Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Things That Matter: Stories of Life & Death by David Galler

I searched out Things That Matter after listening to a recent interesting interview of Dr David Galler by Kim Hill on National Radio. He was speaking about his 25 years of experience as an Intensive Care specialist at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital.

What struck me most was his compassion for his patients and his passion for health care in New Zealand; as well as his experience of growing up with Polish Jewish immigrant parents: his mother was a survivor of Auschwitz.

The book gives an insight into some case histories of critically ill people and the difficult decisions that must be made by families and staff. Sometimes these decisions involve moral dilemmas such as how much high-tech intervention is too much, in relation to quality of life for the person.

Personal and professional stories are interwoven. Galler's parents were ironically loathe to go near hospitals (both of their sons are doctors), and the management of their ill health by their sons is very touching.

Gallers also describes the exhaustion and uncertainty of the long hours of a trainee doctor; working ridiculous hours, trying to make decisions and perform just learnt procedures when chronically sleep deprived. It is also interesting to note that Galler started his working life as a bus driver,and says he would never have made the grade to be admitted to medical school now!

Reviewed by Katrina H

Catalogue link: Things that Matter

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