Showing 41 - 50 of 81 annotations contributed by Kohn, Martin

The Last Deal

Groopman, Jerome

Last Updated: Oct-04-2005
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Case Study

Summary:

A desperate patient visits a renowned oncologist with hope for a miraculous cure of his kidney cancer. The patient, a venture capitalist, doesn't want to die--can't face his death. He is willing to take whatever risk is necessary to survive. After a grueling course of experimental treatment and an expected period of remission, the cancer returns, leaving the patient (according to the physician-author) with an awful ending to his life--a death filled with regret.

What is revealed as Groopman deliberately walks "along the milestones" of his patient's life is more than the patient's story, however. For in addition to a chronicle of the disease's effect on his patient, the physician himself, and his concerns about the proper use of his knowledge and powerful tools also are revealed.

View full annotation

Whose Body is it Anyway?

Gawande, Atul

Last Updated: Oct-04-2005
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Essay

Summary:

Atul Gawande, a surgical resident at Harvard Medical School, asks in his well written essay, "when you see your patient making a grave mistake, should you simply do what the patient wants?" (p. 86) He answers this question by sharing a number of cases from his training that suggest that the orthodoxy of 'absolute respect for patient autonomy' may interfere with good patient care.

Gawande also gives the reader insight into the difficulties that young residents especially have in developing an artful approach to medical practice. He suggests that part of respecting autonomy is (at appropriate times) allowing patients to cede that autonomy to an authority figure. He argues further that, "patients frequently don't want the freedom that we've given them." (p. 89)

He also shares in his essay a personal experience with his youngest child. She was a premature baby who at eleven days old ended up in the intensive care unit. He was glad to put the ultimate decision(s) of how to care for his daughter in the hands of physicians--"they could live with the consequences, good or bad." (p. 90)

View full annotation

Complications

Wasserstein, Wendy

Last Updated: Oct-04-2005
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Summary:

A chance meeting with her former and most compassionate fertility doctor brought Wendy Wasserstein (at age 48, and after 8 years of effort) back to his fertility clinic. Two weeks later she got the news that she was pregnant, and six months after that, just as she was getting ready to tell her friends "that the twenty pounds I had gained were not the result of bad habits and anxiety," she developed preeclampsia and was hospitalized.

What follows in this ’Annals of Motherhood’ memoir is an account of her hospitalization; her subsequent delivery 16 days later of 1lb., 12oz. daughter, Lucy Jane (Lucy’s waving hand sonogram picture reminded Wasserstein of "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds"); and her separation from Lucy, who spent two months in the neonatal intensive care unit.

View full annotation

It's A Bird. . .

Seagle, Steven

Last Updated: Apr-28-2005
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Graphic Novel

Summary:

This beautifully illustrated (by Teddy Kristiansen) semi-autobiographical graphic novel captures the struggle of the author to take on the assignment as the newest chronicler of the adventures of Superman. This once-in-a lifetime opportunity evokes the memory of his first encounter with the man of steel--as a young boy reading his Superman comic book in a hospital waiting room as his grandmother lies dying of Huntington's disease.

View full annotation

Holy Fire

Sterling, Bruce

Last Updated: Nov-16-2003
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Holy Fire's setting is America at the end of the 21st century. A gerontocracy is firmly in place and in many older persons are reaping the benefits of life-extending technology. Mia Ziemann, the protagonist of this "cybersuspense" novel, is a 94 year-old medical economist who has a life-altering visit with a dying ex-lover. Could she become the person she had wanted to become so many decades ago--someone much more adventuresome?

In order to do so, she needs to undergo an experimental treatment--NTDCD (Neo-telemeric Dissipative Cellular Detoxification)--that does not just halt the aging process, but reverses it. NTDCD involves numerous ordeals including clogging her digestive tract with a sterilizing putty, filling her lungs with a sterilizing oxygenating fluid, replacing her cerebrospinal fluid (producing profound unconsciousness), being fetally submerged in a gelatinous tank of support fluids where the bacteria in her body are removed, and then receiving DNA treatments. If she survives the treatment the question remains whether or not she'll be able to survive as a young person in a world that favors the old.

View full annotation

Skin Tight

Hiaasen, Carl

Last Updated: Oct-21-2003
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

The strange cast of characters in this satirical detective thriller includes most prominently, Dr. Rudy Graveline, a hack plastic surgeon trying to cover up the "accidental" death of a patient during a rhinoplasty procedure four years prior to the start of action. "One of the wondrous things about Florida, Rudy Graveline thought as he chewed on a jumbo shrimp, was the climate of unabashed corruption: There was absolutely no trouble from which money could not extricate you . . . Since the medical board was made up mostly of other doctors, Rudy Graveline had fully expected exoneration-- physicians stick together like shit on a shoe." (p.95)

Doctors, however, are not the only profession slammed by the author. Also receiving their comeuppance are corrupt lawyers, politicians, police officers, and judges. Searing satire is also directed at "reality journalists" through the character Reynaldo Flemm (i.e. Geraldo Rivera). Not surprisingly the "good guys" win and the "bad guys," including Dr. Graveline, lose. But the hideous way in which Dr. Graveline meets his demise is too gruesome to reveal here.

View full annotation

Death of Bed 12

Kanafani, Ghassan

Last Updated: Jun-24-2003
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Short Story

Summary:

In response to hearing the dehumanizing proclamation that "bed number 12 has died," the narrator attempts to restore dignity to the life of a fellow patient by placing him, his illness and his death into a fictive framework. Having only very few clues to work with, the narrator eventually discovers that his story about the patient has for the most part missed the mark. He gains some solace in the end, however, for at least he made the attempt to understand a fellow sufferer's life and death, an act the doctors and nurses were unwilling to do.

View full annotation

Snap Shots

Cogan, Nancy Adams

Last Updated: Feb-07-2003
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Poetry

Genre: Collection (Poems)

Summary:

This is a handsome and unusual volume of self-published poetry by a chaplain who is part of a multidisciplinary team in a geriatric outpatient clinic in Iowa City, Iowa. The poems articulate the struggles of older individuals, their families, and their caregivers to make sense of changes in later life. The 30 "poem portraits" are told from varying points of view. Three of the more compelling works are "Constance," "Remembering the Trees," and "House Dreaming."

View full annotation

Life Support

Gerritsen, Tess

Last Updated: Jan-13-2003
Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Literature / Fiction

Genre: Novel

Summary:

Set in contemporary Boston, this medical thriller not only gets the reader's blood moving, but also raises some important ethical questions: How do corporate interests influence the judgment and character of physician researchers? To what length should older persons go to slow down the aging process? How does one's lifework of health care fit in with obligations to one's family?

View full annotation

Annotated by:
Kohn, Martin

Primary Category: Performing Arts / Film, TV, Video

Genre: Film

Summary:

Set in post- World War II Vienna, this movie is "a portrait of postwar corruption and the death of idealism" (Michael Wilmington, in the DVD insert). Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) comes to Vienna at the request of his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles). He arrives to find that Harry has been killed in a questionable automobile accident. A police inspector (Trevor Howard) informs Holly that his friend Harry had been involved in racketeering and maybe deserved to die.

Trying to clear the name of his friend, Holly discovers the depth of his friend's evilness--Harry was not a petty thief; he was involved in stealing penicillin from military bases and then selling diluted (and thus ineffective) doses to hospitals. The police inspector convinces Holly to turn on his friend (Harry was not the victim of the automobile accident--another of his cruel deeds!) who is finally killed by Holly in the sewers of Vienna. Of course there is Harry's girlfriend (Alida Valli) who rebuffs Holly and remains true till the end to Harry.

View full annotation