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A Piece of My Mind
February 22, 2006

Doctors Need Doctors Too

JAMA. 2006;295(8):866-867. doi:10.1001/jama.295.8.866

Although I have delayed seeing him till last, it is still early morning when I tiptoe into his room in the hospice. Stopping by the bedside, I gaze at his placid expression, debating whether to wake him for a desultory conversation or allow him his much-need rest. His pale, smooth-shaven face is tinged by a shade of yellow that grows deeper by the day. The bed sheet adjusted carefully over him does little to obscure the gross edema of his legs and scrotum, now weeping their contents onto the mattress. The urinary catheter has taken on a fluorescent hue, a contrast to the bag of dull saline that has almost dripped away. Yet, despite the signs of discomfort, he breathes peacefully and I decide against waking him. As I quietly pick up his chart, the hard plastic clangs against the metal bed frame, and before I know it, he is awake and I am sorry.

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