Dr. Lara Goitein knows of what she speaks. That’s somewhat needless to say, given she’s a twelve-year veteran that’s worked extensively in the medical and clinical fields, specifically in the vicinity of the titular intensive care unit featured topically in her new book – The ICU Guide for Families: Understanding Intensive Care and How You Can Support Your Loved One. The one thing I was left with after reading the book was simply put: surrender my expectations, opening up my heart to embrace motivation. Specifically, motivation for whoever theoretically could be a relation of mine lying in that bed.
Goitein’s extensiveness with respect to the material she covers is commendable, but what really elevates The ICU Guide for Families to the heft of its title is her emotional and overtly visceral communicative techniques as a storyteller. While not a natural, polished writer by any stretch of the imagination, the passion she has for her career, accompanied by experiences regardless of background that inspire, enlighten, and move – more than compensates for any minor literary pitfalls. The aim of the book as well overshadows this. You can’t help but be struck by how incredibly kind someone like Dr. Goitein is to take the time to really spell things out for anyone unlucky enough to join the statistic of Americans annually visiting the ICU.
Especially at a time like this, where regardless of who you are, how you live, or where you’re from things feel frightening. Genuinely frightening, the kind that brings home relevancy to stories and statistics broadcast from the headlines. Anything that is backed up by genuine experience and facts, reaffirming some degree of control over the potentially incomprehensible, is a more than welcome feat. But when it’s genuinely quality work too, that’s a really compassionate and inspirational accomplishment above all else.
“…all too often family members are the forgotten souls in this drama. They sit alone in a waiting room or at the patient’s bedside, hoping someone will finally come to tell them what’s happening to the person they love – but doctors and nurses pass by, not stopping. When someone does finally come to talk with them, the person is often hurried and all but incomprehensible to the family. And family members may be so overwhelmed that they don’t even know how to formulate their questions,” writes Dr. Goitein at the beginning of the book. “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.”
It’s nice to know there’s a speck of humanity that hasn’t forgotten values that go beyond the immediacy of their own, respective nine-to-fives. Goitein is one of those people, and that alone is to be commended.