Saturday, November 1, 2014

About those doctors...

I've read two books in the past week written by surgeons and I want to recommend both. The first book is by one of my favorite authors, Atul Gawande, and it is entitled, Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End. It is the story of aging in the US, and increasingly worldwide, and how society takes care of the aging. There are many profound thoughts in the book about family connections, responsibility and suffering. He write about a familiar theme that I've written and spoken about in the past, the need to write a good story:
In the end, people don’t view their life as merely the average of all of its moments—which, after all, is mostly nothing much plus some sleep. For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story.
Over the course of the book, he visits with a specialist who treats the aging, a Geriologist and there are some fascinating points made. A Geriologist is working with a patient to deal with all the issues of aging, to reduce suffering and pain and to prolong a healthy and active lifestyle. He is not generally treating point, specific problems which most people take to see their doctors. Most interestingly was the point that one of things these doctors look at is the feet to see if the patient is able to care for themselves properly (are they flexible to keep their feet in good shape?).

Much of the book focuses on what the aging need and it profiles residential operations that do this well.
A colleague once told her, Wilson said, “We want autonomy for ourselves and safety for those we love.” That remains the main problem and paradox for the frail. “Many of the things that we want for those we care about are things that we would adamantly oppose for ourselves because they would infringe upon our sense of self.”
Most interesting book. Recommended.

Since Amazon knows me better than I know myself, while on this page or an other one I was looking at, it recommended that I should read, The Patient in Room Nine Says He's God by Louis Profeta. He is an ER doctor and he writes so many good things that I can't do the book justice. He does also write about the aging their needs and how society helps them too in some of the chapters. Here are some highlights from the book:

For someone like me, a pure adrenalin junky who thrives on chaos, controversy, and constant motion fed by caffeine to feel alive, finding God in natural settings proved problematic . . . even impossible. No matter how hard I tried, pausing to ponder nature, the gift of life, and the complexities of the ground under foot, the air conditioners of the natural world quickly faded into the background. So, I stopped and redirected my search, looking at the world I knew best: the ER. If God is really around us, then certainly I could find God in the world of which I am most familiar. It wasn’t until I really took stock of the numerous bizarre incidents and the web of subtle relationships that shaped my private and public life as an ER doctor that I realized that all along, God was there: sometimes as a colleague offering needed advice, in the sad look of a child’s eyes, or an addict’s trembling hand. More often it was a breath of conscience and reason, a voice telling me to pay attention, or a calming hand on the shoulder or a pat on the back. It was not until I looked carefully that I realized God is not hidden at all. It just takes time, patience, and a bit of energy to develop the mental focus to find him/her in our daily lives. It’s like mushroom hunting: it may take you years to finally find one, but once the visual pattern of what you’re looking for becomes imprinted in your brain, you realize they’re everywhere.
God judges us not so much on how we care for the children, but how we care for the elderly. 
and this wonderful line:
My mother took my grandma, her mother-in-law, into her home and cared for her for nearly 40 years. This is an absolute 100% free pass to heaven. While at times it was hard, she will tell you that she misses her every day and would do it all over again.
An ER sees some of the worst things that can happen to people. And he sees family and friends surrounding one another in amazing ways. There is a wonderful chapter about sensing that he needed look at something again and he went back and found a life threatening problem that he hadn't seen moments before. Very interesting.

I'll close with these quotes:
This whole cosmic spiritual circle is nothing of the kind. It is an endless series of links of a chain that bind us all together. It is magical, mystical, often tragic and wondrous at the same time. It is everything. It is amazing and it is perfect.
What if we never learned from our near misses, our noontime civil defense alarms? What if we failed to appreciate a gentle moment, the smile of a child, or the feeling of fresh air upon our faces? What if we failed to tell our friends and family how much we love them? Well, that would be a real tragedy.
Highly recommended. 

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like good ones to put on my list. My reading life has been disrupted recently and I'm anxious to get back to it. Although I'm trying to appreciate this time that I have right now...maybe I got the gist of the book already from your description!