Voted "Best OB-GYN" in Towne Lake, Woodstock and Canton Voted "Mom-Approved OBs" by Atlanta Parent magazine readers


December 13, 2012

It’s that time of the year again!  All the employees at Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists look forward to our annual Christmas Extravaganza! We wanted to post some pictures so you can see us in ‘normal’ clothes for once!  Christmas party means stilettos and dresses not tennis shoes and scrubs!  All of us here want to wish you very happy holidays!

December 11, 2012

Ladies, do you get stressed out over anyone watching your kid but you? Or rather, do you let your kids eat popcorn off the floor after it has been there for more than five seconds?  Are there any ways you feel is a bad way to parent or are Questionthere any ways you feel you must parent? What are your ideas and strategies?

To find out for yourself, take this simple quiz: What’s your mothering style?

“A baby will make love stronger, days shorter, nights longer, bankroll smaller, home happier, clothes shabbier, the past forgotten, and the future worth living for.” -Anonymous 



November 2, 2012


A single surgical clamp, placed on the bleeding vessels of a ruptured fallopian tube, can save a patient’s life.

I know this because I have placed these clamps myself. Ten years ago, a patient arrived at the emergency room of Grady Hospital in shock from such a rupture and the resulting loss of blood. I was a fourth year Chief Resident on call for the surgical emergency. After placing the clamp, I instructed my pretty, wide-eyed junior resident to suction the half gallon of blood and clots from the patient’s abdomen and pelvis. I remember keeping my voice calm, to emphasize the achievement of total control—“Just another day in the operating room, ma’am.”

I tried to limit my swagger as we walked to the waiting room to reassure the patient’s family and give them the good news. But afterward, alone in the call room in my blood-stained scrubs, I allowed myself to bask in the full power of my accumulated years of study and training. I felt a Cheshire cat smile of self-congratulation steal over my face.

Always a mistake.

A superb textbook on obstetrics and gynecology opens with Alexander Pope’s famous refrain,

“A little learning is a dang’rous thing;

Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring;

There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,

And drinking largely sobers us again.”

Many times I had flipped to re-read that quote before diving into my studies. It was a warning to the overconfident. But on that day toward the end of my eighth year of training, I fell into the deep sleep of the self-satisfied. At last, I knew exactly what I was doing and what was going on in the world.

A phone call the next day proved how wrong I was.

The caller was Ife Sofola. Ife (pronounced Ee-fay) was one of my classmates from medical school. A tall, muscular Nigerian, Ife was not only a brilliant student, but a man of deep compassion and undeniable charisma. His easy smile, booming laugh, and lilting Nigerian accent were a comfort and delight to both friends and patients. At the time, he was a flight surgeon at the renowned Bethesda Naval Hospital, where our Presidents receive their medical care.

Ife had called to let me know that his mother had died. But it wasn’t the sorrow he wanted to share. It was the miracle.

Months earlier, Ife’s family learned that his mother was dying from liver failure. Brought to the Bethesda Naval Hospital, she fell into a coma. She was put under a DNR order—Do Not Resuscitate. Those orders are reserved for patients who cannot be saved. The words are a kind of final acknowledgement: that modern medicine has failed the patient, that we can do nothing, that Death is coming.

But Ife and his siblings were not ready to let go of their mother. They had been already heartsick with the loss of their father, who had died earlier that year. The looming loss of their mother was too much to bear.

Desperate to do something, Ife’s sister sought out a friend of a friend of a friend who was reputed to be a “healer”—someone who could save life where others had failed. Ife’s sister flew the healer to America from Nigeria, keeping it a secret from her family until the healer showed up at Bethesda. A student of medical science, Ife was dismayed and agitated by his arrival. But there was nothing to lose, so he and his siblings permitted the healer to stay.

The healer directed them to hold hands around the dying woman’s bed. They prayed in silence for five minutes. Then the healer announced, “It is done.” With that he departed, taking a taxi back to the airport.

Twenty minutes later, Ife’s mother awoke. She smiled and greeted her family and got out of bed to take a shower. Ife said there were no words to describe how dumbstruck her physicians were. Ife himself, exuberant, believing, brimming with unadulterated joy, raced and leaped down the hallways in his white coat, yelling so all could hear, “A miracle has occurred! Here, at Bethesda! A MIRACLE!”

Within a few weeks, Ife’s mother succumbed to her disease and died. But not before she had left the hospital and spent precious days with her children at home saying good-bye. Her explanation of what had happened was simple and profound. “I came back,” she said to her children, “so you would have faith.”

The power of modern medicine is an illusion. The physician’s sense of mastery, the gratitude of patients and their families—all these constitute a thin veneer which sometimes covers the truth. The source of the healing lies far beyond our earthly skills. It emanates from the realm of the Unknowable—from God, the Source of Life.

The other day a patient told me she was confident about her upcoming surgery, “because I have faith in you.” A decade ago I would have enjoyed that kind of comment. The trust and respect of patients is a blessing. But the truth is that we are all participants—patients and physicians alike—holding hands in a circle of healing and praying for a miracle. And we are blessed with this miracle of healing every day we live.

Ife concluded his call to me with his own revelation. His tone was not one of grief, but excitement.

“Michael,” Ife said to me, his voice trembling, “how many hours did we spend in the lecture hall? How many books did we read? How many operations have we performed? We think we are doctors, so we must know something about life and death.” He paused for a long moment. “I tell you this, Michael—we know nothing. Nothing.”

I fumbled for words. I said his story was just amazing, that it had changed my life.

Ife laughed his large, unforgettable laugh. “And well it should, Michael—well it should.”

-Dr. Mike Litrel

October 17, 2012

Dr Gandhi - Woodstock, GA

There’s a reason why so many women drive from all over to see Dr. Gandhi in Woodstock. She’s a highly trained, compassionate doctor who prides herself on really listening to her patients. She believes in paying attention to the details and clearly, that makes all the difference in the world.

Dr. Gandhi’s quote on how she treats her patients is pretty simple but it’s mighty powerful. Especially if you’re the woman on the exam table. She says:  “A good doctor should be listening a lot – get the whole story and not just one simple complaint. I like the quote by Shakti Gawain, Our bodies communicate to us clearly and specifically, if we are willing to listen to them. I like to think that I genuinely care and listen to my patients’ needs, and that helps guide my recommendations.”

In her free time, Dr. Gandhi enjoys reading, classical Indian music and dance. Wow! Reading, classical music and dancing? No wonder she’s so zen!

October 16, 2012

Shrimp Piccata

We all know our bodies are gas tanks and what we put in them will either cause us to sputter through the day or make us feel like we can take on the world but for some reason, when a piece of pecan pie is staring me in the face, all that logic kind of goes out the window.

And that’s how I came to be laid out on the couch the other night, so tired I could barely move. Was it a food sensitivity or just overload on sugar? Whatever the reason, I couldn’t help but wonder why oh why did I eat that darn pie?

After getting off the couch from my near comatose state, I went dumpster diving to find out just how much sugar one piece of that sinfully good pie had. I knew it had to be up there but I was shocked when I looked at the back of the box. (Yes, I know. Packaged pecan pie at that!)

Holy moly! 470 calories and 29 grams of sugar in one piece of pie! No wonder I felt horrible! Right then and there, I knew my love affair with pecan pie was over. Or, at least we wouldn’t be meeting nearly as often.

I was determined to start making better choices so like any woman who’s experienced a break up, I went online in search for something better. When I looked for healthy food, I was overwhelmed with all the choices. This was pretty new territory for me so it was kind of confusing at first. But the more I looked, I narrowed it down to what I really liked and found tons of recipes that were not only easy to make but looked delicious.

One of the things I came across was this delicious Shrimp Piccata. It looked awesome, tasty and best of all, easy to make. I made it that very night – just replaced the pasta with rice – and oh mama, it was soooo good. Did it taste as good as pecan pie? Well, that’s like comparing apples to oranges but I will say it tasted a-mazing. And more importantly, I felt great afterwards! So great in fact that I had enough energy to take my doggies for a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

Now if I can just remember that awesome feeling the next time a piece of pecan pie stares me in the face. Oi.

P.S. Please forgive the grainy picture. I was so eager to eat it I didn’t take the time to grab my good camera. 🙂


October 9, 2012

Curb the Urge Simple Tips to Reduce Bladder Leakage

Quick! What four-letter word pops into your head when you hear the word incontinence? If it’s diet, then great! That means you probably already know that even small changes to your diet can greatly affect the severity of incontinence. If it’s a different four-letter, then you probably already have incontinence, in which case you’ll want to keep reading. While there’s no “diet cure” for incontinence, what you eat and drink can make incontinence symptoms better – or worse.

Especially urge incontinence, which is when you feel a sudden urge to urinate and sometimes leak as a result. Stress incontinence is when you leak a bit of urine when you cough, sneeze, laugh or jump.

One Diet Fits All – Not!

You know when you’re out shopping and you spot that super cute beach cover up with the tag that says one-size-fits-all? Yippee! That should be no problem. Yeah right. When you get it home you discover that not only will it not cover what you really want to cover, it won’t even clear your shoulders. So much for one-size-fits-all. The same is true for the following diet tips. While some of them may work for the average Jane, they might not work for you so try them on for size and keep what works and throw out the ones that don’t.

Basic Training

Some foods and drinks are known to cause irritation to the bladder lining, which can result in more frequent urination or the urge to go. The best way to figure out what might be triggering your incontinence, try eliminating or cutting back on certain foods and beverages. Once you narrow down the culprits, you can start reintroducing them one by one to determine your tolerant level.

The Sneaky Little Culprits

Water intake For optimum health, we should drink at least six to eight glasses of water a day, right? But what if you have incontinence? Won’t that make matters worse? Well yes…and no. On one hand, if you drink too much, you might overtax your bladder and make matters worse. On the other hand, if you don’t drink enough, your urine may become concentrated and that’s when bacteria can grow.  Which can lead to infection. Which can lead to incontinence. So what’s a girl to do? If you’re already drinking six to eight glasses of water a day, you can start by trying to reduce that amount by 25%. A recent study showed this helped reduce episodes of urgency and frequency. Don’t want to put so much effort into it? Don’t worry. Your body is constantly talking to you (and not just after you eat a bean burrito) so pay attention and it’ll tell you if you’re getting enough or not, and then just adjust your intake accordingly. You can also try cutting off your fluid intake earlier in the evening, which will help reduce those middle-of-the-night potty breaks.

Caffeinated beverages and foods Don’t shoot the messenger but caffeine can do a number on your bladder. It not only stimulates the bladder but it also acts as a diuretic, giving it a double whammy effect. To figure out how much caffeine your body can tolerate, it’s best to completely eliminate it from your diet. But, let’s look at this from a realistic standpoint. If you’ve been drinking coffee since the beginning of time, cutting it out completely probably isn’t an option. The point is, do what works for you. Even reducing the amount of caffeine can have a beneficial effect on incontinence. If you’re drinking four cups of coffee a day, try cutting down to one or two cups and see how your body responds!

Acidic Foods Certain citrus foods and drinks are highly acidic and tend to irritate the bladder. Cranberry juice has a reputation for helping to clear up bladder infections but it doesn’t help with overactive bladder and urge incontinence so try to eliminate or reduce these culprits.

Alcohol Anyone who’s ever a few drinks can tell you that alcohol can have some mind boggling control over your senses. But did you also know it also interferes with your bladder? Here’s how: Your brain sends neurological signals to your bladder when it’s time to go but when there’s alcohol in your system, there’s less control over that signaling and this can make accidents more likely. So try to reduce or even eliminate alcohol altogether for a couple weeks to see how much control it has over your bladder.

Spicy foods Did you know your favorite Mexican restaurant may be wreaking havoc on your bladder? As much as we love them, spicy and hot foods can irritate the lining of your bladder, which can exacerbate incontinence. Foods like Mexican or hot Chinese dishes, chili peppers, chili, horseradish and other highly spiced foods should be greatly reduced or eliminated if at all possible. Again, this is trial and error so try cutting these foods out and slowly reintroducing them to determine their effect.

Carbonated beverages Even if your favorite carbonated drinks aren’t caffeinated, they can still irritate a sensitive bladder and once irritation sets in, you can have the urge to go.

Other Culprits

  • Milk and milk products
  • Sugar or honey
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Citrus fruits and juices

If you’re suffering from incontinence, be kind to yourself and try giving these tips a whirl or check out more here. If they get to be confusing, just tune in to your body and listen – really listen – and you’ll know what to do. And who knows, these little changes just might have you jumping for joy in no time. Leak free! For more information or to get help for incontinence, visit http://www.cherokeewomenshealth.com/urinary-incontinence.html

April 19, 2012

loveIt was Saturday morning, and already my wife had been working for several hours at the computer, sitting ramrod straight in her chair. No doubt she was stressed out, with too many projects on her plate. It seemed like the perfect time for the surprise I had been planning.

With a flourish, I invited Ann to come with me to my office. She raised her eyebrows. “Can’t it wait?”

I said no. Reluctantly she accompanied me upstairs. Once in my office, I moved to my computer and selected a song I had recently added to my play list. The music began, and everything was ready. I asked Ann to dance.

Lionel Richie and Diana Ross’s duet “Endless Love” was all the rage back in the day. I remember dancing to the song, feeling deeply in love. The piano played softly, and then the lyrics came…

“My love…there’s only you in my life…the only thing that’s bright…” What a charming romantic I was!

Ann rolled her eyes and reminded me she had been busy. Her reaction surprised me. I thought she would gaze adoringly into my eyes with the look I remembered from years before. But Ann’s body remained stiff. Instead of feeling like the star high school quarterback dancing with the head cheerleader, I began to feel like the nerd the girls feel sorry for but try to avoid anyway.

I was annoyed. Fall in love with me again, why don’t you already? Tactfully I expressed my concern that our once special memories of dancing to our song meant nothing to her now.

“Our song?” Ann pulled her head back to look me in the face. “We never danced to that song – I never even LIKED that song!”

Oops. That was an unexpectedly awkward revelation.

Well, at least that explained why she wasn’t exactly melting in my arms. I could feel Ann’s body tensing even more as the implication of my mistaken memory became clear to both of us. Our dance became more and more stilted until we were essentially standing still in the middle of my office.

I could feel the question coming.

“So Michael,” Ann opened, “which one of your ‘past loves’ did you enjoy this wonderful song with?”

Funny you should ask my dear, I thought to myself, I was just wondered the same thing myself.

A surgeon in the middle of an operation would call this “getting into unexpected bleeding.” It had seemed like the perfect plan – play a song of tender memories, and instantly transform Ann from the “I have too many things to do” stressed out woman to the “I am so lucky to have you as a husband” happy wife. A beautiful Saturday afternoon would follow, with Ann gazing at me adoringly whenever I walked by, even if I was just scratching myself.

Now all I wanted was to get this angry hellion out of my office. The music continued to play as I held a now jealous wife in my arms. This was not “Endless Love.” This was “Endless Dance.” Would you please shut up already, Lionel?

“It wasn’t that we ever danced to this song,” I explained disingenuously.“It’s just that whenever I hear it I think about you and how much I love you.” It was the right thing to say, a good line, really – but I delivered it half heartedly voice, in a perfunctory oh-let-me-just-say-it- and-get-it-over-with sort of way.

Ann surprised me by laughing out loud. She seemed delighted by my obvious lack of candor.

”Oh really?” She betted her eyelashes batting coquettishly. “Do you really mean it?”

“Oh yes,” I responded, smiling at her like used car salesman. “I would never lie to you, my darling.”

Ann laughed again. And remarkably, she rested her face against my chest with a happy smile on her face. Her body relaxed. “I’m sorry I’ve been so stressed out lately,” she said a few moments later.

My plan had worked after all! Ann had actually melted in my arms. Womanhood, what a remarkable mystery. Maybe it’s not choosing the right song that matters most. Sometimes you get credit just for the effort.

-Dr. Mike Litrel

November 2, 2011


Many years have passed since the night I delivered my first baby and, in retrospect, it is clear that practicing obstetrics was the path the Creator intended me to take. But I confess that after a thousand deliveries, the blaze of emotions that once accompanied each one has subsided to a softer glow, flaring up again only at those times when danger, or joy, bring the world more sharply into focus.

So it was with a recent difficult birth. The mother and her family were well known to me. Two years earlier I had delivered my patient’s second daughter. Her first daughter, then an irrepressible nine-year-old, had gleefully cut the cord. But with this labor, the third daughter, there were complications. The baby’s heart rate kept falling.

It was obvious to my patient that I was worried. Every five minutes I came into the room, obsessing over the baby’s heart rate like an anxious stockbroker watching the ticker tape. I maintained a professional demeanor with my patient, trying to give her as much reassurance as I could. Her anxiety level was rising and, for a moment, I felt bad. When confronted with worrisome clinical circumstances, doctors tend to pull back emotionally. It helps us think clearly and, hopefully, make the right decisions.

It’s a mistake to think that any physician knows exactly what he or she is doing at all times, and, at this moment, I was no exception. I was uncertain about what was wrong. But finally a routine procedure improved the baby’s heart rate, averting emergency surgery. The baby was born. My patient’s first daughter, now eleven, delightedly cut her second cord. Her little sister’s cry filled the room. My tension dissipated. I was a third year medical student discovering my destiny once again, and my soul hummed with the joy that swelled the room.

When I arrived home that evening, my stomach was also humming—with hunger. I looked forward to a nourishing meal and sharing the stories of my day.

My wife, Ann, is my soul mate. Well, she’s either my soul mate or just a very good listener. It doesn’t matter. Ann is a loving person, a supportive friend, a great mother to our children and, most importantly, an attentive audience. So even though she’s heard me talk about clinical cases hundreds of times, I knew she’d listen to me with polite fascination.

And, she would feed me.

But this night I was wrong. When I walked in the door my first clue was that supper was nowhere to be seen. My second was that Ann expressed no interest in the heroics of my day. Instead, she wanted to tell me all about her day.

It was an outrage.

Incredibly, Ann and the boys were actually ignoring me. They were engrossed in a large glass jar on the kitchen counter which contained, upon inspection, caterpillars. I groaned under my breath—the evening’s conversation was going to revolve around Ann’s butterfly garden, again. She shot me a dark look. My groan had apparently been less discreet than I intended. I gave myself a mental kick. Now I’d have to work even harder to feign interest.

Last year, after months of research—otherwise known as shopping from gardening catalogs—Ann created a butterfly garden in our backyard. She told me all about it but the details escape me—something about attracting lots of bugs to our yard.

In its execution, the project fell short of Ann’s expectations. Deer and rabbits showed their enthusiasm by chowing down on her plants. In the end, Ann counted a grand total of five butterflies the entire summer. She was depressed. So was I. All the plants she’d ordered had been a waste of money, and now I had to console her about it, to boot.

Then, one morning, Ann returned from a visit to her garden practically skipping. Two monarch caterpillars were eating her milkweed plants. Several times a day, Ann took our two sons out to watch the bugs. After a few days, according to their frequent and detailed bulletins, the caterpillars had eaten all the milkweed.

So, I came home this particular evening in a good mood after a delivery to find that Ann and the boys had spent two hours gathering food for the caterpillars. The air went out of my balloon. Ann enthusiastically badgered me into pressing my ear against the jar so I could hear the caterpillars munching on the milkweed leaf dinners she and the boys had so thoughtfully and painstakingly prepared.

I took the subtle approach:

“They sound really hungry. I know how they must feel.”

“Boy, it must be nice to eat your fill.”

“You’ve done a really nice job fixing dinner—for the caterpillars.”

I tried to be a good sport. I’d heard that Monarch butterflies are endangered. Freezes in Mexico and genetically-engineered corn with poison pollen are said to be wiping them out. These are the facts you pick up when your wife has a butterfly garden. I proudly recited my extensive knowledge about Monarchs in an effort to show Ann that, in fact, I was listening to her all those months. But she informed me, to my surprise, that Monarchs may not be so endangered after all, just underestimated by butterfly experts.

That was the final straw! A couple of bugs not even on the endangered species list were keeping me from my dinner. But Ann was so enchanted, she didn’t notice how annoyed I was. I adopted the guise of supportive husband and took the family out to the local pizza parlor. The caterpillars came along for the ride. My mouth was watering by the time the cheese breadsticks arrived. Joseph, our five-year-old, launched into a rambling grace, thanking God for the caterpillars who had come to our yard … who were going to grow into orange butterflies … and fly away into the sky ….

As I half-listened to his thankful litany, my mind wandered back to the delivery. I gave silent thanks for my patient’s healthy baby. I remembered her ultrasound: the tiny fetus, much smaller than a caterpillar, now a beautiful baby girl living and breathing in the world. Metamorphosis is the way of life. We grow, we become, and ultimately our souls soar skyward, like the Monarch.

I stared at Ann and the boys, their eyes closed as Joseph was reaching his grand finale. Tyler frowned with impatience. I laughed to myself. Sometimes the beauty of life is so intense, it overwhelms us with its light. At these moments, the path before you is clearly illuminated, and faith becomes effortless.

Before taking my first bite of dinner, it occurred to me that these are the moments, and nothing more, for which we truly hunger.

-Dr. Mike Litrel

September 15, 2011


As an obstetrician I take care of both mother and baby before the delivery. But once I cut the umbilical cord, I hand the baby off to someone else. Nurse, respiratory therapist, pediatrician – it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t pretend to have the skill set to care for a baby once it’s outside the mother’s body. So no one has ever handed a baby back to me.

Particularly one with a dirty diaper.

It was Friday evening a dozen years ago. Ann and I were sitting on the driveway with our neighbor Yasmin, watching our four year olds play. Ann and Yasmin each had a glass of white wine, and Joseph, our one year old, perched on Ann’s lap. I slouched in my chair, feet propped up and a cold beer in hand.

Suddenly a foul odor penetrated the air. “I just changed his diaper twenty minutes ago!” Ann moaned. An expression of combined sorrow and resentment crossed her face.

Poor Ann! I found myself thinking. Not even a moment’s rest to sit with her good friend and husband to have a sip of wine. I realized what Ann most needed: a loving husband jumping out of his chair like an eager prince to change that dirty diaper.

At that same moment the question flitted through my mind: How do I get out of this?

As a physician I am comfortable with all aspects of people’s bodies, up to and including bodily excretions. Indeed I surgically repair bladders and rectums on a routine basis. But there is something about a dirty diaper that somehow seems worse. From observation, I had noticed that Ann was far more skilled than I at changing diapers. She’d be done in five minutes flat –

I’d be happy to save her seat.

A decade earlier, our perfect wedding day had played like the finale of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Belle is the intelligent Beauty whose love lifts the Beast’s terrible curse. The song “Tale as Old as Time” plays as Belle and her handsome Prince waltz through the castle ballroom. I’ve often wondered about that fairy tale ending and the class action lawsuit the Disney Company deserves for setting up false expectations in American society.

Fast forward the movie five years. There’s Belle with a baby on her hip, pregnant yet again, bemoaning her swollen feet and aching back, with a toddler running around the castle knocking over expensive fragile objects. The part I really want to see is when Belle hands Beast the baby with a foul smelling diaper at the end of a long work week, just when he’s settling down with a cold beer.

If the Beast is anything like me, he’ll come up with some pretty good excuses.

I wondered which one I should pull out. My personal favorite is the “I have to call the hospital – someone’s life is in danger.” That one wouldn’t work at the moment because I wasn’t on call. Besides, I didn’t want to spoil my best excuse with overuse. I considered the next runner up: “I think I’m coming down with something and don’t want the baby to catch it.” Instead of selfish and lazy, I might appear considerate. I pictured Ann rushing Joseph inside to get him away from my germs. If I worded it just right, maybe on her way back she’d bring me another beer?

But sitting there with my feet propped up, looking pretty darn healthy, I knew if I tried that one Ann and Yasmin would exchange “what a loser husband” glances.

I was trapped. It was a desperate moment. Drawing a blank, I jumped up and grabbed Joseph off Ann’s lap and feigned eager loving husband. What followed was ten minutes of absolutely repulsive labor. I was glad Joseph couldn’t speak yet, because I told him exactly how disgusting and inconsiderate he was pooping in his pants – in a nice tone of voice of course. I returned to the driveway wearing a big smile, pretending it was indeed an honor to help my beautiful wife.

Ann and Yasmin fell for it one hundred percent. How naïve! The rest of the evening I got to listen to how wonderful I am. I was almost embarrassed. But it got me thinking –

Maybe it’s a blessing when you can’t come up with a good excuse.

-Dr. Mike Litrel

The Logic of Women

Recently I heard an intelligent accountant express his understanding about women. His opinion could be called many things, but certainly neither “intelligent,” nor “understanding.” According to him, the reason men and women sometimes have difficulty relating is because women don’t think rationally. “Women are emotional, not logical,” he proclaimed, emphasizing his opinion with an index finger held skyward.

The Neanderthal sometimes says the funniest things. I am guessing this particular caveman doesn’t have the best of marriages – unless his wife is so illogical as to find her husband’s primitive condescension charming. My wife Ann runs our household efficiently and intelligently, which includes managing our finances, our meals, our home, our work schedules – and of course, our teenage rug rats, both of whom are blessed with strong personalities. So I take exception to this accountant’s observation. There is nothing illogical about Ann.

Except, of course, her ideas about home décor.

My boys have often asked me about the uncomfortable pillows on my bed. There are big ones and medium ones and small ones. They are festooned with embroidery, or sequins, or knobby wooden beads, which makes them anything but comfortable for actually cushioning your head. At last count these pillows had multiplied to fifteen. Their various shapes and colors require that they be painstakingly arranged once the bed is made in a precise array I find impossible to remember.

My boys think I should get rid of all the uncomfortable pillows. Privately I agree. These decorative objects defy all logic. Clearly the sole purpose of a pillow is to provide something soft to snuggle – not to increase one’s work load.

But Ann seems to have different ideas. So instead of the “pillow talks” you’d expect between husband and wife, Ann and I have pillow arguments. Sometimes these occur when we are making the bed. I complain like a broken record, pointing out the extra work required to properly place her darn pillows. Or sometimes the dispute erupts when I am having trouble falling asleep and vent my frustration by flinging one of the unfortunate pillows onto the floor – sequins notwithstanding.

“Why have so many uncomfortable pillows which are impossible to arrange?” I ask rhetorically, index finger pointing skyward. “I know an intelligent accountant who would call this illogical!”

In surgery there is an anatomical problem that requires repair. Surgery is logical: a purposeful action performed in a concentrated, orderly manner that directly impacts the welfare of another human being. Operating rooms make sense as well. You can look in every nook and cranny – there is not one fancy pillow to be found.

Never once have I received a logical answer from Ann regarding the fifteen pillows on our bed. Sometimes my questions about pillows make Ann laugh. Sometimes they elicit only eye-rolling. Once in a while she attempts to formulate an explanation. Ann, an artist, shares her consideration that esthetically arranged visual elements uplift the spirit, lending our mundane lives a touch of the divine. Balancing the functionality of the objects we use with an eye toward manifesting beauty is an act of meditation, even worship.

Mostly I ignore all this profound crap. A minor marital squabble is far more enjoyable. I guess I am a caveman too. So over the years Ann has made it clear to me that if she ever wants my opinion about home décor, she will make sure to give it to me.

Through the decades of my marriage and practicing medicine I have learned sometimes it’s best for a man to simply stand out of a woman’s way. What remarkable beauty you will see! I remember Ann’s cesarean sections in the O.R., the wondrous transformation of her frightened face when she heard our child cry for the first time. Indeed I have witnessed thousands of times the miracle of a woman bringing new life into this world. I am in awe and wonder and perhaps, confusion, too, about the beauty of womanhood. Why would anyone sacrifice their body and blood and soul to usher into this world in an explosion of God’s love a newborn baby?

It’s simply not logical.

-Dr. Mike Litrel

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