Medicine: Saturday Night

"Take me, God Almighty, please take me. I don't want to live no more. Why should I live to be tortured?"

On an examination table in Chicago's huge Cook County Hospital, a 70-year-old woman lay limply, pleading for death between long, painful gasps. Her fingernails were blue. She was critically ill of congestive heart failure. The woman's brother, a wizened little Irishman with a patch over one eye, stood beside the table explaining why he had let her go so long without medical attention. "I thought it would pass, and I didn't want to...

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