Susan Sontag, The New Yorker, September 24, The disconnect between last Tuesday's monstrous dose of reality and the self-righteous drivel and outright deceptions being peddled by public figures and TV commentators is startling, depressing.
Gawande in his various environments: Extra] Hear Elizabeth Gudrais talk about reporting this article. He kept getting paged when other physicians thought their patients might need surgery. By late afternoon, there had been a few false alarms: Responding to a page about an elderly man who had had heart surgery the previous week and was now in severe abdominal pain, Gawande got on the phone with the surgical resident and pulled up an MRI on his computer screen.
As he got up from his desk, his movements took on a sense of purpose. One thing was clear: He went through a familiar and well-practiced set of actions that he seemed to do without thinking: The New Yorker would have to wait. The medical writing for which Gawande is best known represents only a small fraction of his professional output.
He is a surgeon, and a busy one at that, performing plus operations a year. He heads a World Health Organization initiative on making surgery safer. And he is a husband and a father of three. A few days after the emergency surgery on the man with the ischemic colon who survived and recoveredGawande was back in the OR, removing the enlarged and possibly cancerous thyroid lobe of a year-old schoolteacher.
And after thousands of hours of practice, he works with an air of assurance. Operating on the throat is not simple: It bears little resemblance to an anatomy chart, where body parts are neatly subdivided and set off from one another in contrasting colors.
He can gaze into a messy, bloody incision and see nebulous boundaries between various tissue types. Huddled over the blue-draped schoolteacher, Gawande and a surgical resident performed a delicate dance, their movements synchronized.
One snipped to remove suspicious tissue; the other, following just behind, sewed up.
As they went, they cauterized small blood vessels and took care to avoid larger ones and the vocal-cord nerve.
With this patient, Gawande decided to transplant one parathyroid gland essential for maintaining proper blood calcium levels to ensure that it would have adequate blood supply after the woman recovered from the operation.
He removed the amorphous parathyroid tissue himself and smeared it on a small plastic tray. Surgeons face judgment calls, large or small, every few seconds, and the pace does not allow for second opinions.
But Gawande, who is 43, says he is indecisive by nature—agonizing over the choice of a restaurant, for instance.
When he tackles thorny political issues, his arguments do not have polarizing overtones, and he does not use words to browbeat.
There is nuance, and a good dose of neurotic self-doubt. In a chapter of his book Better: He paints an endearingly awkward, fumbling picture of himself as a newly minted doctor, having decided to examine patients in their street clothes in most cases: If a patient with gallstones wore a shirt she could untuck for the abdominal exam, this worked fine.
In fact, it is his habit of acknowledging uncertainty that makes his writing so refreshing. Often this willingness to face the unknown leads to striking cultural insights.
If Gawande is an unlikely surgeon, envisioning a career in medicine, more generally, was easy. He grew up in Athens, Ohio, the son of a urologist father and a pediatrician mother, and he has often said that following them into the field seemed so inevitable that he tried every way he could think of to avoid it.
Careers he considered along the way included philosophy and politics; they did not include writing. The odds of him not making something work are a lot lower than they would be with anybody else.
His first New Yorker piece, intook nine months from submission to publication, and went through 22 rewrites; today, they typically take just a couple.
Despite two books, a decade on staff at the New Yorker, and a MacArthur Fellowship that recognized his writing, Gawande still does not consider himself much of a writer. There is one more similarity between medicine and journalism: An article begins with a question, as does a diagnosis.
Through a strangely circuitous route, Gawande has arrived at a life in which diverse pursuits dovetail seamlessly.He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since and has written four best-sellers around the practice of medicine. Gawande has thus far revealed little about plans for the new healthcare company.
He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard His latest book is Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.
He is also a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, a staff writer for The New Yorker, and a professor at Harvard Medical School and /5(K). Personal Best Top athletes and singers have coaches.
Atul Gawande, a surgeon and public The New Yorker may earn a portion of sales from products and services that are purchased through.
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the New Yorker, “peculiarly drawn to paradoxes, tragic choices”. (Gawande writes four essays a year for the maga- you’ve read a Gawande essay, for exam-ple, nausea is not just the miserable result of “unanticipated sensory input”. Instead, it becomes the indelible and.
Gawande was not the first HMS doctor to write for the New Yorker—Recanati professor of medicine Jerome Groopman, of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, is also a staff writer there (see “The Examined Life,” May-June , page 58).