Tuesday, January 23, 2007
Here's an excerpt from a recent book review of Pauline Chen's new book, Final Exam: A Surgeon's Reflections on Mortality:
Our culture is rooted in a tradition of rugged individualism and unwavering faith in the power of technology to improve our lives. This deeply ingrained conviction in never giving up, no matter how long the odds are, makes it a lot easier -- for patient and physician alike -- to keep a body alive with powerful medications, ventilators and heart pumps than to look a person in the eye and tell him enough is enough. "Final Exam" is ultimately about a single question: How do you want to die? It is a truly awful question, one that produces an instinctive, practically visceral need to ignore it. But if we're lucky, it is also a question that each one of us will eventually have a chance to weigh in on. Pauline Chen has given us her answer. We would all do well to listen to what she has to say.