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A Piece of My Mind
July 20, 2011

The Patient’s Patients

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts (aredig@partners.org).

JAMA. 2011;306(3):247-248. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.934

At first I remember a dark fog and an alarm that kept growing louder and louder. This is a dream, I thought, floating in that half-awake, half-asleep haze when you can't quite tell what is real and what is not. But then in a flash I knew and now I was wide-awake and panicking. The noise was my pager, and the sun that was never out in the morning when I left for the hospital was streaming in through my bedroom windows. I was sprawled on the hardwood floor, crumpled in a tangle of limbs halfway between my bed and the door with no idea how I got there. “No-no-no-no-no,” I muttered as I scrambled stiffly to my feet, noting with growing horror that I had been face down, half-on and half-off a pile of unfolded laundry and the sham pillows I always kick off in the middle of the night. The pager was still beeping as I raced out of my room and discovered it was 10:14 AM. I was late—very late—for clinic.

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