House Call

By Andrew Bomback

July 27, 2015

House Call

I never learned the cat's name, although Tom mentioned it when I visited him in his apartment. "Don’t mind Mr. Something," he said of the cat whose name was Mr. some other word. Tom lived just five minutes away from my house, and his wife said his legs were so swollen that it would require a 911 call to get him to my office. This was the only house call I’ve ever made. A year later, Tom was hospitalized with sepsis. I visited him at the hospital, spoke to him and his wife at the bedside, and encouraged them to sign a do not resuscitate form given Tom’s age and comorbidities, which by now included kidney failure. I suggested that they decline dialysis. It was snowing that afternoon, and Tom’s wife asked how I was getting home. She offered to drive me when I said that I was taking the train. In the car, she said, “I needed an excuse to get out of that room, to be honest, and there are some things I need from home anyway.” I said, “You probably also need to feed your cat.” I wish I could have called that cat by its name. I wanted her to know the recommendations I’d made for Tom were in his best interest, even if they were intended to hasten his death. I wanted her to know I’d let that cat rub itself against my leg.


Photo "happy kitty sleepy kitty" provided by mx, via creative commons license.

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