The story of how I came to find myself reading Diagnosis Critical: The Urgent Threats Confronting Catholic Healthcare, by Leonard J. Nelson, III, started long ago, when I signed up to be part of The Catholic Company’s Reviewer Program. It’s a great program, and I’ll admit that I love getting free books. I’ve never had a book I didn’t enjoy, but I’ve never really taken a risk with my picks before either.

So when Chris, also fondly called The Free Book Dude, suggested I take a gander at Diagnosis Critical, I thought, “Hmm, sounds interesting.” I should note that I just trusted him on this. I didn’t even bother to really look at the book, aside from the big red letters on the title.

Then it showed up in my mailbox. And I noticed the subheading.

Let’s just say I had something a little, um, lighter in mind for my next book. Diagnosis gathered a bit of dust, peering out from my library pile on my to-read shelf.

After whipping through a novel or two and a couple of other books, I decided not to allow myself to read anything else until I finished Diagnosis. Now, for those of you who have any inkling of what kind of reader I am (you need only keep your eye on my Nose Inserted list in the sidebar), that was like demanding that I start a workout regime during my reading time. (I’m not such a fan of working out.) For one thing, I usually have a couple of books going at any given time: something spiritual, something fun, and something else. To buckle down with a book I hadn’t even opened, before I even opened it…well, that was some kind of reading smackdown on myself.

Now, for the full disclosure: I found myself enjoying Diagnosis once I got over the fact that I hadn’t really wanted to read it. I’ve done a fair bit of reading on the Church’s teaching on sexuality, and Nelson’s treatment and application of this is very good. I didn’t think I cared about healthcare, much less Catholic healthcare — I’m not saying this is a good attitude, but I tend to be pretty anti-newsy and though I am opinionated, I don’t often want to have someone else’s opinion shoved at me to change my mind. (But, then again, aren’t many of us that way?) So what I expected from Diagnosis Critical was a boring discussion of what’s wrong, how the world is ending, why we’ll all go to hell or, at the very least, purgatory.

There was no basis for my expectation. None at all. I had heard the book was controversial, and maybe that’s true.

What I enjoyed, and what I found, was that I learned a lot about how healthcare works, about the compromises that are being made, about the little steps that are being made, here and there and everywhere, to inch healthcare in a different direction.

I never once felt like Leonard Nelson was trying to change my mind. I never once felt like he was persuading me. He presented the facts and materials, first with a history of Catholic healthcare and then with more specific chapters.

This book left me bothered, and I think that’s probably what’s supposed to happen when you find your head pulled from the sand and facing the storm all around you. I found that, after reading Diagnosis Critical, that I do care about healthcare. It reminded me of the book that changed my mind about history.

Now I’m back to a fun novel in my reading line-up, but I’m changed from my encounter with Diagnosis Critical. And for that, I am thankful.