A no-holds-barred extreme health memoir

Life & Death Decisions by Dr Lachlan McIver packs a punch and gets a five-star rating from me. It gave me everything I want from a memoir, containing jaw-dropping stories, a reminder of human resilience and fragility and a warning about the very real consequences of climate change.

The medical challenges Lachlan has faced as a doctor in Australia and the Pacific Islands are not for the faint-hearted. He has saved countless lives, often in the most basic of conditions. We follow his journey from job to job, battling to save strangers from illnesses, accidents, tropical diseases and war wounds. All the time wishing there was more medicine, staff and equipment.

Lachlan’s own foray into medicine came after the sudden death of his father in a bid to prevent anyone else from suffering a similar tragedy. He throws himself into study, work and life with an unnerving attraction to risk, hard work, booze and drugs. His fearlessness as a doctor keeps him going for years until alcoholism catches up with him, he crashes into bankruptcy and depression and learns that if you don’t rest your mind and body, it will catch up with you. I, too, have learnt this the hard way, although, in retrospect, my experience has been extremely tame compared to Lachlan’s!

His writing matches his character, quickly moving us from event to event. There is some reflection but little time to dwell on things too much. Again and again, his life moves on, and he moves from place to place to find fulfilment and happiness, chasing opportunities in 30 countries worldwide.

Lachlan’s experiences show us climate change is having a negative effect on human health, with communities in tropical places finding their weather patterns are changing and diseases are becoming much more common. I love how he combines his doctoring with his work for the World Health Organisation and Medicins San Frontieres. He isn’t afraid to take risks, yet it’s clearly his talent for rural medicine, data analysis and spotting trends that opens many doors. This book will inspire you to follow your dreams. It will also warn you to look after the planet and yourself along the way.

I was given a free copy of the book in return for an honest review, by Random Things Tours.

Hannah is the author of The Cactus Surgeon, a nature & health memoir. Living in London, Hannah suffered burnout and was diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder. With no information available to help her, she found her own way to get better.

Growing up in a garden centre, her childhood was full of nature and plants. This was in stark contrast to the concrete of the capital, where she became unwell. In searching for the answers to her illness, she wonders whether being torn from her pot and replanted in a more hostile environment was the reason her body started to malfunction.

After seeking out alternative therapies, and moving to the countryside of North Essex, her ‘green recovery’ continued. It’s a book of mindful moments, savouring the small wonders of nature.

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