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A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era Hardcover – September 2, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
On a broader scale, he reminds us that over 50% of our medical spending comes from the "public purse" in huge amounts, while every day people die because they can't afford basics like insulin. Most shocking: In 1600, if you made it to age 80 in Berlin, you could expect to live another eight years. In 1980, a study found that if you reached age 80 in the same city, your life expectancy was 88: just two more years (p. 79).
Martensen illustrates his points with stories taken from his many years as emergency physician and bioethicist. One of the most chilling accounts describes a woman who remained healthy and active through her seventies, when she began experiencing shortness of breath while enjoying her long walks. A cardio surgeon suggested an operation. The operation worked to restore the woman's breathing - but the woman now experienced dementia. She was afraid to go out and her quality of life deteriorated.
The woman's son asked Martensen about the possibilities of a lawsuit. Dementia is a known side effect of this type of surgery, so why hadn't the surgeon discussed it? Martensen warned the son, "You're in a field where you do a lot of negotiating. Your mother at the time ran her own craft business. The risks are here, buried in the fine print."
My own view is that the surgeon should still have gone out of her way to warn about risks, especially such serious risk. I would have encouraged them to sue (if they had means ) to teach the surgeon (and other surgeons) a strong lesson. Doctors tend to see risks abstractly.Read more ›
Heather Losee, RN, MPA
The most moving parts of the book, to me, were the stories of individuals facing a difficult end. Not knowing, of course, when death would come, but dealing with it and making crucial decisions about how much care they wanted.
We've all thought about this, haven't we? At one end of the spectrum is that misleading line, "If I get to that state, just shoot me." No one is going to shoot us. At the other end of the spectrum is the bad fall we might take one day when we are deep into our own dementia. A telephone call is made by whoever is looking after us, the squad arrives and swings into their normal, predestined mode: Take care of the patient.
Martensen imagines how the death of his own father might have been prolonged (for better or worse) if the paramedics had arrived to find him unresponsive and not breathing. "Whether or not [his wife] told them of his Do Not Resuscitate status, the paramedics would likely have put in an artificial airway--an endotracheal tube--and begun ventilating him. They would have done so because he possessed vital signs--a pulse and blood pressure--and emergency field protocols specify ventilatory support when they are present, regardless of the circumstances."
You can have your DNR tattooed on your forehead, but this will not necessarily change the paramedic practices. Then, in the ER, you will almost certainly be put on a ventilator, and admitted to the Internal Care Unit. Once the ventilator is installed, it's not easy to get it taken out--and so the patient finds himself, if conscious of his own condition, in a state that he worked hard to avoid.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've never written a review on Amazon but this book is so fantastic I am doing so. As an ICU Nurse this book has served me well when friends have dealt with severe illness in... Read morePublished 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
I have read this book and recommend everyone buy it and get your WHOLE family to read it. The knowledge gained from reading this book might make a lot of tough decisions coming... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Traveler50
Very well written, and thought provoking. I could relate to a number of the life stories shared in this book. Read morePublished on July 6, 2014 by Edmuncm
Thoughtful and poignant whether you are a patient, a physician or a family member. It gives insight into todays hi-tech medical therapyPublished on January 23, 2014 by Robert P. Harvey
My friend lost her first grandchild to a tragic medical blunder about six months ago and was left both devastated and angry, unable to console herself or her daughter. Read morePublished on February 27, 2013 by Edelweiss
I needed this book for school! It was a great buy and a great read. If you are a book worm this is a must read! Speedy shipping!Published on February 20, 2013 by Tiffany
This is one of the best commentaries on planning one's medical interventions at any agePublished on September 8, 2010 by schoolmarm