A History of the Present Illness

A History of the Present Illness

Louise Aronson

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 1608198308

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

A History of the Present Illness

Louise Aronson

Language: English

Pages: 272

ISBN: 1608198308

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A History of the Present Illness takes readers into overlooked lives in the neighborhoods, hospitals, and nursing homes of San Francisco, offering a deeply humane and incisive portrait of health and illness in American today. An elderly Chinese immigrant sacrifices his demented wife's well-being to his son's authority. A busy Latina physician's eldest daughter's need for more attention has disastrous consequences. A young veteran's injuries become a metaphor for the rest of his life. A gay doctor learns very different lessons about family from his life and his work, and a psychiatrist who advocates for the underserved may herself be crazy. Together, these honest and compassionate stories introduce a striking new literary voice and provide a view of what it means to be a doctor and a patient unlike anything we've read before. In the tradition of Oliver Sacks and Abraham Verghese, Aronson's writing is based on personal experience and addresses topics of current social relevance. Masterfully told, A History of the Present Illness explores the role of stories in medicine and creates a world pulsating with life, speaking truths about what makes us human.

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organize into a useful clarity. Against that backdrop, Marta imagined Sophie as a smiling infant, a temperamental toddler, a pretty and charmingly precocious child, and finally, she pictured her daughter waddling into the kitchen, slumping down at the table, and shoveling bite after unwieldy bite of lavender and pink and lime-green cereal into her huge, sneering face, and she felt something inside her tighten, shut down, and turn off. * Everyone knows what to do for a heart attack. Everyone, it

Frank stopped my hand in midair. “Doc,” he said with a nod at the box of gloves on the wall above Jake’s head. “Haven’t you forgotten something?” THE FEMALE EUNUCH Our medical school had a two-plus-two format: two years in the classroom followed by two years in the hospital. The demarcation zone consisted of a month in which we crammed facts into our brains for the first of the many board exams designed to certify physician competence. Hank and I had moved in together by then, and in the days

forgot to water.” The doctor smiled. “Exactly.” He and Frank shook hands. FJ looked at his parents. “Mom, Dad, please. Listen to me. Maybe—for Gran’s sake . . .” Though it hadn’t beeped, the doctor swept the edge of his jacket to one side and touched the pager hooked onto his belt. “Pain medication, some salt water. We’re not talking about heroic measures here.” He nodded at Frank. “And now, if you’ll excuse me . . .” With the doctor out the door, Frank looked at his son. “Over my dead body.”

keep pace with demand; I couldn’t abide the very real possibility that the time a potential client spent on my waiting list might exceed his or her life expectancy. Carly noted that most retirements looked significantly different from mine, but I could see no better way to spend my time than to offer patients good care and a dignified death at home. The social worker told me that Hattie had been seen in the emergency department several times in the space of a month, each time for something

silly: an ingrown nail, a bruise not black and fresh but with a halo of lighter brown, a cut so small no sutures were needed. Each time, her daughter brought her in, dropped her off, and disappeared. Each time, the daughter was slow to return when the hospital called to say there was no reason to keep her mother. They lived in a worn but still handsome Victorian in the Lower Haight, a neighborhood of drug addicts, pierced and tattooed young professionals, and people like Hattie, who predated not

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