Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Nonfiction November ~ a favorite book

This quote is from page 259.
This week, folks who are doing Nonfiction November are talking about what makes a book you've read (specifically, a nonfiction book) one of your favorites.  A book that immediately came to mind when I read what Helen posted on her blog was Atul Gawande's Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End (2014).  I read this book in February and rated it 10 of 10 because I couldn't put it down.  I've recommended it to several people since then, both online and in person.  I notice  that I saved several quotes from it in my list of books read in 2019 (scroll down to #14), but I've never shared them in a post here on my blog.  Now's a good time to do it.
"Research has shown that loss of bone density may be a better predictor of death from atherosclerotic disease than cholesterol levels" (p. 30).

"The three primary risk factors for falling are poor balance, taking more than four prescription medications, and muscle weakness" (p. 40).

"Three Plagues of nursing home existence:  boredom, loneliness, and helplessness" (p. 116).

"Four crucial questions.  At this moment in your life ... :
1. Do you want to be resuscitated if your heart stops?
2. Do you want aggressive treatments such as intubation and mechanical ventilation?
3. Do you want antibiotics?
4. Do you want tube or intravenous feeding if you can't eat on your own?" (p. 179).

"What were her biggest fears and concerns?  What goals were most important to her?  What trade-offs was she willing to make, and what ones was she not?" (p. 234).

"For human beings, life is meaningful because it is a story. ... And in stories, endings matter" (pp. 238, 239).

"People want to share memories, pass on wisdoms and keepsakes, settle relationships, establish their legacies, make peace with God, and ensure that those who are left behind will be okay.  They want to end their stories on their own terms" (p. 249).

The vital questions:  "What is your understanding of the situation and its potential outcomes?   What are your fears and what are your hopes?  What are the trade-offs you are willing to make and not willing to make?  And what is the course of action that best serves this understanding?" (p. 259).
Why is it a favorite?  I live in a retirement center, so I see lots of elderly people daily.  One of my friends died in July, while I was in MontanaAnother died in October.  A friend who eats at my table in the dining room is in another hospital getting chemo, and a neighbor on my floor is in another hospital.  I'll be 80 in April, so end of life is on my mind, too. 

Yesterday, some of us took a survey about senior housing administered by Washington University students inquiring about what's offered, what's needed, whether we have those things here, and to what extent.  The Crown Center is for independent living, but HOW independent are we?  Do we need help dressing? taking medicine? cooking? bathing? shopping? cleaning our own apartments?

Being Mortal is a book for people ready and willing to face their own mortality, but I think it's equally important that physicians and medical people read it.  As a doctor speaking to other doctors, Gawande says they've been focused on the wrong thing:  keeping people alive, even if they are miserable and maybe tied into a wheelchair in the hallway of a nursing home.  He advocates asking people what THEY want out of what's left of their lives.  I agree wholeheartedly.

This single book is enough about nonfiction favorites for me today, but maybe I'll write about another book or two later.

If you click this link, you can read what others have written about nonfiction this week.


Helen's Book Blog said...

I agree with you, this book has so many important (and interesting) aspects to it. It is what got my parents talking with me about their housing choices and now it is a recurring topic for us, which is so healthy and good (they are 75 and 80). And it's a book that I still recommend to others whenever I can.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

My book club read this book and we all loved it. There was so much to think about in the text, and many things in the book are thoughts that aren’t commonly talked about, but should be. It would make a thoughtful documentary.

shelleyrae @ book'd out said...

I don’t think I’m ready to tackle this subject, even though realistically it’s closer than I like to admit.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on your favourite.