REVIEW: Lara Goitein — The ICU Guide for Families (BOOK)
Let’s face it. Anyone working in the medical profession has probably one of the toughest jobs on planet Earth. In some ways it feels shameful to want anything more of them than the pure gratitude of their helping save a family member or friend’s life. But that’s just it. In a time like now, when thousands of Americans are continuing to succumb to the negative effects of the Covid-19 virus and its variants, the door has to swing both ways.
At least, that’s true to the professional and personal philosophies and convictions of one Dr. Lara Goitein with the release of her new book. It’s titled in effectively simple and succinct word choice, specifically: The ICU Guide for Families: Understanding Intensive Care and How You Can Support Your Loved One. “During the twelve years I worked as an intensive care unit (ICU) physician, it became clear to me that no one in the ICU suffers as much as the family members of patients. Patients are usually sedated and mostly unaware of their critical condition. But the anguish of families is fully felt and vivid.
Their world has been upended; they hang on the edge of the void,” she has written. “In my experience, most family members desperately need clear, straightforward explanations about intensive care and the new world they have entered, which their busy doctors and nurses don’t always have time to provide. Many also feel profoundly helpless. They know that their loved one is in danger and in the hands of strangers, but they have no idea whether or how they can help. (My) book is for those families.”
Indeed, it is. The ICU Guide for Families tirelessly expunges all information from the proverbial and ideological vaults onto the literary forefront. You can read the book in one sitting, and never feel you have to go over passages again or scan key chapters for extra clarification. Dr. Goitein knows the audience that she’s speaking to. She’s generous enough, non-jaded enough, and mature enough to take the time and the effort into making everything outlined within the read — from procedures to expectations and outcomes — as wholly comprehensible for the widest audience as possible. “Every patient is different, but there are pressing questions and concerns that arise again and again — and I realized that I have built a repertoire of explanations that I have given over and over to family members through the years.
This book is essentially a compilation of those explanations, with a focus on empowering family members to be effective advocates for their critically ill loved ones,” she has stated. “People sometimes ask me if I ‘liked’ practicing ICU medicine. The word is too simple to capture feelings about a profession in which many of your patients are desperately ill…You know patients intimately, through immersion in their physiology.
And although you may never speak to a patient, you may learn the most important and private things about them: Do they love their life? Do they believe in God? Are they ashamed of asking for help? What are they scared of? Who matters most to them and what is the mettle of those relationships, which present a clear reflection of the person? Inconsequential details, surface layers, and small talk are immediately irrelevant and fall away — and you are right in the heart of what matters. This kind of privilege doesn’t exist anywhere else.”
It’s not necessarily an easy read. But suffice to say, you will have the most ideal guide in Dr. Goitein, and the writing choices and descriptors she employs.