resident and I decided we would give the pentamidine one day to work, watch Régis closely, and then intubate and artificially ventilate him if necessary. We would not let the absence of an intensive care bed keep us from doing everything we could. After questioning the medical students and answering their questions, my team moved on to the next patient. As sick as he was, Régis was only one of about 25 patients under my care.
The next morning Régis was even worse. The intern on call had been up all night with him, restarting intravenous lines, drawing cultures, and frequently checking his arterial blood gases. His chest x-ray showed more consolidation of the pneumonia, and his blood gases were deteriorating. We decided to give up on the pentamidine and restart the drug he had been on three days before. Bactrim could kill the organism causing Régis’s pneumonia more effectively, but it had stopped his bone marrow from making red cells. Now this seemed the lesser of two evils. We could always transfuse him, and we hoped a special vitamin-folinic acid would reverse the drug’s effect on his bone marrow.
The intern on call was again up all night ministering to Régis. By the following morning he showed signs of improvement. He was breathing more easily and his chest sounded clearer. His temperature had dropped to 101. He had the strength to talk again.
“Who are you?” he asked me as I leaned over to listen to his chest.
“I’m Doctor Fournier. I’m in charge of the team you were admitted to.”
“Oh, the name on the bracelet?” he smiled as he pointed to the identification band on his wrist that contained his name, his hospital number, and my name. In a teaching hospital hardly anyone notices the name of the attending physician on the I.D. bracelet.
Even after having so recently climbed out of the grave, he was handsome and noble looking. His skin was truly black, unblemished, and shining with the moisture of perspiration and the oxygen mist. His eyes were animated and accentuated by angular cheeks and