At the beginning of my medical career, I met a patient who would change the trajectory of my life. He was a World War I veteran who suffered from arthritis, causing an excruciating grinding noise whenever he bent his limbs. Despite having risked his life for his country, his pain was so excruciating that whenever I passed by his room, he would grab at me and tearfully beg, “Help me die. You’re a doctor—you can do it. I’d rather be dead than keep living with the pain.”
I could not help him then. But I vowed to spend the rest of my life fighting for people in pain.