Friday, December 11, 2015

Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole by Ropper and Burrell

Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole
A renowned neurologist explains the mystery and drama of brain disease
by Dr. Allan H. Ropper and Brian David Burrell
3 stars - interesting and engaging
ALR Blue - people brains only

Dr. Ropper and Mr. Burrell take the reader through some of the maladies of the brain via anecdotes about patients and doctors. There are also segments with historical information about treating brain diseases as well as the mechanics of how neurological issues can impact the body.

The writing is good. The authors don't get bogged down in the details and they add plenty of human interest in the form of patient stories. There are chapters devoted to different issues, such as ALS and Parkinson's. They also discuss the different decisions both doctors and patients can make when faced with a dire diagnosis.

I learned some stuff. The book also reinforces the need to have an advocate whenever you are in the hospital. Doctors, like all of us, can make a quick diagnosis and then seek information that supports that diagnosis. If your doctor does this, you, or your advocate, need to be able to have the "what else could it be?" or "what would show you that it isn't what you think it is?" kinds of conversations.

Oh, and, yes, a bit of worry over tired staff, medical errors, and whatnot.

Only three stars because the book was, overall, at too high an altitude for me. I would have liked more stories about patients, both good and bad, and the techniques used for diagnosis. I was annoyed that most of the cases were left dangling until the final chapter. Then the authors did a roundup of what happened to everybody, but I'd lost track of who was who, so it wasn't very satisfying. They also changed tone in the end from instruction to philosophy and the departure from the previous format was jarring.

My favorite chapter was the one discussing the definition of brain death and the role of the physician in determining same. Gave me something to think about.

1 comment:

  1. Having a nurse daughter gives me a bit more confidence in dealing with doctors. She is also on the list for both hubby and me as able to make medical decisions in the event that one of us can't help the other. She might like this book (although she does say that neurosurgeons are too full of themselves).