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Call Week

Despite the title of this blog, I rarely talk about the specifics of being a doctor’s wife anymore. But I thought this might be interesting not only for doctors’ spouses but for the spouses of others who have not-a-regular-9-to-5-career, too. 

One of the most common questions I get is whether being a doctor’s wife is lonely. Sure. Being the spouse of a physician can be lonely at times. It really can. No different from being the spouse of a fire fighter or an accountant during tax season or many other professions. It’s less lonely, I imagine, than being the spouse of someone who’s gone for many days at a time – like a pilot or a member of the armed forces or a long-haul trucker or a consultant or many other professions.

It has its ups and downs, like being married to anybody with any job. And it has times where you will be alone, and/or in charge of the bulk of the housework/child-rearing, just like being married to anybody with a not-strictly-9-to-5 job.

Now that my husband is a practicing physician, the loneliest times are call weeks. So I thought I would tell you, today, what it’s like when my husband is on call. I’d be fascinated to know what YOU do when your spouse is gone.

 

We’re going into a call week this Saturday, which means that I may not see much of my husband for the next seven days. He goes into the hospital early. Depending on the patient load, he may come home really late. Or he may come home and then have to go back to the hospital, or come home and then have to spend several hours in his office, on the phone with the hospital staff or returning patient calls. There’s no guarantee he’ll see our daughter on any given day. There’s no guarantee he’ll be free to help with washing the dishes or the child, that he’ll be home to eat meals, that he’ll be free to talk through our separate days, that he’ll be next to me as I fall asleep.

To deal with call weeks, I do several things:

  1. I prep Carla by talking enthusiastically about our special Girls’ Week. I use lots of exclamation points. Sometimes we’ll go out for a special lunch date together. We’ll paint our toenails. We’ll eat snacky dinners. We’ll watch movies. We’ll be a little loosey goosey with the “no screens on school days” rules. If Carla feels sad about not seeing her father, we’ll make him a special art project. We may not bathe as frequently as normal.
  1. I go easy on myself with meal planning. Instead of focusing on healthy food, which I try to do most days, I make easy and comforting food the priority (note: “healthy” and “easy and comforting” are not necessarily mutually exclusive). For me, that’s things like tacos and chicken paprikas and pizza and grilled shrimp from the prepared foods counter at the grocery store. Bonus points for things that are easy to prepare and leave abundant leftovers. I may buy a special treat for myself, and possibly for Carla. I don’t limit myself to one piece of leftover Easter candy. I make sure I have a bottle of wine chilling in the fridge.
  1. I try to schedule fun things for myself during the week. Usually, my writing time is sacred. I try to treat my day like a real work day – albeit shorter than the typical 9-to-5. So I reserve coffees and lunch dates for call weeks. This week, I have a coffee, a lunch date, and a play date for me and Carla. At night, after Carla’s in bed, I curl up on the sofa with a glass of wine and/or some ice cream/rapidly dwindling Easter candy and watch Candy TV: Real Housewives, sitcoms my husband isn’t interested in, reruns of Seinfeld or Gilmore Girls or Friends or Family Feud.
  1. I try to maintain a (barf) Positive Attitude. I say cheerleadery things to myself and to Carla: We are so proud of Daddy. He is making people feel better. He works so hard, to take care of other people and to take care of us. We’ll be back to normal in just X days! We can do it! And anyway, missing Daddy helps us to appreciate him more when he’s here! I try to think cheering thoughts: I get to watch only what I want to watch this week! I can go to bed whenever I want! I am so glad I’m not a doctor! Hey, I didn’t say they were cheering to anyone but ME.

One of the things that’s most difficult for me during call weeks is to not unload on my husband when he’s around. Call is extremely stressful for him. He’s seeing super sick patients. He may have 11 patients to see or he may have 25. He may have really difficult procedures. He may be extra tired from being paged or getting called into the hospital overnight.

It’s not unstressful for me: suddenly, I’m solely responsible for house and child and self. Which can be easy breezy or exhausting on any given day. But I try really really hard to remember that I shouldn’t just throw the toddler and the dishes at my husband when he manages to show up at a reasonable hour.  And I shouldn’t complain too loudly or vigorously about how stressful my day was.

The best part about call weeks is that they END. For us, call takes place roughly every seven weeks. This differs from practice to practice, and we’re very lucky. So even though they are lonely weeks, they aren’t very frequent. And they don’t last terribly long.

I’m sure life can be lonely for MANY spouses out there, for all kinds of professions. And, in fact, I would be really interested in what it’s like for you, when your spouse isn’t there. How often is s/he gone? What’s the schedule like then, and how does it deviate from normal? How do you deal with the loneliness, and with the stress of being In Charge By Yourself?

I keep feeling the weight of all the accumulated CRAP we have in our house. It lives mainly in the basement, and it’s pulling at me. It’s very heavy.

Some days, I think about donating it all… and probably I will end up going that route because I am lazy efficient and charitable.

But other days, I think about throwing a garage sale. Making a few cents off all the much-loved stuff that’s no longer useful for anything except jamming up our basement.

We have books, artwork, stereo speakers, shoes, clothing… and tons and tons of baby stuff. (Will I actually be able to give it away? UNKNOWN.)

The thing is, I have virtually no experience with garage sales. So I have no idea if it’s worthwhile. I am aware that garage sales are a lot of work. Even perusing a couple of sites with tips for a successful garage/yard sale are making me weary.

But it also maybe sounds a little fun?

If memory serves, I think one of our neighbors has a garage sale every couple of years… I wonder if I could team up with her? That would be good for multiple reasons, not the least of which she could just tell me how she does things. But I wouldn’t even know how to broach the subject… do I call her? Go knock on her door? (We see each other maybe three times a year in the wild.)

Do you think my husband would be up for it? (My guess is no.)

How do I know if I have enough stuff? Or the right kind of stuff? We have a lot of random stuff: like an unopened box of Brita water filters, some old sippy cups that Carla no longer uses, some ancient roller skates, my husband’s childhood collection of Ghostbusters action figures. That’s just a sampling.

And how do I make sure that I’m Well Prepared – with tables and labels and signage and stuff – without spending more on Preparations than I’d make from the sale?

And what in the WORLD am I going to do with Carla during this thing? I can envision her a) disappearing down the street after someone’s dog or b) crying about some old toy she hasn’t played with in years that she doesn’t want me to sell or c) going on a mad tear and knocking things over.

I wonder if any of my friends would be interested in joining forces.

I also wonder if I’m crazy to even contemplate this nonsense.

Help…?

What is it about my brain that not only magnifies the awkwardness in a perfectly innocuous situation, but also dwells on it, for days afterward?

Well, that is what blogs are for, is it not?

I was at my favorite haunt, the grocery store, waiting at the deli for the lone deli slicer staff person to finish wrapping up another shopper’s Muenster. Carla was in school; it was early on a weekday, and the store was calm and nearly empty. The deli person asked what I needed, and I said “one third pound of honey ham, shaved please.”

And she poked around in the deli case, and said, “I have to go to the back to get a ham for you.”

Well, that was unusual. It took me a beat to recover, but then I tried to call after her because 1) I was sure she had misheard me and thought maybe I said some other ham; she hadn’t repeated “honey ham” and, more importantly and less revealing of the depth of my insecurities, 2) I could see an entire honey ham, right there in the case.

Well, of course I wondered whether maybe that was a display only honey ham. But, on the off chance it wasn’t, I didn’t want her to make a separate trip to the back.

But she had stopped just on the other side of the deli, and she was talking to someone anyway in a friendly fashion, so I called out, “Excuse me! Excuse me!” trying to get her attention.

A second deli person popped up out of nowhere and said, “Can I help you?” And I said, “The other woman was helping me, she said she had to go to the back to get a new honey ham, and I just wanted her to know that there’s a honey ham right here.”

But she interrupted me and said, “We have honey ham right here.” As though I were the one who had sent her colleague on such a frivolous errand.

“I know,” I said, smiling in a way I hoped conveyed that I was both conscious and conscientious, “I just wanted to let her know, so she didn’t have to run to the back for a honey ham when there is already one right here.”

And the woman said, “Yes, we have honey ham right here.” And blinked at me expectantly, awaiting, no doubt, my next nonsensical utterings. So now I’m struggling with wanting her to understand what I am saying and stop looking at me like I am asking her repeatedly whether I have a lobster attached to my face, but also maybe thinking she just didn’t hear me, but also not wanting to repeat myself a THIRD time, but also really wanting her to know the situation. Think of her colleague, seeking an unnecessary ham!

(The colleague was still chatting with her friend, which seemed to me a little callous; for all she knew, I was still standing there, anxiously awaiting ham.)

So I gave the second woman my order, and she grabbed some pre-cut (NOT shaved) ham from the case and then, perplexingly, said, “It’s only $1.99. Do you want more?”

Now, this ham is usually $6.99 a pound or something – I admit to not paying that much attention because a) I buy it infrequently and b) it’s really the only ham Carla eats, so I’m going to buy it anyway; it’s only a third of a pound – which is to say that I didn’t think she was referring to the per-pound cost of the ham. There’s a big board of daily specials on the counter, and the honey ham was not listed among them; I looked; it’s nice to know that you are being thrifty even if you aren’t doing so on purpose. I assumed that she was saying that my third of a pound was ringing up as $1.99, which, great. Sounds good. Why mention it at this point in the interaction?

So I said something brilliant, like, “I’m sorry?”

And she shook the ham at me and said, “It’s only $1.99. Do you want MORE HAM?”

Still not grasping anything really – I mean, how could I not still be reeling from the mistakenly absent ham? and the woman poised to – after her conversation, clearly – go fetch another? – I shook my head and said no thank you.

(Aside: If I need a third of a pound of ham, having it be less expensive doesn’t make me magically need more ham. I mean, I guess if I really wanted a POUND of ham, but knew that $6.99 wasn’t in my budget, then knowing it was $1.99 per pound might change the amount I would get. I don’t know. It’s like when you go to Dairy Queen, and you order a small slushie, and they say, “Drinks are half price between 2:00 and 4:00, do you want to get a large?” Well, no. I want a small. And I’m saving money because the small is also half price. If I get a larger size, the price also increases. A $3 small at half price is still cheaper than $5 large at half price. And yes, I get that I could be getting more for the original price I intended on paying but it still all strikes me as ODD. WHATEVER. I am sure it is a legitimate marketing strategy that works or it wouldn’t be so prevalent.)

We are back to me, rejecting the extra ham.

The deli person shrugged at me in a kind of “suit yourself” manner, and I took my ham and pointed to the other staff member – still chatting, I mean, the entire interaction took maybe 45 (interminable) seconds, but still – and said, “Will you let her know a) you took care of me and b) that she doesn’t need to go to the back for a whole new honey ham?”

And the second deli person turned to her colleague (who had just at that moment finally bid adieu to her long lost twin sister or the queen or whomever she was talking to all that time) and said, “Hey, there’s already honey ham in the case.” And the first woman laughed and shook her head and went to help some other poor ham-needing sap.

The end.

But no, not the end, because I am still thinking about it.

I cannot properly express to you how NEEDLESSLY and RIDICULOUSLY flustered I got during the course of this interaction!

And WHY, in the name of all the pigs who so graciously gave their lives for our deli needs, am I STILL THINKING about it, literally weeks later?

WHY? Who CARES? It’s just HAM.

It felt SO AWKWARD. To be misunderstood. To be misheard. To see a misapprehension occurring, and to be incapable of preventing it. To instead be misheard again and misinterpreted as someone lacking adequate brain function. To leave, finally, with ham that was not shaved as you wanted. At least it was only 66 cents. For the ham. The therapy this incident may require will likely cost much more.

I am really worked up about shampoo right now.

You might call me a Shampoo Loyalist. I used Pantene for pretty much my entire life (I mean, except for the portion during which my mother, presumably, washed my hair. I have no memory of this.) but then in the early aughts my hair stylist went on some rant about how Pantene was the WORST thing you could put on your hair and said some things about animal testing and I did zero research or fact checking but immediately stopped using it. (I loved him. Loved. Him. I miss him to this day.)

But then I went through a Dark Time during which no shampoo seemed to really cut it for me. I don’t have too many requirements of a shampoo: I want it to clean my hair, smell pleasant, and make me look like Kate Middleton, which doesn’t seem like I’m asking too much. The Herbal Essences and Garnier Fructises of the world all ticked the “pleasant smell” box, but I think over time I’d get bored with them, or my hair would seem flat, or whatever, I sense you inching closer to the edge of your seat, in anticipation of what juicy detail I might share next, certainly not to leave the room. But I was sick of dating around. What I wanted was shampoo marriage material.

At some point, my mother-in-law left some of her fancy shampoo in the guest bathroom, and around the same time, my new hair stylist started trying to upsell me (in a non-annoying way, I swear) to a keratin treatment, which sounds MAGICAL and yet is way too expensive for my taste. And I discovered that lo! my mother-in-law’s hand-me-down shampoo leavings had the word “keratin” on the bottle. So I tried it out.

It was OGX Brazilian Keratin Therapy. And it had a pleasant suntan-lotiony smell and it did seem to make my hair less frizzy. And while it was more expensive than my previous dalliances, Target seemed to have good Buy-One-Get-One deals that made it less so.

OGX keratin

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

And THEN one magical day Target was out of the keratin therapy flavor? scent? type? of OGX, so I started looking at the other OGX offerings for an understudy. I read each bottle carefully, to determine whether I needed something for color-treated hair or dry hair or whatever and then – do you do this? – I sort of unobtrusively started unscrewing the caps and then sniffing each different color? blend? mixture? and trying not to get any wayward shampoo on my nose.

The one I fell in love with was Bamboo Fiber-Full (huh, I have been using this for possibly years and only just now realized it was FULL and not FILL). I love the way it smells. It leaves my hair feeling clean and light and fresh. Less Kate Middletonny than I would like, but no shampoo is perfect.

OGX bamboo

Photo from ogxbeauty.com

We had a happy relationship for a long time, Internet. And then Target stopped carrying it. Why, Target? WHY? Instead, my Target is all about this orchid varietal. Bah.

I started the shampoo search anew. The one shampoo I liked best was Garnier Fructis Full & Plush. But literally every time I used it – or even if I wasn’t washing my hair, and I just saw it, or glimpsed it from the corner of my eye – I would get so annoyed by the word “plush” that I would mutter and stew for… at least minutes. I mean, PLUSH? I feel like plush is a word that should apply only to velvet. Or maybe lips. Or, and I feel like this is a stretch, but I’m trying to be generous, a nice thick lawn. NOT HAIR. I don’t want to be reminded of a tufted velvet davenport every time I lather up. I just don’t.

Garnier Plush

Photo from garnierusa.com

At one point, I figured that the fixation I had on the word plush was probably a waste of time and energy and brain cells (why didn’t you figure this out a paragraph ago, you ask), so I cut it off at the source and went back to the Brazilian Keratin Therapy. Which I like. It’s fine. I could see us moving in together, buying a car, maybe getting a dog. But I’m not passionate about it, you know? Like, when I picture us together in our old age, I feel sort of resigned, rather than excited about all the trips we’ll take to Europe.

What I really want is the Bamboo Fiber-Full. Why are you keeping us apart, Target? WHY?

This story is not over!

I got the big, “value size” bottles of the Keratin shampoo some months ago. And at a certain point, the conditioner was really giving me trouble. The bottles are shaped in such a way that you can really only squeeze them from the middle, and the squeezed area was staying squeezed and I could not un-squeeze it. It was forming a tight little girdle in the middle of the bottle, which improved its Marilyn Monroe curves, but prevented me from getting all the conditioner from the bottom of the bottle into the top and out of the bottle. AND, because the OGX packaging people have never used shampoo in their lives, the tops of the bottles are ROUND, so you can’t stand them on their heads to use gravity as your buddy. (And you can’t remove the tops anyway; at least, I can’t. They are affixed to the bottles with superglue and manic rage.)

I can’t tell you what an ORDEAL it became, to shampoo my hair. I tried to force the bottle to stand on its head by surrounding it with other things – a bottle of body wash, the shampoo bottle, my husband’s shampoo – but that was only occasionally successful, and more often than not resulted in all of the aforementioned toiletries collapsing onto the floor and all over my stunned toesies.

So I would bang the bottle on my hand and bang it on the shower bench, then bend the entire bottle in half, trying to lever the conditioner to the exit point (I was surprised it didn’t split in half, but that would have made the conditioner too easily accessible). At the end, I had to do all of the above and then ALSO use both my hands to squeeze out a meager amount of conditioner onto my thigh, and then transfer the conditioner to my hair.

One should not have to endure such humiliations!

The shampoo held up much better, but as I reached the “value” section of the bottle, it too transformed into a torture device.

So, fine, when I had finally extracted as much shampoo and conditioner as was humanly possible from the bottles, I vowed never again to fall prey to the siren song of “value size” and I replenished my shower with regular-size bottles of Keratin shampoo.

Alas! I am halfway through those bottles and the conditioner is already doing the waist-cinch thing!

My husband, bless him, forcibly un-cinched the conditioner by using his body weight to press the bottle short-side against the granite counter (he tried the wall first and the bottle dented the wall).

But!

I was at the supermarket the other day – one I don’t normally shop – and I happened across the shampoo aisle, and lo and behold! My beloved Bamboo Fiber-Full was there on the shelf! I scooped it right up, for $6.29 a bottle (Target, you are costing me money and losing yourself money!) and brought it home and made a Discovery.

Both bottles contain 385 ml of shampoo/conditioner. But the Bamboo bottle is slightly thinner, but deeper while the Keratin bottle is slightly wider but shallower. Does that make ANY sense? The Keratin takes up less space back-to-front and more space side-to-side; the Bamboo takes up less space side-to-side and more space back-to-front.

Because the Keratin bottle is less deep (from front to back, not top to bottom, I am doing such a terrific job of explaining this, good thing you bailed back up at “this is about shampoo”), it’s harder to squeeze. And the cinching thing happens more easily. And showering becomes an episode of MacGuyver.

Worst of all? It looks like OGX is moving toward this style of bottle. Because alllllll the other bottles seem to be the impossible to use terrible flatter/shallower version.

In my shampoo cynicism, I am certain that OGX is going to transition to this type of bottle and then start putting less of the product inside. As in, it may be 385 ml now, but next thing you know it will be 300 ml.

I think I need to start scooping up all the Bamboo Fiber-Full I can find in the old bottle shape.

Or – whimper – I need to begin a new search for my next great shampoo.

You would think that Target would be a little more lenient, considering that I cannot walk out of it without spending $100. I once spent $75, and felt TRIUMPHANT.

Anyway, I am annoyed. And it is such a LITTLE annoyance that I feel annoyed that I am annoyed. It’s like the “I’m rubber and you’re glue” of annoyances. Does that even make sense? Possibly not; chardonnay.

We had a coupon – FROM Target, which helpfully sends out little booklets of all the things you need and don’t with 25% off here, 15% off there – that was something off bananas. It was something like 20% off bananas. Which already is nothing, because Target bananas are something like $0.18 per. But we eat a lot of bananas around here, and by “we” I mean my daughter and husband because I will not touch a banana with a ten-foot pole. Unless I’m buying one at Target, apparently.

But we had the coupon; we needed bananas. Why not save a few cents, right? The coupon, if I remember correctly, said something like “20% off bananas.”

Wouldn’t you think that means ALL the bananas you choose to buy? If you buy ten bananas, that would be 20% off all ten. This was my assumption.

But no.

The computer – it wasn’t the checker; he rang up all my items and then fed my coupons into the system in a big batch at the end – chose ONE banana – a $0.19 banana – and took $0.04 off that banana. Resulting in a savings of – yes, math fans! — $0.04. Four. Cents.

Okay! So the FULL batch of bananas I purchased was $0.38. Total. For three bananas. I am aware that the math in this post may not be “accurate” per se. But! If the coupon had applied to ALL the bananas, as it should have, we would have saved EIGHT CENTS. That is double the amount we actually saved!

I recognize that I am annoyed by four cents! It is stupid! But it is NONETHELESS ALSO STUPID for Target to have prevented me from saving those four cents!

I think what’s really chapping my lips is that my LAST trip to Target was so awful. It was one of those afternoons where Carla was Losing It and yet I had a bunch of Must Haves on my list (toilet paper, for one; and half-n-half, which may not strike you as a staple but IS). And I was already irritated because Target has stopped carrying my favorite shampoo. And because the layout of the toiletries is so weird that I had to walk sixteen aisles with an older woman who was SCOURING the shampoo and soap aisles for body wash and Could Not Find It because the body wash section is sixteen aisles away. And because, as usual, my Target didn’t have enough cashiers to handle the number of shoppers ready to check out.

At the holidays, my Target was a CHAMP at dealing with this. They know how to do it. They had a point person sending shoppers to the appropriate checkout station. They had billions of checkers ready to check out the shoppers. They were On Top Of It.

But on a normal Wednesday afternoon? They had two checkers and the shoppers were backed up ten to fifteen deep I AM NOT EXAGGERATING and so Carla and I had to wait in a line forever. So by the time we got to the actual checker, Carla was dee oh enn ee DONE and I was right there with her.

Of course, I’d brought a pile of coupons with me, in the ever hopeful quest to spend under $100. And of course, I was super self-conscious of my coupons, because of the ninety people (okay, THAT is an exaggeration; it was maybe five) lined up behind me. And the coupons were being finicky. Like, even though the Target coupons usually say “one Target coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon per customer,” only the one was ringing up per item. And the checker was doing them in the order of the pile, not in order of amount saved. So if I had a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.50 off body wash, plus a $0.75 Target coupon, and she rang up the Target coupon first, I would miss out on the biggest savings. Oh GOURD this is the boringest post ever. I think I corrected her the one time I noticed it, but she could have done it more times because did I mention I was trying to prevent a WILD RACCOON from leaping out of the shopping cart? It’s difficult to keep an eye on the raccoon AND on the register simultaneously. Then there was a Target coupon for $1.00 off “three packs of Trident.” Well, I grabbed the very same three-pack of Trident pictured on the coupon, and the coupon didn’t ring up, and the checker said, “You needed to buy THREE” and threw the Trident that I bought ONLY BECAUSE I HAD THE COUPON into my bag. And I didn’t argue (raccoon).

This is where things went fuzzy. The raccoon went into overdrive on the Flinging Herself From the Cart activity. And the checker had to call someone else over to consult with her on one of my coupons — a coupon, if I am not misremembering, for contact lens solution that was so good it (the coupon) was the sole reason I was buying the contact lens solution, and would NOT buy it if the coupon didn’t work. (It was something like $8 off.) It wasn’t ringing up for some reason, and instead of just saying “SCRAP THE SOLUTION!” I said something that made the checker call for coupon reinforcements.

So there I was, sweaty from preventing my child’s self-inflicted diving-to-the-Target-floor death, and feeling more and more frantic as the line behind me piled up, the other shoppers doing that blank-faced weight-shifting that shows barely-concealed impatience and rage. And the checkers needed to for some reason give me a Target gift card (which seemed reasonable; they always have these promotions where if you buy three of something you get a $5 gift card), but then they were taking it back, and then giving it back, and the whole ordeal was taking SO LONG that I wanted to shove my cart into the rack of US Weeklys as a diversion and get the hell out of there.

And when I got home, my husband reviewed the receipt and found out that the checker had CHARGED ME for the $5 gift card.

So. Target. You are on my list.

Barney Stinson

Photo from EntertainmentWeekly.com

O, Google. How mysterious are your algorithms. How perplexing are your search results.

Sometimes people wind up here after searching for some… interesting things. Sometimes, I can pinpoint exactly why they ended up here. Other times… not so much. In any event, lest these hopeful web users arrive here only to be deeply disappointed (especially when it comes to the actual “doctor’s wife” stuff, which I don’t really focus on that much anymore.), I am going to try to address some of the questions they raise.

 

How to dress like a doctor wife/how should a doctor wife dress

This is one of the most common searches that leads people here. And only the gods of Google understand why that is, considering that I am no Snappy Dresser. Right now, I am wearing a Sports Team T-shirt and some skinny jeans, no socks. I might throw on a sweater if I get cold. When I pick up Carla from school, I will slip on my new sneakers.

In my previous work-from-home life, I wore mainly pajamas. But now that I have to see real live people twice a day, I try to shower and wear actual clothing. Sometimes I do throw on my workout clothes for drop off, but whatever; athleisure is IN.

I don’t think there’s any specific way to dress like a doctor’s wife. You should dress the way you feel comfortable. I mean, if you’re going to a work function with your spouse, maybe you’d dress up a little? I have gone to exactly two (2) work functions with my husband, both holiday parties, so I don’t have a whole lot of experience on that front.

 

Joanne pronunciation/Joan pronunciation/Joan + pronunciation/pronunciation of name Joan/how to pronounce Joan/Joanne meaning with pronunciation/how to pronounce joan vs john/is it joan or joanne?/how to pronounce joanne in english

The number of people trying to figure out the difference between “Joanne” and “Joan” is truly staggering. And it makes me feel a little guilty for being so hard on them in this post on the topic. Apparently it is trickier than I originally imagined. (Although I maintain that if you are taking someone’s name – on the phone or at a coffee shop – and you write down the name that you heard, you should be able to pronounce it again later. If I say “Joanne” and you think that’s spelled “Joan,” you should still pronounce it like “Joanne.”)

Anyway, the answer is:

Joanne is pronounced like joe-ANN. Rhymes with “so TAN.”

Joan is pronounced like JONE. Rhymes with “bone” and “tone” and “cone.”

These are not actual phonetic renderings, partly because I don’t know how to do that and partly because I think the “Joan” one would confuse those looking for a differentiation between “Joan” and “John.” 

  

How to be a doctor’s wife/ How to have doctor wife ? / Marrying a doctor wife

Marry a doctor (or someone training to be a doctor). It’s that simple.

Also, maybe ask yourself before you jump into this WHY you are doing it. If it’s for the big bucks, maybe think again.

 

My husband feels like I am condescending/condescending wife/husband is condescending

Soooooo, I am not exactly qualified to give advice about this — outside of this one specific example. But I would say, talk to your spouse. In the moment, if you can be calm. Or later, when you’re not feeling angry and both of you are able to pay attention. Tell them, “When you say X, I feel like you’re being condescending. That makes me feel bad/angry/annoyed/like I have to be super careful about how I talk/act.”

If your spouse tells you s/he feels like you are condescending, listen. Ask questions. “When do you feel that way? Can you give me a specific example?” Also, maybe try apologizing? Something like, “I’m so sorry you felt that way. I didn’t intend to be condescending. I will work on my tone/how I phrase things in the future.” Or, if there’s something that frequently makes you respond to your spouse in a way s/he finds condescending, think about why you react that way. Is there something you can change about your response? Is there something you can ask your spouse to change?

If talking isn’t working, consider couples therapy.

Whatever you do, keep in mind that mutual respect is really, really important to a healthy marriage.

 

I just had a bag of popcorn and it may have been rancid 

That sounds dreadful. The only remedy is copious amounts of Easter candy.

 

My big fat ass/ my big fat ass doctor

Congratulations on your/your physician’s juicy booty.

 

I accidentally used my brother’s toothbrush/ accidentally shared toothbrush/how gross is it to use someone elses toothbrush

My post about a traumatic childhood incident is surely to blame for all these searchers being directed here.

You have my deepest sympathies. All the things I’d WANT to do (bleach! fire! decapitation!) seem more likely to result in death than remediation, so I’d advise against them. You will probably survive. But the trauma may linger, perhaps for decades.

 

 

Okay, Internet. Any questions you need me to answer?

Here it is, Friday, and I’m tired and cranky because my husband and I STILL have not adjusted to the time change, and I’m playing the age-old game of Should I Take Carla to the Doctor?

She seems FINE. She’s happy and energetic and eating in quantities that make me fear bare wrists and ankles are in our near future. But she is also… warm. Not feverish, but warm. (Not that I’d be able to tell if she were feverish; we have owned no fewer than SIX thermometers in her short life and not one of them has ever been accurate. We now have the instant-read kind that you stick in the ear and press a little button, and it’s always – ALWAYS – at least a degree or two high.) And she is also a little more snuggly than normal. And she woke up with some crust in her eyes. “Symptoms” which make me wonder whether she has an ear infection.

Carla has had many ear infections in her not-quite-four years. Not so many that she requires tubes. But enough that I think we may have been to her pediatrician once or twice for other things. Ever. (Not counting well visits, I guess.)

Her brand of ear infections doesn’t come with pain, though. I mean, thank GOODNESS, right? But it does make it a little difficult to evaluate. Sometimes – rarely – she’ll have a brief fever. Usually, she wakes up with crusty eyes. When she was really young, I would have to take her to the doctor just for that, since no respectable daycare was going to let her in looking like she had a severe case of pink eye. But it was always, always an ear infection.

Now that she’s older, the eye crust looks more like what my mom used to call “sleepy dirt” than Crazy Case of Conjunctivitis. So sometimes the only way we know she’s got an ear infection is that she cries out in the middle of the night. That has happened… twice, I think. And, now that she’s older, it seems that the doctors prefer not to medicate her. We used to get antibiotics every time; now the doctor shrugs and says, it’ll probably go away in a few days. Come back if not.

So if I have a not-in-pain child, who may or may not have an ear infection, and who will likely not even get antibiotics if she does have an ear infection, what’s the point in taking her in, right?

WELL LET ME TELL YOU.

I am deathly afraid of missing something. And having her pediatrician scold me. (And also, you know, having her be sick. That’s really the most important thing, of course.)

Last fall, my family was sick pretty much straight through from mid November, but by early January my husband was finally on the upswing of his lengthy cold, and Carla was still sniffly and coughing but otherwise seemed fine. I was the only one who seemed to be getting actively worse, so I finally decided to go to the doctor. It was just after Christmas and I still had a house full of guests and I just Couldn’t Handle Things anymore, so off I went. I got my diagnosis and my antibiotics and went home.

The next week, Carla had the telltale eye crust that means she had an ear infection, so I took her to HER doctor. And while there, I told him that we’d all been sick a long time, blah de blah, she’d been coughing and having a runny nose for a while, and now I think she has an ear infection. Normal stuff, right?

Defensive Interlude: I mean, we’ve ALL had a cold right? And we ALL know that a doctor can do NOTHING for a cold, right? So we wait it out. Eventually, it gets better, and we congratulate ourselves on knowing that it was a cold and on not wasting a copay or our own time. OR it gets worse, in which case we DO go to the doctor and hopefully s/he can do something about it.

Well, Carla had a cold! Cough, runny nose! No fever! No pain! No loss of appetite! No personality changes! Nothing! The only way we even realized she had an ear infection is that she woke up one morning and her eyes were all pink and goopy. She’d also spent the previous day saying, “What?” a lot, which she does a lot normally, but it was an extra lot. So I was pretty confident: ear infection.

So: to recap: I didn’t take her to the doctor when I thought it was a cold, even though it was a lengthy cold, because I was pretty sure he would shrug and say, wait it out. But when she showed symptoms of an ear infection, which can be treated by antibiotics if necessary (although, as I mentioned earlier, as she’s gotten older, the antibiotics have been replaced by a prescription for wait it out), I took her to the doctor.

But he chided me! He said, “Six weeks is way too long for a child of this age to have a cough like that.” And he said her ear infection was SEVERE and BILATERAL and that she probably couldn’t hear a damn thing (the memory of his chiding may be more strongly worded than it was in real time) and wrote me a prescription and sent us on our way.

Well, I felt TERRIBLE. Really. I mean, what mother wants to put her child’s health at risk? What mother wants to misjudge a situation so badly that the doctor scolds you? NO MOTHER, is the answer.

Poor Carla. She had an ear infection for a whole month after that, because the first course of antibiotics didn’t work. (And even though I could TELL it wasn’t working, we still had to finish the entire ten days before the pediatrician could see me again. That is another huff-fest entirely.) She was having SUCH a hard time hearing, and I was panicking about her somehow suffering longterm hearing loss.

So I think it is perfectly reasonable that now I am feeling a little jumpy about missing something.

And yet I’m dithering.

I really, really dislike going to the doctor for nothing. And the two visits since the Great Ear Infection of 2017 have both been false alarms. (One: Her preschool had me pick her up because she was complaining of a stiff neck, which is code for We Think Your Child Has Meningitis; she did not have meningitis. Two: She and I both had a stomach bug a few weeks ago, and hers presented as belly pain and complete loss of appetite. I tried to give the child a bowl of ice cream for dinner, just to get SOME calories in her, and she refused it. So I took her to the doctor. There was nothing he could do; just wait it out.)

Okay, I am still glad I took her in, both false alarm times, a) because you don’t want to mess around with meningitis. And b) because my husband and I were both googling “toddler belly pain” and had become convinced that Carla had appendicitis. Sometimes it is totally worth a trip to the doctor and a copay to find out that your fears are unfounded. (With the latter, though, the pediatrician seemed a little… miffed as to why I’d brought her in. I DID call the nurse advice line in advance! The nurse was who clinched my decision to come in!)

And of course, to add to the whole issue is that it’s FRIDAY. She wasn’t sick enough to keep home from school, but that means I will have to do a quick eval when she gets home, and then hope there’s a spot at the pediatrician… OR wait and see whether she wakes up crying in the middle of the night, and then take her to urgent care.

But none of the above makes me DITHER any less. Especially when the illness in question is just another ear infection.

SIGH.

Hey, at least the urgent care doc is unlikely to chide me, right?