A TASTE OF MY OWN MEDICINE: When the Doctor Is the Patient by

A TASTE OF MY OWN MEDICINE: When the Doctor Is the Patient

Email this review


Physician Rosenbaum was in his 70s and had been practicing medicine for 50 years when he was diagnosed as having cancer. This modest account follows his ensuing radiotherapy (the cure rate is 85%) and musings on the different worlds of doctor and patient. Firmly in the mold of the traditional physician, Rosenbaum (a rheumatologist) was appalled by being on the receiving end of medical misdiagnosis, hospital bureaucracy, and the general indifference of health personnel. As he chronicles the course of his illness, he relates his own treatment to that of patients he's cared for over the years--and doesn't try to disguise his own shortcomings or those of his profession. Rosenbaum's first symptom was hoarseness; but since his tumor was hidden behind his vocal cords, he was initially given a clean bill of health by two doctors who gave incomplete examinations. As the symtoms persisted, he was told the problem was in his mind, which raised an uncomfortable parallel: ""Though I accepted that my illness was psychological, I knew that diagnosis could at times hide horrible errors. When my own nephew Billy was fifteen years old, his personality had changed. . .I sent him to a neurologist, who assured the family that it was all mental; he was a typical teenager going through adolescent problems. . .For three months Billy was treated by psychotherapy. . .Within six months, he was dead of a brain tumor."" Rosenbaum was eventually--after many months--correctly diagnosed and began treatment. His story raises anecdotes from his past (growing up Jewish in Omaha), and interesting and pertinent cases he's treated. But the real message here is in his humbling, enlightening experiences as patient: ""I am the chief. I was chief of medicine in the army. I was chief of medicine in my hospital. I was chief of the arthritis clinic at the medical school. Now they have stripped me of my command. No one asks me what to do. Instead, they tell me what to do and I must submit."" A modest, engaging account of a very personal ordeal.

Pub Date: May 9th, 1988
Publisher: Random House