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A Piece of My Mind
July 12, 2000

I Held Him in My Arms and Wept

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2000;284(2):152. doi:10.1001/jama.284.2.152

A year before his death, 17-year-old Atria weighs 7 stone. He has left his village. He is afraid and he is ashamed. He is embarrassed to be here. He is sweating, he fights. His hands tremble. His pulse is rapid. He tries to smile.

His problems aren't only the rashes and the intestinal worms. These are easily cleared up. But you can't "clear up" anger and fear, or sleepless nights and panic attacks, or how long a few minutes can seem . . . or the sense of powerlessness watching your own body fall away, the humiliation of disintegration.