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A Piece of My Mind
February 28, 2007

The Need to Know

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;297(8):787-788. doi:10.1001/jama.297.8.787

For three years I have lived with the unsolvable—as if sitting at a table covered with pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. I have been ignorant of the picture's image, its dimensions, even its shape. For months I shoved the puzzle-table into a corner of the room. Then it expanded to become an elephant in my life.

An introduction to what was to come occurred one evening as my husband and I docked our canoe on the Swamp River of northern Minnesota. I was puzzled to find that I was unable to rise from the seat, feeling neither fatigue nor pain but rather that my legs simply were too weak to lift my body. A month later I was unable to swallow a bite of sandwich. And soon after, I stood in the supermarket and watched a jar of marinara crash to the floor in a splatter of glass and sauce when my hand went limp under its weight. Hour upon hour I’ve studied these and other puzzle pieces that lie on the table; over and over I’ve turned them in my hands, trying in vain to find pairs that might be forced together.

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