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A Piece of My Mind
October 16, 2002

What Will I Do Without You?

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2002;288(15):1823-1824. doi:10.1001/jama.288.15.1823

"What will I do without you?" Mrs M cried as she asked me if it was true that I was retiring. Although I have never raised the issue of my retirement with any of my patients, this question and others like it have cropped up. And, of course, as I get older the questions are more frequent and more reality based.

Mrs M has been my patient and I her physician for 35 years. When I first saw her in March 1967, she was living with her husband and 2 daughters with her parents nearby. All but her older daughter are now gone: her husband with metastatic colon cancer, her daughter at age 19 from a perforated ulcer while taking prednisone for rheumatoid arthritis. Her parents died of heart disease: her father at 88, her mother at 90. Mrs M cared for all of them and they were all my patients.

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