It happened again. Another lost soul in the last three weeks of her pregnancy found her way into my office. Although they had been together since her first trimester, he dumped her during the most vulnerable stage of her pregnancy. No, not her boyfriend; her Ob-Gyn provider.  She had reached the age of legal adulthood and was summarily booted from her mother’s health plan. Although the patient and her husband had offered the physician a $1,000 down payment until her Medicaid benefit was approved, they were met with a resounding “No!” So off she went, with her medical chart in hand into the land of the uninsured.  As I listened to her story with both empathy and remorse, I thought about my plumber, Handy-Manny. Manny has been my plumber for almost fourteen years and has been in business long before the emergence of the infamous Disney character. In fact, we suspect that Disney might have “borrowed” Manny’s identity, but that’s another story for another time.

 One week after my husband and I returned home from Ethiopia with two new children in-tow, the pipes in our laundry room burst. We called Manny in a panic. He arrived promptly but gave us the bad news. This was our third leak in less than a year and the pipes in our 15-year-old home needed to be replaced. Ouch. The Ethiopia trip and adoption had set us back financially and we simply did not have the money. Not to worry, said Manny. “Pay me when you can. Your house needs the repair.” Because of our home’s unique configuration, Manny had to bypass the old pipes, install the new pipes through the attic and remove cemented tiles from the kitchen floor. It was not an easy feat. We paid Manny for his miraculous service with an interest-free payment plan for the next three months and continue to sing his praises in our leak-free home.

Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.” I hope my medical colleagues are listening.