IN THE COUNTRY OF HEARTS: Journeys in the Art of Medicine by John Stone

IN THE COUNTRY OF HEARTS: Journeys in the Art of Medicine

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Short essays on the physical and emotional nature of man, through the eyes of a physician/poet. Stone is a cardiologist and published poet who stops to think about what he is doing, and about his patients' lives. The result is this series of musings about the twin literal and metaphorical hearts within us, each piece triggered by a memory or incident in Stone's practice. The heart, he tells us, is ""a wondrous storyteller."" Physicians ""are privileged to hear these compelling tales. It is a kind of short story, after all, that brings a person to the physician in the first place; then, over time, the chapters of that person's life shape themselves into as idiosyncratic a novel as was ever written."" Stone uses notes from his and others' cases to remark on the advances and accomplishments of medicine: ""As Jeremy falls quietly to sleep on his mother's lap, I seize the opportunity to take a quick reading on the oximeter, which gauges, painlessly, the oxygenation of the blood. . .the pulse oximeter is a recent technology that uses light sensors. . ."" The result of several decades of new technologies is that a young child is surgically cured of a potentially fatal heart defect. Stone doesn't restrict himself here to survivals, being equally able to illustrate that there are times when a success for medicine is accompanying someone to a peaceful end. And there are moments of whimsy--a missed or momentarily obscured diagnosis. Stone's look at medicine reveals it to be an art; this is deftly demonstrated in his leisurely, gentle prose.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Delacorte