire to promote me. Truth be told, I am very grateful to both those men for saving my sanity.

Oh – another story? Once I was fully employed as a faculty teaching mostly days, I was warmly welcomed and supported by the entire Psychology department. Actually, I was not the only female on staff. The others at that time were single.

But there was one man in another department at the college who was a part of our lunchtime gathering in the faculty lounge. He castigated me for working outside the home once I was married. His wife, a very talented concert level musician, was perfectly happy, he said, to share her talent with the church. Unfortunately for him, she decided some years later to follow her talent and divorce ensued.

 I hope these don’t come through as poor me stories, because I am extremely grateful for the wonderful support I received all through my career. I just want to set the stage for “A Healthy Woman is a Crazy Person.”

It’s based on research published in 1970 by Inge Broverman.

In a nutshell, she demonstrated that therapists as well as others reflected the waters of the time by describing healthy men and adults in the same terms, and women as the opposite.

“The results indicated that participants believed that a healthy adult and a healthy male shared virtually all the same characteristics. A healthy female, however, was thought to possess different qualities. The adults and males were said to share a “competence cluster” of traits such as confidence and independence, while women had a “warmth-expressiveness cluster” that described kindness and concern for others. This put women in a situation where, if they demonstrated those traits considered healthy for a woman, they were simultaneously classified as an unhealthy, psychologically immature adult.”

 What wasn’t emphasized at the time was that men who were warm and expressive were also condemned as “unhealthy.” Consider the student who wanted to be a nurse.

I hasten to attribute this quote to the following citation

There are at least two things that stand out about this, both of which had the potential for getting me in trouble when I did these talks.

First: Healthy (read “good”) women were perceived as being the opposite of men Therefore, whenever I said something positive about women it was perceived as a putdown of men.  At least in the circles where I travel now I think that bleak dichotomy has loosened. But then, it was common for both men and women to think less of themselves if that oppositeness wasn’t maintained. Hence the reaction of the family who wanted the student to refrain from becoming a nurse.

Second: Since so many of our institutions were built on that assumption, I was perceived as a radical working to destroy marriage, jobs, and you name it. Sometimes it was scary.

But, I repeat, I want to emphasize the wonderful changes that have occurred over time. Both men and women have been set free of the stereotypes – at least younger men. I could cite some public figures who are still trapped in the 50s, but then I’d be getting into areas where I have opinions but no authority.

Enough already! I don’t want to bore you away from my site. I’ll get back tomorrow, I hope, with some examples that may intrigue you, tickle you, surprise you, perhaps  even cause a few giggles, possibly warm your hear, and make you feel better about things.

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