The Secret Language of Patients and Caregivers

Patients with tender caregivers often speak a little language of their own devising. It’s not unusual for people dealing with illness to use quirky dialects and inside jokes to attempt to maintain a sense of connection with their intimates or to revive unextinguished emotions.

Upon returning home from an operation for ovarian cancer a few years ago, I relied on this sort of shared allusion when I repeatedly asked my husband, Don, “What watch, Liebchen?” It was a coded way of asking if it was time for my next dose of pain medication.

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