A pulmonary and critical care doctor meditates on the role of medical professionals and their interventions in the lives of patients, several of whom she chronicles in their struggles with extreme illness.
...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.