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A Piece of My Mind
September 25, 2002

A Man of His Words

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2002;288(12):1445-1446. doi:10.1001/jama.288.12.1445

It never occurred to me that the man who came to see me when I was sick was anything other than my family's physician. Being sick gave me the honored comfortable spot on the sofa in what we called our living room. There, I waited expectantly for his house call. My mother always drew the shades to dim the room and there was quiet until he came.

The pattern was repeated often over the years. He did not elicit much in the way of a history, usually just the "chief complaint": "He's hot" or "His head hurts" or "His neck is swollen." The only pause before he sat beside me on the edge of the sofa was to wet a tongue blade because he knew I gagged very easily and he said it would help. (It never seemed to me that it did.)