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Monday, April 17, 2017

Book Review: Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery by Henry Marsh, narrated by J.P. Barclay

I love medical memoirs, and when this book first came out I had suggested it to my mother as a possible good read for her husband, a retired heart surgeon. It's the memoir of Dr. Henry Marsh, a now-retired British neurosurgeon.

Henry jumps back and forth between his current job, training young doctors at a teaching hospital, and periodically travelling to the Ukraine to perform surgeries in rather difficult conditions, and his early days as a young neurosurgeon, learning the trade himself. The British medical terminology takes a little getting used to, but I think that's one time when an audio has an advantage, as you don't have to wonder how on earth to pronounce technical terms, Brit-isms, or difficult Ukrainian names. His frustration comes through quite a bit, as he is irritated by the hospital administration, by young doctors who won't speak up or own up to problems, and by mistakes made by others and by himself, and yet he moves past those fairly quickly (except the administration. That irritation is constant. I love that one solution was that he planted a rouge garden that is now the favorite spot of all the patients and staff at the hospital.) I really though loved the parts of the book when he became a patient himself. He has a big problem with his eyes at one point, which could imperil his career, an outcome many of us would not face in the same situation. And true to form, as a doctor, he doesn't make for a very good patient. It does though seem to increase his already robust empathy for his own patients.

Because of that, I am really looking forward to his second memoir, which I understand is even more about his life as a patient, as he's already in the twilight of his career in this book and the second book continues in his life as he gets older. And we all have more health problems as we age, no matter what. Thoroughly enjoyable.

I downloaded this eaudiobook from the library via Overdrive.

This book is published by Macmillan, my employer, although they were not yet my employer when I read it.

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