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This particular medical episode will remind you somewhere along the line of more heroic bouts of severe illness--Rachel MacKenzie's (Risk), Eric Hodgins' (Accident)--which inevitably led to stronger books. Much of the appeal in Halberstam and Lesher's joint account of Lesher's event is its informality; working against it, as he was against himself, is Lesher's aggressive, headstrong, churlish, sometimes childish temperament, which helped bring on the attack. From problem patient he graduated to professional patient, insisting he'd had an aneurysm. Actually Halberstam's rather inspired diagnosis was an esoteric form of angina--the first case he's seen--by name Prinzmetal Variant. Almost two years of monitoring Lesher, with or without machinery, left no question that he was a congenital nudge, increasingly obsessed by his future potential (he was between marriage and five children and a new love). Strangely enough, the difficulties Halberstam had with Lesher brought on for the first time reminders of his own mortality, his father's checking out at the age of 50, the sound of ""beepers"" he occasionally still hears. Halberstam comes across as an exceptionally nice man to have around, very aware of the multifarious difficulties of dealing with patients. He learned a good deal from this ungrateful one--others will too, in their own interest.

Pub Date: June 28th, 1976
Publisher: Lippincott