I finished the book. It was a mostly irreverent look at the early years of being a junior doctor, then an obstetrician, until something catastrophic happens to a patient and the author turned from medicine to writing comedy. It was an excellent read, one good anecdote after another and rather than a review I'd like to summarise two. One concerns herbal medicine and the other the very serious topic of spousal abuse and how the hospital dealt with it in pregnant women.
1. Herbal A woman had come to the hospital with a bleeding from her vagina problem. When the doctor told her it was the result of the Chinese herb she had been dosing herself with she said, "I thought it was just herbal how can it be that bad for you" The doctor said that apricot stones had cyanide in, the death cap mushroom is often fatal, Nature does not equal safe and that there was a plant in his garden where if you simply sat under it for ten minutes you'd be dead.
Later the author asked the doctor what plant that was. He replied, "Water lily." Ah so...
2. Abuse. The hospital had a system to help women admit to abuse, which was difficult as their partners often accompanied them to ante-natal visits. In the toilets they had a sign saying 'if you want to discuss any concerns about violence at home, put a red sticker on the front of your notes,' and there were sheets of red dot stickers in every cubicle.
So the doctor saw a woman with a few red stickers on the front of her notes. It was very difficult to get the husband to leave the room. He tried, the midwife tried, the consultant tried and eventually they got her alone. The woman just clammed up, scared and confused and would admit to nothing. Eventually they established that the red dots were artistic decoration by her two year old child when they went to the toilet together.
I think Ockham's Razor applies here!
5 stars for being a great read and exposing the very emotional side of being a doctor and not just the practice of medicine.
More anecdotes from when I was reading the book.
This is so funny. This 20 year old student goes to the doctor to request an abortion following condom failure. Turns out that she and her boyfriend didn't have much money so they turned the just-used condom inside out for round two!
I knew I was going to read this book when I read,
"A NOTE REGARDING FOOTNOTES
Read the fucking footnotes."
Laughed out loud.
And then one of the first sentences, "I grew up in a Jewish family (although they were mostly in it for the food)... it's really got to be a good book with such louche writing.