...a collection of vignettes culled from over a decade of Daniela Lamas’s training in intensive-care medicine, where she learned to care for the sickest of the sick. It casts a steady, unblinking eye on the triumphs, failures, and blind spots of modern medicine: the seemingly miraculous extent of what we can now do for our patients and the crippling disappointment that comes with the realization of what we still cannot ... Lamas’s work is an elegantly written, intimate examination of the very nature of life itself and the qualities that doctors fight to preserve ... Ultimately, the book is a love letter to her patients. It is a wondrous testament to the strength and tenacity of those under our care who fight to live another day under unthinkable odds.
This is a masterpiece of medical writing. More, it is a compelling new philosophizing of the ancient question of what it means to draw breath, to still be above ground, in whatever state ... Lamas’ command of the language, reminiscent of such literary nonfiction masters as Susan Orleans and Dan Barry, elegantly depicts the full range of emotion one would expect of people forced into such dire circumstance: fear, anxiety, confusion, depression, and for the lucky ones, triumph and joy. But it is in the narrow bandwidth between these emotions that Lamas excels, finding moments of acceptance and peace in this place we all inhabit above ground.
A fine medical journalist as well as an experienced physician, author Daniela Lamas exploits these two skillsets admirably. The common denominator is her talent as an interviewer. This, as well as her curiosity and her commitment to healing, has allowed Lamas to enter the harrowing emotional journeys of her patient-subjects ... Lamas has written and arranged a series of gems. The essays and characters seem almost to interact, providing a deeply textured mosaic of life before, during, and after major medical interventions. The author’s voice enriches the material and may fortify those facing their own health crises.
This slender volume is not a typical medical memoir...we’re not here to learn about the author's development as a physician. The focus is on others, those who have survived the intensive care unit and are struggling to cope with the challenges of life with chronic critical illness ... The patients in this book have something important to say, and so does the author. We should all be listening.
Dr. Lamas is good on the subject of medical communication, or lack of same, especially between the doctor and the patient, the hospital and the world outside that’s inhabited by friends and family of the chronically sick ... Dr. Lamas communicates clearly, explains rare conditions like Marfan Syndrome, and defines medical terms ... She also humanizes the people she writes about ... The modern hospital is a technological hub and You Can Stop Humming Now describes the complex machines that keep the sick and the infirm alive and breathing, heart pumping and lungs working. Indeed, some of the patients in these pages seem more like bionic creatures than human beings, though Dr. Lamas never stops seeing them and treating them as kith and kin.
Lamas somehow manages to be both clinical and compassionate and beautifully conveys how the line between life and death is not always clear and that we must consider recovery and quality of life when making medical decisions. An important read for anyone involved with, affected by, or curious about critical care medicine.
Lamas does not simply give biological explanations of these conditions; she uses patients' moving accounts to explore the benefits and hardships associated with these advances in a way few writings do ... These are case studies at their best, attentive to movements such as narrative medicine that call for clinicians to understand illness in not only a biological context, but in the context of an entire life.
An unflinching report from the front lines of critical care medicine, a technology-driven field in which doctors routinely save patients’ lives—sometimes at great cost to their physical and mental health ... Their stories are heart-rending and inspiring, and it is evident that Lamas is deeply moved by the consequences of the actions she and other doctors take every day. An enthralling reminder that behind every medical advance are the people whose lives it affects and that their stories have impact.