By Dr. Frederic Mendelsohn
In “A Doctor’s Journey,” Frederic Mendelsohn shares memories of decades of his life and work as a neurosurgeon.
Broken down into several short, easy-to-digest essays, Mendelsohn’s memoirs take readers inside the hectic life of a surgeon and into the operating room, where we meet patients and their families as well as the people fighting to keep them alive.
Although television dramas and reality shows allow us to see the chaos inside a hospital, Mendelsohn’s descriptions of his real-life experiences allow us to understand the effects of the profession on the doctors and their families.
Called into the ER on Thanksgiving to help a young epilepsy patient who has fallen on a carving knife during a seizure, he has to leave his family to save a life and inform his patient that changes in her condition mean the state will take her driver’s license. He weaves the tale of a young man injured in a waterskiing accident with his own story of saving a relative from swimming into the wake of a Coast Guard vessel.
Mendelsohn also shares part of his journey into medicine. As a young man, he desperately wanted to play jazz – to have his instrument be an organic extension of his body and to be able to improvise the notes without even thinking. Although he never became a great jazz musician, he attended college on a music scholarship before discovering his knack for medicine. In neurosurgery, he says, he found the art he had been looking for.
The memoirs also introduce readers to patients they can relate to and pull for, from the story of a family who experiences a miraculous recovery only to wind up back in the ER facing a heartbreaking loss, to the story of a young boy who suffers a brain tumor to descriptions of a terrifying condition known as being “locked-in.”
While not technically perfect, Menelsohn’s writing is honest and turns complicated medical terminology into easy-to-understand layman’s language. “A Doctor’s Journey” is a quick, interesting insight into a profession often depicted in television but not as realistically or honestly.
This review was submitted by Jobetta - Jobetta is a journalist and bibliophile from Oregon. Her addiction to bookstores and sales keeps her shelves well-stocked.
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