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An Act of Love

For sixty-seven years, my dad was my best friend. We enjoyed walking and talking, taking long drives while licking ice cream cones, traveling, and just sitting in companionable silence. 

We were best friends, but we always respected each other’s physical privacy. All of this changed when I became Dad’s caregiver. 

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A 3:00 a.m. Phone Call

 
When the phone rang at 3:00 a.m., as I reached out my hand to answer it I knew the call was bringing bad news. On the other end of the line, I heard my dad’s croaky, Parkinsonian voice stammer,”Rozzie, I’m so cold. Come here and help me; I can’t reach the blanket to cover myself.” It seemed like forever before he was able to squeeze out the additional information that he’d called the front desk

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A Date with Mom

I rush into the waiting room, trying to make it on time. Mom is sitting in the chair, patiently reading her romance novel with her ninety-nine cent bifocals. Calm and relaxed, in contrast to my frantic entrance as I juggle my schedule to try and make her appointment.
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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

H. Lee Kagan

My longtime patient Brenda let the top of her exam gown drop to her waist, stepped down off the exam table and turned to look at herself in the mirror. As I watched, she cupped her seventy-eight-year-old breasts in her palms and unceremoniously hoisted them up to where they’d probably resided when she was in her twenties.

“I’m thinking about having my boobs done,” she said. “My girlfriend had hers

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Bliss Lomotil blum

Repose

Alan Blum

About the artist: 

Alan Blum is a professor and Gerald Leon Wallace MD Endowed Chair in family medicine at the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Tuscaloosa. A self-taught artist, he has published three books of his sketches and stories of patients, and his artworks have appeared in more than a dozen medical journals and textbooks. He is a frequent guest speaker at

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First Language

Carl V. Tyler

In my clinic and in the nursing home
Every week I see it
That depthless hollow look behind the eyes
But this time it was your eyes
Sitting across the table
At a TGI Friday’s outside of DC.

And that all-too-familiar look to your face
Of knowing and not knowing
Of barely contained panic
Of quizzically furrowed brow
Of fear.

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House Beautiful

Liat Katz

Virginia is sweet. And I don’t mean that in a patronizing, “Isn’t she cute and sweet in her neediness and cluelessness” kind of way. You can tell that she has always been a warm and inviting person, and that she likes people. And today, I need sweet.

As an Adult Protective Services (APS) social worker, I’ve had quite a week among the belligerent abusers, the angry hoarders and the adult children

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Homecoming

Ronna L. Edelstein

For years, and especially as he entered his nineties, my father kept begging me not to “dump” him into a nursing home. He had seen too many of his cronies abandoned in this way by family members; his visits with these friends left him feeling depressed and hopeless for days. I assured Dad that I’d never put him in a facility.

It was an easy promise to make. I didn’t

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No Crying

Riddhi Shah

“There’s no crying in baseball!”

Over the years, my fellow surgery residents and I heard these words shouted countless times by Dr. Norris, a cantankerous elderly surgeon with whom we had the dubious pleasure of working.

Dr. Norris was a former Navy ship surgeon. He didn’t operate much anymore, but he fondly remembered the “good old days” when trainees spent days on end in the hospital. The phrase emerged whenever he

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Pimped

Anne Whetzel

It’s two months into my second year of medical school, and I’m at the clinic, preparing to shadow Dr. Neiland, a primary-care physician.

I didn’t want to come here this morning.

Yesterday, one of my preceptors decided that it was my turn to be “pimped.” Pimping, in medical education, is when the preceptor asks you questions until you get one wrong. Then he asks more questions, highlighting your ignorance. Theoretically,

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My Father’s Girl

Maureen Hirthler

I’m walking very slowly with my dad down the produce aisle at the local supermarket, past the colorful waxed apples, Mexican mangoes and Rainier cherries, and imagining my life’s blood trickling onto the floor from an invisible wound.

As I pass by the misting system spraying the bins of green, red, yellow and orange peppers, past the lady reaching for carrots, past the stock guy balancing the heirloom tomatoes into a

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Popping the Question

Mitch Kaminski

Mr. Dwyer isn’t my patient, but today I’m covering for my partner in our family-practice office, so he’s been slipped into my schedule.

Reading his chart, I have an ominous feeling that this visit won’t be simple.

A tall, lanky man with an air of quiet dignity, Mr. Dwyer is eighty-eight. His legs are swollen, and merely talking makes him short of breath.

He suffers from both congestive heart failure

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