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A Piece of My Mind
August 16, 2006

Knowing Ron

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2006;296(7):738. doi:10.1001/jama.296.7.738

I met Ron in April 1984 at the outpatient clinic for gay men at the medical center where I work with patients with AIDS; he had had AIDS for a year. He eyed me critically that first evening for evidence of competence, while I noted the signs of his chronic, progressive illness. His skin was pale and slightly gray. He was thin and angular, his clothes now two sizes too large for him. He walked with a noticeable unsteadiness and appeared exhausted at 5:30 in the evening.

I immediately identified with him. Both of us were educated in private high schools and small, Western colleges, and we were the same age. We were both from conservative, upper-middle-class families. Ron was independent, hard working, well groomed, articulate, and opinionated, but it was his subtle, convoluted, sometimes self-effacing sense of humor that most appealed to me.

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