BYPASS: A Doctor's Recovery from Open Heart Surgery by

BYPASS: A Doctor's Recovery from Open Heart Surgery

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Waxberg was a practicing psychiatrist when, at 55, he had a heart attack and underwent bypass surgery; he'd like to address the sexual problems (his psychiatric specialty), but his unceasing self-analysis--plus some stiff dialogue--gets in the way of the rest of what he has to say. The medical details are unusual: the surgery was done in Milwaukee (Waxberg lives in Connecticut), for reasons that are unclear; the bypass used an artery from the chest rather than a vein from the leg, which leaves the patient with one less incision to worry about, but carries a great risk of chest pain recurrences (mentioned, then dismissed, by Waxberg's surgeons). Anything but an assertive patient, Waxberg reproaches himself for being too pleasant (""can you imagine such a schmucky thing to say, considering the anger I felt those 24 hours?""), then for questioning his treatment (""where do you get the audacity to ask such a question of this man?""). After his return to Connecticut, he helped organize fellow-patients into a discussion/support group, largely to air the question of sex--fear of impotence--after bypass surgery. But here again he's the observer, claiming not to have been personally concerned. This detachment prevents us from understanding or learning from his experiences throughout. More straightforward, down-to-earth, and comforting is William Nolen's Surgeon Under the Knife (1976), despite the extra attention to sexual matters.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Appleton-Century/Prentice-Hall