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A Piece of My Mind
August 9, 2006

In Only an Instant

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2006;296(6):631-632. doi:10.1001/jama.296.6.631

Several years have passed since that fateful afternoon in the tropics. We (S.H.R. and B.A.E.) were reveling in the opportunity to escape the frigid Minnesota winter, draped across beach chairs, with the unfamiliar sensation of direct sunlight spreading warmth across our bodies. Sunscreen was the dominant aroma, having been liberally slathered over every exposed inch of our blanched skin. The prevailing sound was the rhythm of the surf, punctuated by the occasional cry of an unfamiliar seabird. We were suspended in a gauzy state of consciousness, neither fully awake nor fully asleep, but far removed from the everyday rush of our professional lives. Our reverie was interrupted by faint cries for help from a swimmer in distress, splashing in the water well beyond the breaking waves. We were compelled to react and quickly divided our tasks. One of us entered the water to assist the stricken swimmer, while the other sought help and searched for a surfboard or flotation device.