Sunday, June 30, 2013

A World of Hurt (2013)

This important book should be read by all prescribing physicians and all patients taking chronic opioid therapy.  A companion book is Barry Meier's "Pain Killer:  A Wonder Drug's Trail of Addiction and Death."

"A World of Hurt: Fixing Pain Medicine's Biggest Mistake” explores the untold part of the prescription painkiller story – growing evidence that these drugs, along with causing an epidemic of abuse, are often ineffective in treating long-term pain and are harming patients.

Written by Barry Meier, an award-winning reporter for the Times, this new e-book also examines an unfolding medical revolution that will change the thinking of patients and their families. A decade ago, drug companies and medical experts launched a “War on Pain” that promoted the widespread use of powerful narcotic painkillers for common conditions such as back pain, headaches and fibromyalgia. Specialists claimed that a “bright line” separated the drugs’ benefits for patients from their dangers when abused on the street by young people and others.

Today, Meier writes, experts – including some who once promoted the drugs – believe that the opioid boom “ranks among medicine’s biggest mistakes". Recent studies have tied long-term use of these drugs, particularly at high doses, to addiction, dependence, reduced sexual drive, lethargy and other problems. Based on stories of researchers, patients and others, “A World of Hurt” highlights how treating pain differently can benefit both pain patients and the public's health.

“The promise that high-powered drugs could provide a cure-all – the key to winning the ‘War on Pain’ – was an empty one,” Meier writes.

"A World of Hurt" is published by The New York Times and Vook.  It is available in Kindle format only for $1.99 and is of amazing value.

Rules for Old Men Waiting (2006)

A brief, lyrical novel with a powerful emotional charge, Rules for Old Men Waiting is about three wars of the twentieth century, an ever-deepening marriage and three personal encounters with death. In a house on the Cape “older than the Republic,” Robert MacIver, a historian who long ago played rugby for Scotland, creates a list of rules by which to live out his last days. The most important rule, to “tell a story to its end,” spurs the old Scot on to invent a strange and gripping tale of men in the trenches of the First World War...
This invented tale of the Great War prompts MacIver’s own memories of his role in World War II and of Vietnam, where his son, David served. Both the stories and the memories alike are lit by the vivid presence of Margaret, his wife. As Hearts and Minds director Peter Davis writes, “Pouncey has wrought an almost inconceivable amount of beauty from pain, loss, and war, and I think he has been able to do this because every page is imbued with the love story at the heart of his astonishing novel.”

From GoodReads

In some ways, McKeever and his son reminded me of Osler and his son, Revere.  This is a moving book about an old man's losses and the ways he faces his impending death.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Until I Say Goodbye (2013)

From Amazon: Susan Spencer-Wendel’s Until I Say Good-Bye: My Year of Living with Joy is a moving and inspirational memoir by a woman who makes the most of her final days after discovering she has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
After Spencer-Wendel, a celebrated journalist at the Palm Beach Post, learns of her diagnosis of ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, she embarks on several adventures, traveling toseveral countries and sharing special experiences with loved ones. One trip takes Spencer-Wendel and her fourteen-year-old daughter, Marina, to New York City’s Kleinfeld’s Bridal to shop for Marina’s future wedding dress—an occasion that Susan knows she will never see.
Co-written with Bret Witter, Until I Say Good-Bye is Spencer-Wendel’s account of living a full life with humor, courage, and love, but also accepting death with grace and dignity. It’s a celebration of life, a look into the face of death, and the effort we must make to show the people that we love and care about how very much they mean to us.

While this description is a bit "over the top,"  the book is amazing and well-written.  Spencer-Wendel's story is captivating, and her spirit is impressive.  If one is interested in ALS, her book is a "keeper."A great introduction to the topic, in addition.

Obituary, NY Times.
Susan Spencer-Wendel, a former newspaper reporter who wrote a best-selling memoir about living life to the fullest after learning she had an incurable muscle-wasting disease — and wrote most of it on a smartphone with her right thumb — died on Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at her home in West Palm Beach, Fla. She was 47.