Monday, March 26, 2007

Book Review..Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures

Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures.Vincent Lam.Anchor Canada.2005.337pages.
Rather than a novel,this is a series of related short series.It traces the path of a group of doctors from their med school days to various episodes in their careers such as emergency and delivery room duty through to dealing with S.A.R.S.

The author is an emergency physician and brings his medical knowledge and experience to bear.This provides a base of realism and background detail to the stories. Theres a small useful medical glossary at the back if you are unsure of the various procedures and drugs being described.Thats not to say that the book is overwhelmingly technical,its more a book about relationships.Relationships between the med students,between doctors and patients both live and dead.Between doctors and patients families and other professionals such as law enforcement authorities.It also raises thoughts about the decisions and pressures on doctors to perform,both professionally and in their personal lives.

Some of the stories and images are memorable.Theres an early story about the students and the cadaver they dissect.The initial incisions are described thus"Flesh gripped the blade and through the handle Sri felt its texture-thick and chalky".(pg 35)
A later story involves the description of a problematic delivery.Its an anxious piece as the writer uses the rise and fall of the fetal heart monitor rate to ramp up the tension.There are also some nice turns of phrases.."The birth of a baby,the death of pregnancy".(pg.223)
All in all an interesting take on modern medicine and an "arresting" read (pun intended).

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