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Dr. Sophie?

posted Tuesday August 2nd, 2011

Ah, the wonders of modern medicine — not to mention modern mothers.

My mother had her hip replaced last week. The surgeon came out of the operating room and announced that she has the tissue of a “very muscular man.” When my father made a face, the surgeon amended that to “the tissue of a 39-year-old.”

That made everyone happy, particularly my mother.

As expected, the recovery has been lightning fast. She was standing up three (or so) hours after surgery; walked to the bathroom not long after that; and last night scared the crap out of my sister by tossing her walker into the air when something (probably a small child) got in her way.

But she’s not quite as self-sufficient as usual, so we’ve (okay, I’ve) been hovering — more than she’d like — nagging her to take painkillers, change her socks, get some rest, eat. I’m to the point where I’m annoying even myself, to be honest. For days, I’ve been scolding Sophie to keep her distance, terrified she’ll accidentally bang into my mom’s bad hip, knock her over, disturb her.

Turns out, the best caregiver in the family is Sophie.

Sophie doesn’t ask permission, she simply tends to her Gaga’s needs. At 4 the other morning (when I was asleep and not able to shoo her off) she woke up, noticed my mom was awake, went to the freezer and brought her a new ice pack. Then she talked her way onto Gaga’s lap (her good side), carefully positioned herself, and they both fell back to sleep.

But Sophie’s not content with her role as nursemaid. The other day she told my mother she was going to be something that “begins with a D and ends with an R” when she grows up.

“Dancer?” my mom guessed. “Designer?”

“Doctor!” Sophie said. “Then when you need another new hip, I’ll fix it.”

I wish. Sort of.

There was (yet another) story in the New York Times Magazine this weekend about brain-boosting drugs for people with Down syndrome. Ray and I talked about it a bit, about whether or not that would really be a cure. I said no, that Sophie would still have low muscle tone, straight hair, funny looking toes. She’d still be Sophie (and I’m glad).

“Do you think it would change her personality?” I asked him. Ray’s way better at science than me. “What if Sophie’s IQ was 50 points higher, but she was just as kind?”

Would she deliver icepacks and find her way onto laps, or offer careful air kisses like the other grandkids?

He didn’t know. In any case, I like imagining a surgeon with Sophie’s personality.

Actually, come to think of it, I’ve known one:  the guy who did Sophie’s second open-heart surgery, his name is Michael Teodori and he’s practicing in Tucson now if you ever need him.

The surgeon who did my mom’s surgery last week was very polite and professional, but he was quite obviously (and rightly) proud of his work, and reminded me of a joke one of my favorite writing students and friends, Noan, used in a piece recently:

Q: What’s the difference between God and a surgeon?
A: God doesn’t think he’s a surgeon.

Being really smart doesn’t always make you smug. In my experience, it’s more apt to make you unhappy. Or at least a little neurotic.

If we were presented with that magic pill, what would we do? I wonder.

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Tags: Filed under: Down syndrome, family by Amysilverman

6 Responses to “Dr. Sophie?”

  1. Awwwww a good nursemaid is hard to find. Sweet sweet Sophie. <3


  3. Yes, that article has everyone abuzz (yet again). I mused & pondered & decided my girl would be just as fabulous w/an extra 50 points. Difficult & messy conversation though.

    Hope your mom hops back fast!

  4. No Gaga/Mom/Sister/Sister-in-law/friend….. has ever been better loved, cared for, doctored on every level and indulged beyond measure….a four day slumber party with my girls and a happy new hip…….life is so good!!!

  5. I love envisioning Dr. Stern (remember the Halloween that Abbie was a geologist because she could spell it and the white lab coat my grandmother made for her?), but I’m a little hurt that she doesn’t want to be a teacher anymore. And after all that alphabet work she did with me — so patient and kind! Well, those are good qualities in a doctor, too.

    I’m not sure what to think about the article yet, but potential treatment is so slippery slopish (brain function v. personality and are they related?). American teenagers have already figured out what Ritalin can do for their academics, so they sell it to each other under the lunch tables. (Just the other day, my daughter, faced with the onerous task of completing her summer assignment, wished aloud for some. Gasp! And some of the parents I’ve talked to whose kids have tried Ritalin — for ADD treatment, not homework help — have claimed it DEFINITELY changed their kids’ personalities. Not in a good way. Then there’s the Prozac/suicide link.)

    Think what a Ritalin/Prozac/memantine cocktail could do…and why aren’t we all running off to Mexico to get this stuff?

    It’s easier think about OK Go’s next dancetastic video. :)

  6. We are big fans of Mike Teodori, as well.

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