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My Own Country: A Doctor's Story by…

My Own Country: A Doctor's Story

by Abraham Verghese (Author)

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Verghese is an engaging writer with a fascinating story that touches on much more than just AIDS and its devastating effect on people and their families. The heart of the book is, of course, Verghese's relationship with his patients. Some we see for only a short time, but others are woven throughout the book, along with their families, and the reader becomes just as tied up in their lives and their pain as Verghese. Beyond a few criticisms, this is a good book. It provides a snapshot of not-that-long-ago America where neither AIDS nor homosexuality were understood by the general population at all. Verghese confronts some of his own biases and misconceptions about gay people through the course of the book, and while he doesn't get everything right, his journey and his effort come off well. While this book is definitely a downer, there is a bright side in looking at how much the conversation has changed in the past 25 years, and how much doctors and researchers like Verghese have helped people living with HIV and AIDS.

[ full review here: http://spacebeer.blogspot.com/2016/02/my-own-country-doctors-story-by-abraham.ht... ] ( )
  kristykay22 | Feb 27, 2016 |
I loved Cutting for Stone. Reading Tge author's account of treating AIDS/HIV patients made me appreciate Cutting for Stone even more. dr. verghese's treatment of these patients is extraordinary! He truly strove to understand his patients each of which had his/her own story. Even more extraordinary is that he treated these patients during the mid to late eighties when the disease was poorly understood. Very well written! An amazing doctor and writer! ( )
  Cricket856 | Jan 25, 2016 |
In 1985 Abraham Verghese, a young Indian doctor specializing in infectious diseases, was working in Johnson City, Tennessee. Nestled in the Smoky Mountains, the town had always seemed exempt from the anxieties and modern American life. But that summer, the local hospital treated its first AIDS patient, and before long a crisis that had once seemed an “urban problem” had arrived in town to stay.

This is Verghese's memoir of that time. Using several case studies to illustrate, he tells the community's story as well as that of his own personal journey. It is informative, inspiring, tender, frightening, compassionate and memorable.

This is a story of courage and fear, of uninformed reactions and thoughtful response, of death and living, of bemoaning one's fate and rising to the occasion, of being an outsider and belonging to a community, of angry denial and graceful acceptance. Verghese is eloquent in describing his surroundings, patients and others in the town and surrounding area.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
What a heartbreaking story. Abraham Verghese chronicles the story of his early years as a young internist in the United States as he begins to find a place for himself in his field of specialty, infectious diseases. As he settles himself and his young family in a small town in Tennessee, he finds himself treating some of the earliest patients with HIV AIDS. As the numbers grow, he is learning that he is not simply treating one disease; he is becoming the primary care physician for these patients at a time when very little was known about the disease, and very little could be done. Blood tests to test for it were only beginning to be done, and the stigma was enormous. Verghese was not only the doctor who cared for them, but he also began to trace how and where the virus was contracted and travelled, within the States in those early years. As he became more involved in the lives of some of his patients, he also chronicled the effect and the toll it took on them and their families, as well as on his own personal and family life.

More than once, Verghese reflects that he wants to learn how to help his patients have a good death; that their suffering with this disease is difficult enough throughout its duration. The physician, no matter how good, how competent, and how compassionate, still feels helpless at the end. It is vital that the patients themselves be a part of the decision-making regarding how they want to die, what measures they want or don't want, to be taken when that time comes. In this, I found an interesting overlap with another book I recently read, *Being Mortal* by Atul Gawande.

It's been 25 years since this book ended. I now want to google and read more on Verghese and where his path has led him in those years. He is a gifted writer and observer of the human condition. This was not an easy book to read but it was one I could not put down. ( )
  jessibud2 | Nov 30, 2015 |
In this book, Abraham Verghese writes about treating AIDS patients as a doctor in rural Tennessee in the 1980s. Verghese was born and raised in Ethiopia to Indian parents, attended medical school in India, and completed his residency in Johnson City, Tennesee. He spent a few years in Boston, and then returned to Johnson City and worked in the hospital there, specializing in infectious diseases. By default, he became the HIV/AIDS specialist for Johnson City, and much of the surrounding rural area.

When he arrived in Tennessee in the early 1980s, there had been no reported cases of HIV in the area and little was known about the disease. He writes about the stigma surrounding the disease the harsh reaction from some community members and medical professionals when confronted with HIV postive individuals. Verghese struggles with his own prejudices towards his patients, noting his different reaction to his patients who contracted HIV through promiscious sexual activity and those who contracted the virus through a blood transfusion.

This book encompasses a lot. Verghese tells the stories of a lot of his patients, the story of how he came to feel at home in eastern Tennessee, and how his work affected his marraige. I learned a lot about HIV/AIDS. The book was engaging and well written, and I would recommend it.

( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0679752927, Paperback)

Nestled in the Smoky Mountains of eastern Tennessee, the town of Johnson City had always seemed exempt from the anxieties of modern American life. But when the local hospital treated its first AIDS patient, a crisis that had once seemed an “urban problem” had arrived in the town to stay.
Working in Johnson City was Abraham Verghese, a young Indian doctor specializing in infectious diseases. Dr. Verghese became by necessity the local AIDS expert, soon besieged by a shocking number of male and female patients whose stories came to occupy his mind, and even take over his life. Verghese brought a singular perspective to Johnson City: as a doctor unique in his abilities; as an outsider who could talk to people suspicious of local practitioners; above all, as a writer of grace and compassion who saw that what was happening in this conservative community was both a medical and a spiritual emergency.
Out of his experience comes a startling but ultimately uplifting portrait of the American heartland as it confronts—and surmounts—its deepest prejudices and fears.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:07 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

A young doctor of eastern Tennessee describes the town's first introduction to the AIDS virus, which preceded a disturbing epidemic and introduced the doctor to many unique people.

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