Be Here Then

why and how to write & create an ethical will, hospice card, or other legacy

Not about hospice, but a must-read about your medical care

Before you finish your ethical will, before you might need hospice care, before you read another book or see another doctor, read this: When Doctors Don’t Listen, written by two medical doctors currently working in Boston, Massachusetts, is something I wish I had had fifteen years ago and was in an HMO.

What I love most about this book are three things in particular:

One, their tone is respectful of doctors, even the ones who don’t listen, but also firm in urging patients to speak up to those same doctors in the moment, right when patients feel they aren’t being heard.  The authors’ suggestions for how to speak up are, in my opinion, beautifully and carefully considered.

Two, the authors provide useful appendices: one in particular gives you a few opportunities to “practice” speaking up before you need to go in for a medical appointment (and I think many of us could use that practice); another gives you a framework for how to organize your information before you go to the appointment to help maximize your opportunity to be clearly understood.  (I could have used this when I was trying to find out why I wasn’t sleeping.)

And three, the examples and stories the authors use to illustrate their points are spot-on, and personally I found them usefully alarming.  I won’t ever again dumbly nod when I’m told to go get a CT scan, especially after having had three chest CTs already and now — now! — finding out about the risks involved.

In fact, this book is so good, that I wish I could afford to buy a copy for every doctor I’ve seen over the last fifteen years who did not listen, and who contributed to the consequences of undiagnosed sleep disorders, and give it to them along with a letter written explaining why they are receiving it.

Yes, it’s that good.

Whether you are a ‘doctor knows best’ person or a skeptic Googler of medical research, you will find this book any or all of the following: useful, hopeful, supportive, challenging in a respectful way, and ultimately worth every penny.


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