She was a journalist. Someone who, by profession, was required to be articulate, clear, and eloquent. Someone who, by experience, could come up with the best choice of words to precisely detail and express her thoughts, opinions, and ideas. She could illustrate her thoughts-as though were a painting- by her grand vocabulary, by her effortless flow of words. She could once communicate to millions of readers, who heard her voice and felt her passion.

But today, she has difficulty with the most basic speech. Today, daily conversations have become a burden. Today, she became a resident of the High Care Dementia Unit.

In Medicine, you learn a lot about life. Not only do you learn about the physiology, pathology, and pharmacology, you learn much more about human interaction, relationships, and life.

As another 4th year medical student and I sat in the interdisciplinary team meeting, the members began discussing the patient’s progress, relevant issues, and overall health. Her husband was there. And what this elderly gentleman said at the meeting made me sit in awe…

He started his conversation by “We have been married for 59 happy years”. As he continued, he began expressing his guilt for not being able to take care of her. We asked him to tell us his concerns. As we prepared to answer medical questions regarding her health status, nutrition and cognition, his first request was if the nurses could put lipstick on his wife’s lips. He was SO concerned that she was not putting on her makeup, as she used to years before. He found it very difficult to do it himself, as he had no experience, and he wanted the nurses to make sure that his wife was dressed properly, hair done, nails groomed, and of course, wearing her favorite lip color. He went on to describe “a bottle of light brown liquid”, which we later realized was foundation. We giggled as this old man spoke of things he knew nothing about, but were dear to his wife. I could only imagine how beautiful their relationship was…


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