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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Tag: medical

Under The Knife by Arnold Van de Laar

In Under the Knife, surgeon Arnold Van de Laar uses his own experience and expertise to tell the witty history of the past, present, and future of surgery.
From the story of the desperate man from seventeenth-century Amsterdam who grimly cut a stone out of his own bladder to Bob Marley’s deadly toe, Under the Knife offers all kinds of fascinating and unforgettable insights into medicine and history via the operating theatre.
What happens during an operation? How does the human body respond to being attacked by a knife, a bacterium, a cancer cell or a bullet? And, as medical advances continuously push the boundaries of what medicine can cure, what are the limits of surgery?
From the dark centuries of bloodletting and of amputations without anaesthetic to today’s sterile, high-tech operating theatres, Under the Knife is both a rich cultural history and a modern anatomy class for us all.

Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!

I have read many medical history books before but none of them were as gruesomely interesting as this one. The juxtaposition of the gory surgeries and the dry writing makes for an excellent read. So many different surgeries are discussed in this book, it seems, that there should be something for everyone. If you are a fan of spurting blood, swollen intestines, gangrene, and reading about a man performing surgery on himself without anesthesia, then this book is definitely for you. If you are the squeamish type, stop reading immediately and find something else.

Each one of the 28 chapters discusses a different type of surgery, complete with history and famous examples. Some of the people van de Laar writes about are JFK, Bob Marley, Lenin, and Napoleon. I can honestly say that I learned multiple new facts in each chapter. This, plus the straight-up medical language (that may be incomprehensible to most people) made this book a winner for me. I have a medical background so this was an easy read, but I can see most people trying to figure out some of the jargon and getting discouraged. The author does provide many explanations and word sources (such as Latin or Italian) as well as a glossary at the end, but there is also a good deal of medical verbiage. The chapter also brings us into the present time, and how this surgery is performed using clean instruments and updated techniques.

As I mentioned before, the gore factor is extremely high. I don’t recall ever experiencing this level of detail, even in books containing Hannibal Lecter. A simple sentence telling us that the Sun King only bathed once or twice in his lifetime, and generously opened a window so a visitor could have fresh air speaks volumes. Can’t you just smell the stench from here?!?

There are also chapters on eunuchs, ancient Rome, and bloodletting. The detail in which van de Laar describes each procedure is magnificent. Facts just keep unrolling on the page, with minimal asides for the human detail found in so many other books written by doctors (such as Sandeep Jauhar or Atul Gawande). The book is nearly devoid of emotion; there are only procedures and facts.

I absolutely loved this book. I also may never be able to get some of the gory images out of my mind – but that’s ok.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up

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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].

Splintrod by D. Gordon Tyson

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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].

The Wrong Treatment by Chris Malone

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A fast paced medical thriller with a serial killer on the loose. Adam Hooker was delighted to be working with advanced technologies such as MRI to help doctors perform surgery and treat patients, but his world is overturned when his brilliant mentor Gary dies in a horrific accident. But it seems Gary may have had dark secrets and everything points to his involvement in a series of recent murders and attacks on women. Adam is determined to find the truth and clear Gary’s name, and is finally able to connect the dots between Gary’s death and the real killer. All this is set against a background of hi-tech medicine and political intrigue within a top-ranked research institution.

Thanks to Word Slinger for gifting me this book for review!

Once you get past the first 30 pages, and get used to the formatting of dialogue and occasionally awkward phrasing, this story grabs you and keeps you interested. The plot has a few tendrils: the horrific (majorly gory details) murder of a scientist via overactive radiotherapy machine; other members of the scientific community with secrets they wish to keep hidden; a grasping and pompous hospital Vice President with a licentious mind; and a man with a brain tumor.

THE WRONG TREATMENT takes place in the United States, but the writing is quite British, which may seem confusing to some readers. I did find it endearing that so many American things were being written about with a British slant, and I will say that the author is very familiar with his subjects. Neurosurgery is a complicated science but there was nothing in here that was overwhelming. The author takes pains to describe computer programs and certain treatments in plain language.

Each chapter takes place in a day, with the entire book encompassing 14 days of action. A scientist is murdered and his best friend and co worker tries to figure out who did it and why. As always, I loved that the criminal was not obvious in the beginning. I pegged different characters over the course of the book a few times but was always wrong, as the murderer is not made clear til the final pages.

A research lab must be written about in such a way that the details are correct and not too dull. Malone fulfills this beautifully! The science makes sense, the details are grasped easily, and nothing is too over the top. I can imagine Michael Crichton nodding his head at the finished product. I especially liked the boardroom intrigue and back stabbing as well – the machinations of science and politics are done quite well.

The main character, Adam Hooker, grows as a person over the course of the two weeks, becoming more confident in himself and his decision making ability. Dr Cummings, Chief of Neurosurgery, is a very sympathetic character with a brain damaged son and conflicting inner thoughts regarding that son.

Overall, the writing style is not as polished as I’ve seen, but the plot and character development is solid, the suspense builds properly, and things are brought to a close in a believable manner. I have a second book of Chris Malone‘s to review and I’m looking forward to it!

Want y our own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1517595096″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Unfortunate Event by Marc David Veldt

unfortunate

A man’s life can easily be shattered by a single unfortunate event.
After a patient dies following a routine operation, hospital administration needs a scapegoat. They find their victim in Dr. Jack Andrews, a brilliant anesthesiologist. Andrews’s actions had no bearing on the patient’s death, but he finds himself thrown to the legal wolves by his so-called colleagues as they scramble to protect themselves.

Facing a relentless, amoral prosecutor and allied with a malpractice insurance company acting in its own best interests, Andrews loses everything-his money and his standing in the medical community. His money-obsessed wife divorces him, taking with her their two children.

Jack’s opponents think they’ve won. They think they’re the most ruthless players in the game of life. But Jack’s about to introduce them to the game’s next level. He’s got nothing left to lose, and a mind trained to make life-or-death decisions. People start to die-people who wronged Jack Andrews.
A tense thriller, ” Unfortunate Event” explores the dark side of operating room culture, the cutthroat world of malpractice law, and the mind of one man as his world crumbles around him.

Word Slinger Publicity gave me a copy of this book in exchange for an unbiased review.

The one thing that drew me to this book was that the author is an anesthesiologist, and I was looking forward to accurate and copious medical detail.
I wasn’t disappointed! I was also pleasantly surprised by the quality of the writing and how thrilling the plot was. Jack Andrews is a very sympathetic character that undergoes a sweeping personality change as a result of his verbally abusive and emotionally absent wife, job stress, and accidental death of a patient that was not his fault.
The story line is set up well as we see a patient suddenly go downhill after a routine surgery. The medicine was good, but an unknown combination of events caused the patient to spiral downwards and eventually die. The details showing doctors scrambling to lay blame and divert attention away from themselves is chilling and unfortunate if truly accurate.
Andrews is a magnet for almost every cliché surrounding the medical profession: he’s married to a money grubbing woman who teaches their children to view their father as a giant wallet, his coworkers are a coterie of doctors that eschew their personal life to chase the almighty dollar, and his malpractice lawyer is a drunken has-been who only cares about getting the case settled quickly so he can go back to his bottle.
Author Marc David Veldt makes this situation sound plausible. Some of his most cringeworthy bits of dialogue are from the mouth of Kate, the doctor’s wife. In one chapter, she is lambasting her husband for having to miss work during his malpractice trial. She asks:
“How long will the trial take?”
“About 3 or 4 weeks.”
“You can’t be expected to miss that much work. We have no income if you aren’t working. You’ll just have to make the lawyers attend the trial. There’s no reason you have to be there all the time.”
“Gee, honey, I think it’s expected that I show up for my own trial.”
“It isn’t fair. Why should the children and I have to suffer because some guy had a poor result?”
“Dying is a very poor result.”
“You just aren’t tough enough, are you? I can’t believe I’m supposed to raise children with someone who isn’t strong and has all these problems.”

Every time Kate spoke it was pretty much along the same lines, and I hoped to read later on that he had injected her with some potassium chloride or something.

Eventually Dr Andrews gives in to let the machine chew him up and spit him out. He loses everything he cares about, and the only thing left for him is to seek justice….his own way. The brilliant, organized mind of an anesthesiologist turns to nefarious deeds, and this is where the story takes a darker turn. He plots the murder of everyone who has wronged him in a cool, calculated plot that did stretch credulity a bit, but for the most part it was easy to digest.  Even as he plots the demise of his enemies, he still remains a sympathetic character. I stayed up long past my bedtime to see what would happen to the good doctor!

Andrews’ character is well defined, whereas some of the others were not. There was an equal amount of dialogue and description to keep things constantly moving forward in a compelling way, and there was suspense as well towards the end of the book when the police started putting the pieces together.

UNFORTUNATE EVENT is a hidden gem of a book and easily readable, no medical background needed. The events put forth in the book really made me think about the world of malpractice law and how vulnerable doctors may be in this litigious society. The author writes in such a way as to exploit the desire for money, and this causes the reader to realize the pressure on doctors and how this affects each decision they make.

I’d love to see more of Veldt’s work and I hope he continues to write. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1502913402″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

 

 

Gemini by Carol Cassella (plus INTERVIEW)

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Many thanks to author Carol Cassella for gifting me this book in exchange for an honest review.  At the bottom of the page there will be a link to a Q&A I did with the author–enjoy!

An unidentified woman is hit by a car and abandoned along a rural highway in western Washington. She is life-flighted to a Seattle trauma center, where she’s admitted to the intensive care unit overseen by Dr. Charlotte Reese, who battles to keep her “Jane Doe” patient alive while a police investigation tries to discover who is responsible for this hit and run—a charge that could turn into murder if this gravely injured woman dies. Charlotte also senses a more covert battle brewing with the hospital’s legal department when they assign a professional guardian to stand in lieu of Jane’s unknown family and make critical decisions about her care. In frustration, Charlotte and her boyfriend Eric, a science journalist, begin their own efforts to find Jane’s family, veering across the professional boundary between physician and patient. As their lives become more entangled, the truths Charlotte learns will radically alter her own life more profoundly than they alter her patient’s.

 

This book made my heart ache with sorrow and joy so much, that I had to put it down at times to let my feelings ebb away, in order to absorb what was happening next. Cassella strikes a chord as she writes about young love, loss, and coming to terms that your life could be so much more, but isn’t. The separate plot of Raney and Bo, who meet as children and move in and out of each other’s lives,  is told as flashbacks, interspersed with the present tale of the nurse Charlotte as she navigates her relationship with Eric while she  is trying  to find out the identity of Jane Doe.  Eric has a health issue that prevents him from being able to commit fully to Charlotte, and she is becoming discouraged. As she learns more about Jane and who she is, she becomes forced to make decisions that will affect the rest of her life, while putting Eric at a crossroads he never wanted to reach. Cassella’s writing allowed me to empathize with Charlotte, and captured the stress and wariness of both partners as they face things that could tear them apart.

However, the story of Raney, a young artist from the poor side of Quentin, Washington, and Bo, who spends a few summers in Quentin with his aunt, is where the story really shines. They grow older and develop feelings for each other that never really fade away, no matter how many times life causes them to part. Each emotion is told with heartbreaking texture, first from Raney’s perspective, then from Bo’s. Life gets in their way, as Raney must care for her ailing grandfather while Bo, from a well to do family, attends college and travels the world.

Each of the four characters must make sacrifices and learn how to make the best out of every situation.  Raney, by far, is the one that shines brightly throughout, as a girl who guards her heart and nurtures her feelings for Bo over the years. I was overcome with emotion time and time again, turning pages as quickly as I could to see what would happen to Raney next. I was affected by her story so much I still think about her to this day and feel as if I could cry. Not many fictional characters get under my skin, but Raney did.

Cassella is adroit at mixing medical situations with real life problems, and the story comes to a resolution that is plausible and bittersweet. If you can get to the last page and not be affected, perhaps you had better check to see if your heart still beats within you. These characters will stay with you for a long time. GEMINI is a must read. You can pick up your copy [easyazon_link asin=”1451627939″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link].

 

Click here to be taken to the page with the EXCLUSIVE interview I did with Carol!

 

Doctored by Sandeep Jauhar

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This was another book I picked up at the library for myself, and I was excited to see the author of [easyazon_link asin=”0374531595″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”default”]Intern: A Doctor’s Initiation[/easyazon_link] had written another book. This one is of a bit darker tone, as he talks about his struggle to keep focused and happy saving lives and battling insurance companies. The main focus of this book is money and cronyism: how much it costs for medical care, how much the doctors are getting paid, ways to circumvent insurance companies’ unwillingness to pay, and quid pro quo buddy systems where referrals are the goal.

Once again, as in other books written by doctors, this was pretty depressing. On page 11 Jauhar talks about how doctors are disillusioned:

In 2001, 58% of about 2000 physicians questioned said their enthusiasm for medicine had gone down in the previous five years, and 87% said their overall morale had declined during that time. More recent surveys  have shown that 30 to 40% of practicing physicians would not choose to enter the medical profession if they were deciding on a career again, and an even higher percentage would not encourage their children to pursue a medical career.

There are many reasons for this disillusionment besides managed care. An unintended consequence of progress is that physicians increasingly say they have inadequate time to spend with patients. Medical advances have transformed once terminal diseases – cancer, AIDS, congestive heart failure – into complex chronic conditions that must be managed long term.

So.  We have people living longer, restrictions placed on doctors by HMOs, pressure to make ends meet at home,  and doctors being forced to produce referrals in order to maintain the old boy network. That could definitely make anyone disillusioned. What’s scary about this situation is that people’s lives are at stake here. All anyone wants is to be able to trust their physician, that he will do no harm.

Jauhar tells his story, warts and all: he is frustrated at not being able to practice his own medicine, without having to network. His marriage is straining due to lack of money. He seems to be suffering from depression that is untreated. Personally, I would not want to be in the hands of a doctor that was being pressured on so many fronts. But Jauhar perserveres, tries to practice good medicine, and attempts to play the game. He marvels at the circumstance of a man, admitted to the hospital because of shortness of breath. During his 30 day, $200,000 stay, he was seen by SEVENTEEN doctors and underwent TWELVE procedures. He was discharged with only “minimal improvement in his shortness of breath” and “follow ups…with SEVEN specialists“.

As the book proceeds further, Jauhar discusses taking away the financial incentive to over test patients, and make suggestions on how to fix our beleagured healthcare system. His arguments are sound, and probably could only happen in a perfect world. I urge you to read this book, only if it will help arm you against unscrupulous surgeons and the overreach of the billing department.

The only problem I have with the book is that I wasn’t sure if Jauhar wanted to make it a story about him, or a general story about our healthcare. He will start off a chapter with a patient’s story, then end up talking about how it affected him and how frustrated he was,  then insert a dialogue he had with his young son. Then the next chapter will start off with personal thoughts and stories about how he was mentally checked out of his marriage, and suddenly mention a patient. There was also a  long part about him trying to moonlight, but not billing enough, not seeing enough patients, and not playing the game–but instead of trying to fix things, he seems to go into a vapor lock (that could be the depression) and let things just swirl around him and get worse.  He seemed to be very wishy washy here, and let his brother and father galvanize him into action by calling in favors and getting him money making opportunities. Nothing he did made him happy, and that whole middle section of the book was very depressing and drawn out. Eventually things get better at home for the author…..but our healthcare system stays broken.

This was a very illuminating read, and a good follow up to INTERN– we see how Jauhar grows as a doctor and becomes more self aware.  DOCTORED is a great book for anyone who thinks all doctors are millionaires. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link asin=”0374141398″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here.[/easyazon_link]

Final Exam: A Surgeon’s Reflections on Mortality by Pauline W. Chen

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Final Exam was a book I picked up myself from the library. It was on my own personal reading list, which I haven’t been really able to get to these days. This is not a new book; it was published in 2007, but the ideas that Dr Chen speaks of should be relevant and in use today.

The mission of all doctors is to maintain life–by performing surgery, by prescribing medication, by encouraging life changes such as dieting or quitting smoking. But–everyone eventually dies, no matter how brilliant the surgeon was, or how much weight a patient lost. Many doctors gloss over this fact and prefer to focus on living and making a better quality of life.

Who will champion a better quality of death? No, Dr Chen is not  going to talk about euthanasia, or discuss funeral services. She is going to bring to the forefront a subject that has been assiduously avoided in human medicine for a long time: death is very much a part of life, and it should not be spoken of in hushed tones or pushed to the back of one’s mind. To truly care for your patients, you must realize that death is truly part of life.

No one wants to consider their own mortality, especially someone who is going to the hospital for an operation.  Dr Chen postulates that all doctors can give better care by embracing their own personal feelings and fears about death, and listening to what their patients are telling them, either with words or what their body is saying.

There is a great deal of explicit description in Final Exam:  of medical procedures and people struggling to die, those with sickness or those who have developed complications after surgery. Dr Chen starts out with her own personal experience with a cadaver in medical school and brings us all the way to her visceral reaction when a good friend of hers dies.

This book’s message is a powerful one, and not for the faint of heart. I thoroughly applaud Dr Chen for suggesting that doctors make themselves more emotionally available and vulnerable. Too often a patient’s death is couched in a sense of failure, of medicine gone wrong. A delicate balance needs to be attained, and I hope Dr Chen has started a dialogue by writing this book.

I loved this. You can pick up your own copy [easyazon_link asin=”030727537X” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link]!

Also, if you haven’t already, download the Kindle reading app here.

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