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Friday, August 9, 2019

Book Review: Every Patient Tells A Story: Medical Mysteries and the Art of Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders (audio)

Dr. Sanders writes a weekly column in the New York Times Book Review about strange illnesses and difficult diagnoses, that became the inspiration behind the TV show House (just the unusual diagnoses, not the personality of the doctor, thankfully!) I loved the show and was on the lookout for the book for years. I was surprised to find it available on audio!

The book meanders a bit. She shifts from unusual diagnoses to how we teach doctors (poorly, for the most part), to her own background--a journalist initially, she went to med school quite late--to some unusual doctors she meets along the way. It was all still thoroughly enjoyable for me, but I do understand that some people, looking for a more clearly honed theme, might find it gets off track too much for their taste. However, if you are very much an armchair physician who isn't reading this book to learn about how to diagnose or to learn clinically about unusual medical conditions, you might, like me, enjoy it very much.

It also happened to hit just as I was getting over a rather strange and not easily diagnosed virus myself, so I felt almost like I should be a subject in the book. Some of what she described in terms of the fears of undiagnosed patients, and then the lack of robust information about how to treat more unusual conditions, really hit home. The chapter on the blind doctor was particularly fascinating, and proved something many of us have heard before--all the information is there already. It just needs to be heard. It's easy for all of us, not just doctors, to get too focused on the largest issue, which is perhaps just a symptom, not really the problem.

I bought this audiobook from Libro.fm, through an independent bookstore, Main Street Books in Davidson, NC.

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