I’m in a hospital surrounded by well-educated, extremely intelligent medical specialists.
I have been immersed in the care of my son for the last year and a half. I’m self-educated and relatively intelligent.
Every day, we start the morning by engaging in discussion about my son’s progress and treatment plan.
When asked how his night went, I advised that overall his night was uneventful, but he did have a significant coughing episode early in the morning that caused his oxygen saturations to drop to 77 before he recovered back to the 90s. The attending physician smirks as I describe the episode, and then he says, “Okay, everyone, this is a good learning opportunity for all of you.”
He proceeded to mansplain the basics of the oxygen monitor. He was surrounded by nutritionists, nurses, fellows, nurse practitioners, and me. My son has been on oxygen for his entire life, so I completely understand how to read the monitor, and the other women in the room have had years of professional training.
Still, the doctor insisted on describing the basics, including how to determine if the monitor is picking up effectively or if it’s a false value. The doctor said, “I mean, 77 is extremely low. It is very difficult to really get that low. I’ve worn a pulse-ox and held my breath as long as I could, but could not get below 88 no matter how hard I tried.”
I wanted to ask him how long he has suffered from chronic lung disease, or how severe his atelectasis is, or even how premature he was and if he is actually an 18lb baby with laryngomalacia. These are all medical diagnoses that have been a part of my son’s record since very early on and have stayed on with minimal improvement over the months.
Instead, I said to the doctor, “Please let me rephrase. This morning, my son had a coughing fit and had some difficulty catching his breath.” The doctor nodded smugly and replied, “Okay, that I can believe.”
So I called my husband to vent about the mansplaining. My husband said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Where did you learn that? That’s not a real word.”
“Yes, it is. It’s when a man condescendingly explains something to a woman that she already knows.”
“No way. So what’s the opposite then? What is it called when a woman is explaining to a man.”
“Oh, honey,” I said. “Sweetie, that’s just called explaining.”
“Yes, dear. Or, if you prefer, educating.”
That was pretty funny and I had fun sharing the tale of my hypocrisy with anyone who would listen. We all laughed and laughed and laughed.
That night, I woke to the monitor alarming. It showed that my son’s oxygen saturation was down to 59. I checked and saw that his nasal cannula was out of place. This happens sometimes when he sucks his thumb and accidentally hooks his fingers over the cannula. I replaced it and his sats went right back up.
So the next morning I said to the doctor, “I wanted to share with you that his oxygen saturations went all the way down to 59. The monitor showed a perfect wave form and everything indicated that it was an accurate reading, plus my son was still sleeping peacefully and just made it look so easy! I would have taken a picture for you, but I decided it was more important to give my son some oxygen.”
We all laughed and laughed and laughed.
Because I’m hilarious.