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1 Burnside Health and Medicine- Essays

This title in other editions

A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era

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A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Critical illness is a fact of life. Even those of us who enjoy decades of good health are touched by it eventually, either in our own lives or in those of our loved ones. And when this happens, we grapple with serious and often confusing choices about how best to live with our afflictions.

A Life Worth Living is a book for people facing these difficult decisions. Dr. Robert Martensen draws on decades of experience with patients and friends to explore the life cycle of serious illness. He connects personal stories with reflections on mortality, human agency, and the value of cutting-edge technology in caring for the critically ill. Timely questions emerge: To what extent should efforts to extend human life be made? What is the value of nontraditional medical treatment? How has the American healthcare system affected treatment of the critically ill? And finally, what are our doctors responsibilities to us as patients, and where do those responsibilities end?

Using poignant case studies, Martensen demonstrates how we and our loved ones can maintain dignity and resilience in the face of lifes most daunting circumstances.

Robert Martensen is a physician, historian, and bioethicist, and has held several professorships. Recently, he joined the National Institutes of Health as director of its Office of History and Museum. In 2002 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

A Life Worth Living is a book for people facing difficult decisions while enduring a serious illness or watching a loved one endure such an illness. Robert Martensen, a physician, historian, and ethicist, draws on decades of experience with patients and friends to explore the life cycle of serious illness, from diagnosis to end of life. He connects personal stories with reflections upon mortality, human agency, and the value of “cutting-edge” technology in caring for the critically ill. Timely questions emerge: To what extent should efforts to extend human life be made? What is the value of nontraditional medical treatment? How has the American health-care system affected treatment of the critically ill? And finally, what are our doctors responsibilities to us as patients, and where do those responsibilities end? Using case studies hes encountered, Martensen demonstrates how we and our loved ones can maintain dignity and resilience in the face of lifes most daunting circumstances.

"When it comes to books about health and medicine, the biggest sellers tend to focus on the latest diet or exercise craze and new ways to restore youth and beauty . . . belly fat seems to be a big theme . . . But the best books . . . [are] those that illuminated the experience of being ill in America today, from the perspective of both the patient and the doctor, and an easy-to-understand guide to the workings of the human body. Also moving was a view from the inside of a health-care system that, for all its flaws, continues to strive in the interests of patients . . . [A Life Worth Living offers] help in facing difficult decisions that come with serious illness, such as whether to continue life-prolonging treatment when there is no hope of a cure."Laura Landro, The Wall Street Journal

“So packed with information and insight that it can change your life and the lives of those who seek your advice about caring for the critically ill.”Diversion magazine

"Quietly compelling . . . It oversimplifies the theme of this book, but not by much, to say that it is about medicine as all of usdoctor and patients alikewant to see it in the 21st century as opposed to what it is."U.S. News & World Report

"Dr. Robert Martensen paints a surprisingly sympathetic portrait of a noncompliant patient in his medical memoir, A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era. Her name is Diana, and she comes into his emergency room blaming her blurred vision on 'nerves' brought on by an upcoming job interview. But after a more careful examination, Martensen concludes it's more likely the onset of multiple sclerosis. 'Noooo!' she screams at him. 'Some other . . . ER doctor told me that once. You're wrong!' Diana's refusal to listen to medical advice fills Martensen, a medical historian and bioethicist, with regret three decades after the encounter. But her predicamentand that of many of the patients he profiles in this compelling memoirmakes him understand her unwillingness to be 'medicalized. Refusing to submit to her diagnosis, Martensen writes, 'likely meant that her sense of timeher time, her existencewould differ qualitatively from what she would experience if she participated fully in the rituals of chronic medical care.' Because the treatment for MS at the time did little 'to alleviate and nothing to halt or cure, why should she go down the orthodox path?' Questions like these will be painfully familiar to anyone who has faced a chronic or terminal diagnosis, or sat at the bedside of someone who has. Although medical science offers such patients more treatment paths and promises of hope than ever before, choosing among them, particularly in our strangely commodified role as 'health care consumers,' can seem more confusing than ever. 'Dying is not what it was in the 1950s or even the 1970s, as technology has transmuted the process from something that doctors and patients and their families could readily perceive into a range of contingent possibilities that often leave everyone in a quandary,' Martensen writes. Clearly an advocate for greater transparency between physicians and their patients, he collects case studies that suggest that's not always what we're getting . . . This thoughtful volume doesn't offer all the answers, but against the relentlessly upbeat marketing of high-tech medicine, it does provide a challenging second opinion."Laura Billings, The Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

"Martensen writes with the insights of an experienced clinician, the perspective of a historian, and the voice of a close friend."Ira Byock, M.D., author of Dying Well

A Life Worth Living is a deeply engaging book. It can be read as a self-defense manual. In fact it should be read by, say, anyone over forty-five because we are all destined to do battle with the medical industrial complex which seems quite confused about helping us out of life. Martensen, who is both an M.D. and an historian of medicine, gracefully illumines the problems we all face.”Jim Harrison, author of Returning to Earth

A Life Worth Living is a treasure. Robert Martensen tells compelling stories of people who are at once remarkable and familiar, and distills practical wisdom for living with serious illness. Their experiences illuminate common dilemmas and difficult decisions and shine a light on the wondrous and perilous world of contemporary medicine. Martensen writes with the insights of an experienced clinician, the perspective of a historian, and the voice of a close friend.”Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most

“This book looks straight in the eye at uncomfortable truths, yet it does so in an intimate, almost caressing way. The results provoke and make this book one of the few that may change how we see the world, and how we think.”John M. Barry, auth

Synopsis:

Critical illness is a fact of life. Even those of us who enjoy decades of good health are touched by it eventually, either in our own lives or in those of our loved ones. And when this happens, we grapple with serious and often confusing choices about how best to live with our afflictions.

A Life Worth Living is a book for people facing these difficult decisions. Dr. Robert Martensen draws on decades of experience with patients and friends to explore the life cycle of serious illness. He connects personal stories with reflections on mortality, human agency, and the value of cutting-edge technology in caring for the critically ill. Timely questions emerge: To what extent should efforts to extend human life be made? What is the value of nontraditional medical treatment? How has the American healthcare system affected treatment of the critically ill? And finally, what are our doctors responsibilities to us as patients, and where do those responsibilities end?

Using poignant case studies, Martensen demonstrates how we and our loved ones can maintain dignity and resilience in the face of lifes most daunting circumstances.

About the Author

A physician, historian, and bioethicist, Robert Martensen has held several professorships. Recently he joined the National Institutes of Health as director of its Office of History and Museum. In 2002 he received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374532031
Author:
Martensen, Robert
Publisher:
Farrar Straus Giroux
Subject:
Essays
Subject:
Diseases
Subject:
General Medical
Subject:
Health and Medicine-Professional Medical Reference
Subject:
Health Care Issues
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Publication Date:
20090931
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes Notes and Sources and an Index
Pages:
240
Dimensions:
8.26 x 5.48 x 0.665 in

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Related Subjects

Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Essays
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » General Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » History of Medicine
Health and Self-Help » Health and Medicine » Professional Medical Reference

A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era Used Trade Paper
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Product details 240 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374532031 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,

Critical illness is a fact of life. Even those of us who enjoy decades of good health are touched by it eventually, either in our own lives or in those of our loved ones. And when this happens, we grapple with serious and often confusing choices about how best to live with our afflictions.

A Life Worth Living is a book for people facing these difficult decisions. Dr. Robert Martensen draws on decades of experience with patients and friends to explore the life cycle of serious illness. He connects personal stories with reflections on mortality, human agency, and the value of cutting-edge technology in caring for the critically ill. Timely questions emerge: To what extent should efforts to extend human life be made? What is the value of nontraditional medical treatment? How has the American healthcare system affected treatment of the critically ill? And finally, what are our doctors responsibilities to us as patients, and where do those responsibilities end?

Using poignant case studies, Martensen demonstrates how we and our loved ones can maintain dignity and resilience in the face of lifes most daunting circumstances.

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