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Patient as Gift

Abstract: “Sit down,” Mr. R demanded. “I’ve got something to say to you.” I shot the medical student a querying glance as we simultaneously sunk into our chairs. He continued, “You don’t know me, and I got some things to tell you.”

I thought I knew Mr. R, and I certainly had some idea of what he was all about. But then he called to me. In his summoning, Mr. R arrested all my preconceived ideas about him. And as the medical student and I began to understand him better, we wanted to know more. We began to engage him more deeply. In the subsequent days, caring for him somehow felt easier, akin to the care one gives a distraught friend rather than a difficult patient.

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