Rain and Other Blessings

Chattanooga is at the junction of Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama, and we are much affected by our neighbor states.  In case you are severely geography-impaired, Chattanooga is located in Tennessee.  We love our neighbors, but we don’t want to be mistakenly placed in their jurisdictions.  All this to say that it rained last night, and while my own little suburb got 1.6 inches, right across the line in Georgia they received 0.7 inches, and 30 miles south in Dalton they’ve received more than an inch in 48 hours.  (I looked these numbers up myself-you know how I love data.)

This makes me feel a little bit of relief for north Georgia, since they’ve had such a severe drought.  It even alleviates a bit of my guilt.  You see, when I was in Georgia last weekend, I took a shower.  I know, I know, I was freshly bathed when I arrived there, and I could have gone 48 hours with just a bit of strategic baby-wiping, but I climbed stairs, opened boxes, stacked things on dusty surfaces, and sat on the not-too-clean dorm rug.  I think I even broke a sweat while putting the screws into the assemble-it-yourself bookcase.  (Ok, fine, I was drenched in sweat.  Menopause is not pretty.) 

The end result of all that activity, not to mention the dive I took in the parking lot of the hotel, is that I was just plain dirty.  Every bathroom in Georgia has a list of water-saving ideas, including rationing those showers, but I couldn’t do it.  I had to turn on the water, waste 15 seconds adjusting it from scalding to tolerably warm, jump in, soap the body, and rinse.  There was no other satisfactory course of action.  I tried my best to ameliorate the effects of this by hauling my own bottled fizzy water into Georgia, peeing in unflushed toilets, and making my routine handwashes with hand gel.

You have to understand that as a physician, this stretches my desire for good hygiene, and as a patient who is immunosupressed by medications, it makes me a little anxious, so I’ve had to think about what is reasonable and safe in the water-saving effort.  I remind myself that peeing on other people’s pee is not really risky.  Urine is a sterile fluid.  It has no bacteria in it, so if it splashes on your nether parts there’s little risk of infection.  On the other hand, poop is full of bacteria.  Those wonderful microorganisms line the intestinal tract and play a necessary role in our digestion.  So, if you should encounter super-zealous folk who aren’t flushing their bowel movements, do yourself a favor and flush before you sit down.  The same goes for blood, only it’s viruses like HIV and hepatitis B we want to avoid, so flush first.

I had no idea how much of medicine would involve talking to people about topics that made them blush.  Fortunately, I was raised by people who weren’t scared of death, nudity, sex or body fluids.  My upbringing is directly responsible for the fact that I can sit in an exam room with someone that I met 5 minutes ago and ask “Do you wake up with an erection?”  In my practice days, I was one of the local docs who was always asked to do those awkward talks.  I have talked to parents about teen sexuality, to teens about development and sexuality and birth control, to young girls about their impending periods, to older folks about senior sex, to the chronically ill or disabled about maintaining sexuality…you get the idea.  Go ask Essie, she’ll discuss anything.  Why talk about these things at all?  Well, I feel like we are blessed with these cool bodies with all kinds of interesting features, and we should know at least as much about them as we do about an iPod or a bicycle.  It’s all health, people.

Now how did I get on this topic?  Oh yeah, the rain.  It was so cozy during the rain storm yesterday.  I gathered all my stuff around me on my bed.  That includes the dog.  Lucy is afraid of thunder and acts a total fool if you leave her running around loose, so I have to put her right next to me and speak to her in a soothing voice and baby her.  Something reminded me that Valentine’s Day is coming, and while I generally think it’s a silly celebration, I decided to stock my store with little Valentine’s bags.  They are done in various yarns (mostly leftovers and outcasts), shades of pink and purple and red, and they range from 3-5 inches.  Most close with drawstrings.  Some have little designs or stripes knit in.  This is great fun.  Sometimes I need to totally break away from big projects and take a little excursion in creativity. 




One Response

  1. Interesting talk today. I didn’t know that urine is sterile. Learned something today.

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