It doesn't take a trip to the doctor to know that the bond between physicians and patients isn't what it used to be. Specialization, rising costs, managed care, the insurance industry, the shadow of litigation - so many factors have changed what was once a traditional relationship grounded in respect and caring. In light of the altered climate in health care, this thoughtful book deals with the way that today's doctors and patients view themselves and one another. Allen Weisse has observed the changing medical scene during half a century of treating patients and training future physicians, and he writes frankly here about how doctors and patients have come to deal with illness in the twenty-first century. Weisse first recalls his own brush with death as a young man diagnosed with testicular cancer - a time when one thinks of God and Death and little else. He, then, shares true stories of how different people have dealt with cancer, heart disease, stroke, infectious disease, AIDS, and other dire diagnoses - narratives enhanced by professional savvy and enriched by the kind of empathy that the survivor of such a calamity can provide.
Drawing from a storehouse of experiences shared by colleagues, patients, and friends, Weisse writes with passion, conviction, and clarity to encourage a renewal of the openness and trust that seem to be lacking in today's doctor-patient relationships. These are accounts both uplifting and disturbing - some sad, others tinged with humor - intended to make doctors and patients alike come to a fuller realization that we are all together in this delicate but crucial business of staying alive. While not quite foreseeing a return to the Norman Rockwell image of the family physician, Weisse urges the kind of care and compassion that patients often feel is lacking from their doctors, and he reassures victims of seemingly hopeless conditions that, despite the obstacles they often face, there are still health care professionals who truly have their patients' welfare foremost in mind. "Lessons in Mortality" is just what the doctor ordered for a health care system in crisis: an honest look at the medical profession that encourages greater understanding on the part of both physicians and patients, reminding us that what we most need is one another.