The Decision Tree

I’m halfway through The Decision Tree by Thomas Goetz, which is subtitled “taking control of your health in the new era of personalized medicine.” I’m finding it to offer a very interesting history of medicine in terms of diagnosis and the doctor/patient relationship.

The other day I posted about the difficult decision to have a child when dealing with a chronic condition. In response to the post, a friend told me via email that she’s also going through that, and so we discussed it a bit more; coincidentally I’d just read something in The Decision Tree that was relevant, and I wrote this to her:

“It’s a risk, it’s always a risk. I remember in my first trimester I was just scared all the time when I’d think of what couldl possibly happen. Then I had to take a deep breath and say, ‘Stress is bad for baby.’ You have to bury that away, push it aside, so you can just live, or else you’ll go completely crazy.  With most things today, a diagnosis is not a death sentence. People are beating things all the time that were previously just thought of as fatal. I read today that just 60 years ago, no one understood the dangers of hypertension – no one even knew it existed. Even though President FDR had unbelievably bad hypertension, which now can be seen plainly when looking at his medical records, his doctors didn’t know it existed because no one did. So, even though he was president and had access to the best medical care available, one day he just had a stroke and died. And the doctors were all shocked. But there’s no way that would happen today. I guess my point is that our children will have access to even better care than we do, so even though ‘anything’ can happen, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

Yes, I totally just quoted myself.

Also, I like how Goetz ends chapter 5, “Throughout, our overall objective should not be to avoid or manage disease. Rather, we should aim to mazimize and improve our health.” I like that – prevention as cure. Obviously I couldn’t prevent having Crohn’s, but I can help manage the disease by taking good care of myself.

I promise to share any other items of interest as I finish up the book.


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