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A half empty glass for medical care

Gerald W. Deas M.D., MPH | 8/17/2017, 4:15 p.m.
I am sure you have heard the expression after things have overtaken you to look at the situation with a ...
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I am sure you have heard the expression after things have overtaken you to look at the situation with a glass half full, rather than a glass half empty attitude. In my practice of medicine, I have always advised a patient after a diagnosis is made, to consider that many things may be done to relieve and bring their health back into balance.

I recall, when I was a kid, my mom would can fruits and vegetables for the cold winter months, when those foods were not plentiful at the corner store. Although this preservation of foods was called “canning,” it was really “jarring” in glass containers. It was done with all perfection, so the healthy goodies would not to spoil. Everything had to be kept sterile. Otherwise, bubbles would form in the jar, telling you there were live bacteria or yeast present and that the food would not be edible. I would say that one should even today, consider eating preserved foods that are stored in glass rather than metal containers. Scientists have recently observed that many chemicals in plastics and can linings might contain toxic materials that are leached into the food product.

Now, getting back to the jar of the matter. I was called one day to make a house call in Greenwich Village (Lower Manhattan). This neighborhood was not my territory. However, the urgency of the man’s voice on the phone compelled me to go. Arriving at my destination, I found out that the address was an apartment house. After gaining entrance and finding the apartment, I rang the bell and was pleasantly met by an elderly gentleman who shook my hand with relief that I had arrived. The apartment was warm and comfortable but small. He led me into the bedroom off the kitchen, where I observed his invalid daughter who needed medical care. He related to me that she had many birth defects and was mostly bedridden.

After examining her, I determined that she had a severe bronchitis with difficulty breathing but required no hospitalization. I reached into my bag, which was always full of medications for emergencies. I always carried enough medicines in case a drugstore was unavailable or the patient did not have the means to pay the drugs.

As I looked around the room, I was impressed by drawings hanging on the walls that were in geometrical shapes with multiple colored lines. These drawings were beautiful and I was told by the patient’s father that even though she had poor eyesight, she created these pictures daily. I suggested to him that the pictures should be in a gallery for others to enjoy. He related to me that he had no contacts with galleries or art centers. Because I was aware of the Studio Museum in Harlem, I suggested that I would look into having her art displayed in their gallery. When the curator saw these works, he immediately arranged a show. The rest is history.

Now getting back to the apartment, as I was leaving, the father handed me a glass jar of coins in payment. To say the least, I was “jarred,” by this experience and handed the jar back to him. He hugged me and shook my hand as I left for my office.

It is important to remember when an illness overtakes you, always look for the outcome of the jar to be half full rather than half empty and you will get well.