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On Being a Doctor |

Caring for Strangers

Michael A. LaCombe, MD
[+] Article and Author Information

Bridgton, ME 04009


Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1997;127(4):329-330. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-127-4-199708150-00013
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The quiet young girl with thick eyebrows arching over blue eyes sat quietly, waiting for her chin to be sewn, and took it all in. The room was nearly full. Most of the people waiting with her were familiar to her, seemed to know her, glanced from her to her mother and formed the unspoken gossip with their eyes. This was life in a small town. She avoided their stares much as she suppressed the pain of her chin. Looking through the door, she saw the starched white nurses waiting on the doctor. She didn't ever want to wait on anybody. She wanted to be waited on. The doctor had something in his right hand, brought it down to a bare leg, then away, then down and away again. The girl caught the pungency of iodine, the steel-sharp scent of alcohol. There were old magazines she didn't want to read and a chart of fruits and vegetables on the wall. She was bored. She was tired. She was hurting.

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