Demystifying Medicine One Month at a Time

Tag: Roz Chast

People of the Book

51LnzMAiHuL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Doctors are a group that prize scientific evidence in plying our trade — whether making recommendations to our patients or arguing with each other about how to interpret and act upon our profession’s ever-growing body of research.

I find it pretty easy to lapse into the rationalization that “the latest evidence” is usually right, and therefore should heavily weight both our actions and our “knowledge base.”

But a new book challenges this rationalizing — pointing out that over the decades, many assumptions about best medical practices later come into question and are thrown out — a process known as “Medical Reversal.”

I blogged about this before, as several articles in this genre stood out to me. Now that line of research has been turned into a book: “Ending Medical Reversal,” by Vinay Prasad and Adam Cifu. I was delighted to be asked to review this book for Johns Hopkins Press, and glad to see that they’ve published it (in fact, they used a statement in my review as a blurb (!) on the book jacket).

If you like to know how medical knowledge gets disseminated, communicated, retracted, and paved over, then this will be an enjoyable read. The NYTimes just reviewed the book, with a recommend, only questioning the rather esoteric title, suggesting instead that the book be called “OOPS!” or “Are You Kidding Me?”

I like those.

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This past week I had the opportunity to meet the great Roz Chast, author of the award-winning graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?”

She visited the Tulsa City-County Library as part of a series of programs put on in conjunction with Clarehouse, a local not-for-profit hospice. The goal of the series is to increase awareness and dialogue about improving care for people at the end of life.dr john schumann 3

Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

From the gift that keeps on giving section, GlassHospital offers this book recommendation:

chastI ordered Roz Chast‘s latest, “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” for my wife, knowing that I was keen to read it.

I’ve always enjoyed Chast’s drawings in the New Yorker, and the topic of her aging parents seemed to offer something both universal and ripe for humor. When the package arrived, my wife seemed skeptical. But when I couldn’t get the book away from her, I knew we were on to something. After she finished it, I devoured it quickly.

The book is a graphic memoir. It tells the tales of her aging parents, who very much age in place—the place where Chast grew up in Brooklyn. Just going back there fills Chast with dread from the smells and feelings of her awkward youth and challenging relationships, especially with her mother.

Chast’s parents both live well into their 90s, with the attendant issues and frailties that come with old age. Chast makes no secret of her anxieties, in general or about aging, and what’s great is that she is able to poke fun at herself and see the humor (often gallows-type) in difficult family and health situations.

[Here is a superb interview of Chast from earlier this year when the book came out.]

Whether or not you have an aging parent, this is a book I highly recommend.

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