Monday, October 5, 2009

Fiona Wood

I woke up this morning to news of the big dust storm. My posts are about ten days behind now, so by the time I post this....well, I hope the dust storm is long gone. The photos of the event make it seem beautiful and exciting, but I'm sure it's not good for anybody's lungs. I read in the news that there was also flooding and earthquakes in my favorite country. What the hell is going on?

Last week I had all this Wednesday synchronosity. Something made me think that something was going to happen on Wednesday. Nothing happened LAST Wednesday. But then this Wednesday, Australia weather went all wacky. It was just Tuesday for me though. So I'm not really sure if it would count as some kind of premonition. I'm not sure how that all works with the time difference thing.

I should probably start talking about Fiona Wood.

Lord Wiki says she is a doctor who worked with the burn victims of the Bali bombings.

Baby Fiona was born on 2 February 1958 in England. She didn't come to Australia until much later.

As a child, she wanted to be an athlete. I guess that didn't work out for her. She took the medical career route instead. Did she decide she wasn't talented enough to be an athlete? Did someone discourage her? Did she decide she preferred medicine?

Wood worked at a British Hospital. Then somehow she got together with a Western Australian man. By 1987, they had two children. With these two children, they migrated to Australia. While doing plastic surgery training, she had four more children. Holy heavens. How did she manage that? I sometimes struggle to raise ONE child and do this blog.

The Bali Bombings happened on October 12 2002. Am I the only one who gets freaked out by the significance of that date? Obviously, it was done purposely on that date, but still.....

A lot of the burn victims ended up at Royal Perth Hospital. Lord Wiki says that Wood and her team helped to save twenty-eight patients. They had burns between two and ninety percent of their bodies. I really hate terrorists. I don't care WHAT their cause is. I don't care how noble they feel they are. I don't see any good excuse for it.

War and's just very very bad stuff.

I read or saw something recently about how war used to occur on a battlefield. It was violent and deadly, but much more contained than it is today. In these days, too many civilians get caught in the crossfire. That's not saying I feel that soldiers should get killed. I wish NO one had to get killed.

My wish will never come true though. I've seen too much venomous hatred and intolerance in my own little life. If people can't manage to get along, how can whole countries manage to do it? I have come to realize that there shall never be complete peace on Earth.

Yeah. I'm pessimistic.

In 2005, Wood was named Australian of the year. Why 2005? Why didn't she get it for 2002 or 2003? That would be closer to the time of the bombings. Maybe they felt the need to give it to someone else?

Lord Wiki says that Fiona Stanley won for 2003. That's kind of ironic. Maybe that's why some people confuse her with Fiona Wood.

In 2002, a tennis player won the award. Interesting.....

It just surprises me that Stanley got it in 2005 instead of 2002. I don't know much about these awards though, and how they work.

From 2005-2009, Wood was voted as the most trusted Australian in Reader's Digest. That's a pretty big honor. All these honors start in 2005 though. Maybe people didn't know what she did until then? I'm confused.

Oh! I just thought of something. MAYBE Wood didn't get her citizenship until 2005. Could that be it? Maybe she kept herself British? Fred Hollows did that, right? He stayed a Kiwi, then he changed over much later.

Wood does some amazing stuff with burn victims. She uses a procedure called spray-on-skin. With previous skin-grafting techniques, it took twenty-one days for the skin to produce enough cells to cover the burns. With Wood's technique, it takes only five.

With all the scary bushfires in Australia, there NEEDS to be someone who is good at doing this kind of thing.

Lord Wiki says that the treatment is controversial because it hasn't undergone clinical studies yet. Some other burn surgeons aren't happy about that. I think they might be a bit jealous. I'm joking...sort of. I can kind of understand why there should be clinical studies. But in situations like this, I think people are just happy to be fixed. Sometimes we need to be a bit wild and unconventional. You can't always go by the book.

That's about it for Lord Wiki. Where should I look next?

Here's a transcript of an ABC program featuring Wood. This was broadcast in February 2003...four months after the bombing.

The team who worked on the burn victims was made up of sixty people. The transcript says at one point they worked continually for five days straight. Does that mean those sixty people didn't sleep for five days? Is that possible? Maybe they slept, but didn't go home. I can imagine that happening.

I was thinking maybe they meant that the TEAM worked for five days straight, but not individuals. But I would think a department like that would be pretty continual. I can't imagine them really closing down for the night. Although maybe they do, and they just have doctors on call in case of an emergency.

The transcript talks about how the surgery rooms have to be kept at around thirty-six degrees. This is to prevent infection and heat loss in the patient. It can be very hard on the doctors. I can imagine! I'm pretty sure I'd faint.

Wood is asked if she feels it's harder to be a doctor or a mother. Her answer is mothering. She says, The kids were, in the latter part of last year, when they didn't see a great deal of me, were very understanding - if...more understanding than on a routine basis, because they could see from the media that this was a significant event, that Mum was actually part of that, and therefore to possibly complain about not having clean socks wasn't a good idea.

Parenting goes beyond clean socks though. I can imagine it was hard on her kids to have their mother away so much. And I don't think this was a one time deal. From the transcript, it seems that ALL her days are very busy. She seems to be one of these people who are always on the go. On the day of her interview, she woke up at 5 to go to the gym. She took her kids to swim training and then to school. She did some surgery. She went to a charity meeting. She did some more doctor stuff after that. Then she went to pick up one of her kids from school. I wonder if she relaxed at all during the evening. Or did she have something planned for that as well?

She could have been just keeping busy because this was the day she was being interviewed. Maybe she wanted to appear a certain way....superwoman. I doubt that though. She's probably one of these women who desires that constant action. Is that detrimental to a family? I don't know. I just know that I wouldn't want that for MY family. I prefer the easygoing relaxing life. But who's to say my way is better then their way?

This might be the theme or lesson of my day. Earlier this morning, I began listening to a broadcast featuring one of my favorite unschooling bloggers. I need to finish listening to it, but what I've heard so far was very inspiring and thought-provoking. Mandy talks about how it's very beneficial for mothers to have hobbies besides their children. She talks about how mothers will talk about their past life--before they had kids. I used to do this. Before I had kids, I was a....painter, writer, singer, dancer, trapeze artist, etc.

Mandy's own mother centered all her attention on Mandy, and as a result had low self-esteem. This low self-esteem trickled down to Mandy, and she decided she wanted to reverse the trend in her own family.

Listening to all that was helpful to me because I do feel guilty sometimes about having this blog. There's that little voice that says if you were a good mother, you would spend all your free time doing stuff for Jack. If you TRULY loved your child, you wouldn't need this passion for Australia. I usually ignore that voice because I know it's wrong. My rational mind has always agreed with Mandy. We NEED to have a life outside of our children. If our self-worth is too wrapped up in our children, then we end up putting way too much pressure on them.

Now there's different degrees of having a life outside of our children, and there's different ways to do it. I have my blog. I read a lot. I play Sims 3. But other moms might have a more social outlet. They might have an evening a week with their favorite girlfriends. They might do lunches with friends. Other women might have a job and be on the boards of various charities.

Is there a limit though. Can a mother take things too far? Where is the line drawn between I'm so glad my mom has a life to Why is my mom never around. Does she not love me?

Compared to Wood, I'm NOT that busy. Plus, Jack is an only child. He doesn't have to compete with five siblings for my attention. Yet, I still feel inadequate in my mothering sometimes. Is that just my own insecurities? Why do I feel so guilty when I say to Jack. Wait. I'm busy right now, or Maybe later. That damn "Cat in the Cradle" song plays in my head.

Am I really NOT spending enough time with Jack? My rational self says I spend plenty of time with him. But there's this other self that feels if I don't dedicate every waking moment to the kid, someday I'll regret it. What would happen if I did dedicate all my time and energy to Jack. Would I finally be perfect enough and never feel guilty again? No. I'd probably just have a very spoiled and self-centered child on my hands. He might also feel a bit smothered. I need to keep reminding myself of that.

I still think one can go too far the other way though. I think a parent can have so many priorities outside their children, that the children can end up feeling neglected. I have a feeling that it happens to the children of most heroes. It's very hard to be both a hero and a good parent....or at least a good parent that's around enough. It probably depends on the child though as well. Some children probably thrive in such an atmosphere. Other children probably long for more quiet time at home with mom and dad.

Fiona Wood has an Andrew Denton interview. Cool.

I love her quote here. I think if you ever get complacent about the extent of people's suffering, then it's the time, possibly, that you should move on and change your career.

Beautiful. I wish more doctors and nurses had this attitude. I think some medical people have this attitude of yeah, been there, done that. Same old same old. But it's NEW to the patient. The doctor might be very used to breast cancer. He might even be bored of it by now. For the newly diagnosed patient, it's all new and terrifying.

I heard a pediatric doctor be asked if he ever lost a patient. The doctor said it's happened. He seemed callous to me. I forgot what he said, but it was along the lines of yeah. it's rough, but you can't let it get to you. Now I'm not sure if it helps anyone if a doctor has a nervous breakdown every single time a patient dies. That would probably ruin his career AND his family life. But I wouldn't be impressed with a doctor who could easily shrug his shoulders, say that's life, and head home with a KFC bucket for his family. I'd want the doctor to be at least a LITTLE sad. If not, I'd worry that she'd be the type of doctor who'd make the wrong cut during surgery. Then as the patient bleeds to death, she'd grin and say. Oops. We all make mistakes. Right?

Wood talks about how the size of the burn doesn't always dictate how much someone will suffer. Sometimes the person with the smallest burns will have a very difficult time coping. Wood sounds like a very passionate doctor.

One of my pet peeves is when people try to diminish the suffering of others...or even themselves. I should stop whining about my allergies. Other people have it so much worse than me. Yeah. Sure they do. But allergies can be VERY uncomfortable, and some people suffer much LESS than you.

Yeah. Some people do whine a little too much, and there's that urge to scream some sense into them. But everyone deserves a little self-pity every now and then. We should be able to whine without someone budding in and saying you shouldn't complain about your daughter having lice. Think about all the children out there who have cancer. I can guarantee that if those children didn't have cancer, their mothers would complain equally about the lice. Even with the cancer, they'd still probably agree that lice is quite awful.

Wood and Denton talk about the skin stuff. It goes way over my head. It sounds very science fiction to me.

She talks about how burns are VERY painful. I have a feeling some of these people go through a stage where they wish they were dead. Pain can do that to you.

There's emotional pain too. I imagine part of that is cosmetic issues. Will I be ugly now? Will my face scare small children? There'd be a worry that the pain might never end. Is all of this surgery worth it. Can't I just give up and die? Of course if you have those feelings, that will probably lead to guilt.

I think on top of all that, there has to be emotional trauma regarding the CAUSE of the burns. It would be terrifying to be hurt by terrorists. I can imagine there's incredible amounts of anger. There'd be deep feelings of insecurity. What if it happens again? Then there are people who are burned by those they loved or trusted. How does a child feel when their father was the one who set them on fire? That can't be good for your self-esteem.

Wood talks about how the medical team deals with it. She says it takes a combination of being positive and realistic. I think that's the best attitude to have.

Wood says her holy grail is scarless healing. I hope she manages to achieve that. She also would like the pain aspects of it all to be diminished. But she feels the scarless healing will be achieved earlier.

She tells a funny story at the end of the interview. It made me laugh. Denton asks her if she worries about herself being burnt. She says not really, but she does worry about it happening to her children. One morning her son spilled coffee on himself. She grabbed him and rushed him into the cold shower. He screamed to his father that mommy is freezing him to death. The dad came and told Wood that the coffee had been from last night.

I bet all those parents have those freaked-out-for-no-reason moments. They can be terrifying, but can end up being good stories later. There's also that nice sense of relief. I've had my share of moments. There was the time I thought Jack had meningitis. He complained about his neck hurting, and I went into total panic mode.

One of my scariest ones happened at my friend's house. I still get the chills thinking of it. My friend's kids were laughing and dragging around a toy box. I then realized they had Jack inside of it. I totally panicked. I can't remember what I did. Freeze with fear? Run Over? Ramble incoherently..... With a mixture of sympathy and amusement, my friend reminded me that these days most toy boxes are made with air vents. The toy box makers KNOW that children are likely to get put in the box. Well, at least most of the toy companies do. . Apparently, it can still be a danger with some toy boxes.

Jack turned out to be totally safe. When I opened the box, I found him as happy and alive as the other kids. Despite all that though, I still get the chills when I think of it. I guess because I imagine what COULD have happened. And I'm still scared of meningitis.

I'm also scared of Jack choking, being kidnapped, getting cancer, getting in a car accident, dying of the flu, having a bad reaction to a vaccine, etc. See, that's what parenting is like for me. I'm usually either feeling guilty for not being a good enough parent, or worrying that I'll no longer have a child to be a good enough parent to.

Here's a video about Fiona Wood and skin stuff. It's kind of long....15 minutes. I'll watch the beginning, and if it catches my interest, I'll watch more.

The video says she's the only female plastic surgeon in the state. Wow. Really?

Well, I watched six minutes. I'm getting a bit bored so I'm going to stop.

I have to email my sister so I'm going to quit now.


  1. Word I have heard here recently is overparenting and I think it is happening everywhere. I am sure you are doing fine by Jack. Funny coffee burn story.

  2. Andrew,

    Overparenting. Yeah. That's a good term for it.

  3. I think a lot of good mothers worry about if they're giving enough attention to their children. We definitely do need to get out, though (hobby, friends, clubs, etc).

    I do like your synchronicity stories. It's fun when things happen like that (so meaningful). I think they often do mean things.

  4. HappyOrganist:

    I think synchronocity means something too! I rarely can figure out what though.

    I agree about mothers and going out.

    The weird thing with Jack though is I have rarely had that feeling of "I need a break. I need adult conversation!" I had a little when he was young, but much less than I had expected.

    I DO need a lot of time alone though. But if I have to be with another human, I'm usually perfectly happy to have Jack be that human.

  5. Oh, that's cool. I gather Jack is older than any of my children. (?)
    I don't think I'll be that contented/satisfied with their company until they are in high school (one of my favorite age groups). Although, I am extremely partial to the middle child, and I like his company anytime (usually).

  6. Jack is 8. How old are your kids? You have three, right? That makes a difference!!

    Jack is the only child I can tolerate in large doses. When I taught preschool, I loved the children. But I was very happy to return them to their parents and be child free for the afternoon and evening!

    Jack is much different from other children I've known.

    As for high school kids...yikes. That's the time I dread ; ) I don't think I'm very good with teens.

    I did find the baby years rough though. And you're still in those. Right? I did NOT get much of a break then...which I think is common these days with parents. It was rough at times. But in some ways, I think I just got used to it. Jack started to feel like a third limb.

    Do you know sometimes I look back to the time before Jack was born...and it feels like he was always there. Like it's hard for me to imagine life without Jack. Do you ever feel that way?