Five works of short fiction that dramatize challenges faced by the health care industry.
Debut author Crickard offers five interconnected stories of patients in a hospital in Rochester, New York. In one, a poor, teenage girl, Che Johnson, arrives about to deliver a baby but defiantly insists on a caesarean birth, against her doctors’ counsel. The decisions they make ultimately expose the hospital to serious liability issues. In another, Caitlin Kormack, a college junior and a robustly healthy athlete, suddenly falls ill, and a doctor initially believes that she’s merely suffering from the effects of alcohol consumption. When she suddenly collapses, she’s rushed to a hospital where her father, David, works as a surgeon. Caitlin’s life is suddenly threatened by bacteriological meningitis, and David feels uncharacteristically helpless to save her. At the heart of the book are the plights of two female doctors, Kip Paiva and Deanna Richardson, who are both beleaguered in their own ways. Kip escapes a violent husband in South Africa and uses forged documents to maintain a residency in the United States, and Deanna is crushed by her work’s emotional toll and wonders anxiously whether her busy career is worth more than starting a family. Despite the book’s focus on the difficulties of the medical industry, its most poignant elements are more personal than they are medical. Throughout, the author shows a great deal of sensitivity when portraying the nuances of longtime angst. Crickard is a practicing anesthesiologist, so it’s unsurprising that she’s so impressively knowledgeable about her setting. As a result, however, her prose can sometimes feel more clinical than poetical: “Her unconscious ignorance allowed ingress to her unveiled interior now by pharmaceutical jurisdiction overtaking her hysteria.”
An edifying and emotional look at medical practice, sometimes undermined by clunky prose.