A Life Worth Living: A Doctor's Reflections on Illness in a High-Tech Era
Critical illness is a fact of life. Even those of us who enjoy decades of good health are touched by it eventually, either in our own lives or in those of our loved ones. And when this happens, we grapple with serious and often confusing choices about how best to live with our afflictions. A Life Worth Living is a book for people facing these difficult decisions. Robert Martensen, a physician, historian, and ethicist, draws on decades of experience with patients and friends to explore the life cycle of serious illness, from diagnosis to end of life. He connects personal stories with reflections upon mortality, human agency, and the value of "cutting-edge" technology in caring for the critically ill. Timely questions emerge: To what extent should efforts to extend human life be made? What is the value of nontraditional medical treatment? How has the American health-care system affected treatment of the critically ill? And finally, what are our doctors' responsibilities to us as patients, and where do those responsibilities end? Using poignant case studies, Martensen demonstrates how we and our loved ones can maintain dignity and resilience in the face of life's most daunting circumstances.