From Chris Garland
Author: Victoria Sweet
Title: God’s hotel : a doctor, a hospital, and a pilgrimage to the heart of medicine
Victoria Sweet chronicles her experience as a physician at San Francisco’s Laguna Honda Hospital which is cited as the last almshouse in the U.S. The almshouse was a place of refuge, housing people who were chronically ill or impoverished with no place else to go. Many times Dr. Sweet’s patients would come to Laguna Honda with an incorrect diagnosis from the county hospital, because the patients were not carefully examined. These diagnoses would lead to bad treatment and the patients getting sicker. Dr. Sweet asserts that modern medical treatment relies too much on tests, x-rays and less on the doctor’s physical examination of the patient. The reason is money. Doctors are paid by the amount of patients they see, so examinations must be quick to maintain financial viability. As a result, efficiency and managing disease are stressed over treatment that is more hands on with the doctor. Working at Laguna Honda, Dr. Sweet had the luxury to practice what she calls slow medicine which is just taking the time to talk to and examine and even re-examine a patient; to consult other doctors, to go over lab tests and X-rays, to think about a diagnosis, to discontinue medications that are no longer needed, and to try a new medication—but carefully. Dr. Sweet feels that slow medicine is efficient because it’s about restoring health not managing disease, and saves money. The current fast medicine practiced in the U.S. is very expensive and the outcomes for patients are worse.
The author discusses how her studies of ancient medicine influenced her work, specifically the twelfth-century mystic and nun Hildegarde of Bingen who wrote a practical medical text. Sweet even applied some of Hildegarde’s methods to her patients when she ran out of modern medical tools. She would say to herself “What would Hildegarde do?” To the best of her ability, she would consult Hildegarde’s texts and apply the treatment to her patients, and for the most part she had positive results. Dr. Sweet beautifully highlights how the Laguna Honda almshouse gave her the opportunity to learn about ancient and modern medicine, and ideas to improve healthcare.
From Ginny Pisciotta
Author: Peggy Sarlin
Title: Awakening from Alzheimer’s : how 9 maverick doctors are reversing Alzheimer’s, dementia and memory loss
Awakening From Alzheimer’s is fascinating, informative and encouraging. The book is short and easy to read – you don’t need to be a scientist or doctor to understand it. You will be encouraged by the stories of Alzheimer’s patients who got their lives back using various remedies mentioned in this book. The book is mainly anecdotal, but does mention studies done on some of the supplements. It is not about one particular course of action, but about various methods used by different doctors with success.
One of the doctors the author interviewed is Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. , a frequent guest on T.V. shows such as The Dr. Oz Show. According to Dr. Teitelbaum, many people diagnosed with Alzheimer’s don’t actually have it. Dementia has a lot of causes and many of them are treatable.
A few of the supplements mentioned in the book are coconut oil, prevagen, lion’s mane (a medicinal mushroom), methylene blue, pycnogenol, PS, Huperzine A, Curcumin, Vectomega and Co-Q10.
In my opinion, this book is definitely worth reading. Many of the suggestions are simple enough and inexpensive enough to at least try. Although using several different supplements could get expensive, it would still be a bargain if it eliminated the need for assisted living. Even if you don’t know anyone with dementia, this book is full of information to help safeguard your own cognitive abilities.
From Margaret Mezzacapo
Author: Sheri Fink
Title: Five days at Memorial : life and death in a storm-ravaged hospital
What a book! This is the story of five hellish days at a New Orleans hospital during Hurricane Katrina. When the hospital lost power and the ability to care for its sickest patients, staff struggled to evacuate them. The book revolves around one Memorial Hospital doctor and her alleged decision to euthanize those patients who looked like they wouldn’t make it.
Author Sheri Fink, an M.D. and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has crafted a well-written, fascinating and hypnotic book. She raises many ethical questions and asks what we’ve learned from Katrina.
And in case you think, “It can’t happen here,” just remember Superstorm Sandy and how hospitals as close as Southside in Bay Shore evacuated patients.
This book will give you plenty of food for thought on numerous fronts.
From Margaret Mezzacapoa
Author: Brendan Reilly
Title: One doctor : close calls, cold cases, and the mysteries of medicine
Dr. Reilly describes his personal medical care (including a stint at Chicago’s Cook County Hospital, the setting and inspiration for the TV show, “E.R.”). He also relates case histories of patients he has cared for. His stories are succinct and interesting, interspersed with his opinions on our current healthcare system. On occasion, he’ll use medical terminology and jargon, but fear not – he explains everything thoroughly. It’s an entertaining read that provides food for thought.
From: Margaret Mezzacapo
My Stroke of Insight
Author: Jill Bolte Taylor
I had read Ms. Taylor’s book several years ago from my viewpoint at the time as an EMT and member of the Fire Department, which I still am. But reading it now from the viewpoint of having had a stroke myself at a relatively young age, it takes on a whole new meaning and perspective. There were times when this book was almost uncomfortably close to home. Ms. Taylor chronicles everything spot-on. I’d recommend this to all audiences.
From Lola Ferris
author: Peete, Rodney
Not My Boy! a Father, a Son, and One Family’s Journey with Autism
Imagine being an NFL star quarterback and discovering that your son, at three, has developed autism. When R.J. was born, Rodney Peete had dreams of tossing a football with his son. Instead, the anger, denial and pain he experienced on hearing the diagnosis took its toll on his relationships with his other children and almost collapsed his marriage.
Today, eight years later, R.J. has come from a child who couldn’t “look his father in the eye” to a lively, healthy youngster who plays soccer. The journey the Peetes took to bring him to this point included changed expectations, determination, patience, a roster of professionals and parents like themselves. Peete describes in intimate, simple, honest language the painful trip he and Holly, his wife took, how he changed from a macho, tough guy to a father able to give his child unconditional love. This is a must-read for any parent who is going through a similar experience, or anyone who wants to read a book about the way love of a child can lead a parent to learn how to be a strong yet devoted father.
From Margo Blatt
author: Picoult, Jodi
I was glad that this book was not as much of a tearjerker as her others. Or maybe my hormones were out of whack. I am very sensitive to children waith special needs as I work with them during the school year. Aspergers is a subject I am so interested in. My son was diagnosed with it however I feel this is not a correct one after reading so books and biographies about the condition. Anyone in the education field should read this. Or anyone with a heart.
From Lola Ferris
author: Singh, Simon & Ernst
Trick or treatment : the undeniable facts about alternative medicine
If you are considering treatment with unconventional techniques please read this book before you make a phone call to a specialist in such methods. A medical journalist (Singh) and a medical doctor (Ernst) set out to discover the truth about the lotions, potions, pills and pummeling that make up the world of alternative medicine. They were determined to be objective, to investigate clinical trials, and any scientific evidence that might support claims that alternative medicine works. What did they come up with? Very little evidence that the scientific method was used to evaluate such treatment. Claims of specialists in this field were found to be anecdotal in most cases, and a placebo effect in others, with very little true scientific investigation ever taking place.
Using many fascinating historical case studies, they ask what works, which
claims are the truth, who is ripping you off, who can you trust, which cures have some merit and which can be harmful. Written in a lively, reasoned style, this book is a must for anyone thinking of using alternative therapy, although if you’ve already spent time and money and are a true believer, reading this book will only result in a headache.
From Lola Ferris
author: Davenport, Randi
The Boy Who Loved Tornadoes: A Mother’s Story
This is the poignant story of a mother’s fight to get her son, Chase, diagnosed and treated for a disease that is variously described as ADHD, autism and finally,in his teens, full-blown psychosis. Davenport tells the story of visits to doctors, each with different diagnoses: Chase’s problem doesn’t fit into any niche, making the search for help even more frustrating.
As he enters his teens, Chase becomes paranoid, violent and suicidal, and insurers cut off his health insurance, since there is no name for his disease. This forces Davenport to send him to a state mental hospital, where he is drugged into a vegetative state. She finally finds a small
facility, devoted to young men with developmental disabilities, though we are never sure this is the end of her painful journey. We are drawn into the world of Davenport, an academic and a writer, as she describes the pain of a fiercely devoted mother held hostage to forces beyond her understanding or control. Her story is straightforward, honest and gripping.