This is an engagingly written look at the limits of medicine and how they impact the choices we have and the decisions we make as we age and, inevitably, approach death. The biggest takeaway for me is threefold: just because a procedure (chemotherapy, surgery, etc.) can be done, doesn’t mean it should be done; we should ask ourselves and our doctors about best possible outcomes, pain, and what is the most reliably way to get to live the rest of our time (days or years) closest to how we want to live them; and we need to have these conversations with the people we love for whom we will be making medical decisions (and who will be making decisions for us). Gawande also covers nursing homes, the evolution of assisted living facilities, and how to think about hospice care. I wish I’d read and thought about this before our dad’s death. He asked to stop dialysis and may have been happier taking a different path. He didn’t share his priorities with us before he got sick, and we didn’t know what to ask.
The reader of this audiobook version (Robert Petkoff) was excellent.