Thursday, April 29, 2010

All Dressed Up and Nowhere To Go

Often, when a patient comes to the end of a long illness and is about to die, they seem sense that the end is near. As I triaged a lady brought in by EMS last night, she explained to me how she said goodbye to the nursing home for the last time as the EMTs wheeled her through the hallways. She sighed as she told me about seeing her dead husband, and how she was ready to be with him again. And although her eyes were sad and moist, she seemed at peace.

The only problem - she wasn't dying.

Brought in for an altered mental status workup, the patient had no other major medical problems apart from mild dementia.

It seemed a particularly cruel trick for the mind to convince itself that the end was near, and to live out the remainder of one's days convinced that each one was the last.

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