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Archive for the ‘physicians’ Tag

Inevitability   Leave a comment

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I planned on not reading Being Mortal, but plans have a way of changing. My reservations about author Atul Gawande’s best seller were linked to the subtitle: Medicine and What Matters in the End. This year I faced a milestone birthday and some health issues affected my family. All in all it seemed as if the good doctor’s book wasn’t for me. Yet, it was and it wasn’t; the best audience might be millennials. Of course, they’re not the only ones who will be, or are, impacted by their parents’ declining health and well being.

Gawande’s a surgeon who questions the way American culture treats the elderly. He offers several stark contrasts to the situation experienced by his 110-year-old grandfather in India who was respected, even revered, because of his age. He was acknowledged by anyone who entered the family home and consulted on major family issues.

Initially, Gawande focuses on nursing homes and retirement communities. He finds little to celebrate in this area despite efforts by a few individuals seeking better solutions. The author then turns to medical situations and the efforts people go through to extend their lives despite poor odds – odds often encouraged by physicians with the best intentions, albeit not necessary with the most honest answers.

Through encounters with caregivers including family members, Hospice personnel and the elderly, Gawande nudges readers to consider the ways to live life while growing older (or dealing with illness) as the best way to face the inevitable: mortality.

Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Three-and-a-half bookmarks
Metropolitan Press, 2014
282 pages

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Russian History Revisited   2 comments

DoctorsJourney

A Doctor’s Journey by Lois Gayle Chance, in collaboration with Anna Kowal, is the true story of Alexander Kowal’s arduous trek from farm boy to physician during World Wars I and II. The book is subtitled From Czarist Russia to Communist Poland.

This independently published work incorporates Alexander’s written accounts, family memories, and, as the author notes in her preface, “the imagination of the writer.” The result is an engaging account of a remarkable man in a historic period.  With a few missteps here and there, it, nonetheless, deserves praise for Chance’s ability to set credible scenes and smooth dialogue (which is where, she admits, she took creative license).

The story begins in 1907 when Alexander’s aspirations of becoming a teacher are thwarted; as the oldest son he’s destined to inherit the family land, which has been handed down for generations.  Nonetheless, a teacher encourages him apply to become a doctor, and Alexander is awarded a scholarship to study medicine. After ultimately receiving his father’s blessing, Alexander begins his journey.

Chance is weakest in her repeated foreshadowing of the obvious. She writes, “Once home, his family gathered around and he showed them this precious possession, his medical diploma. He never dreamed that nearly a century later it would be cherished by a daughter who hung it proudly in her office …” Of course not! Who can, let alone would, imagine such things?

Alexander’s story, driven by his determination, is filled with aspects of ordinary life, except it occurs in an extraordinary era.

A Doctor’s Journey

Three Bookmarks

Outskirts Press, 2013

271 pages