Creative Writing on the Book: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

2 pages
546 words
Harvey Mudd College
Type of paper: 
Creative writing
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This book is a memoir by a brain surgeon, who was diagnosed with metastatic lung carcinoma. Being a medic, the author narrates his experience and the hurdles he had to overcome in his fight against cancer. He attempts to describe what makes life worthwhile in the face of turmoil, sickness, and pain, and even in their absence. The text represents an empathetic display of what patients go through after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. This is because as one reads the book, they are frequently moved to tears or their emotions are laid bare, thanks to the moving ways in which the author describes the heartbreaking moments that punctuate the story.

If the text was in charge of educating medical or nursing students on the value of empathy and the psychology of patients, especially those that are terminally ill, I think that it would be very apt. First, students are exposed to the emotional and spiritual changes and turmoils that every patient goes through, despite the diagnosis. The fear, the anxiety, the pain, the hope and the determination to overcome. They also get exposed to the needs of a patient at such a time: encouragement, laughter, prayer, and family among others. Understanding the patient at such a level equips medical professionals with the zeal to improve the quality and efficiency of care for their patients and create meaning for their patients, especially when their loved ones are unable to. It also provides an opportunity for medical workers to be honest about poor prognoses, but still, leave room for hope and to desist from treating a patient as if they were a statistic.

I approve of the curriculum of the book, mainly because it is a representation of the medical ward on a patients perspective. While most medical personnel never or rarely get to be on the other side of the injection needle and the imaging machines, this book will give them that. They will soon think more about the patient than about the medical condition when delivering drugs, doing surgeries, taking biopsies and images or even prescribing care. And in situations where the patient can barely be coherent enough to understand the jargon or make the smallest decisions, they will guide their care in the best way possible. Patient psychology dictates that every patient should be treated in totality: their psychosocial, physical, spiritual and emotional well-being ought to be taken care of. In this fast-paced era of digitization, overcrowded hospital wards, insurance covers and a flare of diseases such as cancer and HIV, patients need so much more than drugs. Patients are troubled human beings whose bodies have begun to fail them. Thus said, they require help in alleviating themselves from all levels of body dysfunctions and thereby attaining compete for well-being. This text provides an insight of how to help a patient in such a manner.

I however slightly disapprove of the books verbose style of writing, that might prove to be challenging for most readers to go through, were it not for the emotional captivation while reading it. Otherwise, the text is a perfect example of a curriculum that can be included in the education of medical professionals across all levels of training.


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