For Marin Magazine‘s September 2013 issue, I wrote a feature entitled “Slow Medicine: Learning to Listen to the Voices of Patients and Families.” This feature explored a burgeoning healthcare movement in which greater emphasis is put on helping patients truly understand their diagnoses and treatment options. Central to the article was my interview with Katy Butler, whose recent critically acclaimed book Knocking on Heaven’s Door looks at slow medicine from both a journalistic and personal perspective. During the months that I worked on this article, slow medicine became very personally relevant for me and my family as well. An excerpt:
As the responsibilities of [her father’s] caretaking grew ever greater, Butler’s mother began to suffer health problems of her own. Butler now says she and her mother were simply unaware of the right questions to ask — questions about the pros and cons of the proposed procedure, as well as possible alternatives. She later discovered that a temporary pacemaker could have gotten her father through his hernia surgery safely, but this option was never presented. // “I now see it as a “fast medicine” decision at a time when I didn’t even know to think in terms of fast and slow medicine,” says Butler. With slow medicine, she explains, “you look at the timeline going forward, not just the immediate result of short-term thinking about this week, or this month. You don’t just look at the rhythm of the heart. You look at the entire person who’s holding the heart.”
You can also read my other Marin Magazine features: “Enchanting Eichlers” (June 2012), “Libraries of the Future” (September 2012), “Perfect Pairings” (October 2010), and “Original Zin” (October 2009).