Stronger Prescriptions

I don’t remember writing prescriptions for antibiotics in the past 24 hours, though I’m sure I wrote a few. I also probably wrote a bunch of ADHD, anxiety, and depression medications, but I don’t remember those either.

I have been prescribing stronger stuff.

Stronger, more habit-forming stuff.

First there was the non-English speaking mother with newborn and toddler. I prescribed her a Parent Educator from ParentSmart who will make monthly home visits with books in hand, developmental assessments, and tips on how to play with her children, eat well, and prepare them for school. I prescribed her a visit with Miguel from the International Council of York County to make sure she was aware of the many resources our community has to offer, including English and GED classes for parents and a co-located preschool at the Rock Hill Family Resource Center. I prescribed her a book from Reach Out and Read, courtesy of the Early Learning Partnership of York County, and we discussed the infinite benefits of reading and reading and reading to babies and children.

For another child with bad asthma, I prescribed a home visit with Jan from Project Breathe Easy. Jan will come to her house and review the array of confusing medications I prescribed, when to use them, how to use and clean the spacer to deliver the medications effectively, how to tell when her medications should be refilled, when to be concerned about her child’s coughing or when to ignore it and keep shopping. Jan will teach her how to kill dust mites by putting stuffed animals in the freezer. Jan will make sure her air filters are not in even worse shape than the ones at our house, and she will talk to other family members about ways they can quit the smoking habit.

For the uninsured mama of four working two jobs and needing a lot of refills on her special needs child’s asthma medications because she was using them to save her own life, I prescribed a visit to Affinity Health Clinic, our new local federally qualified health center. I reminded her that her children need her to take care of herself so that she can keeping taking such good care of them. This prescription included a visit with Jackie, the women’s health specialist, who will make sure she has screenings for cervical and breast cancer too. It included a visit with their care coordinator to make sure she could afford her medications and help her find an affordable healthcare plan for herself. Her copay at the clinic will be $5.

For the busy family who had just moved to our area with four children under four (including tiny premature twins) and had to be out of their temporary housing in two weeks, feeling overwhelmed by the idea of finding the right place, I prescribed a virtual visit to where it appears there are many nice places which fit their needs and their budget. (Thanks , Dee Dee Rinehart, for that suggestion). I prescribed a phone call to the Medicaid Chief of Staff to figure out why everyone else in the family had been immediately approved for Medicaid a month ago, but the babies (the ones who really needed Medicaid ASAP) had mysteriously not been approved, and no one in the local Medicaid office could seem to tell them why. The babies had active health insurance too by the time they left our office.

For the single mom hero who came with the beautiful third child she adopted from foster care last year to discuss behavior concerns and to follow up a recent case of pneumonia, I prescribed a summer of gardening at the Children’s Community Garden in their neighborhood. They live just a few blocks away and crave access to healthy foods as well as fun, outdoor daily family activities.

The thing I realize about all these prescriptions is that the patient isn’t the only one who benefits from the therapy.

We all benefit from being connected.

We all benefit when children enter school healthy and ready to learn.

15 Years and Forever


About two weeks ago, you stopped eating or drinking, started lying around more, became nicer. I’m not sure if this happened slowly and I didn’t notice until the kids came home from college and said “what happened to Kitty?” or whether it happened overnight. I’m going with the overnight version so that my fragile self image as a responsible pet owner can remain intact.

Vet visits and labwork and IV fluids and medications and credit cards were mixed together in various combinations. You continued to fade away despite it all, calmly waiting for us to realize that your time with us was up, your purring, zen-like presence starkly contrasting with  your suddenly cachectic frame.

We will miss that epinephrine surge we used to get when we never knew if, when we approached you, we might encounter Docile Kitty or Psychojungle Kitty. We will miss the feisty way you stood up to the dogs, who never had any intention of crossing your path, much less making eye contact with you, but you were not one to take chances.


We will miss your gentle purring as you lay between our heads at night, the 2am scratching on the headboard, telling us your food dish needing topping off, the 3am yowling sparring matches between you and your arch enemy, Boots, the 4 am coughing and vomiting of hair balls.

Though your nocturnal presence could be exhausting, your daytime presence was full of peace. Watching you doze in baskets, on beds, in cardboard boxes, under bushes, in planters, on computer keyboards, laps, or on top of a napping child filled our hearts with peace as well.


I will try to forget those abscesses that mysteriously appeared on random body parts over the years (“Mom! Didn’t you notice her right eye is swollen shut?” “Mom, didn’t you notice her left cheek is huge?”) or the intense feelings of guilt when I accidentally locked you in the closet and didn’t miss you for three days (responsible pet owner self image: shattered).

I will especially try to forget the overwhelming sadness on my 22 year old daughter’s face when she realized it was time to say good bye to you.

But I will remember the joy on that same wide-eyed 7 year old face when she realized that the kitten climbing out of my car and onto her right shoulder, always the right shoulder, was hers to love, not just for 15 years, but forever.







Up at 4:15 am yesterday to help with the spring Girls on the Run of the Tri-County race, then off to Clemson to help my son move home for the summer. My husband was off for a much needed guy weekend, and my anxiety level was high about getting this done without spousal support. I need not have worried. When I got there, the bed had not only been taken apart, but loaded in his car, along with the mattress, and everything was packed up neatly. The siblings and elder daughter’s boyfriend were invaluable help and happy to be paid with a stop at the local burger place on College Ave. (I will not pop this bubble by describing the state of the bathroom sink and shower. Let’s move on). Headed home in a downpour with that stop-and-go traffic on I-85.  Then as we approached my front yard in the dark deluge, my headlights hit on this:

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 12.12.09 PM

I’m not gonna lie. My tired brain cursed the friend whom I knew had sent it my way. It was raining so hard that I didn’t even go out to investigate this work of art.  We didn’t even begin to unpack the cars.

But this morning, after a good night’s sleep and quiet time on the back porch, listening to the morning thunder, the clouds parted for a few minutes. My thoughts turned back to the inconvenience of the bright pink  tire and plastic flowers on my front lawn. So lovely, but I didn’t want them to stay forever. I had to figure out how to make them disappear.

Then I realized that many friends, family, and people I have never even met have had this same experience–the inconvenience of discovering an obdurate tractor tire out of the blue, at the end of an exhausting day, not on their front lawns, but in their breasts, colons, livers, lungs, throats, bones, bone marrows, cervices, ovaries, or brains, and sometimes many of these all at once.  They don’t have the option of sending an email and getting it removed with the click of a mouse and a credit card.  It’s so much more than an inconvenience. For them, the bright pink tractor tire is not a joke. It’s threatening to kill them, and it’s not going anywhere without a lot of coordinated care, a lot of money, and a lot of pain. 

I find myself wishing I could send the tire to all my friends, not just one lucky person, to raise money for cancer research and prevention. I find myself saying a prayer for this fellow mother, sister, daughter, friend, who is helping to raise my awareness and crush my nonchalance by placing this weighty, inconvenient piece of art on my grass. I pray that many hands will help her lift the pink tires scattered across her body, carry them off,  and recycle them, perhaps into lifesaving tools (like the HPV vaccine) to prevent other cancers in other bodies.

And so I am taking this inconvenient opportunity not only to click on the link to support Angela Robinson, a former teacher at my children’s high school with metastatic breast cancer, but to send a donation in support of cancer research and prevention as well. Peace be with you on this Sunday, Angela, and with all of those who are made to ponder how grateful we are for those we love in this life through things that at first seem so inconvenient.

Since I can’t deliver the tire everywhere, consider this blog post a massive pink tire on your front lawn. Click on her name to support Angela and here to support breast cancer research.