A retired physician reflects on his practice, personal history, and experience of medical intervention from a patient’s perspective.
After being an admired and respected doctor for well over three decades, debut author Short became sidelined in 2012 at age 61 by an enduring illness and found himself with an abundance of time yet little inclination to create anything beyond morning coffee. Several years later, initially motivated to write a book for his children and grandchildren, he began to organize anecdotes from his life and long-standing clinical practice, expanding the theme and scope of his opinions and experiences to encompass a more “general audience.” Short’s endearing stories flash back to his life growing up in rural southeastern Kansas on a dairy farm, falling in love with the countryside, embodying the “monster man” on his high school football squad, participating in random collegiate antics, and getting a devastating pre-leukemia diagnosis during his 20s with a poor prognosis. Even with the precarious nature of his health through the forthcoming decades, the author stoically persevered; courted and married his wife, Mary Jane; and continued thriving in his medical practice until his condition forced him into an early retirement. Employing a free-flowing conversational tone throughout, the author engages readers with wit, insight, and breezy opinions, most notably when discussing human biology and medical intervention, the benefits and pitfalls of risk-taking, and more superficial topics (much akin to Andy Rooney) like personal-computer proficiency, time, dishonesty, and his affinity for self-deprecating humor. More critical meditations on particularly serpentine malpractice lawsuits, however, develop into lengthy, elaborately detailed case studies. They unfortunately form the weakest parts of the memoir, particularly if the reader is not medically inclined. Applicable to most readers will be Short’s patient case histories, which oscillate from the joyful to the poignant and palliative. Even though the book can be rambling and haphazardly organized, the author’s winning moments of clarity more than make up for the narrative’s shortcomings.
These meandering stories remain memorable and rewarding, collectively dovetailing with universal lessons about love, family, compassion, the misfortune of random calamity, and living life to the fullest.