I found Jerome Groopman’s book How Doctors Think helpful and enlightening. So when I happened across Your Medical Mind: How to Decide What is Right for You, written by Groopman and his wife Pamela Hartzband (both are MDs) I grabbed it right up. In truth, I also chose it because I have an important medical decision to make regarding surgery. I was hoping Groopman and Hartzband would again enlighten me.
The structure of the book follows from the least of the difficult medical decisions we may need to make to the most difficult. It acknowledges that choosing whether or not to take a medicine is considerably different than discussing what “no heroic efforts” means to a dying patient. This structure helps give context to the complex ideas Groopman and Hartzband put forth. Detailed patient stories are used throughout to illustrate the concepts as well, and this makes the book more readable and heartfelt.
The authors posit that patients fall into a variety of categories, and knowing where you land will help you decide what to do. For example, some patients are minimalist and prefer to use the least intervention possible. Others are quite the opposite—maximalist—and choose more invention over less. Knowing which category you fall in should help. For me it also provided some interesting discussion with my husband.
Groopman and Hartzband also explain the difference between disappointment and regret, as it relates to medical choices. They discuss how best to use and interpret medical statistics in your decision making process, and how different doctors can feel like a best match or not.
While I don’t necessarily have complete clarity regarding my medical decision yet, I had some important epiphanies while reading Your Medical Mind. I was able to put my options down on paper in a better way than I had previously. Altogether, this was a book that’s helped. I suspect I’ll keep it and refer again to its ideas and wisdom.