Dec 17

When I was in first and second grade, a little blue T-shirt anchored my wardrobe, de facto school uniform at a school without uniforms.

Money was always a bit tight for our large family, no different than for any of the other hard-working dairy-farming families that colonized British Columbia’s beautiful Fraser Valley.  Fortunately, clothing was built to last back in the day, sturdy even in the face of perpetual assault by the activities of a busy little boy.

Emblazoned in vivid color across the front of my T-shirt was this bold proclamation: “Good things come in small packages”.

Whether the erstwhile inhabitant of that sturdy shirt deserved the “good” label is debatable, but I was assuredly small, the tiniest kid in my class outside of an equally pint-sized lad named Timmy.  Tiny Tim and little Eddie summed together added up to one regular-sized kid, just barely.

Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 17

“I vould like sekond opinion please, doktorrr.”

The man looked up at me defiantly, his face haggard and creased with worry; his wife huddled next to him, sobbing quietly, their son cradled carefully in her arms.

The repeated and agitated “nyet, nyet” that peppered mom’s teary discussions with her husband should have been a clue that things were going sideways.

A public health nurse, disturbed by the 6-day-old baby’s deeply yellow complexion, had sent the young family to the emergency department.

I examined little Anton thoroughly, after obtaining important additional details from his parents, including the alarming news that the little guy had lost all interest in breast-feeding.

He was sleepy, difficult to rouse despite a firm rub of his sternum, a simple maneuver that reliably produces, in a healthy baby, lusty cries of protest.  Anton offered only a weak and high-pitched whimper, rousing just enough to display the yellowed whites of his eyes, and drifted back to sleep. Read the rest of this entry »