Without any warning, in September 1999, David Newman was told he had a rare and life-threatening tumor in the base of his skull. In the compressed space of five weeks, he consulted with leading physicians and surgeons at four major medical centers. The doctors offered drastically differing opinions; several pronounced the tumor inoperable and voiced skepticism about the effectiveness of any nonsurgical treatment.
Talking with Doctors is the story of Newman's efforts, at a time of great stress and even impending death, to wend his way through the dense thicket of medical consultations in search of a physician and a treatment that offered the possibility of survival. It is the story, especially, of the harrowing process of assessing conflicting "expert" opinions and, in so doing, of making sense of the priorities, personalities, and vulnerabilities of different doctors. All too often, he found, the leading specialists to whom he was sent were strangers in the consulting room-and strangers who became stranger still, both cognitively and emotionally, when ambiguous findings pushed them to the outer limits of their training and experience. Newman writes poignantly of his sense of powerlessness and desperation, of the painstaking means by which he ascertained what could be known about his tumor, and of the fortuitous events that finally led him to life-saving help.
Talking with Doctors is a compelling, absorbing, unsettling story that touches a collective raw nerve about the experience of doctors and medical care when life-threatening illness leads us to subspecialists at major medical centers. Probing the nature of medical authority and the grounds of a trusting doctor-patient relationship, Newman illuminates with grace and power what it now means for a patient to participate in life-and-death medical decisions.
David Newman is a faculty member and supervisor at The Manhattan Institute for Psychoanalysis and a visiting faculty member at The Westchester Center for the Study of Psychoanalysis and Psychotherapy. He is in private practice in New York, where he lives with his wife and children.
Talking with Doctors. Please Give Him Back His Copay. The Worst-Case Scenario. Forewarned, Four-Armed. Chatter in the Infield. No Dye. Eve's Offering. Three Words He's Not Afraid to Say. Whose Pathology Is It? An Orderly Inquiry. The Putting Out of Eyes. Traffic. No Dye, Again. Unwritten Letters. Parallel Parking. Something is Wrong with You. Is That Your Tumor Talking? Higher Court Ruling. Two Very Different Kinds of People. Nothing Palliative. A Shadow of Opportunity. Contradiction. Stuffed Animal. New York, New York. Hopes and Prayers. He Can Do Things No One Else Can. Perseverance and Serendipity. On a First-Name Basis. Help! I Need Somebody. Not Just Anybody. He Will Operate on Anyone Who Lets Him. What You Don't Want. What I Deserve. Now These Days Are Gone, I'm Not So Self-Assured. These Little Town Blues. Saying Good-Bye. Street Fight. These Vagabond Shoes. Start Spreading the News. Return of the Stuffed Animal. In Human Hands. Life Without Parole. False Bottom. Coming and Going Before the Graveyard. Life-and-Death Dialogues.