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Great Books. My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World

David Danby
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New York: Simon and Schuster; 1996

Copyright ©2004 by the American College of Physicians

Ann Intern Med. 1997;127(11):1012. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-127-11-199712010-00012
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I was almost ready to put my mother in a home, which would have been a defeat for all of us-almost the modern equivalent of Regan and Goneril's driving Lear out into the storm. But my wife Cathy was not. The neurologist's haughty manner so enraged her that she insisted my mother see another doctor-a young man, but one who knew something about geriatrics-and from the moment my mother entered the new doctor's office, the clouds began to lift. He quickly determined that she had an excess of calcium in her blood, a condition that her old doctor had wrongly attributed to Paget's disease, and one that can, in some cases, cause dementia. Within weeks, a benign tumor was discovered in one of her parathyroid glands, and the gland was removed. In the hospital the day after the operation, when my mother was still in pain, I noticed that she was speaking more logically than she had in years. The nurses were slow, but they were not trying to destroy her. No, they simply had problems taking care of everybody. My wife had saved my mother's life.


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