THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE: Inside the Modern Hospital by Sallie Tisdale

THE SORCERER'S APPRENTICE: Inside the Modern Hospital

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A sarcastic, mystical book written by a nurse ""fascinated by forms and the language of science,"" about the modern technologies that she sees as demeaning to man's dignity. Tisdale, herself a spina bifida patient who became a nurse, covers a broad scope here. In 11 chapters, she deals with vignettes that always ask the question Why? She discusses meningitis (""which moves faster than a cheetah""), premature babies, burns, cancer (""the man who wasn't there""), death, and kidney dialysis (the machine known as ""sister mean""). Each of these vignettes details the illness and wanders back and forth between medical descriptions and some undefined, deep (to the author) philosophical destination, delving into the consciousness of the patient and caretaker, but sorrowfully coming up with. . .nothing. We are told that medical ethics as a concept is doomed and that too much of modern medicine is painful and damaging. What it seems most to do is to give Tisdale a sense of powerlessness, which might explain why she only works occasional shifts in a hospital. There is an anti-technological bent here that's discomforting, almost as if Tisdale is bludgeoning technology to death. She quotes a theologian who says that grandmothers show better wisdom than high tech. In the end, technology comes across as all ""Voodoo."" While there is, of course, good sense in questioning the march of the machine, one must be careful not to throw out the baby with the bathwater. Tisdale chronicles much suffering in her pages, but there's more in the reading.

Pub Date: April 28th, 1986
Publisher: McGraw-Hill