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June 25, 1982


JAMA. 1982;247(24):3309-3310. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03320490013007

At precisely 11 AM, Death knocked on the door of the intensive care unit. "May I visit Joanie?" he inquired politely.

A young nurse in a pink sweater shook her head. "Visiting is allowed the first 15 minutes after the hour from noon to 6 PM. ICU rules. Sorry."

The reproach barely ruffled him. He raised his chin slightly and tipped his hat. The white doors swung neatly closed behind him.

Joanie was admitted four months ago with tingling in her toes and a worrisome malaise. These were small complaints, it was true. The average person in the emergency room, wailing desperately to escape the coldness without, needed much more to gain admission. Joanie had no chest pain, her breath was unlabored, and her belly was as smooth and soft as any young woman's belly. No, she hadn't lost weight, and no, she didn't feel swellings in her armpits or