“F—- you! I won’t do what you tell me!” the lyrics blare into my teenage ears, as I lip-synch to the rock band Rage Against the Machine’s song Killing In the Name. It’s 1992, and my Walkman is attached to the waistband of my Seattle Blues. It would take at least a decade to fully understand the meaning of those lyrics. Nearly thirty years later, this line …
Post Author: Amy Cowan, MD
Amy Cowan is an internal medicine physician.
It’s Monday morning, and I’m the attending physician starting a week of inpatient service in the hospital. On my patient list is a man named Earl, age ninety-one. He’s outlived his siblings, his first and second wives and all of his peers. After seven decades of smoking, his lungs are failing; he carries a diagnosis that reads “severe emphysema.”
The sign-out note from Earl’s previous doctor reads: “Daughter and son-in-law met …
Startled out of sleep, I reflexively reach for my beeping pager. For a split second, I lie poised between wakefulness and terror in the pitch-dark resident call room, not sure where I am or what happened. I resolve to sleep with the lights on from now on.
I dial the call-back number.
“Pod A,” a caffeinated voice chirps. It’s Candice, one of the nurses.
“Hi. Amy here, returning a page,” I murmur.
“Oh hi, …
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