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Medicine Quotes

Nine of the best book quotes from Medicine
01
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“Shouldn’t terminal illness, then, be the perfect gift to that young man who had wanted to understand death?”
Medicine
Paul Kalanithi
authors
When Breath Becomes Air
book
death
cancer
illness
concepts
02
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“But how do you know when the tracing looks bad enough? Which is worse, being born too early or waiting too long to deliver? ‘Judgment call.’ What a call to make. In my life, had I ever made a decision harder than choosing between a French dip and a Reuben? How could I ever learn to make, and live with, such judgment calls?”
03
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“Even if you are perfect, the world isn’t. The secret is to know that the deck is stacked, that you will lose, that your hands or judgment will slip, and yet still struggle to win for your patients. You can’t ever reach perfection, but you can believe in an asymptote toward which you are ceaselessly striving.”
04
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“Medical training is relentlessly future-oriented, all about delayed gratification; you’re always thinking about what you’ll be doing five years down the line. But now I don’t know what I’ll be doing five years down the line. I may be dead. I may not be. I may be healthy. I may be writing. I don’t know. And so it’s not all that useful to spend time thinking about the future—that is, beyond lunch.”
05
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“As a resident, my highest ideal was not saving lives—everyone dies eventually—but guiding a patient or family to an understanding of death or illness.”
06
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“Well, I guess I learned one thing: if I’m ever feeling down about my work, I can always talk to a neurosurgeon to cheer myself up.”
07
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“One night on the sofa in my apartment, while studying the reams of wavy lines that make up EKGs, she puzzled over, then correctly identified, a fatal arrhythmia. All at once, it dawned on her and she began to cry: wherever this “practice EKG” had come from, the patient had not survived. The squiggly lines on that page were more than just lines; they were ventricular fibrillation deteriorating to asystole, and they could bring you to tears.”
08
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“I knew medicine only by its absence—specifically, the absence of a father growing up, one who went to work before dawn and returned in the dark to a plate of reheated dinner.”
Paul Kalanithi
character
09
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“Being with patients in these moments certainly had its emotional cost, but it also had its rewards. I don’t think I ever spent a minute of any day wondering why I did this work, or whether it was worth it.”

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