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J Gen Intern Med. 2016 August; 31(8): 973.
Published online 2016 April 12. doi:  10.1007/s11606-016-3688-0
PMCID: PMC4945563

Life Expectancy

Rising mortality and morbidity in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century www.pnas.org/cgi/doi/10.1073/pnas.1518393112

It used to be that even the poor and desperate would live longer and better in what would always be the richest country. It used to be we’d have a pill for everything, something at least to take the edge off, something we wouldn’t spend the whole visit talking about, the 20 minute visit they’ve driven hours to be late to.

That royal we? Just me, midlife, white, non-Hispanic too, but more late midlife than they are, more middle class too and running a little late myself while noticing more and more that moment we’re supposed to stay in is running slower and slower.

They are a couple and to prove it, her name matches the name tattooed on his neck. I had to ask. He’s looking out the window, having lost our staring contest. It’s a good time to change the subject to something everyone can live with. Flu shots? I wasn’t trying to be funny but I’m grateful for a smile, the smile slow learners earn. How many times does he have to explain that the last time he got the shot, he got the flu. The funny thing is: me too. Not the real flu, but flu-ish, aches and chills just like it was for him. We take a moment to be victims together. He can owe me the random urine sample.


Articles from Journal of General Internal Medicine are provided here courtesy of Society of General Internal Medicine