By Atul Gawande
Picador USA, 9781250076229, September 2017, 304pp.
The Short of It:
Well written and thought-provoking. If you’ve never thought about losing your independence while battling a long-term/terminal illness, then this will be an eye-opener for you.
The Rest of It:
Atul Gawande was born into a family of doctors. As a doctor and himself, he became interested in palliative care and how a shift in the care of the terminally ill, can prolong their quality of life. Not cure them, of course, but provide them care by fulfilling such wishes as more time with the family, continuing to teach music, eating ice cream and watching football in the comfort of your own home.
When his own father is diagnosed with cancer, his research in this area becomes personal. How do you treat a patient in this situation? How do you secure a comfortable environment while controlling pain, seeing to their psychological needs and their desire to maintain quality of life?
This was a fascinating read. Gawande discusses the issues with nursing homes and hospice care and points out two very important questions that should be asked of any patient with a terminal illness.
- What is your understanding of what you’ve been told?
- What is your expectation as far as care?
So often, these critical questions are never asked. It’s assumed that people want to be cured but often, they just want to be pain-free, comfortable and independent. That last part being a huge issue for most. This is a heavy topic but Gawande does a beautiful job highlighting what CAN be done for a positive outcome.
If this topic interests you, get yourself a copy and if you have a chance. Check out his Ted Talk too.
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