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A Piece of My Mind
July 7, 2010

Old Men and the Sea

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2010;304(1):18-19. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.902

Man is not made for defeat. A man can be destroyed but not defeated.—Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

It was late on a Friday when I got the call: “New patient, trouble breathing. Too sick to see the doctor. Can you go to the home?” New in town, I was anxious to fill an empty afternoon.

His wife met me at the front door and led me to the living room where Mel was propped up in a portable bed. He had become stranded there three weeks before when his waterlogged legs would no longer allow him to take the stairs.