It Really Does Take a Village

It Really Does Take a Village

I grew up in a modest, working-class neighborhood in northern New Jersey. We were on the wrong side of the tracks in one of the ten richest counties in the country.  (President Nixon’s retirement estate was in a nearby town.)  Most of the neighbors were members of my large extended family, and even our  church was on this street.  If that wasn’t enough, the pastor was my uncle, and my father and grandmother were on the board of deacons!

My mother, who was barely eighteen when my parents married,  gave birth to three daughters before her twenty-third birthday. She relied heavily on her early experiences caring for her younger brothers and sister, but her most priceless resource was  the guidance and Native American wisdom of her mother-in-law. Fortunately for all of us, “Momma”  lived just two doors down, in the house where she had raised her own ten children, as well as a few nephews and nieces. Mom’s own mother, my “Gramma T”, worked fiercely to support the family.  My grandfather struggled with (unrecognized) PTSD and alcoholism after WWII and later became physically disabled from a work injury.  Gramma would walk to her housekeeping job and clean all day before walking back home to cook and manage her own household.  On weekends, she would walk  a mile and a half to the nearest grocery store and wheel a small cart home with her frugally-chosen purchases.

These strong women taught me by example some lessons more valuable than any I have learned in college and medical school:
1. Sometimes the best way to get something done is to do it yourself;
2. Recognize your limitations and ask for help from the right people when you need it;
3. Family and faith make the world a safer place;
4. Do the best you can with what you have;
5. Share what you don’t need with others, and graciously accept when others share with you.
6. Nobody is perfect;  and…..

7. We’re all in this together.

With the encouragement of my mother and grandmothers, I ignored the skepticism of others and received a BS in Biomedical Engineering, magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University. (Insert picture of proud parents here!)  After earning my MD from Robert Wood Johnson Medical School (now known as Rutgers Medical School),  I returned to Vanderbilt for my residency in pediatrics. I moved to the Shenandoah Valley in 1995, where I practiced Pediatrics for nearly fifteen years before retiring in 2010 to focus on my own  medical issues.  (I will share more about this in later posts.)
I am a blessed single mother to a beautiful daughter who was born in Guatemala. Our love for each other and my hopes for her future have sustained me through many struggles with the complications of diabetes, and continue to inspire ambitions for my own future. Throughout my retirement, I have relished those times when a parent or grandparent would greet me with a “Do you mind if I ask you a question?”   Being Dr. D was never just my job; it is a large part of who I am, along with Mother, Daughter, Woman, Patient, Grateful Person of Faith and everyday American surrounded by tough economic, social and political issues.

I understand that parenting is not easy even in the best of circumstances.  As I have often admitted, I am glad there are no hidden cameras in my house!  So feel free to share your own struggles, questions, tips or coping tricks with the rest of us.  Share your thoughts and opinions here.  This is meant to be  a safe, non-judgmental place to visit.  After all,

…We’re all in this together.

Dr. D


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