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A Piece of My Mind
December 8, 1999

A Rainbow From Joanne

Author Affiliations

Edited by Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 1999;282(22):2101. doi:10.1001/jama.282.22.2101

I saw Joanne's stepmother and father in my office today. Her stepmother is to have a hip replacement soon and her orthopedist asked that I examine her.

"Did you know that Joanne died two months ago?" her stepmother asked.

"I read about her death in the paper," I replied. I turned to Joanne's father and said, "I'm sorry."

"Her death was a blessing," he said, and we all nodded.

Joanne was 45 years old, about my age. She had had diabetes for most of her life and the disease ruined her body one part at a time. Pale from years of living indoors, she had a broad face and prematurely gray hair. Although diabetes clouded her vision, Joanne's blue eyes never let go of a doctor until he or she listened to each of her problems and answered her questions. Her kidneys failed and she began dialysis. The circulation to her legs clogged and she developed large, infected ulcers that led to amputations of both legs, then higher amputations when the stumps became infected.

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