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When Someone Asks, ‘Doctor, Am I Going to Die?’ What’s the ‘Right’ Answer?

‘Yes’ seems harsh, even though it’s always true

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Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Lots of ER Docs are at once deadly serious and crazily flippant. Bear with me as you read.

As a now-retired veteran of 33 years in Emergency Medicine’s trench warfare I got the question, “Am I going to die?” … a lot.

Answering the question turns out to be harder … and easier … than one would imagine.

That’s because the honest answer is “it depends.” And, in my opinion, the so-called right answer depends on context.

Here’s a perspective.

1️⃣ “Yes”

That, by far, was my most common answer to the question “Am I going to die?”

Many come to the Emergency Department (ED) with a specific concern in mind. That concern is often buried beneath, or entwined within, layers of other stuff.

Here’s one example of many I could give.

“Doctor, I have chest pain. I think I’m having a heart attack. My uncle died of a heart attack just last week. Am I going to die?”

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Michael Burg, MD (Satire Sommelier) 😬
The Narrative Arc

The “MD” & “um” in Medium, and the “er” in wisenheimer | Doctor Funny editor/czar | Sultan of satire | disgraced former parking lot attendant