Uncommon Wisdom: True Tales of What Our Lives as Doctors Have Taught Us About Love, Faith and Healing

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In light of the escalating costs of healthcare in the U.S. and the on-going debate about appropriate health insurance reform, it's easy to forget about the human side of medicine and the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. In Uncommon Wisdom, neurologists John Castaldo and Lawrence Levitt share what they have learned in their many years as doctors, not just from tests and labs, but from years of listening and learning from their patients.

These 16 tales show doctors as human beings: flawed and full of doubt, wonder, and reverence about what it means to be alive. The stories remind us that the medical profession should be about treating people with the dignity they deserve and that medical miracles don't always involve medicine. These doctors find cures, solve mysteries, and glean many lessons from listening deeply to their patients.
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About the author

JOHN E. CASTALDO, MD, is the chief of the division of neurology at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown, PA.

LAWRENCE P. LEVITT, MD, is professor of clinical medicine at Penn State College of Medicine and senior consultant in neurology emeritus at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Rodale Books
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Published on
Feb 16, 2010
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Pages
304
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ISBN
9781605291802
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Medical (incl. Patients)
Biography & Autobiography / Personal Memoirs
Body, Mind & Spirit / Inspiration & Personal Growth
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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After reading William Carlos Williams’ The Doctor Stories the patients of my own past began to haunt me. Driving in my car, musing in elevators, winding down at my desk at the end of the work day; the patients in my own past just crowded out all thoughts in my mind. Their compelling stories nearly became an obsession. I began to keep a journal. In it, I kept track of who was haunting me and as much of their story as I could remember. As their numbers grew and I had more details clear in my mind, their stories took form and shape. I have always been one that remembers people by their face more than their name and the faces would appear and their stories would come back to me as though it was yesterday. Some of these patients had not been remembered for over thirty years going back to my time as a student and intern. And yet when I started to compose at my computer, the words just flowed. The stories wrote themselves. The emotions attached to the patients had not dimmed and propelled me forward in the effort to put their stories down in narrative form. There are scores of patients whose stories came back to me that I have organized into approximately 30 different chapters. Each story stands alone but all have the common themes of pathos, compassion, trial and triumph of the human spirit. The theme of the triumph of the human spirit suffuses the entire book. I am continually amazed at how humans can handle what life throws at them. We never know how much we can handle until we are asked to rise above extraordinary circumstances. At the same time there are the oddly amusing stories. Sometimes it is enough just to put a smile on one’s face. There are stories like that too. The patients in my book all have had to deal with the extraordinary. Everyone is vulnerable to illness and death. The patients described in the pages of my book stand out in some way as remarkable. The book is a memoir, but it is not about me. The book is about the patients and their struggles.
A Library Journal Best Book of 2015

National Book Award winner Jonathan Kozol is best known for his fifty years of work among our nation’s poorest and most vulnerable children. Now, in the most personal book of his career, he tells the story of his father’s life and work as a nationally noted specialist in disorders of the brain and his astonishing ability, at the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, to explain the causes of his sickness and then to narrate, step-by-step, his slow descent into dementia.
 
Dr. Harry Kozol was born in Boston in 1906. Classically trained at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, he was an unusually intuitive clinician with a special gift for diagnosing interwoven elements of neurological and psychiatric illnesses in highly complicated and creative people. “One of the most intense relationships of his career,” his son recalls, “was with Eugene O’Neill, who moved to Boston in the last years of his life so my father could examine him and talk with him almost every day.” At a later stage in his career, he evaluated criminal defendants including Patricia Hearst and the Boston Strangler, Albert H. DeSalvo, who described to him in detail what was going through his mind while he was killing thirteen women.
 
But The Theft of Memory is not primarily about a doctor’s public life. The heart of the book lies in the bond between a father and his son and the ways that bond intensified even as Harry’s verbal skills and cogency progressively abandoned him. “Somehow,” the author says, “all those hours that we spent trying to fathom something that he wanted to express, or summon up a vivid piece of seemingly lost memory that still brought a smile to his eyes, left me with a deeper sense of intimate connection with my father than I’d ever felt before.”
 
Lyrical and stirring, The Theft of Memory is at once a tender tribute to a father from his son and a richly colored portrait of a devoted doctor who lived more than a century.
The No 1 Bestseller

'Compelling ... colourful, thoughtful' Sunday Independent

'Tubridy's compassionate, no-nonsense approach makes him a comforting guide through the landscape of neurological medicine' Irish Times

'Fascinating ... teems with interesting characters' Sunday Business Post

'[Oliver] Sacks hoped that his neurological tales ... could bring us closer to where the psychic and the physical meet ... Tubridy's concerns are less rarefied. He wants us to understand the human toll that illness takes' Sunday Times

'It's a most readable book. There's no jargon in it' Seán O'Rourke, RTÉ

As a medical student Niall Tubridy fell in love with neurology. Figuring out how the brain and nervous system signal problems was a form of high stakes detective work and answers could be life-changing.

Just One More Question is the story of Niall Tubridy's career in neurology. He shares the stories of encounters that are, by turn, poignant, dramatic and funny, such as ...

The chef who goes for his usual morning walk, and loses his memory for the next six hours

The painter who believes her left hand is her guardian angel

The eager young lover whose head 'explodes' every time he orgasms

Using simple and illuminating language Tubridy also explains well-known conditions like multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease and Parkinson's and and brings us into the examining room as he accompanies patients with these diagnoses on their challenging path.

In addition, he reflects candidly on the reasons he, a doctor's son, went into medicine, how he has been tested, and what he has learned about people - and about himself - along the way.

Revealing, gripping and moving, Just One More Question will make you think in a new way about the human brain - and about what it's like to be a doctor.

'[My brother] has written a book which has to be one of the most extraordinary books written in Irish medical history! I would say that, wouldn't I? But it is great. It's really good, really accessible, a super read. We're all very proud of him' Ryan Tubridy, RTÉ

'Fascinating' Liz Nugent

'Very interesting and very entertaining' Pat Kenny

'Niall's sense of wonder at the human brain is enormously clear even with almost three decades of work in the field under his belt' RTÉ Lifestyle

'Will make you think in a whole new way about the human brain' Ireland AM

'A book that will fascinate you with the patients' tales but leave you at the end pondering the notion of what life really is' Journal.ie

'Simple and illuminating' Irish News

'Written in a very accessible way for non-medical people, like myself' Dave Fanning, RTÉ

“One of the most remarkable books I’ve ever read. It’s truly moving, eye-opening, incredibly vivid.”—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
NPR • The Wall Street Journal • Bloomberg Business • Bookish

FINALIST FOR THE BOOKS FOR A BETTER LIFE FIRST BOOK AWARD • NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

You’ve never read a book like The Reason I Jump. Written by Naoki Higashida, a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within.
 
Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know. Questions such as: “Why do people with autism talk so loudly and weirdly?” “Why do you line up your toy cars and blocks?” “Why don’t you make eye contact when you’re talking?” and “What’s the reason you jump?” (Naoki’s answer: “When I’m jumping, it’s as if my feelings are going upward to the sky.”) With disarming honesty and a generous heart, Naoki shares his unique point of view on not only autism but life itself. His insights—into the mystery of words, the wonders of laughter, and the elusiveness of memory—are so startling, so strange, and so powerful that you will never look at the world the same way again.
 
In his introduction, bestselling novelist David Mitchell writes that Naoki’s words allowed him to feel, for the first time, as if his own autistic child was explaining what was happening in his mind. “It is no exaggeration to say that The Reason I Jump allowed me to round a corner in our relationship.” This translation was a labor of love by David and his wife, KA Yoshida, so they’d be able to share that feeling with friends, the wider autism community, and beyond. Naoki’s book, in its beauty, truthfulness, and simplicity, is a gift to be shared.

Praise for The Reason I Jump

“This is an intimate book, one that brings readers right into an autistic mind.”—Chicago Tribune (Editor’s Choice)

“Amazing times a million.”—Whoopi Goldberg, People

“The Reason I Jump is a Rosetta stone. . . . This book takes about ninety minutes to read, and it will stretch your vision of what it is to be human.”—Andrew Solomon, The Times (U.K.)

“Extraordinary, moving, and jeweled with epiphanies.”—The Boston Globe
 
“Small but profound . . . [Higashida’s] startling, moving insights offer a rare look inside the autistic mind.”—Parade
Decorated US Navy SEAL lieutenant Jason Redman served his country courageously and with distinction in Colombia, Peru, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where he commanded mobility and assault forces. He conducted over forty capture/kill missions with his men in Iraq, locating more than 120 al-Qaida insurgents. But his journey was not without supreme challenges—both emotional and physical. Redman is brutally honest about his struggles to learn how to be an effective leader, yet that effort pales beside the story of his critical wounding in 2007 while leading a mission against a key al-Qaida commander. On that mission his team was ambushed and he was struck by machine-gun fire at point-blank range.

During the intense recovery period that followed, Redman gained national attention when he posted a sign on his door at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, warning all who entered not to "feel sorry for [his] wounds." His sign became both a statement and a symbol for wounded warriors everywhere.

From his grueling SEAL training to his search for a balance between arrogance and humility, Redman shares it all in this inspiring and unforgettable account. He speaks candidly of the grit that sustained him despite grievous wounds, and of the extraordinary love and devotion of his wife, Erica, and his family, without whom he would not have survived.

Vivid and powerful, emotionally resonant and illuminating, The Trident traces the evolution of a modern warrior, husband, and father, a man who has come to embody the never-say-die spirit that defines the SEALs, one of America's elite fighting forces.

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