Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Year They Tried to Kill Me by Salvatore Iaquinta

The Year They Tried to Kill Me
by Salvatore Iaquinta, MD
2012
*****
5 stars - let's just say, good thing I read this on my day off because I couldn't stop once started
ALR Blue - all people


YES! What a wonderful book! I'm considering keeping it for my collection (I had to buy it as it was not in the library network). Of course, I could donate it and then take it out again later, maybe, we'll see.

Anyway, what's it all about? The Year They Tried to Kill Me is Dr. Iaquinta's memoir about his first year of surgical residency in Oakland California. Sleep deprivation, goofy patients, goofy doctors, odd ailments, it's all there. Also some sad stuff.

What makes this work is Dr. Iaquinta's writing style. Sure, we learn a lot about how residency programs work and even a little about surgery, but we also learn about how it feels to be in the middle of all that and how patients can make doctors feel. 

Sure, you want your surgeon to be God, right? But at the end of the day, he or she is a human being. A human being who sometimes laughs at inappropriate jokes, gets impatient, fumbles, and, most of the time, gets things right.

Here's a nice tidbit to give you an idea of the style. Dr. Iaquinta is describing his response to one of the senior physicians.

Franklin continued to try and burrow under my skin. Whenever he admonished Evan and me, he focused only on me. I think he wanted me to shoot my mouth off so he could let loose a satisfying berating. But I didn't give him that pleasure. Instead, I learned to look at him blankly with my mouth hanging open as if I were too dumb to know how to breathe through my nose. I ensured that I looked like an idiot by not blinking while also focusing my eyes a foot behind him.

Hey! Has this guy been studying me? That's the same way I treat doofus heads at work. 

On his first laproscopic surgery:

I couldn't believe the fools were letting me do this operation. Sure, I'd been through medical school, but I'd never practiced sticking long instruments into a patient's abdominal cavity. One wrong move and I could poke into their liver or perforate their bowel. That would end the fun real quick for both of us.

There are some serious moments, too. Never fear. It's clear Dr. Iaquinta cares about his patients. He frets when he can't help or worries that he might have made a wrong decision. He's also honest about the toll residency takes on one's personal life. 

Final note. This book is self-published, so buy it, OK? Maybe if he sells enough copies he'll get the attention of a publisher and be encouraged to write some more. In the meantime, you can like his Facebook page here

1 comment:

  1. My daughter is a nurse, and dating a medical resident. I ought to read this, just to have something to say to Matt the next time she drags him here. His writing style sounds great, too.

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