Book Review: “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End” by Atul Gawande

This is an awesome book for anyone with dying loved ones or those dying. For everyone, because we all will be dying some day.

The author, being a surgeon himself, discusses about what’s best for a person to end his life journey, whether due to aging and illness, and how a doctor and his/her loved ones should help.

Need to think about the end goals – what matters at the end: short quality time, less suffering, ability to “watch in front of TV football game while eating chocolate ice cream.”

Several touching stories in the book: a new mother, an old independent man, his daughter’s piano teacher, and a few others. But mostly, his father’s story really hit home and is most touching.

He touched on nursing homes, assisted living, and others in between to help the old living out their end of life with autonomy and without the constant risk of falling or missing medicines.

He advocates the use of hospice to help making the last days of life worth living. I got to know how the home hospice care work. Spelling out the goals and writing down what’s needed: funeral home to use, when to resuscitate and etc.

Human remembers mostly of the peak pain and the pain at the end – our remembering self. The average of the pain experience that we experience is normally not important to us because they don’t make good stories. When it comes to handling losses (like fighting cancer), we tend to take excessive risk without considering the quality of life at the end.

This is a great book. You’ll need to read it sooner or later. Read it now.