Hot Lights, Cold Steel : Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon’s First Years
by Dr Michael J Collins
Editor: St Martin’s Press
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When Michael Collins decides to become a surgeon, he is totally devoid by the chaos of a resident’s life at a major hospitalA natural perfectionist, Collins’ success at college and medical school led to a surgical residency program at one of the world’s largest medical centers, the famous Mayo ClinicBut compared to his fellow residents Collins feels inadequate and ill-preparedAll too early, the euphoria of his early career as a resident orthopedist gives the impression that he is a counterfeiter, an impostor who infiltrated a society of brilliant surgeonsThis history of Collins’s four year surgical residency traces his rise from a passionate but ignorant first year resident to accomplished Resident Chief in his final yearWith humour, he tells the disparity between people’s perceptions of a glamorous doctor’s life and the real thing: a succession of running down cars that are towed to the scrap yard, long weekends of moonlighting in rural hospitals, a family that grows each year, and an income smilingCollins’ good nature allowed him more of certain rough places but could not spare him the harsh reality of a doctor’s lifeEvery day, he faces decisions that change people’s lives-or end them forever.A young boy’s leg is mutilated by a tractor: the risk of the boy’s life to save his leg, or amputate immediatelyA woman diagnosed with bone cancer hurts her hip: going through painful hip surgery, even if she only has a few months to liveAs a shock to the system, he is confronted with the reality of suffering and death as he struggles to reconcile his idealism and aspiration to heal with the recognition of his own limitations and imperfections.Unmovable and deeply endearing, Warm Lights, Cold Steel is a human and passionate reminder that doctors are also peopleIt is a memory grip, sometimes devastating, other triumphant, but always compulsively legible
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