Saturday, July 23, 2011

"Medical Narrative"

It's the category that the Dewey Decimal System has assigned to biographies written by medical docors about their training. These are survival stories from the ones who made it through internship, a residency and finally won the right to add "M.D." after their name.

I love this type of book! When I was 12 years old, I wanted to become a brain surgeon. My parents - a mechanical engineer and a housewife - were all for it. At 16, I discovered boys and there went a (possibly) promising medical career.

"This Won't Hurt a Bit (And Other White Lies)" by Michelle Au, M.D. Grand Central Publishing 322 pages $24.99

Doctor Au graduated from Wellesley College in 1999, received her M.D. from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2003 and completed her residency at the Columbia University Center in Manhattan. Today she is married with two sons, working as an anesthesiologist in a private practice in Atlanta.

I liked this book (and remember I'm very well versed in Medical Narrative - "The House of God" was and is one of the funniest books I've ever read) because her writing voice is frank, direct and she can be funny as hell to boot. She illustrates several events with play scenes - this was one. She and Joe (future husband) are going to a Halloween party in black tights and sweaters with the lines of all of the areas a single spinal nerve serves painted on them with glitter paint. At the party, they are mistaken for: mimes, cat burglars or members of Cirque du Soleil.

Doctor Au's parents are visiting her apartment and her mother spots a dying plant on the windowsill. She says, "You have to water it. Are you watering it?"

Response: "I know you have to water plants, Ma. I did water it." Michelle's inner dialogue: "Once."

The only thing I didn't like was the last 5th of the book is all "philosophy of medicine." Basically it boils down to: we're here to help you (and the money is good, too.)

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