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[Perspectives] Losing a patient

He made his way into my exam room supported by two metal crutches that braced at the elbow, lurching his withered legs forward, step by excruciating step. His spine was twisted and scoliotic, causing him to list precariously to the left. He was a wisp of a man, barely clocking in at 100 lb—wasted away, it looked like, from untreated polio and a lifetime of subsistence living.