31. “Being mortal is about the struggle to cope with the constraints of our biology, with the limits set by genes and cells and flesh and bone. Medical science has given us remarkable power to push against these limits, and the potential value of this power was a central reason I became a doctor. But again and again, I have seen the damage we in medicine do when we fail to acknowledge that such power is finite and always will be. We.”
34. “A failure often does not have to be a failure at all. However, you have to be ready for it-will you admit when things go wrong? Will you take steps to set them right?-because the difference between triumph and defeat, you’ll find, isn’t about willingness to take risks. It’s about mastery of rescue.”
35. “A few conclusions become clear when we understand this: that our most cruel failure in how we treat the sick and the aged is the failure to recognize that they have priorities beyond merely being safe and living longer; that the chance to shape one’s story is essential to sustaining meaning in life; that we have the opportunity to refashion our institutions, our culture, and our conversations in ways that transform the possibilities for the last chapters of everyone’s lives.”
38. “All we ask is to be allowed to remain the writers of our own story. That story is ever changing. Over the course of our lives, we may encounter unimaginable difficulties. Our concerns and desires may shift. But whatever happens, we want to retain the freedom to shape our lives in ways consistent with our character and loyalties.”
43. “Indeed, the scientific effort to improve performance in medicine – an effort that at present gets only a miniscule portion of scientific budgets – can arguably save more lives in the next decade than bench science, more lives than research on the genome, stem cell therapy, cancer vaccines, and all the other laboratory work we hear about in the news.”
45. “It is not death that the very old tell me they fear. It is what happens short of death – losing their hearing, their memory, their best friends, their way of life. As Felix put it to me, “Old age is a continuous series of losses.” Philip Roth put it more bitterly in his novel Everyman: “Old age is not a battle. Old age is a massacre.”
47. “A few conclusions become clear when we understand this: that our most cruel failure in how we treat the sick and the aged is the failure to recognize that they have priorities beyond merely being safe and living longer; that the chance to shape one’s story is essential to sustaining meaning in life;.”
48. “At times, in medicine, you feel you are inside a colossal and impossibly complex machine whose gears will turn for you only according to their own arbitrary rhythm. The notion that human caring, the effort to do better for people, might make a difference can seem hopelessly naive. But it isn’t.”
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