Talking with Doctors

Newman, David

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Memoir

Annotated by:
Redel-Traub, Gabriel
  • Date of entry: Nov-08-2016
  • Last revised: Nov-08-2016

Summary

Talking with Doctors, a memoir by David Newman, follows the author’s dizzying journey to find a physician and treatment plan after being diagnosed with a rare malignant tumor perched dangerously near his brain stem. Despite the author’s education, money, connections and geographic privilege (Mr. Newman is a New Yorker surrounded by “the best” hospitals and the “the best” doctors), he finds himself struggling to make any sense of the conflicting medical advice he receives. The vertigo induced by the deluge of advice he gathers in his countless trips to multiple medical centers, is only exacerbated by the egotism and childishness of some of the doctors he sees. The indecencies range from the routine—waiting hours for doctors that are running behind schedule—to the utterly bizarre—a doctor returning Mr. Newman’s $10 copay as a gesture of good will after explaining that his tumor was inoperable and would likely be fatal.   Mr. Newman’s career as a psychotherapist is intimately interwoven into the fabric of the memoir. His analytical eye strongly informs his search for a physician whom he can trust. Moreover, knitted into the narrative is Mr. Newman’s experience with his own patients whom he is forced to refer to other therapists while he is receiving treatment.   Coloring the tone of the entire memoir is the fact that Mr. Newman has survived the tumor around which the memoir is framed. Nonetheless, Talking with Doctors is a harrowing and suspenseful read.

Commentary

What makes Talking with Doctors a singular book is not Mr. Newman’s wild two-month search for a treatment plan or his own confrontation with mortality, a fact of which the author is thankfully aware. Though the possibility of his death and the human condition loom throughout, the value of this book for both medical professionals and patients is in Mr. Newman’s keenly observant eye which he turns both outwardly to the doctors he visits and inwardly to himself as a patient. He writes of the profound difficulty that even a confident, white, well educated, upper middle class man can have in talking with physicians. Though he is not prescriptive in how he thinks the issues he raises should be fixed, in presenting these problems in clear and moving prose it is no surprise that this memoir is given as reading to medical students across the country.  

Publisher

Keynote Books, LLC

Place Published

New York

Edition

2nd

Page Count

238