It was Saturday night and I was in the hot seat. My wife, Sharlene, and I were one of several couples chosen to play a homemade version of “The Marriage Game.” The idea was to provide entertainment for our friends as we discovered how little we really knew about each other. All the wives left the room while the husbands were asked various questions about them. Then the game was reversed. During the men’s turn to answer questions, I was doing quite well until I was asked “What were the colors at your wedding?”

All of you ladies know there’s a huge difference between genders regarding color importance. But what you also need to know is that for some of us, that difference is profound! If I had been asked that question three weeks after our wedding it is doubtful I would have been able to get the correct answer. Fifty plus years later? Not a chance!

Sharlene and I had obviously been married longer than anyone else in the game that evening, so my answer was very simple. “Our wedding was so long ago that there was no such thing as color. We only had black and white way back then!”

Over this same period of time I have also made observations about the practice of medicine. Looking back, I believe they are more relevant now than ever.

As a medical student and an intern, I enjoyed each branch of medicine that I rotated through. Somehow I was supposed to make a decision about which area of medicine to spend my life practicing. That was tough. Finally I determined that the doctors who knew the most about medical care were internal medicine specialists. Launching my career in that direction I began a three year residency program. However, even before finishing the first yearI knew I could never spend the rest of my life in this area of medicine. Even in those “olden days,” it was obvious that much disease and suffering was the result of faulty lifestyles. My patients wanted only some pharmaceutical adjustment. Most couldn’t be bothered with nutrition, exercise, rest, or any other lifestyle change.

I informed my teaching hospital that I was going to drop out of the residency program at the end of the first year. But then I had no idea what to do with my future. My next 2 years in general practice were vital because I met a segment of the population who actually would stop smoking, eat better nutrition, and get exercise. These were the ladies who were pregnant. They took ownership of their health and the health of their unborn babies.

Returning to a hospital residency, I chose to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology. What I didn’t realize at that time was that after the baby was delivered, most of the ladies quickly returned to their pre-pregnancy habits. This was my introduction to the challenging field of lifestyle change.

Take Home: Lessons learned in the “black and white” era are no less valid than lessons learned in the 4-color era.