A medical primer delivers basic information on common—and a few uncommon—ailments.
Romane (Simple as ABG, 2011), a retired emergency medicine specialist and author of a respiratory system textbook, presents a loose-limbed, haphazard tour of health care–related topics. (And for good measure, an extraneous bit on the global warming that comes from the carbon dioxide that humans exhale.) There are sections on, among other things, the common cold (it’s mainly caused by viruses, so antibiotics won’t help), various kinds of bone fractures readers suffer from, back pain (surgery helps only half the time), rabies (watch out for foxes, skunks, bats, and raccoons), and drug addiction (prescription pain meds are the main gateway). The heftiest section is a long disquisition on the causes, symptoms, dire outcomes, and treatment of diabetes. There’s a fair portion of doctorly nagging about lifestyles, including sections on obesity (forget carbs vs. fats; the only thing that counts in a diet is reducing total calories), smoking (here the author focuses not on lung cancer but on the frightening, frequent, and fatal scourges of emphysema and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), and bad driving (texting, he admonishes, impairs a motorist as much as being drunk). And there’s some soapboxing about health care policy: doctors are scolded for overprescribing antibiotics and breeding drug-resistant bacteria; big pharma gets dinged for making misleading ads and expensive copycat drugs; a graphic-illustrated section on the damage bullets can do is paired with a call for a ban on assault rifles. Romane translates medical issues into lucid, down-to-earth terms—“hemorrhoids are really just Varicose Veins of your butt”—while still conveying the basic scientific underpinnings of disease and treatment. (The many photos, drawings, and tables help with that.) This slender, easy-to-understand volume is not an encyclopedic examination of the topic or an adequate home diagnostic reference, but Romane’s prose is so engaging that readers can browse it for enjoyment while picking up useful lore along the way.
A readable and diverting health care treatise for laypeople.