Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End

Atul Gawande
In Being Mortal, bestselling author Atul Gawande tackles the hardest challenge of his profession: how medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its endingMedicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering.Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person's last weeks or months may be rich and dignified.Full of eye-opening research and riveting storytelling, Being Mortal asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.


Reviewed: 2017-01-02
I just couldn't get into it. Another book that didn't quite add up to the hype for me. It's one of those widely-heralded books, it's on bestseller lists, etc. but yet I just couldn't connect with it.
Author Gawande looks at one of the most painful but perhaps least really explored/covered topics: death. We all die someday, it's a matter of how we go. Sometimes it's a sudden thing, others it's a long, slow decline into the darkness. How do we handle it? How do our families cope? What our options when it comes to the final decision? What about the cost? Medicine often focuses on lengthening our lives through surgery, medication, therapy. But science and technology can only take us so far and keep the Grim Reaper at bay for so long.
I struggled really getting into it and I found I only enjoyed his personal stories of people as they age. I found myself flipping pages and skimming until finally giving up. Perhaps it's not the "right" time (I mean, is there ever a "right" time to read about death?) or maybe I'm just uncomfortable with the subject deep down. But I just didn't find it interesting.
I somewhat got the impression that it's another book that was needlessly formed out of an article that already made his points about the need to discuss end-of-life care/situations with family, what we should do to prepare ourselves, etc. I didn't read any of the articles that other reviews have mentioned, but as my interest waxed and waned I wonder if that there's too much "filler" that's not enough for a book.
In the future I might try this one again but for now I just don't understand the raves.
Reviewed: 2016-08-26
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