Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"When, in the opinion of the Chief Medical Officer the Captain is unfit for duty . . . "

Another short post.

For those who have asked, Papa Ironwood came through his surgeries without incident, and is now recuperating at a rehabilitation facility, in good spirits with an excellent prognosis.

Myself, on the other hand . . .

About two weeks ago I contracted a health issue -- unusual for me.  I tend to be as healthy as a 44 year old smoker can be.  The Ironwood constitution is legendary.  I rarely get sick -- that is, I rarely got sick.  It's not (I believe) serious, but it did leave me as weak as a kitten from vomiting and dehydration, with potentially dangerous spikes in blood pressure.  There were Urgent Care visits.  And Emergency Room visits.  And one hospital admission.  I missed over a week of work (hence the no updates) because I could barely focus enough to see the computer.  I'm feeling a lot better, but yeah, it was like that.

There's a lot I could (and likely will) blog about from my experiences, but I'll begin with this.  The venerable Athol Kay at MMSL, frequently uses the apt reference of "Captain/First Officer" from naval parlance (OK, he stole it from Star Trek) as an analogy to describe a good Red Pill marriage.  I've taken it to heart, because it works and because I'm a world-class nerd.  I'm the Captain, in my household, and Mrs. Ironwood is the First Officer.

But that's not all she is, of course.  Apart from being half of our household income, devoted mother, etc. she also wears other hats.  We both do.  She's Chief Science Officer, for one.  She actually has a degree in science, so she beats me out on a technicality.  When the kids bring in some unknown bug or animal for identification, she gets to lead them through the exercise.  I wear the Chief Technology Officer hat, as well as the Chief Engineer, Chief of General Services, Chief of Security and Chief Transport Officer.  But among the most important hats Mrs. Ironwood wears is Chief Medical Officer.

Again, the science degree, plus a fifteen-year career in the sciences and medical fields.  Plus the work-history -- she worked in a morgue before CSI was cool.  She's written a textbook on medical terminology.  Groups of doctors pay to have her come talk to them, and they listen.  She knows a fair amount of medicine herself, and has developed both excellent clinical and laboratory skills.  More importantly, she knows the labyrinthine universe of the American Health Care system, from insurance to managed care to how to get an emergency room to see you when there's an eight hour wait (hint: you call every other ER in the region and find one less-booked).  If the kids have a boo-boo, if there are rashes of unknown origin, if there are fungal infections or minor lacerations or a question about oncology or home health care services or how much ibuprofen you can give an infant, Mrs. Ironwood either knows it, or will know it within a matter of moments.

As mentioned in my previous post, she was the go-to girl for oversight of my father's care.  And she spoke at length with my mother about the tumors they found in her eye this week.  Yes, it's been like that.  She's the Chief Medical Officer, and when someone is sick, she's there like a voluptuous Beverly Crusher with a sweet Southern accent and devastating social skills.  Thanks to the panoply of phones, tablets, and laptops, she even has her own freakin' medical tricorder.

Among her functions as CMO is the usually minor one of overseeing the Captain's health.  In this I defer to her judgement the way I would to any trusted medical professional.  That is, I rarely try to argue with her when she has a strongly-held opinion about my health, because she's been right far more than she's been wrong.  Even when I think I'm right, if it's a medical call, she's the CMO.  It's her call.

So when she looked at me with a certain look of concern on her face -- that look -- and said, "Ian, you're done.  We're going to the ER," I not only deferred to her judgement, after six hours of putting on a brave face and trying not to alarm the children (who were still shaken up by Papa Ironwood's surgeries) while horrible things were happening to my innards, I was effectively being told:

"In the opinion of the Chief Medical officer the Captain is no longer fit for duty, and stands relieved of command."

And I was relieved.  Every responsibility I had was suddenly removed from me, and I could focus on being wretched.  Dinner? Covered.  Groceries?  Covered.  Childcare?  Covered.  Transportation?  Covered.  Call work?  Done.  IM updates to concerned relatives and close friends?  Done.  Work deadlines?  Dealt with.  Until further notice, I was relieved of every duty of husband and father, save being a patient.  Mrs. I, already in the middle of six kinds of hell at work, managed to put her entire career and worklife on hold for over a week, deadlines exploding all around her, while she focused her absolute attention on my care and that of the rest of the crew.

Oh, things went to hell eight different ways, and it will take weeks for us both to recover.  I'm still running at 50% at tops.  This is the first substantial moment I've taken at the computer.  But since that moment where Mrs. I stepped up, took me off-line, and took Command, I haven't had to worry about anything.  The house and the job and the other ill folks in the Ironwood clan (two of us spent last Friday the 13th in the hospital, not that I'm superstitious) are fine.  Things are turning around and looking up.

But for all of those guys who can't see the upside to marriage?  When it works -- and works well -- then the shift of responsibilities and authority and dominance that happen over the normal course of your marriage can make the difference between lonesome suffering in the bowels of the medical system and having the comfort and security of someone willing to stand over you with a spear and growl while the sabertooths circle your helpless body.  And part of that was respecting her opinion of when I was ready for medical attention, regardless of how stoic I felt about it.

And when that decision was made, it was my duty as Captain to accept the decision without argument, hand over the command codes, and limp off to sick bay, trusting that your First Officer has everything perfectly under control without you.

That's a difficult skill to master.  But you'll fell a lot better, once you manage it.

(Don't tell Mrs. I that the water got cut off because the bill was due on the 13th.  I cut it back on.  It's really not that big a deal, but she'd feel bad about it . . .)


  1. Feel better. I was wondering where you had vanished to.

    And yes, First Officer for the win.

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  2. Hi Mr Ironwood,

    Get well. My best wishes for your improved health. A reader.

  3. Glad you are on the mend - and that you have Mrs. I looking after you.

  4. Best wishes and get well.

  5. Glad to have you back online. You were missed!

  6. I wondered where you were. Welcome back! Hope you get back to 100% soon.

  7. Take care of yourself and be patient with your recovery Chief.

  8. medical cannabis cures all, just sayin. Feel better dude.

  9. Hope you feel better soon! First Officer FTW.

  10. Hope you are completely well soon. I always look forward to your posts, although I disagree with you on many things. This post is an amazingly good explanation of how the C/FO dynamic should work.

    As a woman working in a health/academic setting, I think that I know many woman like Mrs. Ironwood and her colleagues. When I read your posts, I often wonder what her colleagues think/would think if they knew of her C/FO marriage. Most of the professional women I know would be absolutely horrified by it.

  11. I'm doing much, much better, thank you, and I've almost caught up on my work backlog.

    You raise an interesting point. To my knowledge, Mrs. I's "status" as FO is only known by one other woman in her peer group . . . who is married to a fellow Red Pill blogger. She's seen our marriage up close for years, and while she does get amused by what she reads, she can't fault our success or happiness. And since she's getting frequent Game now, she's pretty enthusiastic about the whole thing.

    When I do make Red Pillish comments around her other friends, the only ones who try to bite my head off are . . . the desperately single ones. Funny how that works . . .

  12. I hope you are back to 100% soon. I love your blog, and my man and I both love your pinups!

    I got a bit of flak over this very thing on another blog, someone taking me to task for stepping in and saying he needed rest or to go to the doc - "isn't that trying to take over the alpha role? Sounds like nagging to me". First off, our areas of expertise are similarly spread as yours and Mrs. I, second he explicitly asked for my help, and, my judgment as to when he needed medical/health attention. I see it as my most important miission as XO (we have more military than Star Trek experience) to keep the Commander healthy, and therefore, in charge. The "stoic" part was an important facet - me insisting that he's not well gives him permission to let go of the stoic for a bit.

    I really love your writing, you make all this clear, but also a lot of fun. Hope you are on the mend.

    Can't sign in for some reason ...

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