Herding cats for public health

Here’s a fun thing. The day after you bring your brand new baby home from the hospital – when you feel and look the worst and craziest you probably ever have or ever will – a Public Health Nurse will come to your house for a mandatory visit and check-up. As this hilarious article alludes to, it feels like their sole purpose is to “make sure you are feeling sufficiently isolated, overwhelmed and confused.”

As my friend Wendy describes it, it’s like taking a test you can’t study for and don’t know the answers to. Sort of like living out one of those anxiety dreams where you show up for the future-deciding final exam and realize that you didn’t go to class all semester.

So it begins with the gratingly chipper phone call at 10 am, asking if it’s okay to come by at 11.

Me: Sounds great. (let’s get this over with)
Her: Do you have any animals in the house?
Me: Yes, we have two cats. (shit monsters)
Her: I’m going to need them to be locked away in a separate room before I can enter your home; It’s policy. 
Me: Uh, I can’t really do that because I had a c-section and I’m not supposed to be going up and down stairs. (much less running around, peering under beds/chairs, trying to get both cats – one of whom is double the weight of the baby and therefore I’m not even allowed to lift him – into a second-floor bedroom)
Her: Ah right, ohhhhhkay, well can you come down to our office then?
Me: Nope, I can’t drive either…again, I had a c-section three days ago.
Her: Um, okayyyy, well should we send a cab for you then?
Me: Get fucked, lady. 
Like hell I’m taking my brand new baby for a spin in the back of a filthy cab to a public health clinic. And also, who pays for that? Me? Or does taxpayer money fund the taxi rides so public health nurses can avoid killer cats?
Of course what I actually said was: I guess what would work best for me is if you could give me some extra time so I can get my mom to come over and take care of securing the cats…and she was all, oh could you?! That would be wonderful!
Yeah, it sounds fantastically convenient. For you. Not for the fucking patient who has a 3- day old baby and staples in her bikini line.
Hang up. Call my mom as baby starts crying. Explain situation.
Hang up again.
Ding Dong! I shit you not…there are two Jehovah’s Witnesses at my door. To be fair, I actually have a strangely good relationship with my friendly neighbourhood Jehovahs…we chat, they know my name, they hand me their pamphlets and they promptly skedaddle. But seriously. So I say, “listen Karen, I just brought my baby home from the hospital and as you can hear I have my hands full…” She more than graciously fucks off. God bless. Or, Jehovah bless. 
I even kept the pamphlets to prove this really happened.

Will suffering ever end? Will this public health nurse ever leave? One wonders…

So ANYWAYS. The public health nurse is actually pleasant enough, until we are discussing breastfeeding and she asks me some oddly-phrased question (randomly back-tracking to what my boobs were like during my pregnancy, as it turns out) and I have absofuckinglutely no idea what she is talking about. So I sort of tilt my head look to the side, considering what she could be getting at…and she says, “We’re going to have to turn that TV off if you’re just going to keep getting distracted by it!”
Which confuses me even more – because I certainly wasn’t watching TV, I was trying to process her stupid question – so it took me a few beats to wrap my head around this statement as well. I kept looking back and forth between her and my mom with an expression that I can only imagine was a combination of “huh?” and “I’m going to lunge across this couch and strangle this woman!!” as I stammer out a, “sorry, I didn’t understand your question.”
Then she laughs and says, “oh honey, I’m just teasing you.”
UMMMM, maybe DON’T tease your hormonal, doped-up, postpartum clients?!
Just a thought.


One thought on “Herding cats for public health

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