Customer Review

117 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This account of the early days of AIDS rings true., January 25, 1999
This review is from: My Own Country: A Doctor's Story (Paperback)
As a physician who was just finishing training when AIDS burst on the scene in the 80's, the panic and fear among medical staff described in this book are actually tame to what I saw in my hospital. I am one of those "who would, " as Dr. Verghese categorized those who would or would not care for HIV infected patients, and this truly separated us from the vast majority of those at that time who let their fear rule over their intellect. Dr. Verghese tells this exciting story with great compassion for his patients and their families, and it is clear that his emotional connection to them, which is stongly discouraged in medical training, came at great personal cost. As someone who now lives and practices in East Tennessee, I feel he accurately described the people, the culture, and the region's great beauty. His yearning to fit in--to have a home--is poignantly obvious throughout the book even as he becomes more and more isolated from his family and his collegues. Several of my collegues trained under or worked with Dr. Verghese during this time, and they all attest to his brilliance as a diagnostician, his great empathy for his patients, his nonjudgemental approach to the gay lifestyle, and his decency and approachability as a person. This book, in their opinions, is an accurate portrayal of the AIDS story in the rural setting. I am drawn to medical writing, particularly when written by physicians themselves, and Dr. Verghese is a master. This book moved me to tears as the deaths of all of these patients began to add up toward the end of the book, and one can't help but to feel the great waste of life that this virus causes. As a hospice medical director, I was also touched by Dr. Verghese's struggle to understand the process of dying, moving from his all-out attempts to save lives at the beginning of the book to his hospice-oriented approach toward the end. This is a masterful telling of how AIDS affects everyone -- patients, families, and doctors alike.
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