Don't Curse the Nurse!

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Just Finished Reading

on April 13, 2015

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Atul Gawande is a surgeon and author who doesn’t think dying is a problem. He thinks scientific advances have turned aging and dying into medical experiences — and we in the medical world are “alarmingly unprepared for it”.

I was uncertain about reading Being Mortal, the fourth piece of work by Dr. Gawande. Fiction and memoir are genres that comfort my soul and stoke creativity. Turning fifty was my prelude to seeing his book in the OR break room, and I was just wrapping up my two week “ I’m half a century old” pity party. In other words, I was having no problem with the concept of mortality. Still, I was intrigued, so I went out and bought the book

Here’s what I liked about it: Dr. Gawande took three years of research, beautiful passages from famous philosophers, did his own footwork while keeping up with his day job, spent weeks with geriatricians and nursing home reformers, developed a rapport with large groups of seniors in order to get their thoughts, and put it all together in a book that made me feel like he was sitting next to me having a conversation.

Dr. Gawande is clear in expressing that he does not advocate speeding up death. He articulately points out all the things people need from beginning to end that you can’t treat with a prescription, a doctor’s visit, or a surgery. He reminds us at the beginning and again in the middle of the book that medical professionals are trained to concentrate on repair of health, not sustenance of soul. He can say it. He has M.D at the end of his name.

There is a quote in the book that I stopped and read twice. It’s by Bill Thomas, past director of Chase Memorial Nursing home in Upstate New York.

     “…I believe there is a fundamental human need to have a reason to live”

This book didn’t depress me. It made me take my choices more seriously.

Check it out!

8 responses to “Just Finished Reading

  1. Victo Dolore says:

    Ok, now I am intrigued…

    • Susan says:

      Um, hmm, squeeze it into your 26 hour day. But seriously, part of what triggered my interest was learning that it was one our Anesthesiology doctor’s books. What else do you folks read ?

  2. Brooke says:

    It sounds intriguing. I’ll have to check it out.

  3. This sounds really interesting. I may have to look at getting this book.

  4. DM says:

    There is a saying in my neck of the woods (midwest rural farm country) that if a farmer retires and moves to town, the odds are pretty good he will be dead in 3 years..tying into that whole thing about the elderly and purpose) My dad, who will be 83 this June has for years said “the word retirement is not in my vocabulary” and he lives by that mantra..he still farms, splits wood by hand, and keeps active. He is my role model 😉 Great post! DM

    • Susan says:

      Wow, thanks for expanding on the post and sharing your thoughts! I was just talking to my parents, 74 and 75 , and told them that what I thought was so cool about their “Golden years” is that they own their day.
      I had to give credit to a comment made by the author of Her Perfect Symmetry ( she first wrote Time Traveler’s Wife) . When interviewed and asked how she felt about the million dollar advance received for book #2, she said… ” It wasn’t the money that was a thrill, it was owning my day, being totally in control of how I spent my time and realizing I could focus on only the things that gave me joy”

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