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August 6, 1973

Human Care

JAMA. 1973;225(6):617-621. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220330031009

Years ago, I had to pay regular visits to a friend in a hospital. She was a young woman of about 30 when she was first afflicted, or when the symptoms became manifest. She was clever, good-looking in a delicate fashion, and unusually kind. So far as it is possible for a human being, she was entirely benevolent. The disease that struck her was what was then called disseminated sclerosis, though nowadays the fashionable term seems to be multiple sclerosis.

It followed a classical course, with remissions in the early phases, during which she could carry on with her job. Total paralysis came more quickly than was expected. Sometime before the end, the most she could do in the way of movement was to touch a bedside bellpush. She couldn't light a cigarette for herself, or put it to her lips. Her speech was almost unaffected.

Many of you will