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After the Diagnosis: Transcending Chronic Illness Hardcover – August 17, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (August 17, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439123047
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439123041
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,061,007 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Diagnosed with type I diabetes at the start of his medical internship, kidney specialist Julian Seifter had to learn to accept his new self as a person with lifelong chronic illness, which is often at odds with his self-image of hard-charging achiever. Speaking as both physician and patient, he acknowledges the difficulty of such a life-changing transformation—“It’s hard to live in a body that doesn’t work right and to hold on to hope when the future’s uncertain,”—then offers strategies helpful in managing chronic challenges on a day-to-day basis and maintaining a positive, productive life. His maxims may seem simple, but they are not. “Be Yourself” emphasizes that the disease does not define the self. “Know Yourself” addresses the balance needed between denial and preoccupation. “Transcend Yourself” stresses the spiritual dimension. “Forget Yourself” means to uncouple from obsession. “Forgive Yourself” by letting go of guilt and holy hindsight. “Grow” via positive change, and “Share” by allowing dependency on others. Part memoir, part self-help, part questioning essay, Seifters’ helpful book about self, illness, healing, and life will have wide appeal. --Whitney Scott


"Here's a doctor who understands his ailing patients all too well. Seifter, a noted kidney specialist, Harvard Medical School professor, and a diabetic, presents a poignant tribute to those who have faced their illness "in just the right way": neither denying the illness nor becoming totally identified by it. And their stories offer an important lesson for the rest of us, too: when we're sick, "tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance" will help us stay alive with joy and purpose."

--Publishers Weekly

“I was the fortunate beneficiary of Dr. Seifter's skill and insight as a teacher. His example -- as a clinician and as a person -- has informed my care of chronically ill patients ever since. Readers of After the Diagnosis will be similarly enriched by Dr. Seifter's wisdom, and by his generosity in sharing his own experience. This pragmatic and compassionate text, warmed by Betsy Seifter's contributions, will be welcome accompaniment for anyone living with or caring for chronic illness.”

-- Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, Co-founder, Partners In Health; Chair, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School

"After the Diagnosis takes us on a journey into the making of a doctor and the discovery of a serious chronic illness. That intersection has created Julian Seifter, a physician-patient hybrid with sensibilities that patients adore and many docs do not even understand."

--Richard M. Cohen, New York Times bestselling author of Blindsided and Strong at the Broken Places

“After the Diagnosis is an exquisite exploration of chronic illness as experienced by both patients and the author himself. Dr. Seifter shares with compassion and courage the wisdom of his patients and profound personal insights gleaned from many years as a clinician and patient. This is an immensely valuable book for physicians, students and patients."

--Katharine Treadway, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-author of Home Before Dark: A Family Portrait of Cancer and Healing

“Bridging the divide between doctor and patient, After the Diagnosis provides a timely perspective on the challenges of coping with chronic disease. By weaving together his personal narrative with stories of his patients, Julian Seifter offers rare insight on the ways disease can enrich rather than diminish life.”

--Mark C. Taylor, Chair, Department of Religion, Columbia University and author of Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living

“In a most captivating way, Julian Seifter, assisted by his wife Betsy, has smoothly blended his extensive experiences as a physician and patient with those of his patients burdened with chronic diseases. Living a successful life encumbered with a chronic condition requires a number of personal attributes -- Seifter clearly elaborates these. His warm, thoughtful philosophies provide pearls for doctors, patients, and anyone interested in how to live a rich life in the face of chronic disease.”

--Ronald Arky, MD, the Charles S. Davidson Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Master of the Francis Weld Peabody Society at the Harvard Medical School, and Chief of the Diabetes Section at the Brigham and Women's Hospital

“This poignant, uplifting, and sometimes disturbing book is all about prevailing in the face of adversity. It reads like a tapestry -- stories of tragedy heroism and fortune woven on a background of insight from the author’s personal experiences. Anyone facing the terror and uncertainty of a newly diagnosed chronic disease should have this book by their bed stand.”

--Richard J. Glassock, MD, MACP, Emeritus Professor Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

“Dr. Seifter demonstrates in his dialogue with patients the essence of healing – that doctor and patient, dealing with their own chronic illnesses and vulnerabilities together, are stronger than either one alone. His quiet, respectful ear for his patients’ pluck and resiliency allows us to see how both can teach each other to live more wisely and well.”

--Laurie W. Raymond, MD, Harvard Medical School

"Dr. Seifter is recognized by colleagues as a physician’s physician and acknowledged by all for his compassionate and erudite clinical care. His reputation is legend throughout Harvard Medical School and across the country as the consummate teacher/educator. One comes away from reading this beautifully written book with the message that compassion and empathy play a major role in care. For family and loved ones of those dealing with unrelenting chronic illness, After the Diagnosis provides the backdrop of how to be supportive of the patient. Dr. Seifter conveys essential wisdom that will be a basis for deep reflection long after the book is read."

--Theodore I. Steinman, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine Harvard Medical School and Senior Physician, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

"Julian Seifter and his wife, Betsy, have written a remarkably insightful, intelligent book about living life with chronic illness. Dr. Seifter has keen powers of observation and an immense ability to truly care for and about his patients. His caring and intelligence have combined to tell a story about himself and his patients that provides the reader with a unique weaving together of the author's self-revelation of his own chronic illness and his patients' stories. His insights arise from his ability to listen carefully to those stories. He then shares with the reader the wisdom he has gained through all those years of attentive caring."

--Anne Fabiny, MD, Chief of Geriatrics. Cambridge Health Alliance and Assistant Professor of Medicine., Harvard Medical School --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 14 customer reviews
Recommended for anyone facing a chronic illness.
I thank them and his patients for sharing their intimate lives and teaching all of us how to look at life if a positive way.
Deena Segal
Dr. Seifter has the perspective of a patient as well as being a M.D. and I am truly blessed to have him as my physician.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By D. Matthews on September 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Most of our treasured notions about the patient-doctor relationship still date from an era when illness was something from which one recovered or promptly died. Our amazing advances in medical technologies, however, have left a great number of patients alive but chronically unwell. The problems this poses for both doctors and patients have never been fully grasped by medical writers and others until the publication of this book.

Julian Seifter is a doctor's doctor, one of America's foremost specialists in kidney diseases. In this amazing book Dr. Seifter crosses the line and describes for the reader his own experience facing the specter of chronic illness in his own life. Drawing from this and from his decades of experience working with chronically ill patients, and with the literary partnership of his wife Betsy Seifter, a brilliant writer and literary stylist, Dr. Seifter presents a stirring analysis of how we respond to chronic disease and, most importantly, how we might respond with less suffering. Dr. Seifter smashes modern myths about being well and feeling well. He elaborates the hidden secrets of the psychology of illness and its treatment, not as an outsider looking in, but as both a deeply caring, experienced doctor and as a sometimes non-compliant and difficult-to-manage patient.

I spent some years trying to teach medical students and young physicians about the patient-doctor relationship and I still keep my eye on books pertinent to the topic. The Seifters have written what I think is the best book ever on the subject. I found it riveting; the true stories of Dr. Seifter's patients that form the mainstay of the book draw you in and keep the book from being the least bit esoteric. I wish I had had this book to use as a teaching aid, but I am glad to have it now as a living aid, as I face the nearly inevitable onslaught of chronic illness in myself and my loved ones. This book is a rare jewel.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By D. Paris on September 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a fantastic book, a fascinating read, and a true guide to turn to when life hits you in the face. It is full of humanity, wisdom and humor. It is the antidote for the current one-note, rigid and moralistic attitude towards health, illness and those who are ill. For anyone who is ill, who cares for someone who is ill, who is a professional dealing with people with chronic illness, or who simply reflects on how to live, this feelingful, beautifully written book is tailor-made and will enthrall. Based on personal experiences as a top doctor who has a chronic illness and who cares for those with chronic illness, Dr.Seifter's stories are personal, human, accessible. And it is as much a philosophy of healthy living as it is a prescription for dealing with illness. I really couldn't put it down. I think this book will become the standard for the humanistic treatment of those who struggle with illness and who want to be defined by who they are, not what illness they have.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. KIRK-DUGGAN on December 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I was faced with impending kidney failure, and my doctor had a fistula installed when my creatine began to soar despite pallatives. Then he told me the time for dialyis was at hand and gave me a weekend to decide. That same weekend Art Buchwald had died, after stopping dialysis a year before, at age 90. Would that I had had this book during that long weekend! On Monday, I said yes and an hour later I had the tubes in my arm. I am now starting my fifth year at age 79. At the start I turned down going on the transplant list. Seifer articulates my unspoken rationale. This year I had double bypass with three days notice + 90 days in the hospital + still in a wheelchair. All of my doctors have shown Seifer-like empathy for my wife and me. All I can say is that both the patient and the doctor facing a diagnosis of can't-be-cured should read and re-read this marvelous tome of experience, strength, and hope as we, together, trudge the road to our respective destinies. Well done, Dr. Seifer and his co-author spouse! You made my day!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By d.williams on October 23, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book was very helpful in improving my communications with my adult daughter who has a chronic illness. i now understand why my questions bothered her and am now able to communicate with her about her illness in a nonjudgemental way. i also understand how she wants to talk with me about other things, besides her illness, so that she is not defined by her illness. So many of Dr. Seifter's insights helped me put my daughter's responses to her illness in a new perspective. His compassion is contagious.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Susan G. Ratner on January 7, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After the Diagnosis is a wonderful book, long on wisdom, short on the judgmental advice found in many books on managing chronic disease. Easy to read, entertaining and extraordinarily kind, Dr. Seifter's honest look at himself as a patient enriches his patients'stories of how different people deal with their illnesses and retain their personhood. Whether you have an illness or are taking care of someone who has an illness, this book illustrates beautifully the many ways a life can be successfully lived. It's beautifully written and a quick read - I read it in one sitting - and it reminds one of the fact that, while life is never simple, each person can still figure out how to live with meaning, dignity and fun.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert Carlson on December 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The Doctors Seifter have composed a unique work about chronic illness with intimate knowledge unique to both a patient and physician at the same time. It is full of wisdom about choices and adaptations in a challenging setting where cure is not a goal, but getting on with a good and meaningful life is.

The stories about self and patients are revealing, easy to read, and full of practical insight.

Dr. Seifter's book can be recommended to medical students, practicing physicians, and to patients and families of those with chronic disease; any of these groups will learn alot.
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