The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Friday, July 25, 2003  

Who Needs a Doctor When Mom’s a Phone Call Away?

My mother is amazing. She really is. She knows everything.

To hell with doctors -- And I mean that! [See no. 84.] -- who needs `em when Mom is just a phone call away?

This is a woman who correctly diagnosed -- over the phone, at a distance of 300-something miles -- an outbreak, on me, at age 25, of Chicken Pox, a diagnosis for which the doctor I visited, in person, demanded three separate tests to confirm.

She, the doctor, kept saying, “Maybe it’s syphilis,” a prospect that had me reeling, what with my mom expecting a post-appointment update.

So, like what? I’m supposed to call my mother tonight and tell her I have . . . syphilis?

I don’t think so. (Think of a lie . . . think of a lie . . . think of a lie . . . )

This is a woman, my mom I mean, who, when I called about a particularly nasty cough, told me, “Oh, you have bronchitis. It’s in your trachea. You need to go to a doctor and get a prescription for a cough suppressant. Something with codeine. That will stop the urge to cough. And you need a strong expectorant. That will get all the junk out of your lungs and throat.”

She was right.

I went to the doctor and these were his (almost) exact words: “Well, Mr. Capozzola [I insist doctors who expect me to call them “Dr. Smith” or “Dr. Jones” use the honorific.], you have bronchitis. Trachaeobronchitis, actually. I’m going to prescribe a codeine-based suppressant that will stop the urge to cough. And I’m also going to prescribe Guiafenisen. It’s a very strong expectorant that will help clear all the junk out of your lungs and throat.”

I mean, is this woman amazing or what?

So I was not surprised when Mom came through with some advice about Lucy’s neck.

Mom, being the consummate, well, mom, suggested Lucy’s mother, Jennifer Weiner, was having a maternal moment. Mom was quite certain Jennifer was being facetious in what she wrote about what she saw in Lucy’s neck. Mom was sure the words were just an expression of Weiner’s discovery of yet another beautiful aspect of her child.

Still, Mom offered her words of wisdom.

That gunk, according to my mother, is most likely lint wetted down by perspiration. Mom adds that it can be easily cleaned with a damp washcloth, and that -- as she tells my siblings all the time -- there’s nothing to worry about.

Jennifer is doing just fine, she says.

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