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A Piece of My Mind
December 6, 2006

An Unquiet Death

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2006;296(21):2531-2532. doi:10.1001/jama.296.21.2531

To cure sometimes, to relieve often, to comfort always.

Usually quiet and stoic, my 89-year-old mother begged for relief. For days her knee had throbbed at rest, and walking was agonizing. My sister took her to a hospital where my mother was put to bed and treated with pain medications for six days. The “observation unit” had no bathroom and was not staffed for usual inpatient nursing care, so my family took shifts as attendants and comforters. My mother was miserable, literally writhing, constantly changing her position to relieve escalating back pain. Her knee pain and swelling increased.

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