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Tag: doctor

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar

The bestselling author of Intern and Doctored tells the story of the thing that makes us tick

For centuries, the human heart seemed beyond our understanding: an inscrutable shuddering mass that was somehow the driver of emotion and the seat of the soul. As the cardiologist and bestselling author Sandeep Jauhar shows in Heart: A History, it was only recently that we demolished age-old taboos and devised the transformative procedures that have changed the way we live.
Deftly alternating between key historical episodes and his own work, Jauhar tells the colorful and little-known story of the doctors who risked their careers and the patients who risked their lives to know and heal our most vital organ. He introduces us to Daniel Hale Williams, the African American doctor who performed the world’s first open heart surgery in Gilded Age Chicago. We meet C. Walton Lillehei, who connected a patient’s circulatory system to a healthy donor’s, paving the way for the heart-lung machine. And we encounter Wilson Greatbatch, who saved millions by inventing the pacemaker–by accident. Jauhar deftly braids these tales of discovery, hubris, and sorrow with moving accounts of his family’s history of heart ailments and the patients he’s treated over many years. He also confronts the limits of medical technology, arguing that future progress will depend more on how we choose to live than on the devices we invent. Affecting, engaging, and beautifully written, Heart: A History takes the full measure of the only organ that can move itself.

 

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

I am a big fan of the author and his writing, and HEART did not disappoint. There were many facts about the heart (some obscure, some not) interspersed throughout the book to complement patient stories. We read about the author as a young boy and his personal desire to work in cardiology, stemming from the story of a relative’s death during his formative years. The author comes across as a caring and knowledgeable doctor with a kind bedside manner – there are no veiled frustrations or jabs at ornery patients, as I have read in other medical books.

One of the best things about the book is that it’s part history, part medicine, part almost-gory-but-not-overly-done, and part philosophy. Each chapter can stand alone and be read a few days apart without having to remember the plot or which patient he is discussing. Thoughtful illustrations are added to underscore the meaning of the chapters, and footnotes are added to provide explanations or information without slowing down the flow of the narrative. The book strikes a great balance of science and interesting plot without slowing down the narrative with a lot of detail that the average reader without a medical background wouldn’t understand. For someone like me, with a medical background, there were also enough facts to keep me interested. Some books minimize details to make it easy for the reader; Jauhar does not do that. This makes his books fascinating and eminently readable.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

DOCTOR by Andrew Bomback

A 3-year-old asks her physician father about his job, and his inability to provide a succinct and accurate answer inspires a critical look at the profession of modern medicine.

In sorting through how patients, insurance companies, advertising agencies, filmmakers, and comedians misconstrue a doctor’s role, Andrew Bomback, M.D., realizes that even doctors struggle to define their profession. As the author attempts to unravel how much of doctoring is role-playing, artifice, and bluffing, he examines the career of his father, a legendary pediatrician on the verge of retirement, and the health of his infant son, who is suffering from a vague assortment of gastrointestinal symptoms.
At turns serious, comedic, analytical, and confessional, Doctor offers an unflinching look at what it means to be a physician today.

 

Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for a review!

DOCTOR is a book where I expected more than it delivered. Yes, I got insights on a doctor’s fears, and learned what they may think of “doctor” jokes, but all in all I felt that there was too much about his family to truly make it a book about a physician. I got the impression that he didn’t enjoy being a doctor at all, and that he was living in the shadow of his father, who was extremely well respected in the field.

The Spanglish conversations with his daughter detracted from the pace of the book, and I can imagine those unable to understand the words becoming frustrated. (Spoiler: don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything integral to the plot.) I also felt disconcerted as the author jumped from story to story; sometimes they tied in with one another, sometimes the transition was harsh.

The plot seemed to be about the personal life of a man who happened to be a doctor, not truly all about what a doctor does. If the author could make up his mind and concentrate on one or the other, I feel the book could have been more meaningful. Perhaps a different title would have steered a potential reader in the right direction as well. In any case, it wasn’t the worst book I ever read in this genre – but far from the best. I think if it was any lengthier it would have been a rare DNF for me.

Interested in checking it out for yourself? You can pick up it on Amazon.

 

 

 

Playing the Ponies and Other Medical Mysteries Solved by Stuart B. Mushlin

With over forty years of experience as a sought after diagnostician, Dr. Stuart Mushlin has cracked his share of medical mysteries, ones in which there are bigger gambles than playing the ponies at the track. Some of his patients show up with puzzling symptoms, calling for savvy medical detective work. Others seem to present cut-and-dry cases, but they turn out to be suffering from rare or serious conditions.

In Playing the Ponies and Other Medical Mysteries Solved, Dr. Mushlin shares some of the most intriguing cases he has encountered, revealing the twists and turns of each patient’s diagnosis and treatment process. Along the way, he imparts the secrets to his success as a medical detective—not specialized high-tech equipment, but time-honored techniques like closely observing, touching, and listening to patients. He also candidly describes cases where he got things wrong, providing readers with honest insights into both the joys and dilemmas of his job.
Dr. Mushlin does not just treat diseases; he treats people. And this is not just a book about the ailments he diagnosed; it is also about the scared, uncertain, ailing individuals he helped in the process. Filled with real-life medical stories you’ll have to read to believe, Playing the Ponies is both a suspenseful page-turner and a heartfelt reflection on a life spent caring for patients.

Thanks, Rutgers University Press, for this review copy!

This book should be enjoyed most by those in the medical field. It’s a no-frills, straightforward collection of odd cases and the mental acuity needed to solve them. There is minimal gore, yet there is excellent description of the patient and how he is suffering. Each chapter is a new disease process, with the thorough history given, then the doctor’s thought process. Most of the cases have an ending; there are a few where the patient is not seen again or fails to return for a recheck visit.

Some cases are difficult merely because the patient is not forthcoming with complete medical history, where others are truly “zebras” instead of horses (There is a famous statement that notes when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras). Each case can be read on its own, with no continuity between chapters – great for absorbing a single chapter before bed.

Mushlin notes that he was an English major before he went to medical school, something that has held him in great stead as he examines patients. He notes how important it is to listen to their words as well as the silence between the words. Imagine that – a doctor taking the time to actually listen to their patient’s complaints! Mushlin’s quiet and caring bedside manner shines through on every page, even when he is handling an especially recalcitrant patient he does his best to care for her.

All four of the reviews noted on the back of the book jacket are from medical doctors, and expound on the joy of reading this book. Most of the reviews online by lay people are positive, except for someone who calls the writing wooden, and feels the stories are too short. I feel the reviewer was not familiar with this type of book; namely, a kind that minimizes drama and emphasizes the medicine. Mushlin’s style is plain and full of information. I understood everything he was saying, because I am a veterinary nurse and quite familiar with the workings of the body. In fact, I can say this is one of the few books I have read that gave so much detail on each patient before the diagnosis was discussed. I felt as if I were part of Dr Mushlin’s team with the patient right in front of me.

The only part of the book that I have a complaint about is in the chapter Learning From The Patient. The author notes that they practiced studies in a dog lab, so as to learn about basic physiologic processes. He goes on to note that “…the human body is not the same as a dog’s, humans are much more complex…”. This frustrated me, as I feel that many canine and human diseases are shared, such as diabetes, cancer, Addison’s, and neurologic issues. Each species is a complex being, similar yet different. I took his statement as demeaning to dogs and animals in general. Veterinary medicine is just as complex as human medicine, and requires the same mental and emotional effort to heal those patients. Perhaps if Dr Mushlin spent some time at an emergency veterinary hospital he would understand my feedback.

That concern was the only negative feedback I have for PLAYING THE PONIES – I found it a stimulating and fascinating read; educational without being taxing. Every patient should have a Dr Mushlin caring for him.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0813570557″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Counting Backwards ( A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia) by Henry Jay Przybylo

For many of the 40 million Americans who undergo anesthesia each year, it is the source of great fear and fascination. From the famous first demonstration of anesthesia in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846 to today’s routine procedure that controls anxiety, memory formation, pain relief, and more, anesthesia has come a long way. But it remains one of the most extraordinary, unexplored corners of the medical world.
In Counting Backwards, Dr. Henry Jay Przybylo—a pediatric anesthesiologist with more than thirty years of experience—delivers an unforgettable account of the procedure’s daily dramas and fundamental mysteries. Przybylo has administered anesthesia more than 30,000 times in his career—erasing consciousness, denying memory, and immobilizing the body, and then reversing all of these effects—on newborn babies, screaming toddlers, sullen teenagers, even a gorilla. With compassion and candor, he weaves his experiences into an intimate exploration of the nature of consciousness, the politics of pain relief, and the wonder of modern medicine.

Filled with intensity and humanity, with moments of near-disaster, life-saving success, and simple grace, Counting Backwards is for anyone curious about what happens after we lose consciousness.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

There is nothing as fascinating as anesthesia. The very idea of being in a state where your insides could be cut, manipulated, and sewn back together is mind-blowing; yet this happens on a daily basis all over the world. COUNTING BACKWARDS is the personal account of a person with intimate knowledge and respect for this phenomenon.

He shares stories of the good, the bad, and the ugly surgeries that he has overseen. From babies to gorillas, he has seen more than his share. The book is not just medical jargon; he recounts his interactions with patients and shares some of his most intimate thoughts with us. We learn what his routine is when setting up for a surgery – and why it never varies. We learn the history and development of anesthesia drugs – and why he creates a new plan for each patient. Dr Przybylo is a caring and meticulous man, one that I would want in the surgery suite with me.

This memoir came about when he enrolled in the MFA program at Goucher College; a step that is admirable and daunting. His professors must have loved encouraging and developing his writing style, as the story flows as smoothly as isoflurane into the lungs. The good doctor draws from his years of experience as he discusses patients, medicine, and humanity. Each story has a moral of sorts – they don’t always have a happy ending – but there is always a lesson to be learned.

It takes a special person to have the intelligence to understand the workings of anesthesia, while also possessing the compassion to care for people. The human race can be a frustrating and ugly bunch while sick and/or scared – I’ve been one of those people a few times. Dr Przybylo is kind enough, as well as strong enough, and that is what made this book stand out for me. There was just enough anesthetic detail and gore to keep me interested, while keeping the human condition firmly front and center. This book would be a wonderful addition to someone’s medical library.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0393254437″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

MED SCHOOL UNCENSORED by Richard Beddingfield

[easyazon_link identifier=”0399579702″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]Med School Uncensored: The Insider’s Guide to Surviving Admissions, Exams, Residency, and Sleepless Nights in the Call Room[/easyazon_link]

An entertaining insider’s guide to the good, the bad, and the ugly of med school–with everything pre-med and med students need to know, from day one, to maximize opportunities and avoid mistakes.
Cardiothoracic anesthesiologist and recent med school grad Dr. Richard Beddingfield serves as an unofficial older brother for pre-med and incoming med students–dishing on all the stuff he would’ve wanted to know from the beginning in order to make the most of med school’s opportunities, while staying sane through the gauntlets of applying to and succeeding at med school, residency, fellowship, and starting work as a new physician. With advice from additional recent Ivy League med school grads and top-tier hospital residents, this all-in-one guide is a must-have for everyone who dreams of becoming a doctor.

 

Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

Richard Beddingfield is a kind and thoughtful man. Why do I say that? Because he spent a lot of time on creating a book to help pre-med students decide if that was the right career path for them. I can imagine graduates learning about this and saying “Why didn’t I have this to guide me??”.

MED SCHOOL UNCENSORED takes you from start to finish, explaining the tests, interviews, reasoning, and opportunities you will experience on the path to become a licensed doctor. He plays devil’s advocate; which I found refreshing – if your grades here are lower than peer X, then you need to do better on this; if your grades still don’t improve by this date, consider another career; no, there is no way to do this if you don’t do that; etc.

Each chapter represents a different step on the journey, with examples, personal stories, and the “why” behind it all. There is even some history thrown in comparing how things were done in the past and how they have changed. This is the kind of book that every type of career needs, to help someone make a decision on what learning path they want to take. The author notes everything important with great detail, using easy to understand examples. Nothing is sugar coated here – there is honest discussion of the ups and downs, pitfalls and joys of becoming a doctor. Bedingfield’s writing is clean and smooth, easy to digest, and generally benign.

There is not much of a plot to comment on in this review; but I will say I enjoyed the progression of the chapters. Things went from simple to complicated  in the order that they needed to; and it will be easy for the reader to grasp what comes next on the journey.

Anyone that is considering going to med school should pick this up before they finish high school, so as to obtain the proper education and extracurriculars needed to create an outstanding CV. This is exactly the book that should be in a parent’s or guidance counselor’s arsenal.

 

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0399579702″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Splintrod by D. Gordon Tyson

splintrod

A young Betsey Stratfork is enjoying her childhood when she is involved in a tragic auto accident that destroys her legs. Despite her handicap and the lack of compassion from the driver, she excels in school and earns her medical degree. She pursues a career in a new field of medicine known as bone manipulation. Now, as Dr. Stratfork, she develops groundbreaking devices and procedures that improve the lives of many patients. In the course of her life, living in constant pain, she is subjected to repeated instances of discrimination. Learning of a life-threatening event, she snaps. In her anger-fueled psychosis, she turns to the dark-side and uses her SplintRod invention to inflict horrific pain and suffering.

 

 

Thanks to Word Slinger Publicity for offering this book in exchange for a review!

SPLINTROD is a wildly uneven but gripping tale about a doctor who loses her mind and seeks revenge on those who have wronged her. I alternately felt sorry for, then despised Dr Wilfork for her actions. Towards the end of the story I decided that my dominant emotion was pity, as long as I didn’t think too hard about the victims.

The fact that this is the author’s first book is evident: the writing style is a bit rough around the edges, he spends just a tad too much time describing the many characters, and some of the transitions between scenes are awkward. Some of the characters are one dimensional, and even Dr Wilfork could have been fleshed out a bit more.

The storyline and action is edge-of-your-seat wonderful, however. Once you get past the unpolished writing style, the drama grabs you and keeps you reading, because you just don’t know what is going to happen next. Medical thrillers are the best, because you know you will encounter depraved people and intense procedures, plus lots of blood. The creation of the Splintrod device is devilish genius – and the perfect way for the good doctor to torture and maim the innocent. The author’s descriptions of how the machine is misused are cringeworthy and totally believable.

The plot brings up an interesting moral point – was the revenge proper? Were the victims selected correctly? Some may say no, that the actual perpetrators of pain upon Dr Wilfork should have been the ones feeling the pain. However, there is mental pain and physical pain; both kinds are visited upon the innocent and the guilty alike.

The author’s strength lies in his ability to manipulate the reader’s emotions. As I mentioned before, I would vacillate between disgust and vicarious pleasure as the victims were tortured. There was disgust because of the maiming and killing that occurred. However, the victims were also portrayed to be arrogant and self-centered, with some of their actions bearing that out. At times it became easy to despise them and all that they stood for. But strip all that away, and at the end they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

With the proper editing, SPLINTROD could be a five star book. The author has a great capacity for plot development; he just needs to smooth out the bumps in the road. I did enjoy this book, and I’d love to know what you think about it. You can pick up your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”B01KYGF1CG” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

How The Art Of Medicine Makes The Science More Effective by Claudia Welch

art of medicine

Does the art of medicine matter? Does it really help us become better doctors and improve results? Dr. Claudia Welch explores how the effectiveness of a physician extends far beyond the ability to prescribe correct treatments, and how mastering the art of doctoring can make the medicine more effective.
Drawing on Eastern medical traditions and experience as well as on Western science, Dr. Welch examines how we know what we know, the mechanics of doctor-patient emotional contagion, and the degree to which a patient’s sensory experience in a medical office affects their experience of treatments delivered. Dr. Welch also offers practical steps that doctors can take to cultivate more refined perceptive abilities and improve results.

Dr. Welch’s book will be essential reading for all health care practitioners interested in understanding the art of their practice and how it can enhance therapeutic outcomes, including doctors of Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Naturopathy, as well as western medical professionals and other complementary health practitioners.

 

Thanks to NetGalley for offering this book for review!

I was pretty excited to see what this book would have to say about combining the tenets of Eastern and Western medicine, for there are certainly values to both. However, I was consistently underwhelmed by the author’s ideas, and some of them seemed way out there.

Perhaps it’s instinct to me that a physician cares for his patients, that he takes care of his own health, that he provides a welcoming and healing atmosphere for them. Apparently this does not always happen, as Welch puts forth all these suggestions in the book. I will say, that the idea of making waiting rooms a little quieter and mellower with soft colors and quiet music sounds wonderful. HIPAA laws force sick people to sit in rooms with the TV blaring away, lest we overhear sensitive health information belonging to other patients. There has got to be a better way, and Welch outlines this in a way that had me in full agreement. (See chapter 12, Healing Through Environment.)

However, the rest of the book was not captivating to me at all. Her suggestions for communication between doctors and patients were all spot on, but again common sense for me. Do all doctors talk the same way to everyone? I thought they were more empathetic, seeing the patient’s personality and using a method of communication modified to each person.

Another suggestion is to have longer appointments and sit quietly so the doctor can feel the patient’s vibrations and let the body tell the history. In today’s hustle and bustle double booked appointment schedule, there is probably no way any doctor will be able to sit quietly with a patient and take their pulse for 15 minutes, and look into their eyes and their soul and figure out if their Qi is unbalanced. I’m sure a little dose of slowing things down would be immensely helpful, but that’s not how it’s done in Western medicine. Perhaps this is one area that would benefit from the author’s suggestions.

Welch also talks about doctors keeping an optimistic outlook for very sick patients, saying that multiple studies have proven the effect of positivity. (Chapter 19, Choosing Hope.) That is also a no brainer for me, and seems to be the norm in my dealings with my own doctors. I’ve never had one tell me things were hopeless, and I’m also sure doctors who treat people with cancer are as supportive as they can be.

In Chapter 32, Reflections on Part III,  the author talks about the benefits of dexterity; not solely physical, but mental and emotional as well.

Practicing dexterity keeps our thinking flexible and our minds open and receptive to possibilities beyond our ability to predict. This can only further refine our confidence, humility, communication, empathy, and diagnostic accuracy, and result in better outcomes for our patients. (I)t would not be amiss to add dexterity to the list of qualities central to the art of medicine. 

This may be all I found germane in this book. Throughout the pages can be found stories  that strain credulity; such as the tale of how a guru healed a boy after all else failed, simply because the guru was leading a purified life and had disciplined thoughts. There is another story of how the author’s sister was in labor, ACTUAL labor two months early, and the power of positive thinking stopped the labor. I found that a bit hard to believe. (Or else it was Braxton-Hicks contractions, no matter what Welch says.)

When I read about a patient that had chronic yeast infections and it was determined that “astrological influences” were causing the infections, and all the woman had to do was continue taking the medication for 6 months (until the influences passed), I was ready to close the book and be done. The gap between Eastern and Western medicine is perhaps due to thinking like this.

Finally (yes, I kept reading) I reached a point where the author was talking about herbs and plants to heal. (Chapter 42, Potency.) The chapter progressed from information about biological responses, such as when plants secrete a noxious substance to protect themselves from insects, to a statement about being respectful to plants so as to preserve their healing qualities.

I agree we need to respect the Earth and treat our surroundings carefully; but I don’t feel that

If we are indifferent or violent to plants, they may alter their qualities and actions — their very chemistry — in an attempt to protect themselves from us. This may initiate a chain reaction, altering kindred plants, other species, and the environment.

At this point, I gave up reading. I felt I had nothing else to learn from the book. There are certainly practitioners and patients that will benefit from the ideas put forth in these pages, but I can’t say I agree with it all.

HOW THE ART OF MEDICINE MAKES THE SCIENCE MORE EFFECTIVE is well written, thought provoking, and does have ideas that will aid a thoughtful physician in his practice. But not everyone will agree with the Eastern medicine way of thinking.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1848192290″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly by Matt McCarthy

 

real doctor

In medical school, Matt McCarthy dreamed of being a different kind of doctor—the sort of mythical, unflappable physician who could reach unreachable patients. But when a new admission to the critical care unit almost died his first night on call, he found himself scrambling. Visions of mastery quickly gave way to hopes of simply surviving hospital life, where confidence was hard to come by and no amount of med school training could dispel the terror of facing actual patients.

This funny, candid memoir of McCarthy’s intern year at a New York hospital provides a scorchingly frank look at how doctors are made, taking readers into patients’ rooms and doctors’ conferences to witness a physician’s journey from ineptitude to competence. McCarthy’s one stroke of luck paired him with a brilliant second-year adviser he called “Baio” (owing to his resemblance to the Charles in Charge star), who proved to be a remarkable teacher with a wicked sense of humor. McCarthy would learn even more from the people he cared for, including a man named Benny, who was living in the hospital for months at a time awaiting a heart transplant. But no teacher could help McCarthy when an accident put his own health at risk, and showed him all too painfully the thin line between doctor and patient.

The Real Doctor Will See You Shortly
offers a window on to hospital life that dispenses with sanctimony and self-seriousness while emphasizing the black-comic paradox of becoming a doctor: How do you learn to save lives in a job where there is no practice?

 

 

Not all doctors come with the confidence and arrogance familiar to us all. Every one of them started out the same way – new graduates in their intern year, struggling to assimilate their textbook knowledge with real life. Matt McCarthy shares his experience in a self deprecating and sometimes comic way.

Taking place over a year’s time, THE REAL DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU SHORTLY shows the reader how McCarthy matures as a doctor and as a self-aware human. He was so awkward and hesitant in the beginning, I wondered if he was going to make it through the year. At times I wondered what made him so timid. There was a career decision elaborated upon early in the book, and I was disappointed in his choice. I truly felt he made the wrong move, given his character and personality. In the final part of the book, he addresses that choice and why he made it. Those words provided some sort of closure for me and I finally agreed with his decision. In his own words:

But as the year wore on, I developed the ability to think outside the diagnosis,  beyond the science of medicine to the art of medicine. I discovered that there is so much more to being a doctor than ordering tests and dispensing medications. And there is no way to teach that. It simply takes time and repetition. 

…I was meant to do whatever the hell you’d call the extraordinary stuff we did at Columbia. Intern year had fundamentally changed me–it had altered the way I viewed the world and myself–and it was unquestionably the most fun I never wanted to have again. 

Patients and cases are outlined, some with great detail, others just to show what lessons he was learning. One of the complaints I have is that some patients’ stories end abruptly with McCarthy never seeing the person again; others just aren’t followed up on. I understand that real life is like that, and these patients are composites of many; but I grew frustrated with things not being tied up neatly. Two cases that loomed large in the author’s life: Benny Santos and Carl Gladstone are featured in almost every chapter, as they illustrate just how far things have progressed over the year. Others, like “Dre” and asthmatic Darryl, just vanish into the night.

That really is my only issue with THE REAL DOCTOR. McCarthy’s writing is easy to follow, and pulls no punches in showing the lay person how hard doctors work and the struggles, internal and external, they face on a daily basis.  There is a minimum of gory details, and the medical jargon is easy to grasp. Nor is there the overly glib, broadly humorous style I’ve seen in other books. That was a relief, as I think that takes away from the truly serious nature of the subject

This was a good addition to my “true medical stories” bookshelf. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0804138656″ locale=”US” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. Check out the author’s page here.

 

 

 

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