Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Read This: Every Patient Tells A Story by Lisa Sanders, MD

I wish I were up to posting a real review of Dr. Sanders' book Every Patient Tells a Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis. Unfortunately, my energy levels and ability to concentrate aren't cooperating.

But I do recommend the book as a fascinating view into the minds of doctors as they try to figure out the tougher cases.

Interestingly (to me at least) Sanders was a journalist who covered science and medicine/health and decided to go to medical school. These days, she's an internist as well as a columnist for The New York Times. (For those who don't know, I'm a former journalist and sometimes joke that if I ever solve my mystery illness, maybe I'll go to medical school. My internist keeps telling me I should since I've learned so much through this experience.)

The book is well written, easily understood by those of us without medical or science backgrounds. It gives some history of medicine and how it's changed from listening to the patient to focusing on results of tests and lab work.

The problem, of course, is with patients like me, with lots of abnormal test results but the combination don't point to a specific diagnosis. When that happens, she says, doctors rely on their network of colleagues, calling "every smart doctor" they know.

For those who are medical mysteries like I am, the book will give you a little insight into your doctors' thought processes. I also thought it was encouraging to read about doctors who really care and want to help those patients who are not easily diagnosed. Although I've got some really good doctors, it feels like once they realize they don't know what's wrong with me, they lose interest in trying. Sigh. I'm blessed with a caring internist who is supportive of me and hasn't given up on me. Now I just need to find the right specialist (and figure out what specialty I fit into best) ...


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