A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne
K. Young, Associate Editor.
Increasingly, my days are cluttered with busywork. It almost seems as
if there is a great conspiracy to distract my fellow physicians and me from
the important things we do. Not all doctors would agree on how to define the
term important. I, for one, relish those rare moments
when I can help a patient or family at a crossroad.
So it was for Agnes and Joe.
One of my partners had admitted Joe to the hospital the previous evening
for yet another bout of bronchitis. Joe had severe, oxygen-requiring chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, cor pulmonale, and right-sided heart failure.
The quip around my office was that Joe had only three alveoli left and two
of them were infected. Joe had lived with COPD for nine years. Five years
ago, he began to be increasingly forgetful. The passage of time made it clear
that Joe also had Alzheimer-type dementia.
Hensel WA. The Old Man's Friend. JAMA. 2000;283(14):1793-1794. doi:10.1001/jama.283.14.1793