I approach the holiday season with apprehension; it conjures up memories from my youth of disunity, abandonment and what seems like intractable melancholy and disappointment. King Solomon in the book of Proverbs, which is in the Ketuvim of the Hebrew Bible, states that “hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and merely writing these sentiments produces a visceral feeling of a sick, empty heart.
Yet when nine black individuals were horrifically slaughtered in an historic black church in South Carolina by a white male (Dylann Storm Roof) who said, “You rape our women and you’re taking over our country — and you have to go,” all of a sudden psychiatry and mental illness become the legitimate explanation. Of course, Roof later confessed that he hoped his actions would start a “race war” and he was seen in pictures wearing a jacket with flags of apartheid South Africa, as well has sporting a license plate with the Confederate flag.
“If I begin to repeat myself, just tell me. I have Alzheimer’s. At least, I think I do,” the elderly gentleman said with a smile. This elderly patient of mine was a jovial gentleman and in fantastic shape with unremarkable vitals on physical examination. If it was not for his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease, the physical and emotional state of this patient given his age is nothing less than enviable.
After introducing myself as a first-year medical student working the attending physician, I went through the medical history with the patient in order to ascertain his chief complaint and history of present illness.