Living With Immortality

Behind the White Coat


“To himself everyone is immortal; he may know that he is going to die, but he can never know that he is dead.” – Samuel Butler

Every day I watch my elderly patients struggle with their loss of independence, the certainty of their own mortality.

Today was terrible. My patient to who is in her 80’s and has travelled the world, looked at me with bewildered, pleading eyes.

Can’t you make this stop?

She was in for a hospital follow-up, her third so far this year. Her last overseas trip was just about nine months ago. She is coming to grips with the fact that travel is over for her. Her world is shrinking.

“Getting old is awful, Doc.”

Yes. Yes it is.

I had another patient tell me once that she had thought she had escaped wrinkles… until she had her cataracts done. “Doc, I cried for days and…

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