One of the two book clubs I belong to meets on the first Thursday of every month. Today we discussed Being Mortal, a non-fiction work by surgeon Atul Gawande. Long story short, the subtitle, Medicine and What Matters in the End, explains the focus of Gawande’s writing.
It studies how medicine has changed over the years, but still doesn’t spend a lot of time acknowledging that dying is part of living. Rather doctors want to solve, then fix and cure in the hope of extending a person’s life. Their patients often want the same thing.
Gawande argues that quality of our days, particularly near the end of life, is more important than quantity. He uses several case studies where either the physician or the patient continued various interventions until they became more overwhelming and more debilitating than the original health issue.
My favorite sentence in the book is: “This is what it means to have autonomy – you may not control life’s circumstances; but getting to be the author of your life means getting to control what you do with them.”
I read this book when it first came out in 2014. At the time I thought to myself, “This is very interesting information for when I’m old.” Five years and a variety of health issues later, mortality and I are preparing to stare each other down. I’m taking the recommendations in Being Mortal to heart.