Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Monday, January 11, 2016

Memoir Monday... Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

“We’ve been wrong about what our job is in medicine,” writes Atul Gawande, a surgeon (at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston) and a writer (at the New Yorker). “We think. . .[it] is to ensure health and survival. But really. . .it is to enable well-being. And well-being is about the reasons one wishes to be alive.” 

As I get older, I think sometimes about all those aches and pains that happen when I least expect it. You know the kind that happen when you bend over and pick up a pencil and you feel something. How can you "feel something" just bending over and picking up a pencil?! And since having "the accident" that left me unable to walk for almost 2 years, and still not being able to walk without pain now, I think about quality of life. Medicine cannot make everything better all the time. When we approach the final landing, do we want to fight to the bitter end, or do we want to enjoy the landing? Hopefully I have a long way to go before my approach, but when I saw this book and read a little, I thought it would be great insight into a world we only know of from across the room. Here's what the publishers blurb has to say about Being Mortal by Atul Gawande:

In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.

Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession's ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.


Alise said...

I'm reading this right now and finding it very interesting. Gawande certainly challenges a lot of our long-held, Western ideas about aging and how we handle it culturally.

Suzanne Yester said...

Thank you for sharing that Alise! This book sounded so interesting to me, but it is reassuring that someone who is reading it finds it intriguing! Definitely on my TBR list.

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