Friday, November 6, 2015

Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande is a surgeon, writer, and public health researcher. His books include Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

From Gawande's Q & A with Tim Adams for the Guardian:

How surprised have you been by the success of your book Being Mortal, which is, after all, an unvarnished account of how we age and die?

The book was delayed a little, which meant it came out in the holiday season. The marketing people at the publisher were like, “We are bringing out a death book for Christmas?” I wrote the book with no intention of making it easy on people. The most surprising thing was it seems people have been giving it as a gift to each other: kids to parents, and parents to kids.

As a culture, we tend not to talk about the question that has always obsessed humans: what makes a good death?

It’s more that as a culture I think we get the question wrong. The question is not how to have a good death, but how to have a good life right to the very end. We are, given advances in medicine, most of us going to spend a good deal of time with serious life-threatening illness. The key question we need to ask is what are people’s priorities when they have to deal with that? I tell the story of a man who said: “I only want to stay alive as long as I can watch football on television and eat ice-cream.” Fine. That would not have been enough for my dad. He said he would like to live as long a...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue