Stories drawn from five decades of work in emergency medicine.
Seward, a retired physician, condenses his years of rewarding and compassionate service into a volume of anecdotes that accurately reflect what he has learned from both his colleagues and his patients. A thoughtful, dynamic writer, he shares not only the compelling events that transpire in the emergency room but also what it feels like to work there. He first reflects on medical school training in his 20s and how the semantics of medicine and his beliefs now as a retired physician in his 70s have changed. “I believe that the principal reason we are on this planet,” he writes, “is to have our noses constantly rubbed in our obligation to care about people who are strangers to us.” His daily experiences from years working on both coasts are consistently compelling: assessing dire end-of-life prognoses, complex cases as a medical student at Boston City Hospital, navigating patient assaults, and treating critical cases involving children. Among the more memorable bedside anecdotes include the poignant opening reflection of a dying young man with a debilitating brain injury and a rather grisly episode of a gardener whose co-worker impaled his neck with pruning shears. While recounting other ordeals, the author provides conversational commentary on the bilateral symmetry of the human form, the author’s original desire to be a pediatrician and his crash education in the intensive care nursery, the delicate mechanics of Foley catheter and endotracheal tube insertion, and the characteristics of certain respected and inspirational colleagues. Each of these vignettes creates a fascinating and engrossing experience useful for both medical professionals or anyone with even a casual interest in clinical life. The common thread they share is the unconditional compassionate care extended by a seasoned physician who put his heart and soul into every human encounter.
A volume brimming with humanitarian lessons in medicine and life alike.