Monday, January 4, 2016
You Should Only Read This Book if Anyone You Know Might Die Someday
But you see, when you first hear about a book, and you dutifully enter the library queue(ueueue) for it, but the virtual line appears to be unmoving, as if it will never be your turn, and you begin having flashbacks of elementary school and standing in line for the water fountain after enjoying another boiling 90-degree Fahrenheit recess, and that one kid that always took his sweet time gulping down mouthful after mouthful of cold water, and only being able to curb impatience for so long before finally hollering, "SAVE SOME FOR THE FISH, MICHAEL!" which, naturally, only made him remain bent over that dang fountain for an additional desperate ten seconds, during which you almost die of thirst...
Well, it was taking me a really long time to get my hands on this book, is what I'm trying to say.
But then, as if sensing my desperation (or perhaps gleaning it from a Facebook comment), a certain hospice nurse not just sent me a copy, she sent me her own copy, pausing in her own reading to lend it to me across state lines, like some kind of Florence Nightingale/Andrew Carnegie hybrid.
So what we have here is: A nonfiction book about death and dying and medicine's relationship with the same by a surgeon who is no longer satisfied by what he sees both in his field of work and in our culture, written with compassion and wisdom and urgency and a desire to fix things that are broken, endorsed by a hospice nurse, and recommended by little, book-reading old me, who has been kept up a number of nights now, unable to put this book down, reading and re-reading sections and trying to figure out how I'm going to use some of this knowledge to change my dialogue going forward.
Read it so we can tug at our hair and clench our teeth and raise our eyebrows and babble things at each other like, "Being Mortal, it's just- it's so- and that part about the elderly- and hospice- and paternalistic vs informative vs interpretive- and everything- and GAH, I KNOW!"
Being Mortal. Atul Gawande. Write it down.