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Reality Checks


  • April R. Dworetz


Giving up on our dreams is not easy. I am a neonatologist, and I often watch the parents of my patients wish for the impossible. They come to the NICU with their own stories, their own expectations, and their own values. They have had nine long months to imagine their perfect child and often struggle with learning to accept the hand they have been dealt and the child they really have.

Neonatology and geriatrics have a lot in common. Both specialties treat patients who cannot describe their symptoms. Both deal with family members who are serving as surrogate decision-makers. These family members often wrestle with end-of-life issues, and they share a tendency to sometimes base their decisions on emotions rather than on the best interests of the patients involved. I know this, but I didn't really understand it until I lived it.