I am sure that you have heard the expression, after things have overtaken you, to look at the situation as a glass half full, rather than as a glass half empty. In my medical practice, I have always advised my patients, after a diagnosis has been made, to consider that many things can be done to relieve their distress and bring their health back into balance.

When I was a kid, my mom would can fruits and vegetables in preparation for the cold winter months when these foods would not be as plentiful at the corner store. Although this food preservation was called canning, it was really jarring in glass containers. It was done with perfection, in order for the healthy goodies not to spoil. Everything had to be kept sterile, otherwise bubbles would appear in the jar telling you that there were live bacteria or yeast present and that the food would not be edible. Even today, I advise eating preserved foods stored in glass rather than in metal containers, because the chemicals in plastics and in can linings may contain toxic materials that can leach 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 was not my territory; however, the urgency in the man’s voice on the phone prompted my decision to go. Arriving at the apartment house, I was met at the door by an elderly gentleman who shook my hand and expressed relief that I had arrived. The apartment was warm and comfortable but small. He led me into a bedroom off the kitchen to see his invalid daughter, who needed medical care. He told me that she had many birth defects and was bedridden most of the time.

After examining her, it was evident that she had severe bronchitis and 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 a patient lacked the means to pay for drugs.)

As I looked around the room, I noticed that the walls were hung with beautiful drawings of geometrical shapes with multiple colored lines. The father told me that even though his daughter had poor eyesight, she created these pictures daily. I suggested to him that these pictures should be shown in a gallery for others to enjoy, but he had no contacts with galleries or art centers. I offered to talk to someone at the Studio Museum in Harlem. When the curator saw these works, he immediately arranged a show. Many folks came to the show and purchased some of her pictures.

Now getting back to the story: As I was leaving the apartment, the patient’s father handed me a glass jar half filled with coins as payment for my visit. I was “jarred” by this offer, to say the least, and handed the jar back to him. He hugged me and shook my hand as I left for my office.

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