A BOMB IN THE BRAIN: A Heroic Tale of Science, Surgery, and Survival by Steve Fishman
Kirkus Star

A BOMB IN THE BRAIN: A Heroic Tale of Science, Surgery, and Survival

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Truly terrifying medical tale of what befalls a young journalist stricken by a burst blood vessel in the brain. Fishman is in a soldier-infested hotel in Nicaragua when he reels under the blow of a sudden, crippling headache and blurry vision. Returning to the US, he gets the bad news that a blood vessel has exploded and surgery is required. Fishman recounts his subsequent medical ordeal with a mix of anger, amazement, and resignation. He celebrates the aggressive, often brilliant physicians who handle his case. He runs down the history of neurology, CAT scans, and other medical subjects. He knocks the demeaning hospital routines forced upon patients, ""a kind of nonexistence"" grounded in a steady, callous ""low-grade mistreatment."" The grinding miseries of a long hospital stay and uncertainties about his fate take their toll on parents and friends; eventually, his girlfriend splits. Meanwhile, the medical horrors march on, including surgery in which ""I had three holes drilled in my head, then connected to form a removable plate of bone the circumference of a softball."" The operation leaves Fishman an epileptic. ""is there any ailment as weird?"" he wonders, trying to come to grips with grand real seizures that throw him to the floor, ""neck arching, writhing, wandering, eye flopping,"" and that leave a thick residue of embarrassment. This nightmare could befall anyone. Fishman, at least, can give his sorrows voice, and reminds us that any life can be turned inside-out forever in an instant. Except for some dull expository stretches (mostly the bios of his doctors and their sophisticated equipment), this grabs like a banshee from start to finish.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Scribners