Slow Dancing with a Stranger: Lost and Found in the Age of Alzheimer’s is the memoir of a journalist whose husband, a brilliant scientist, is stricken with Alzheimer’s at an early age. She struggles with finding proper care for him, eventually deciding to take care of him at home, with extreme sacrifices on her part. And her mother also falls victim to Alzheimer’s so she struggles with not one but two patients.
The main message of the book is that the infrastructure to care for Alzheimer patients is woefully inadequate. Interestingly, she seems to consider that their lives should be sustained as long and as aggressively as possible, even though she deplores the dramatic loss of dignity her husband is suffering, and comments that he would likely not want to keep living that way…
Surgeon General’s Warning: How Politics Crippled the Nation’s Doctor tells the history of the position of Surgeon General, and then takes the reader through portraits of each and every Surgeon General, from 1871 to today. While I found the (military) origins of the post fascinating, too many of the holders were, to be kind, too boring to know about, although some were certainly colorful, and a few just awful. The author’s contention is that the office has become so political as to be useless, and by the end of the book I was ready to agree with him.
Written by two brothers, a psychiatrist and a professor of philosophy and psychiatry, Suspicious Minds: How Culture Shapes Madness argues that the devastating delusions suffered by schizophrenics are created by an over-functioning of our nervous system when detecting possible dangers. They make a strong case, along the way showing that populations who are under stress, from abused children, to large city dwellers, to racially oppressed groups, are much more prone to psychosis than others.
The book also reminds us of the great difficulty psychiatrists have in treating patients who have a tenuous link to reality and the necessity to follow a treatment, and shose illness they simply do not understand, not yet.
Written by a physician who, like the heroine, is a woman, Dirty Work features a young obstetrician on probation because one of her patient, for whom she was performing an abortion, is in a coma because of an error on her part. The story unfolds as she awaits the decision of the hospital board that will decide whether her license will be revoked.
I thought the anguish of the heroine was beautifully rendered, and I also liked how her ruminations explored the difficulties of being an abortion provider in a profession that deifies saving lives. Warning: the surgery scenes are graphic.