Friday, November 21, 2008

"How Not to Die" by Jan Garavaglia

The subtitle to this book is "Surprising lessons on living longer, safer, and healthier from America's favorite medical examiner". If you haven't heard of "Dr. G", then you probably don't have cable TV. She first appeared on the Discovery Health Channel (sadly, a station I can no longer get on my TV), and my hubby and I were avid fans. It was sort of like a real-life CSI show: a case is presented, a re-enactment of the autopsy is done, and Dr. G. explains what she finds as she goes, what tests she has to have done, what leads her to determine cause of death, etc. And the cases were pretty interesting! I can remember one woman that was brought in with a gut-shot; she'd been out on her first hunting trip with her husband and the police thought she was a victim of foul play. The husband swore that his wife had tripped and the gun had gone off, that it was an accident. I would never have believed his story myself, and Dr. G. had her doubts as well. But being in the business she's in, she's learned over the years to keep an open mind. Well, whaddya know? The husband was telling the truth, something that Dr. G. was able to prove with the autopsy. Very interesting stuff.

I was thrilled to see a book come out by Dr. G. - finally, all the secrets to staying alive! Except that there are no secrets revealed. It's the common sense sort of stuff, wear your seat belt, don't speed or drive recklessly, take care of your body with regular checkups, don't smoke, don't drink excessively, don't do drugs, etc. Basically, her book is advice on how not to die prematurely. Or, as she puts it, how not to die from your own stupidity. Sounds harsh, but you know it's true - pick up one of my fave books, "The Darwin Awards", and you'll know what we're talking about. Guys who "car surf" have a high rate of injuries and/or death - makes sense when you think about standing on the roof of a vehicle moving at a high rate of speed with no protective gear. And let's face it, alcohol is usually a factor in cases like that.

It's an easy read and she does include some of her autopsy cases to make her points. I skipped over some of the material, such as not doing drugs or smoking, as I do not engage in either of these activities. But I was very interested in her chapter on men being stupid, mostly about them not going to a doctor, not taking care of the basic stuff like high blood pressure or diabetes. There are a lot of conditions out there that are very manageable if one does what the doctor asks of one, and you can live a very fulfilling and long life. But not if you ignore your own body.

If you ignore your body and its warning signs, you'll find yourself on Dr. G's table - it's a guarantee.

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