Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Your mom will always be your mom, part 1

Alright, I confess – my mother is probably the number one fan of this blog. Ever since I told her I’d be writing one, she has been reading it faithfully. I asked her not to post comments (only because it’s a tad embarrassing to have your parents interacting with you in front of an audience, and frankly, I haven’t noticed a single other blogger doing this!) but alas, she couldn’t resist on that last one. And that’s ok, because I know you readers don’t mind.

My mom does have rare occasions of impulse control failure. One of the more memorable ones was during “Parents Day” at my medical school. The Alumni Association had planned a reception for the parents of the incoming class of 2000 at Columbia U. College of Physicians & Surgeons. There was a full agenda, and my mom quickly noticed that the surgeon who’d saved my life was slotted to speak. The auditorium was full of hundreds of proud parents and their kids, all excited about embarking on a noble career in medicine.

Well, just as my former surgeon was introduced and was walking to the podium my mother jumped up and ran in front of him and asked if she could please have the mike. The MC was visibly nervous (not as much as I was), but after quickly sizing my mom up, she decided that it would be ok to let her have the podium briefly.

In one of the most moving speeches in recent memory, my mother proceeded to explain the story of how Dr. Schullinger had promised not to give up on me (a baby with little chance of survival) and how he had kept his promise to this day. She described the miraculous abdominal surgery (where he had to remove most of my colon), and how he had faithfully responded to every Christmas card she sent him, reporting on my progress for 26 consecutive years. She thanked him for what he did, and pledged that her daughter would devote her life to “doing likewise.”

Well, that brought down the house. Everyone cheered for Dr. Schullinger, who turned beet red (he’s a very shy and humble person) and stumbled through the beginning of his speech. It was a great moment in medicine.

Of course, I was teased mercilessly for the rest of the year – my classmates called me Valerie “semi-colon” Jones, and they would ask if my mother was going to help me with my homework… But kids will be kids.

What I learned from my mom that day is that this old Hebrew proverb is important to follow:

“Never withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thy hand to do it.”

So if someone has done something good for you, or you notice an act of kindness – why not shout it from the hill tops? May goodness rise above the low level grumbling that we live in day to day.

Let’s revel in the sunny parts of life.

This post originally appeared on Dr. Val’s blog at

You may also like these posts

Read comments »

Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »