Death Takes a Weekend

April 20, 2015 6:40 PM

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Death Takes a Weekend

I wanted my mother to write this essay. My mother was a writer all her life -- novels, memoirs, essays, even blog entries -- and in recent years she'd written some articles about aging and illness, about the indignities of becoming less independent. [1,2] So when she got sick, I decided that when she was better, I would urge her to write a piece about being in the hospital -- about pain and fear and comfort and cure, but also about unexpected revelations of hospital routine and custom, as seen from the patient's perspective. I even kept a list of topics for her, and the first one was the hospital weekend. Not too charged, I thought, not too personal -- a good way to broach the subject of being a patient and to write about a practical problem while touching on the fear and pain underneath. She would write it when she was better, when she was home, when she was cured. But there was no comfort and no cure, so here I am.

From the physician's perspective, weekends in the hospital are all about coverage. I remember, during residency, feeling that the attendings brought in doughnuts for weekend rounds because the world owed us something for being there, holding the fort. I came to take it for granted that hospital life...

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