Being sick is more complicated than it used to be. Medical technologies that offer new hope also lead to a bewildering thicket of options. The complexities of being sick may account for the rising number of books telling the story of illnesses. Autobiographical accounts of sickness, or "pathographies," have become an important source of information and comfort; we will all at some point be involved in decisions our grandparents never had to make about how to live with illness and how to die.
When the patient is a doctor, the story takes on added authority. David Biro's book chronicles a young doctor's battle with a rare and life-threatening blood disease, paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH). Biro focuses closely on the tradeoffs involved in bone-marrow transplant--a risky, controversial and painful treatment.
His doctors are sharply divided over the advisability of the procedure. His wife is ambivalent. Outcome studies are inconclusive.