My favorite medical diagnosis is “failure to thrive.”
Not because patients are failing to thrive — that part makes me sad. But because of the diagnosis’s bold proposition: Humans, in their natural state, are meant to thrive.
My patient, however, was not in his natural state. Cancer had claimed nearly every organ in his body. He’d lost a quarter of his body mass. I worried his ribs would crack under the weight of my stethoscope.
“You know,” he told me the evening I admitted him. “A few years ago, I wouldn’t have cared if I made it. ‘Take me God,’ I would’ve said. ‘What good am I doing here anyway?’ But now you have to save me. Sadie needs me.”