Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

3 Adar I 5760 - February 9, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Home and Family
Your Medical Questions Answered!
by Joseph B. Leibman, MD

Diplomate, Board Certification of Emergency Medicine

Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine Ma'ayenei Hayeshua Hospital

Some random thoughts . . .

People often call me for advice, and Mrs. Robinson called a year and a half ago concerning whether her father should have an operation to clean out arteries which would reduce his risk of stroke. We went back and forth over that period to the point where I felt I knew her father personally, although I never met him. He did have the operation and did well afterwards, yet months later he succumbed to an illness not related to the operation. I am saddened by his loss.

On to other subjects. The Journal of the American Medical Association reports that 430,000 Americans died from cigarette smoking last year. Another report tried to find a benefit for smoking, but did not succeed. Yet the Hebrew edition of Yated printed a letter from someone in Haifa that stated that the writer does not believe that there is any danger at all for 4-5 cigarettes a day. I want to let my readers know in no uncertain terms: the proof that smoking is harmful to your health is better than the proof that the world is round.

I washed my hands at a public place and found the two towels sewn together over a bar as the only method they had for drying them. These towels are very unsanitary, and probably are related to the spread of flu and other diseases. Wash your hands well with soap and running water, and dry them on disposable towels.

I was asked to say a word about nursing. In Israel, mothers are encouraged to use formula. There is evidence that nursing babies receive more than just vitamins and energy from nursing. They receive antibodies and other crucial materials that lead to babies who grow up better-adjusted, healthier and one study said even with higher IQs.

However, I felt I shouldn't say a word about mothers without saying a word about fathers. Men should also be given the opportunity to bind with a new baby, such as feeding them from a bottle on an occasional night off for mother. I did know one male who "didn't do diapers." Many never deal with taking a child to the doctor. Those of us blessed with great fathers probably do not need to read this, but my point is that being a father is a responsibility as well.

Rav Adelman was a great talmid chochom who was born and educated in Brisk. He lived in our hospital's geriatric ward for a long time. He was known as a strong-willed man whose stubbornness easily and suddenly would melt into warmth. He was niftar with a clear mind until the end, wearing his tallis and tefillin.

Rav Adelman and Mrs. Robinson's father reminded me once again that despite all the attempts in medical school to condition me to death, it never really worked. I promise to all my readers, that despite whatever tough exterior your doctor has, we all cry inside. You may say that it's because of the fact that we are the most aware of our mortality. But let me tell you a secret -- it's precisely because a pressing need to do chesed that drove us into this field, and into our patients' lives. This is what makes us feel a loss when our patients have lost someone dear. But then again, it is this which keeps us going as physicians. Write me in care of the Yated.


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