On a September night not long after his 83rd birthday, my father suffered a massive stroke.  It left him conscious yet unable to talk and communicate, unable to swallow, and almost completely paralyzed. After numerous scans and other tests, his doctors determined that there was no chance for recovery.  My father would never walk, talk, or swallow food again.  With nothing more to do for him in the hospital, we -- ...

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One thing I learned early on as a doctor is different people have different tolerances for pain.  At one end of the spectrum, for example, I recall a woman who came to the emergency department with a small splinter in her foot.  She arrived wailing in pain, and we had to take her back to a treatment room ahead of other patients because her howling was scaring the people in ...

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