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April 9, 1982

Time—A Brief Fantasy

JAMA. 1982;247(14):1906. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320390004002

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They are old, so very, very aged, and they keep growing older.

"But Doctor, why am I in pain?"

"It's simply the aging process. Not a disease, you understand, just a physiological decline. You might call it gray hair of the joints."

"But Doctor, what can I do about it?"

"Aspirin, heat, rest, not much else. It's the price you pay for senior citizenry."

"But Doctor, I didn't have the pain and stiffness last week. I never felt like this before, why now?"

The nonacceptance of aging. The bewilderment at how quickly it happened. The endless questioning. The routine visits from month to month. Prescribing enough aspirin to reach the moon, advising sufficient hot baths to fill an ocean, recommending rest enough to take a lifetime.

Moving from examining room to examining room all afternoon, like touring a museum of what has become. Attempting to stimulate interest, going on automatic