Hitting a Nerve

Reminders of our mortality can come when physicians least expect it


This time of year I spend weekend afternoons in my hot tub, catching up on medical journals, CME, paperbacks, and generally anything worth reading that shows up in my mailbox.

Dr. Allan M. Block, a neurologist is Scottsdale, Ariz.

Dr. Allan M. Block

One of those items was the alumni news from my medical school. As usual, I leafed through it, reading articles of interest and glancing at updates on any classmates that were featured.

Then I stopped.

There, in the back of the magazine, was an obituary on the first of my classmates to pass (that I’m aware of).

I reread it a few times in disbelief. Maybe it was on her taking a new job or being promoted, and was in the wrong section. Nope.

I put the magazine down. She was 1 year younger than me and had gone into internal medicine. Not someone I’d kept in touch with, but certainly was friendly with during those 4 years and frequently chatted with in hallways or between classes. I remember meeting her during the first week of school, when I got her name mixed up with another girl’s in our class. I saw her at parties, meetings, and I think even played doubles tennis with her once, though who we played against I have no idea anymore.

She was at our 20th reunion, and we’d talked for a few minutes. We caught up on our lives since graduation and, as people do at these things, moved on to chat with others.

No details were given as to her death, and it really doesn’t matter.

We all face our own mortality sooner or later. For most of each day it’s a fact in the back of our minds, behind the daily activities of working, shopping, doing laundry, commuting, and cooking dinner. After all, it’s really what we do while here that matters, no matter how mundane it may seem.

But sometimes something will push that realization to the front, and make us remember how important every minute really is.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology practice in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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