Book Review: Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders

While scrolling over the new and noteworthy books on Apple Books about a month ago, I came across a Dutch book called Diagnose by Lisa Sanders. Sanders is a Dutch name too, so I initially assumed the book was originally Dutch. I don’t generally read many Dutch books and I certainly don’t buy them. Imagine my delight when I found out that the original title is Diagnosis and the book is originally written in English. Imagine my further delight when I found that Diagnosis is available on Bookshare, so I got it practically for free.

Summary

As a Yale School of Medicine physician, the New York Times bestselling author of Every Patient Tells a Story, and an inspiration and adviser for the hit Fox TV drama House, M.D., Lisa Sanders has seen it all. And yet she is often confounded by the cases she describes in her column: unexpected collections of symptoms that she and other physicians struggle to diagnose.

A twenty-eight-year-old man, vacationing in the Bahamas for his birthday, tries some barracuda for dinner. Hours later, he collapses on the dance floor with crippling stomach pains. A middle-aged woman returns to her doctor, after visiting two days earlier with a mild rash on the back of her hands. Now the rash has turned purple and has spread across her entire body in whiplike streaks. A young elephant trainer in a traveling circus, once head-butted by a rogue zebra, is suddenly beset with splitting headaches, as if someone were “slamming a door inside his head.”

In each of these cases, the path to diagnosis–and treatment–is winding, sometimes frustratingly unclear. Dr. Sanders shows how making the right diagnosis requires expertise, painstaking procedure, and sometimes a little luck. Intricate, gripping, and full of twists and turns, Diagnosis puts readers in the doctor’s place. It lets them see what doctors see, feel the uncertainty they feel–and experience the thrill when the puzzle is finally solved.

Review

I love medical storytelling. Still, I have quite a few books written by doctors about their patients that I just can’t finish. Diagnosis definitely wasn’t one of them! I didn’t finish it as quickly as I do some books, but that’s probably because this is a collection of stories. For this reason, at the end of a story, I can shove the book aside without wondeirng how the story will end.

The book is organized into eight parts, each describing a main symptom. As said in the introduction, there are only so many ways in which the body can show that it is unwell and yet there are over 90,000 known diseases. Isn’t that fascinating?

With some stories, I guessed correctly what was going on before it was mentioned. The man collapsing after eating barracuda was one of them (no, I won’t spoil it!). I found this pretty cool. With others, I had no idea until the end. This was fascinating too.

I loved the author’s writing style. Sanders uses clear but not too simple language. She also usually starts her stories in the heat of the moment, gripping my interest immediately. Overall, this was a great book. I gave it a five-star rating on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries
Author: Lisa Sanders
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2019

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