Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery


Henry Marsh - 2014
    Operations on the brain carry grave risks. Every day, leading neurosurgeon Henry Marsh must make agonizing decisions, often in the face of great urgency and uncertainty.If you believe that brain surgery is a precise and exquisite craft, practiced by calm and detached doctors, this gripping, brutally honest account will make you think again. With astonishing compassion and candor, Marsh reveals the fierce joy of operating, the profoundly moving triumphs, the harrowing disasters, the haunting regrets, and the moments of black humor that characterize a brain surgeon's life.Do No Harm provides unforgettable insight into the countless human dramas that take place in a busy modern hospital. Above all, it is a lesson in the need for hope when faced with life's most difficult decisions.

Head Case: My Brain and Other Wonders


Cole Cohen - 2015
    For as long as she could remember, she'd struggled with a series of learning disabilities that made it nearly impossible to judge time and space—standing at a cross walk, she couldn't tell you if an oncoming car would arrive in ten seconds or thirty; if you asked her to let you know when ten minutes had passed, she might notify you in a minute or an hour. These symptoms had always kept her from getting a driver's license, which she wanted to have for grad school. Instead of leaving the doctor's office with permission to drive, she left with a shocking diagnosis—doctors had found a large hole in her brain responsible for her life-long struggles. Because there aren't established tools to rely on in the wake of this unprecedented and mysterious diagnosis, Cole and her doctors and family create them, and discover firsthand how best to navigate the unique world that Cole lives in. Told without an ounce of self-pity and plenty of charm and wit, Head Case is ultimately a story of triumph, as we watch this passionate, loveable, and unsinkable young woman chart a path for herself.

Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside


Katrina Firlik - 2006
    She is also a superbly gifted writer–witty, insightful, at once deeply humane and refreshingly wry. In Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Dr. Firlik draws on this rare combination to create a neurosurgeon’s Kitchen Confidential–a unique insider’s memoir of a fascinating profession.Neurosurgeons are renowned for their big egos and aggressive self-confidence, and Dr. Firlik confirms that timidity is indeed rare in the field. “They’re the kids who never lost at musical chairs,” she writes. A brain surgeon is not only a highly trained scientist and clinician but also a mechanic who of necessity develops an intimate, hands-on familiarity with the gray matter inside our skulls. It’s the balance between cutting-edge medical technology and manual dexterity, between instinct and expertise, that Firlik finds so appealing–and so difficult to master. Firlik recounts how her background as a surgeon’s daughter with a strong stomach and a keen interest in the brain led her to this rarefied specialty, and she describes her challenging, atypical trek from medical student to fully qualified surgeon. Among Firlik’s more memorable cases: a young roofer who walked into the hospital with a three-inch-long barbed nail driven into his forehead, the result of an accident with his partner’s nail gun, and a sweet little seven-year-old boy whose untreated earache had become a raging, potentially fatal infection of the brain lining. From OR theatrics to thorny ethical questions, from the surprisingly primitive tools in a neurosurgeon’s kit to glimpses of future techniques like the “brain lift,” Firlik cracks open medicine’s most prestigious and secretive specialty. Candid, smart, clear-eyed, and unfailingly engaging, Another Day in the Frontal Lobe is a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes glimpse into a world of incredible competition and incalculable rewards.From the Hardcover edition.

Direct Red: A Surgeon's Story


Gabriel Weston - 2009
    At Weston's side, we learn what it's like to stand in an operating room holding someone's neck open for seven hours, what happens when the line between the personal and the professional begins to blur, and about the shame of watching a patient die. Interweaving her own story with those of her patients, old and young.

Tales from Both Sides of the Brain: A Life in Neuroscience


Michael S. Gazzaniga - 2015
    By turns humorous and moving, Tales from Both Sides of the Brain interweaves Gazzaniga’s scientific achievements with his reflections on the challenges and thrills of working as a scientist.

Sick Girl


Amy Silverstein - 2007
    Amy chronicles her harrowing medical journey from the first misdiagnosis to her astonishing recovery after her heart transplant, which is made all the more dramatic by the romantic bedside courtship with her future husband, and her uncompromising desire to become a mother. She presents a patient's perspective of life after a heart transplant with honesty.

Brainstorm: Detective Stories From the World of Neurology


Suzanne O'Sullivan - 2018
    A man who sees cartoon characters running across the room; a girl whose world turns all Alice in Wonderland; another who transforms into a ragdoll whenever she even thinks about moving.The brain is the most complex structure in the universe. Neurologists must puzzle out life-changing diagnoses from the tiniest of clues. It’s the ultimate medical detective work. In this riveting book, one of the UK’s leading neurologists will take you with her as she follows the clues of her patients’ symptoms. It’s a journey that will open your eyes to the unfathomable intricacies of our brains, and the infinite variety of human capacity and experience.

Your Life in My Hands: A Junior Doctor's Story


Rachel Clarke - 2017
    It is 4 a.m. I have run arrest calls, treated life-threatening bleeding, held the hand of a young woman dying of cancer, scuttled down miles of dim corridors wanting to sob with sheer exhaustion, forgotten to eat, forgotten to drink, drawn on every fibre of strength that I possess to keep my patients safe from harm.'How does it feel to be spat out of medical school into a world of pain, loss and trauma that you feel wholly ill-equipped to handle? To be a medical novice who makes decisions which - if you get them wrong - might forever alter, or end, a person's life?In 'Your Life in My Hands', television journalist turned junior doctor Rachel Clarke captures the extraordinary realities of life on the NHS frontline. During last year's historic junior doctor strikes, Rachel was at the forefront of the campaign against the government's imposed contract upon young doctors. Her heartfelt, deeply personal account of life as a junior doctor in today's NHS is both a powerful polemic on the degradation of Britain's most vital public institution and a love letter of optimism and hope to that same health service.

The Day My Brain Exploded


Ashok Rajamani - 2013
    With humor and insight, he describes the events of that day (his brain exploded just before his brother's wedding!), as well as the long, difficult recovery period. In the process, he introduces readers to his family, his principal support group, as well as a constant source of frustration and amazement. Irreverent, coruscating, angry, at times shocking, but always revelatory, his memoir takes the reader into unfamiliar territory, much like the experience Alice had when she fell down the rabbit hole. That he lived to tell the story is miraculous; that he tells it with such aplomb is simply remarkable.More than a decade later he has finally reestablished a productive artistic life for himself, still dealing with the effects of his injury;life-long half-blindness and epilepsy; but forging ahead as a survivor dedicated to helping others who have suffered a similar catastrophe.

Memoirs of an Addicted Brain: A Neuroscientist Examines his Former Life on Drugs


Marc Lewis - 2011
    This cycle is at the root of all addictions, addictions to drugs, sex, love, cigarettes, soap operas, wealth, and wisdom itself. But why should this be so? Why are we desperate for what we don't have, or can't have, often at great cost to what we do have, thereby risking our peace and contentment, our safety, and even our lives?"The answer, says Dr. Marc Lewis, lies in the structure and function of the human brain. Marc Lewis is a distinguished neuroscientist. And, for many years, he was a drug addict himself, dependent on a series of dangerous substances, from LSD to heroin. His narrative moves back and forth between the often dark, compellingly recounted story of his relationship with drugs and a revelatory analysis of what was going on in his brain. He shows how drugs speak to the brain - which is designed to seek rewards and soothe pain - in its own language. He shows in detail the neural mechanics of a variety of powerful drugs and of the onset of addiction, itself a distortion of normal perception.Dr. Lewis freed himself from addiction and ended up studying it. At the age of 30 he traded in his pharmaceutical supplies for the life of a graduate student, eventually becoming a professor of developmental psychology, and then of neuroscience - his field for the last 12 years. This is the story of his journey, seen from the inside out.

My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey


Jill Bolte Taylor - 2006
    Through the eyes of a curious scientist, she watched her mind deteriorate whereby she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life. Because of her understanding of the brain, her respect for the cells in her body, and an amazing mother, Jill completely recovered. In My Stroke of Insight, she shares her recommendations for recovery and the insight she gained into the unique functions of the two halves of her brain. When she lost the skills of her left brain, her consciousness shifted away from normal reality where she felt "at one with the universe." Taylor helps others not only rebuild their brains from trauma, but helps those of us with normal brains better understand how we can consciously influence the neural circuitry underlying what we think, how we feel and how we react to life's circumstances.

When We Do Harm: A Doctor Confronts Medical Error


Danielle Ofri - 2020
    Medical science has made enormous strides in decreasing mortality and suffering, but there's no doubt that treatment can also cause harm, a significant portion of which is preventable. In When We Do Harm, practicing physician and acclaimed author Danielle Ofri places the issues of medical error and patient safety front and center in our national healthcare conversation.Drawing on current research, professional experience, and extensive interviews with nurses, physicians, administrators, researchers, patients, and families, Dr. Ofri explores the diagnostic, systemic, and cognitive causes of medical error. She advocates for strategic use of concrete safety interventions such as checklists and improvements to the electronic medical record, but focuses on the full-scale cultural and cognitive shifts required to make a meaningful dent in medical error. Woven throughout the book are the powerfully human stories that Dr. Ofri is renowned for. The errors she dissects range from the hardly noticeable missteps to the harrowing medical cataclysms.

One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases and the Mystery of Medicine


Brendan Reilly - 2013
    In riveting first-person prose, Dr. Brendan Reilly takes us to the front lines of medicine today. Whipsawed by daily crises and frustrations, Reilly must deal with several daunting challenges simultaneously: the extraordinary patients under his care on the teeming wards of a renowned teaching hospital; the life-threatening illnesses of both of his ninety-year-old parents; and the tragic memory of a cold case from long ago that haunts him still. As Reilly’s patients and their families survive close calls, struggle with heartrending decisions, and confront the limits of medicine’s power to cure, One Doctor lays bare a fragmented, depersonalized, business-driven health-care system where real caring is hard to find. Every day, Reilly sees patients who fall through the cracks and suffer harm because they lack one doctor who knows them well and relentlessly advocates for their best interests.Filled with fascinating characters in New York City and rural New England — people with dark secrets, mysterious illnesses, impossible dreams, and many kinds of courage — One Doctor tells their stories with sensitivity and empathy, reminding us of professional values once held dear by all physicians. But medicine has changed enormously during Reilly’s career, for both better and worse, and One Doctor is a cautionary tale about those changes. It is also a hopeful, inspiring account of medicine’s potential to improve people’s lives, Reilly’s quest to understand the "truth" about doctoring, and a moving testament to the difference one doctor can make.

Unnatural Causes: The Life and Many Deaths of Britain's Top Forensic Pathologist


Richard Shepherd - 2018
    When death is sudden or unexplained, it falls to Shepherd to establish the cause. Each post-mortem is a detective story in its own right - and Shepherd has performed over 23,000 of them. Through his skill, dedication and insight, Dr Shepherd solves the puzzle to answer our most pressing question: how did this person die?From serial killer to natural disaster, 'perfect murder' to freak accident, Shepherd takes nothing for granted in pursuit of truth. And while he's been involved in some of the most high-profile cases of recent times, it's often the less well known encounters that prove the most perplexing, intriguing and even bizarre. In or out of the public eye, his evidence has put killers behind bars, freed the innocent and turned open-and-shut cases on their heads.But a life in death, bearing witness to some of humanity's darkest corners, exacts a price and Shepherd doesn't flinch from counting the cost to him and his family.

Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and the Making of a Medical Examiner


Judy Melinek - 2014
    Judy Melinek began her training as a New York City forensic pathologist. With her husband T.J. and their toddler Daniel holding down the home front, Judy threw herself into the fascinating world of death investigation, performing autopsies, investigating death scenes, counseling grieving relatives. Working Stiff chronicles Judy's two years of training, taking readers behind the police tape of some of the most harrowing deaths in the Big Apple, including a firsthand account of the events of September 11, the subsequent anthrax bio-terrorism attack, and the disastrous crash of American Airlines flight 587.Lively, action-packed, and loaded with mordant wit, Working Stiff offers a firsthand account of daily life in one of America's most arduous professions, and the unexpected challenges of shuttling between the domains of the living and the dead. The body never lies, and through the murders, accidents, and suicides that land on her table, Dr. Melinek lays bare the truth behind the glamorized depictions of autopsy work on shows like CSI and Law and Order to reveal the secret story of the real morgue.