A retired anesthesiologist tells his life story in this all-encompassing autobiography.
Debut author Cottrell, who practiced anesthesiology for more than 30 years, decided that he would write a book chronicling his medical career and the difficulties that he faced in his personal life. Cottrell has expert insight into his field; indeed, he writes that anesthesia is “ingrained in my mindset and…intertwined with my daily rituals.” He starts out with an account of his residency in the mid-1970s in a Veterans Administration hospital in Florida, where he was still “pretty much of a novice.” As the decades progress, he gives in-depth descriptions of his most challenging cases and patients. In one memorable account of a case during his residency, for example, he describes how a patient’s unexpectedly reduced kidney function caused a troubling reaction to anesthesia; although the author says the case made him “embarrassed” and “defensive,” he also admits that it was a valuable learning experience. Eventually his job affected aspects of his life away from work, as well. He addresses three particular events that occurred over nine months in 1988 and ’89 that helped shape his overall outlook: the death of his father, the loss of a job, and the end of his marriage. Overall, Cottrell’s story is extremely comprehensive and precise. He goes through the painstaking effort of outlining each and every moment in his life that had an impact on his career, including each of his relationships with family members and colleagues, and each post that he held while he was a practicing anesthesiologist. His story is so detailed, in fact, that it feels almost too personal at times. However, readers who are interested in an account of “the challenges of a medical career from the inside” will likely find it of interest.
An immersive look at one man’s multi-decade journey as a doctor.