Now is that OB or SOB?

This is a true story. Only the names and location have been changed.

Martha Mahoney was an experienced mother with three children - all delivered without anesthesia and without complications - and another one on the way. Her family was thriving, and she never took the children to the "baby expert," the pediatrician, or even to a GP for that matter. There was simply no need.

Late one Sunday afternoon, Martha and her husband, Fred, were enjoying a drive on the main boulevard of the typical west-central American city where they lived. The three girls were quietly occupied in the back seat.

Martha startled everyone when she said, with some hint of anxiety: "Fred I have that funny feeling I always get. The baby's coming."

After checking Martha in at the emergency department, Fred deposited the children with his parents, who lived only a few blocks away, and rushed back to the hospital. In his brief absence, Martha had been immediately X-rayed, against her adamant refusal. Minutes later a doctor strode in to the small, bare examining room. He was tall, grim and rude (He had heard of the X-ray "refusal" and he was angry - REFUSING his order for a simple X-ray? Who did she think she was anyway?)

"I am Dr. Ludinsky," he said, and without waiting for Martha or Fred to introduce themselves he went on. "Your baby is over eight pounds and we have a standard rule here that all babies over eight pounds are delivered by Caesarian section."

"But I always have babies over eight pounds and I have never had a problem - this is my fourth! I do not want a C-section and I want to talk to another doctor," Martha objected

Ludinsky ignored her. "The baby is coming any minute and the nurse will be in to prepare you." With that he wheeled around and slammed the door behind him.

The nurse entered promptly and confided in Martha and Fred: "Look, I know this place and I know this creep. He's on the phone right now getting a court order to force you to have a Caesarian section! I suggest you get dressed and be ready to escape from here as soon as you can. Here's the address of a good private hospital that's only ten minutes away."

Without another word, Fred half carried her to the back stairs and they dashed down the three flights into the parking garage.

When they arrived at the other hospital, Martha and Fred met Dr. McLinden. He examined Martha briefly and said: "Everything seems to be fine. The baby will come when he is ready, which I think will be soon. Do you agree? You don't need me for this little drama; we both know that. But I'll stick around, if it's OK?"

The baby, Fredrick McLinden Mahoney, nine pounds, ten ounces, was born without mishap 30 minutes later.

Unfortunately, the situation Martha and Fred encountered at the first hospital is becoming more and more common: Doctors who ignore their patients' requests and refusals and force them into procedures they don't want, and many times don't need. But there are still physicians out there like Dr. McLinden, who know they're not God - the trick is finding them. My best advice? If you're in an emergency department and are able to, look for a doc with some grey in his hair and a smile in his eyes and demand to have him treat you. If there isn't anyone who fits that description and you can get up and walk out - or have someone else help you make a prompt exit - do it and don't look back.

A persimmon a day

A collaborative study posits that persimmons may be better than apples for promoting cardiovascular health. Persimmons contain significantly more of the polyphenol antioxidants, which prevent hardening of the arteries, than apples do.

The combination of relatively high fiber content, polyphenols, minerals, and other trace elements "makes persimmons preferable [to apples] for an antiatherosclerotic diet," one of the researchers from Israel concluded.

Persimmons are available in most grocery stores.