Will & Tracy

This is our blog

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


I don’t know why God seems to have to remind me that He works in mysterious ways, but I never would have guessed this finale.

Monday morning I headed over to Patty’s to catch a ride with her to work, dreading every minute and still coughing up a lung from being sick. It was pretty nice not going in to work last week and I felt it was confirming the fact for me that I just shouldn’t be working so much - especially if it was only to put up with Dr X and the Boyz Club administration of this hospital. I stayed in my closet office all day thanking God that Dr X did not have any patients in labor, thus reducing my risk for seeing him. Patty and I once again made our pilgrimage down to see our immediate boss to get the update from last week and the “all clear.” I had an ugly scathing letter that I had typed up that morning because I had heard that Dr X might be attending this meeting at some point. Instead, Dr X was not going to be coming, nor was the plan for him to give me an apology.

Instead, our boss suggested that we (including Dr X) meet for a “beer” at the local German pub around the corner - you know, to talk things over on neutral soil. I sighed and said I was open to whatever, but then I came back strong and said, well, if I’m going to do that, I want an apology. Patty and I felt really bad for our new boss, because he was really in a tough spot. He begged for us to stay and delicately said he would “try” to talk to Dr X about an apology. I left with the feeling that it was only a matter of hours before I would resign after a yelling match ensued when Dr X refused to render his apology. Count down to this looming “beer date” - 5:30pm. It was now 10am.

I made due catching up on work from last week for a couple hours when I received a call from our Chief Propeller head and COO – Mark. He apologized for being gone during all this and asked me please not to resign and what happened with the review board and how was I feeling. I told him about the “beer date” and that I wanted an apology and I probably wasn’t getting one. Mark, a man not known for being subtle, said, “oh you will get that apology.” I winced and hung up wondering if I was doing myself or Dr X any favors by bringing this to such a climax. The pressure was building, but at least I was preoccupied for most of the afternoon helping out with a delivery.

Getting back into a patient’s room and holding her hand and helping her breath really made me turn a corner and remember why I was doing this whole stupid job thing to begin with – to help people. Maybe things would be okay – screeecccchhh.... back to reality – T-1 hour until the beer fiasco. Great attitude, huh?

5:29pm and I’m still sitting at my desk – I also made Patty stay so she could be my support – I figured he owed her an apology too (chicken). I’m so stubborn sometimes. I called our boss and asked what’s the deal… are we meeting or what? He asked if I had heard that Mark had come over from HQ to talk to Dr X a little while ago and supposedly beat him up pretty hard. He asked if we could postpone the beer date since Dr X may not be in a good mood. I quickly agreed and Patty and I packed up our stuff thinking that Dr X was long gone.

We make it outside the hospital and start walking down the street to find a cab and dinner (home free) – about a block up the street Dr X is walking toward us. I look at Patty and take a big gulp. He stops, smiles and asks “Aren’t we supposed to be having a beer?” I’m dumbstruck and manage to spit out the fact that I thought it was postponed, you spoke to Mark, do you want to do this another time…. He said “Well, if you want, lets go get that beer.”

After we all order our ½ Liters, Dr X began telling us about how he came to Shanghai looking for a son he hadn’t spoken to in 2 years and since finding him here, that his relationship is still strained. He spoke about his practice, his experience, his anger management issues. Patty and I just sat there in awe sipping our beer. I finally felt an opening to ask him about his practice and why did he do things like this or that. Why did he not trust us and how can we build that trust? I explained how I felt and how I thought he didn’t respect me or my education and how that was unfair and unprofessional. I’m not lying, this man apologized to me 3 times that night and I even apologized to him – I felt I owed him at least one. He paid for our drinks and we agreed that once a month we’d sit and have it out over beers. When we left, we all gave each other hugs – this is the same man not 2 hours ago that I wanted to strangle and ask what the hell was he doing dragging everyone’s reputation down with him.

I realize that this is probably not the final chapter in this saga and that we are sure to have more disagreements – but I now have this sense of relief that it will be ok. It is funny how serendipity works things out for us. After I got home, I reached in my pocket and took out that letter that I had typed up that morning and threw it away. Wisdom gained.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bubble Girl

Along with all the drama that has unfolded this week, Tracy’s lungs decided to poop out on her as well. I promise I have not picked up smoking while I’ve been in Shanghai – although with the lovely air pollution, I don’t even need to!

I thought it was going to be nice to be off of work for a few days working from home, but instead, I have only been able to do short errands outside the apartment because I just get so exhausted (the hot humid weather doesn’t help either). Bronchitis is the name of the game and who knew that I’d have to bow down to nebulizer treatments several times a day at the ripe old age of 34.

Maybe I could dress in black AND pull an oxygen tank behind me to this review board. Sympathy vote? Well in all actuality as I found out this morning – there will be no review board. Damnit, there goes the line that I’ve been practicing… “Dr X - YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!” Just kidding. Supposedly, the administration has put together a 30-day probation for Dr X. I have yet to see what is on his list of do’s and don’ts except that Dr X can’t exclude Patty or myself or any other person from seeing patients or reading charts. I thought about asking for a formal apology, but figured I already rocked the boat enough.

Wisdom should tell me to lay low for the next 30 days, so hopefully I will do just that.

The Chinese Inquisition

When I first arrived in Shanghai and would be having the opportunity to live in a foreign country, I thought to myself how best can I make an impact on the society in which I live? Would it be to learn about the history, take some pictures and language classes? Then it started to evolve into a job opportunity that allowed me to give some of my nursing knowledge to some local nurses here. Groovy – and I even get paid!

What I didn’t think would happen was for me to have a direct role in challenging a medical doctor’s judgment and be the key witness in a review board meeting by the heads of the company (which all happen to be men and doctors themselves).

I don’t know what this boyz club is going to do, but it is reassuring how amazingly calm I am. I figure I will dress all in black tomorrow to see if I can psych them out a little bit.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

David and Goliath

I’m sure there are a few left out there that are wondering where I am…I’ve been wondering that myself. This past trip to the US was great and I was not prepared to come back to Shanghai so soon. The expat term “re-entry depression” is very real and I’ve been struggling once again to get back into the swing of things. I thought the best way was to dive back into work and to pick up where I left off – this time with a new title and more responsibility. The three-day work week is no longer in my vocabulary, but I keep having this nagging feeling in the back of my mind – the identity crisis I have had from the beginning but in reverse. I felt so guilty for not working, but now that I am working, my guilt has transitioned back to wondering if the job and the stress that comes with the job is worth giving up my Chinese lessons, my adventures, my photography and my journals?

Damn Catholic guilt.

I think God saw my struggle and gave me a big breakthrough yesterday. So a little background…

Before I left on holiday to the US, I had filled out an incident report stating that I felt our chief OB/Gyn MD was practicing unsafely (he was using two induction medications simultaneously which in all of the research I did was contraindicated - aka - a very bad idea). I knew this was risky since I was going against the doctor’s medical judgment and experience. The short version is that after my return I started looking into what the status was of this inquiry only to find out the Chief Medical Officer originally handling the case resigned the week before I returned and no one knew what was going on. Huh? Was I going to have to start all over again or was this a sign I just needed to let it go?

In the end, IN THE NAME OF PATIENT SAFETY (wonder twin powers activate!), Patty and I decided that I needed to open my big mouth... this time all the way up to the CEO to get them to figure out what was going on. Today (Tuesday), the CEO called the MD to ask him to stop using this particular medication combination until an investigation on best practice is completed. The doctor found out that I filed the original report and confronted me. So my dream came true – our Director of OB/Gyn services told me to stop messing with him and his patients (PG version). I told him I would always speak up if I felt patient safety was compromised and that was my job as a patient advocate and a nurse. He told me to get out and then he fired Patty about an hour later. I can’t say it was an Oscar winning performance, but it’s the best I have felt in several months of working there.

After returning home I received multiple emails from the nurses (who were also crying when we left) as well as the other two OB/Gyn MDs giving me support for what I did, but the biggest surprise of all was the CEO of our company sent me a personal email apology for the doctor’s actions and that an immediate investigation would take place. Dum dum dum….. Stay tuned after this word from our sponsors…

Friday, August 10, 2007

Back from Outerspace

I hope there are still a few of you that are still checking for updates while I was on my little sabbatical home. I guess I could calculate how many miles that Will and I traveled in 19 days, but it was an amazing feat we pulled off. I know that American Airlines and Hertz Rentacar LOVED our business! At least now I am platinum status and get to walk up the red carpet in front of everyone else to check in at the airport. That’s pretty sweet!

I think we was every member of our immediate family and then a few extensions! We saw all of our nieces and everyone 2 and up knew how to say Aunt Tracy and Uncle Will!! They also knew how to ask: do you have any more presents for us? ☺

We saw friends from elementary school, college and beyond and I even had lunch in Austin with some lovely Tai Tai’s that I have met in Shanghai – that was really surreal. I was able to revisit with co-workers and they were so sweet to think I actually came back and wanted to work a few shifts! In all my travels, I think I sold all of my pearls and handbags and other made in china “goods” – don’t blame me for product safety issues – just don’t suck on the pearls, okay?

I do have to say it was exhausting to see all of our peeps - but I wouldn’t change it – it was an awesome time. Just a reminder of how lucky we are that we are loved by many. That, and Will promised me a mini-vacation to Thailand in October. ☺

Thanks for putting up with our schedules and our luggage and our tired eyes and especially those that witnessed “cranky Tracy.” Thanks to Phil for ONCE AGAIN letting us stay at his place and borrowing his cars, eating his food, messing up his house. But MOST importantly, the rock star friend was immortalized by giving me one of his American Airlines upgrade passes so I could fly back in a swank business class seat. I got some much needed rest, some warm nuts, and a little pinot grigio to take my cares away as I made the return trip home.

Well, that is the end of our first year in Shanghai folks – ah, the good, bad and the ugly have showed themselves to us, but we have managed to survive and have had a pretty good time. I hope that now that I am back, I’m working on making my schedule just a bit more flexible, so I can go back to writing my blog and taking pictures on a more regular basis!