After the Diagnosis: Transcending Chronic Illness

After the Diagnosis: Transcending Chronic Illness

3.8 5
by Julian Seifter
     
 

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After the Diagnosis is a heartfelt and moving lesson on the art of living well through serious illness.

Dr. Julian Seifter understands the difficulty of managing a chronic condition in our health-obsessed, take-life-by-the-horns, live-forever world. When he found out he was suffering from diabetes, he was an ambitious medical resident who thought

Overview

After the Diagnosis is a heartfelt and moving lesson on the art of living well through serious illness.

Dr. Julian Seifter understands the difficulty of managing a chronic condition in our health-obsessed, take-life-by-the-horns, live-forever world. When he found out he was suffering from diabetes, he was an ambitious medical resident who thought he could run away from his diagnosis. Good health was part of his self-image, and acknowledging that he needed treatment seemed like a kind of failure.

In his practice, however, as he helped his patients come to terms with serious conditions, he began to understand that there were different, better ways to approach a life-altering diagnosis. In this frank account of his experiences both as a doctor and as a patient, he shares the many lessons he has learned. Writing with his wife, who has been an essential partner in his own treatment, he teaches you how to contend not only with the physical problems, the social stigma, and the emotional fallout of illness, but also with the medical establishment. Convinced that a deeper understanding of the spiritual, emotional, and physical challenges will bring not only comfort and support but also better care, he emphasizes truths rarely acknowledged in medical writing:

• that a patient is not simply a collection of signs and symptoms, but someone with a particular personality, psychology, and history; someone with idiosyncratic wishes and goals

• that blame, anxiety, obsession, and shame are inevitably part of the psychological journey, and that the doctor-patient relationship needs to make room for the whole person, including these difficult emotions

• that sometimes doctor and patient have to throw out the rule book and construct highly personal, creative solutions

• that denial, acting out, and "being bad" can sometimes be of benefit in managing illness

• that optimism and emotional resilience— both of which can be cultivated and nourished by the doctor—may contribute to what medicine calls luck

• that sickness, usually seen as alien and destructive, can become a vehicle for growth and self- realization

The message, in short, is: You are not your disease. You are you. Paradoxically, rather than destroy your identity, the experience of sickness can deepen your sense of who you are and what you can become.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A road map for dealing with chronic disease."The Wall Street Journal (selected as a Wellness Reading Top Pick for 2010)

“Whether a reader has a chronic illness, cares for someone with a chronic illness, or is simply trying to be a better clinician and person, [Dr. Seifter’s] wisdom is a rare gift. . . . After the Diagnosis can help all live with dignity and meaning.”Journal of the American Medical Association

“I was the fortunate beneficiary of Dr. Seifter's skill and insight as a teacher. His example — as a clinician and as a person — has informed my care of chronically ill patients ever since. Readers of After the Diagnosis will be similarly enriched by Dr. Seifter's wisdom, and by his generosity in sharing his own experience. This pragmatic and compassionate text, warmed by Betsy Seifter's contributions, will be welcome accompaniment for anyone living with or caring for chronic illness.”—Paul Farmer, MD, PhD, Co-founder, Partners In Health; Chair, Department of Global Health and Social Medicine, Harvard Medical School

"A valuable book for people with chronic illnesses and their doctors."Science News

"After the Diagnosis takes us on a journey into the making of a doctor and the discovery of a serious chronic illness. That intersection has created Julian Seifter, a physician-patient hybrid with sensibilities that patients adore and many docs do not even understand."—Richard M. Cohen, New York Times bestselling author of Blindsided and Strong at the Broken Places

After the Diagnosis speaks to the millions of people living with chronic illness, as well as their loved ones.”Lupus Now

"An eloquently executed book that includes an insightful exploration of how people have learned to live with life-threatening and debilitating health issues. . . . A valuable addition to literature on illness."—TucsonCitizen.com

"The richness and craft with which the patient stories in this book are told make After the Diagnosis a page-turner, perfect for summer reading. Its honesty and compassion make it deep, reflective, and ultimately therapeutic."—ASweetLife.org

"Here's a doctor who understands his ailing patients all too well. Seifter, a noted kidney specialist, Harvard Medical School professor, and a diabetic, presents a poignant tribute to those who have faced their illness "in just the right way": neither denying the illness nor becoming totally identified by it. And their stories offer an important lesson for the rest of us, too: when we're sick, "tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance" will help us stay alive with joy and purpose."Publishers Weekly

“Part memoir, part self-help, part questioning essay, Seifter’s helpful book about self, illness, healing, and life will have wide appeal.”Booklist

Publishers Weekly
Here's a doctor who understands his ailing patients all too well. Seifter, a noted kidney specialist, Harvard Medical School professor, and a diabetic, presents a poignant tribute to those who have faced their illness "in just the right way": neither denying the illness nor becoming totally identified by it. Seifter notes that such patients are remarkable not just for their coping skills, but because they embrace their lives despite their disease. There's Sheila, who invented an alter ego named Lucy to preserve her "selfhood" while battling a rare, inflammatory disease, ex-Boston cop Bill O'Malley, who refused to have life-saving dialysis, choosing quality rather than quantity of; and Rose, diagnosed with breast cancer, who discovers that her illness has given her life deeper meaning. They all, Seifter notes, found a way to forget about their illness and immerse themselves in the lives they chose to live. And their stories help the doctor deal with his own chronic disease--and offer an important lesson for the rest of us, too: when we're sick, "tolerance, forgiveness, and acceptance" will help us stay alive with joy and purpose. (Aug.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439123058
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
08/16/2011
Pages:
256
Sales rank:
1,185,007
Product dimensions:
8.74(w) x 5.90(h) x 0.66(d)

Meet the Author

Julian Seifter, MD, is one of the leading kidney specialists in the country. He is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School and chair of the committee on Protecting Patients in Human Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. He has traveled widely, making trips to China, Russia, Turkey, Europe, South America, and Southeast Asia. He has a wife, two grown sons, a fishing boat, and a great collection of 1950s baseball cards. He’s living—trying to live—a good life, even as time and illness take their toll.

Betsy Seifter, PhD, an editor, teacher, and a writer, graduated from Swarthmore College and received her doctorate in English literature at Columbia University. She is coauthor of The McGraw-Hill Guide to English Literature, volumes I and II.

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After the Diagnosis: Transcending Chronic Illness 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
bookishSR More than 1 year ago
The Seifter's book, After the Diagnosis, is a beautifully written, easy-to-read book about chronic illness that reassures, inspires and never preaches. Dr. Seifter's honest portrayal of his own struggles with his diagnosis of type 1 diabetes enriches his patients' stories of their own illnesses, their struggles, and his gentle guidance. There is no hard line between doctor and patient in this sensitive book; instead, it speaks to the individuality of problem-solving and the endless possibilities of ways to make any situation better. The message that you are not your illness is both delicately and strongly made. This book is entertaining, a quick read, and a deep and thoughtful look at the problems that face every single one of us at one time or another.
pallmeddoc More than 1 year ago
I have been practicing medicine in geriatrics and end of life. I thought I knew what to say and do with my patients. This book gave me so much new insight into what my patients and their families might be thinking and feeling. I shared with some of my interdisciplinary colleagues and they also found this book to be interesting and helpful. The author writes in such a way that both my non medical colleagues and I felt engaged by reading and not put off by how the medical information is presented. I absolutely recommend this book for anyone affected by illness!
Dawparis More than 1 year ago
This beautifully written book is the best I have ever read on coping with chronic illness and coping with life. As a psychotherapist who works with many patients suffering from chronic illness, I found the content comforting, user-friendly, and right on target. Through a sort of double narrative, the book reveals the journey of a doctor with chronic illness as he cares for patients who are having to deal with the same challenges with which he must deal. The book is full of compassion, humor and wisdom as we hear the stories of a wide range of individuals who share the common challenge of learning to live with illness. The non-authoritarian, non-judgmental approach, which taps into each person's individuality, is infused with kindness, wisdom and practicality. It takes the terror out of illness. I can't praise it enough as a guide not just for those who are ill, but for all of us as we confront difficult times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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