Tuesday, July 19, 2011
Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years - Michael J. Collins, M.D.
One of the stories that really touched me, and that you can tell touched Collins as well, is the story of a young woman, Sarah, who he treats during his oncology rotation. Sarah was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma in her left leg, and is therefore referred to Mayo for a hemipelvectomy, a procedure where her leg and half of her pelvis are removed. The goal of this procedure is ultimately to eradicate the cancer, but as with all malignancies, there is never a guarantee. This is a case that sticks with Collins' throughout his residency, and will throughout his career, I'm sure. What makes this young woman so memorable is her spirit throughout her experience. Even as she is laying in the hospital recovering from this major surgery, she is so upbeat and hopeful, according to Collins. The positive energy just seems to radiate from within in, and it simply amazes me that after all of the hardship that she goes through, she can still be so happy. I don't believe that there are many people, myself included, who could be in such good spirits after such a diagnosis - and especially procedure - such as Sarah's. Indeed, reading about some of the patients that Collins treats in his four year residency, and the hardships that these people encounter and take head-on with such a positive outlook truly makes one feel fortunate for all that they have - good health above all.
Overall, Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years is an interesting read that makes you think about what doctors must go through in order to achieve the prestige that is so often assigned to their profession. They must go through many hurdles, especially in the early years, and the memoir reminds the reader that, like anyone else, young doctors don't necessarily have it easy to start off either.