Being Mortal

by Atul Gawande
May 27th 2019 | No Comments


What medication has done to our lives and what it hasn’t?


This is a book about what it’s like to be creatures who age and die- about modern experience of mortality.


We feel safe taking medicines, hoping to recover and get back to the health and body that we never want to loose. But do we always recover or open the doors to even worse illnesses and side effects?  In this book Dr. Gawande shows that medicine actually fails the people it is supposed to help and you don’t have to spend much time with elderly to know it.


Dr. Gawande has interviewed people aging from fifty to hundred and above, to understand what they experience in the last stage of  their life. The results showed that one thing that they longed the most, which is never given to them by any doctor or nursing house is Empathy. Even if a person wants to live independently, old age demands long hours of care and help of others. But rather than giving them emotional support and proper guidance what we  do is take them to  a doctor, make them follow multiple medications as prescribed and even agree for surgeries if needed, hoping for their recovery. All these surely is necessary for their survival but how long are we going to repeat this system?


Regardless of how fit and strong we are today, there will come a time when we will realize something happening to our body, which we call aging and it won’t allow us to work as smoothly as we used to,  slowly the aging will stop our bodily function completely. It will be very difficult for us to accept the fact that we won’t be able to do things on our own. Today good health and long life is possible due to advance medication and technology. we think that whatever happens to us will be treatable by one doctor or another. But what we don’t know is that, during old age elderly need and desire something more than just a first class doctor and fancy hospital.


Today there are hundreds of nursing houses in America. Most of us imagine our last years sitting on a wheelchair in a nursing house, enjoying personal care without any responsibilities and worries to look after. But this is just an imagination, reality of even best nursing houses is surprisingly worse. Some of the elders who were interviewed were at the verge of dying and all they wanted was to stay where they felt free and safe, Home.  Instead, we force our parents and elders to go through unending surgeries, letting them die in a hospital, which we call a nursing home. These does not mean modern medication should be criticized, it is a boon that lets us live a longer and healthier life, but our duty as a human being should not be neglected as well.


The book throws light upon a completely new topic of modern mortality which we all can relate to. This non-fiction is gripping till the end but more importantly it helps us understand what it is like to see the last years of one’s life drifting away and how necessary it is to deal with this stage as humans with empathy and not just with medicines and ICU rooms.


So, what are your views on modern medication and it’s impact on human life?


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