Manuel A. Eskildsen, MD writes:
Long after I had asked the paramedics to stop, I was more dejected and frustrated by this patient’s death than by almost any I had experienced as a physician.
Sure, performing CPR after cardiopulmonary arrest on a frail man in his late 90s was likely to be an exercise in futility. And, in retrospect, we should have been more aggressive at the nursing home about suggesting he change his status from “full code” to “do not resuscitate.” But that wasn’t the main reason this man’s death continued to gnaw at me.
My patient was gay, and as a gay geriatrician I had felt a connection with him unlike any I’d had with my other patients. We never directly discussed his sexuality; initially, I only knew that he was a lifelong bachelor and a retired history professor who had taught for many years at Emory University in Atlanta.
In time, as he let his guard down, I learned that what he considered his life’s work and true love was the restoration of the historic farmhouse he owned in rural Georgia, where he had an enormous garden that was his pride and joy. Eventually, this World War II veteran told me about his postwar years as a graduate student in Chicago, where he formed close relationships with a few other men.
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