As the author notes early on, health care is one of the few areas where people willingly cede control over to others, but...

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THE PATIENT'S PLAYBOOK

HOW TO SAVE YOUR LIFE AND THE LIVES OF THOSE YOU LOVE

A primer on making the right moves as an active participant in your health care.

Whatever your opinion on the Affordable Care Act, there’s an argument to be made that the American health care system is still a confusing mess, driven by cost-cutting, managed care initiatives, and conflicting information. Michelson is the CEO of a company that works with patients to get the best possible care—not only from the best possible physicians (though that often factors in), but also through guiding them through the process described in this book, one that shifts the role of care director over to the patient. The author was in high school when his father was told he needed open-heart surgery. Terrified at the idea of losing his father, he called another hospital and somehow finagled a second opinion with the chairman of cardiology, who went on to discover that Michelson’s father’s heart was fine. The author addresses our fragmented health care system by essentially moving the system over into the hands of the patient. Akin to becoming an expert on yourself, the patient takes an account of his entire medical history and learns the best ways to empower doctors to deliver the most accurate care. Michelson balances cautiously on the fine line between empowering patients to direct their care and empowering them to know what’s best. Sensitive to the volumes of misinformation that are just a Google search away, he advocates for a measured approach, pulling in support and information from a range of medical professionals. Michelson advises using not only personal wisdom, but also the skills and insights of others in a coordinated effort to reach the best outcome.

As the author notes early on, health care is one of the few areas where people willingly cede control over to others, but with this useful book, patients can have more say over what direction treatment takes rather than just going along for the ride.

Pub Date: Sept. 2, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-35228-4

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: July 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2015

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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