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Bedside Manners: One Doctor's Reflections on the Oddly Intimate Encounters Between Patient and He aler [Kindle Edition]

David Watts Md
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.00
Kindle Price: $10.99
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Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

In beautifully crafted vignettes, physician and NPR commentator David Watts explores the world of modern-day medicine and reveals the emotional truths and practical realities at the heart of the doctor-patient relationship. Bedside Manners is an engaging, often surprising investigation into what happens when we sit down and talk openly about vital issues of health and mortality.

Combining the grace and precision of a poet with the down-to-earth, compassionate manner of a doctor who deals with the problems of real people every day, Watts describes situations both odd and touching: the patient who stays awake during an endoscopy to ward off demons; the woman who recites poetry to get through a frightening treatment; the man who arrives at Watts’s office bearing Internet research on syndromes that have little to do with his own condition; and the seventy-four-year-old architect who faces a tough cancer diagnosis with dignity and courage.

Readers will come away from these tales of difficult diagnoses, irreverent colleagues, brave survivors, and examining-room poseurs sharing Watts’s own sense of humbled astonishment. As he tells each story, Watts closes for the reader the protective distance many doctors employ, and touches all of us who have felt vulnerable in the position of patient. Refreshing, wry, and reassuring, Bedside Manners holds important lessons for both healers and those who seek their help.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Sickness brings out the worst in people.... Many of my patients exhibit neurotic behavior.... But generally, their basic attitude is that of prayer—an almost desperate pleading for mercy at the hands of illness." These words by Watts, a poet and commentator on NPR as well as a practicing physician, exemplify his nuanced and thoughtful attitude toward his patients. Both empathetic and practical, Watts relates encounters that have informed his ability to understand, diagnose and treat sickness. In "The Morbius Monster," a youngish man suffering from severe indigestion asks to be heavily sedated during an endoscopy, but even while unconscious resists the procedure. Through intuition and sensitive questioning, Watts elicits an account of early child abuse, and with the patient's cooperation, talks him through a second test with local anesthetic. In another case, Watts describes the day when, beset by the demands of his schedule, he reluctantly went to a convalescent home to visit Codger, an elderly Jewish man who was a garrulous curmudgeon. After listening to Codger's tale of how he came upon the death camps as an American soldier in WWII, Watts concludes that by making the time to see and listen to this patient, he made a human connection. All of the incidents related here, whether sad, frustrating or inconclusive, are unfailingly compelling.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

As he relates stories his patients have shared with him, stories in which he has participated, both as physician and storyteller, it is easy to see that Watts loves words, and not just his own but his patients' as well. His storyteller's ear is fully attentive while he meets with a man whose 93-year-old wife is refusing medical intervention for her gangrenous leg, with the sexy young drug addict he "inherited" when his mentor died, and with the recently struck bicyclist--who he is almost certain will die--that he encounters as he drives his son to a piano lesson. The power of what they say, and what is unsaid, leaps from the page as Watts draws us into these anonymous sufferers' most personal stories. Watts' gift for sensing what is not said in their discussions of the illnesses and deaths of themselves and their loved ones allows him to fill the pages with penetrating images. This book virtually defies classification. Is it poetry, medical nonfiction, or some delightful combination of them? Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 499 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; Reprint edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XUDG3A
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,054,167 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars His Horse Wanted Prose March 15, 2005
Format:Hardcover
Be forewarned-in David Watts' new book, "Bedside Manners", you may encounter yourself. Whether cast in the role of the caring physician, the neurotic patient, an idealistic trainee, husband, or father, the sensitive reader can explore a vicarious experience in the stories of David Watts' newest book in a very honest and often revealing way.

Previously published as a poet, Dr. Watts has produced his first prose work with this collection of stories in "Bedside Manners". By his own admission, this native Texan writes: "[S]ometimes you have to go where the horse wants you to go. My horse apparently wanted prose and wanted it to speak of the struggles of doctors and patients."

Dr. Watts distills his stories from moments in the life of a seasoned physician. Some of these stories from medical school and residency training are filled with idealism and hope. Others stem from the work he has done with terminally ill patients, helping them transition to death-each along a unique path.

These tales in turn are juxtaposed against those of patients who are driven to seek care, attention and solace for factitious medical problems. Dr. Watts deftly examines how patient care can influence those personal relationships that practitioners have with their own families-affects which can heal or reveal emotional scars.

In his writings, Dr. Watts masterfully records the feelings that a patient evokes in him during a medical encounter: "A strange sense of frustration, almost impatience, came over me. I wasn't sure why." He speaks of the guilt that inevitably follows. These are feelings known only to practitioners; few will admit to having them, and thankfully patients remain unaware of them.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping stories from the doctor you wish was yours August 26, 2005
Format:Hardcover
This is a beautifully written memoir from the doctor you wish was yours. The book's subtitle perfectly captures the substance of this book: "one doctor's reflections on the oddly intimate encounters between patient and healer." If you've ever wondered what a doctor is thinking as he or she examines patients, here's your chance to eavesdrop.

In story after story, you get a taste of the life's richness -- from the joy of learning a self-diagnosis is not nearly as dire as the actual problem to the tragedy of a beautiful young girl who keeps coming back to the hospital because her boyfriend refuses to admit he's got a STD, from the gripping story of a patient reliving his WWII experience coming upon a concentration camp before it was widely known such camps existed to the mystery of a medical student injuring herself essentially for the attention.

You see it all this richness through the eyes of a doctor who has a poet's sensitivity and fluency with language. Here's an example of the beautiful prose throughout this book: "My stethoscope glides over the surface of the abdomen like a stone skipping over a flexible sheen of water, listening first, not to disturb the delicate organs huddled and hiding below."

The doctor also has a great sense of humor. Here's what happens when the father of one of his hopital staff nurses arrives at this office:

We've got a problem, my reception says.

Yes, I say. He wasn't suppoed to come today.

Not that, she says. He's HMO.

HMO. HMO. Poor bastard. Sick with restrictions.

(I typed out those lines pretty much as they are appear in the book -- the good doctor leaves out lots of the typical punctuation that accompanies dialog, which sometimes makes you wonder who's speaking.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gem of a book. I loved this book. September 21, 2006
By A. Good
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book. It really gets to the heart of the matter on so many levels. Each story is a snapshot of intimate interactions. David Watts is a wonderful storyteller. It's real and honest.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
By Jim Coe
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Maybe i'm a bit biased here, as David's web master, a resident of the same village and an occasional family visitor - i don't think so.

What i do think is that a book which is such an alloy of insight, humor, entertainment and nourishment for the soul is a rare treat.

What can i say? I laughed, i cried, i can't wait to read it again.

And it washed clean away the divide that can seep into our hearts and slightly blur our outlook, subtly separating us from others. A gentle reminder of how much we share.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Masterful description July 8, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thought this book captured the doctor's life extremely well--it came alive. RMP
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