"Daniela Lamas is the real thing. Her voice is wry, compassionate, sometimes doctorly, and sometimes not. And she's written a gripping, soaring, inspiring book about the sickest people on the planet. It's an important story too about not only death, but also survival. Read it. You'll see things you've never seen. You'll be moved. And you'll discover a voice you want to hear more from."—Atul Gawande, author of the international bestseller Being Mortal
"Critical illness is a matter life and death. Or is it? This is a book about medicine at the margins. Daniela Lamas explores liminal conditions of life hanging in the balance between life worth living and fates worse than death. You Can Stop Humming Now is participatory journalism at its best, a compelling investigation of chronic critical illness that will spark a national conversation about the plight of ICU survivors."—Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible
"Dazzling... [Lamas] effortlessly captures the rhythm and mayhem of modern medicine... Warmth and humanity radiate from every page.....The patients in this book have something important to say, and so does the author. We should all be listening."—USA Today
"Exceptionally humane and well-crafted essays."—Harvard Magazine
"In the early years of her practice, Lamas learns the hard way that medicine requires as much heart as science. Her empathetic, beautifully crafted accounts from inside the ICU recall the work of Atul Gawande."—Hamilton Cain, Oprah.com
"Heart-rending and inspiring"
—Kirkus (Starred Review)
"This thoughtful, reflective, and beautifully rendered book examines the costs of modern medicine. Readers who enjoy books by Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande, or Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air will find this volume moving and provocative."—Library Journal (Starred Review)
"Medicine's miracles are everywhere to behold. But what about the day after? Lamas explores a world that few have ever contemplated how we live after the dramatic save by the technological prowess of modern medicine. This eye-opening book reveals the gains and the costs both to the body and to the spirit of altering nature's predestined course. In turns anguishing, gripping, and hopeful, You Can Stop Humming Now is a must-read for anyone contemplating what medicine holds in store for us."—Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of What Patients Say, What Doctors Feel
"This is a rare and wonderful book, filled with insight, warmth, and a deep humanity that hits us with real emotion rather than sentimentality. If Daniela Lamas is as good a doctor as she is a writer, her patients are very lucky indeed."—Jeff Lindsay, author of the Dexter series
"Daniela Lamas writes with grace and compassion about her patients who survive, but do not quite escape, critical illness. Her wonderful book is an essential addition to the debate over how hard medicine should push to keep people alive. I highly recommend it for doctors, patients, or anyone interested in the knotty issues affecting medicine today."—Sandeep Jauhar, author of Intern and Doctored
"You Can Stop Humming Now is a book about what happens after the medical miracles, an originally conceived and evocatively written set of stories of lives which can only be lived because impossible decisions are made and fantastic technologies deployed. With the understanding of a medical specialist, with narrative brilliance and emotional wisdom, Daniela Lamas takes us into the human complexities that follow on heroic extreme high-tech medicine."—Perri Klass, Professor of Journalism and Pediatrics, New York University
"Dr. Daniela Lamas writes from the medical borderlands from the boundary between the human body and machines and between the living and the dead. These stories about her patients are written with a light touch, yet raise big, timely questions about who we are in our bodies and who we want to be, and how far we want medical interventions to take us. You Can Stop Humming Now is essential reading on what it means to be human in an age of medical technology. I couldn't put it down."
—Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich, author of The Fact of a Body
"Daniela Lamas is the real deal. She combines a big heart, powerful intellect, and passionate dedication to her patients with the gifted writer's ability to tell a compelling story. She sees the fundamental problems inherent in a health care system that has not fully considered the ethical implications of all that is now possible with high-tech medical care. Through her personal crusade to understand the impact of medical treatment on her patients' lives, she challenges the notion that a longer life is necessarily a better life. I couldn't put it down."—Richard Besser, MD, President and CEO, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Lamas, a critical care physician (Harvard Medical Sch.), explores how life-extending advances in medical technology alter the lives of ordinary people by telling the stories of patients she encountered and sometimes befriended in the course of her clinical work. The author covers advances in treatment for conditions as varied as lung transplants, cystic fibrosis, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, and brain injury. Lamas does not simply give biological explanations of these conditions; she uses patients' moving accounts to explore the benefits and hardships associated with these advances in a way few writings do. She also notes the ways in which patients are resilient and strong enough to form lives of meaning and purpose in the midst of illness. These are case studies at their best, attentive to movements such as narrative medicine that call for clinicians to understand illness in not only a biological context, but in the context of an entire life. VERDICT This thoughtful, reflective, and beautifully rendered book examines the costs of modern medicine. Readers who enjoy books by Oliver Sacks and Atul Gawande, or Paul Kalanithi's When Breath Becomes Air will find this volume moving and provocative.—Aaron Klink, Duke Univ., Durham, NC
An unflinching report from the front lines of critical care medicine, a technology-driven field in which doctors routinely save patients' lives—sometimes at great cost to their physical and mental health.Incredible advances in medical technologies and treatments have created a new class of patient: those who survived a significant illness because of an emergency intervention. Such interventions may include surgery to help your lungs breathe, your heart pump blood, or your kidneys process waste. Often, a machine keeps you alive. Only a minority of patients who undergo such procedures make it home, and even fewer return to lives that resembled those they lived before they spent time in the hospital. Yet critical care gives patients and their families hope, and many people choose without hesitation to undergo any procedure that may extend their lives. Lamas, a critical care doctor and faculty member at the Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, moves beyond the hospital to tell the stories of these survivors. Through beautiful storytelling, she traces the lives of patients after the initial relief of being alive is shadowed by the new reality of recovery and self-care. One mother waited years to receive a lung transplant and would have died waiting were it not for a machine that could oxygenate blood outside of her body, bypassing her lungs and heart. Then there is the popular neighborhood father who would do anything for a new kidney and a grandfather who plugs into the wall every night to keep his heart pumping blood so he can get to know his grandson. Without exception, each of the people the author met is exceptionally motivated to make the most of his or her second chance. Their stories are heart-rending and inspiring, and it is evident that Lamas is deeply moved by the consequences of the actions she and other doctors take every day.An enthralling reminder that behind every medical advance are the people whose lives it affects and that their stories have impact.