Monday, 13 June 2016

"Being Mortal" by Atul Gawande

The subtitle of this book is: Medicine and What Matters in the End
   It addresses end of life issues and was recommended to me by my friend, Judy, who is involved with care of her parents and aunt.
   The author is a surgeon who is searching for the best care for people at the end of their lives.  Medicine has focussed on 'fixing' people and often will offer more and more 'fixing'. Even when they say there is nothing more they can do, there usually is more- operations, tubes, experimental drugs.  But this doctor is evaluating when it is wise to 'fix' and when it is not.
Quote: "We pay doctors to give chemotherapy and to do surgery but not to take the time required to sort out when to do so is unwise".
  These issues are good to discuss long before decisions need to be made.  So my husband and I have been discussing them and I knew that he would relate to this military quote:
"The simple view is that medicine exists to fight death and disease, and that is, of course, its most basic task.  Death is the enemy.  But the enemy has superior forces.  Eventually, it wins.  And in a war that you cannot win, you don't want a general  who fights to the point of total annihilation.  You don't want Custer.  You want Robert E. Lee, someone who knows how to fight for territory that can be won and how to surrender it when it can't, someone who understands that the damage is greatest if all you do is battle to the bitter end."

Atul Gawande

Wouldn't we all like a doctor like this!  One who spends a lot of time with patients and their families, when they have really tough decisions to make. Some doctors give instructions about what must be done. Others give the patient oodles and oodles of information and leave them to sort it out.  But a good doctor will spend time finding out what makes life valuable to the patient and how to support those interests and values to the end.

"The ultimate is not a good death but a good life- to the very end."

   The Canadian government is presently discussing end of life issues.  This book gives you much to think about.  The author addresses the whole spectrum of nursing homes, paliative care and hospices.
"Whatever the limits and travails we face, we want to retain the autonomy- the freedom- to be the authors of our lives.  This is the very marrow of being human".

1 comment:

  1. Excellent points pulled out of the book. I just couldn't be that specific in my review... having just lost my mom, my brain hasn't been clear-thinking enough to do so. Thanks for visiting my blog and for the link to this review.