An epic story told by a unique voice in American medicine, One Doctor describes life-changing experiences in the career of a distinguished physician. 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.
Live a simple and temperate life, that you may give all your powers to your profession. Medicine is a jealous mistress; she will be satisfied with no less.
Sir William Osler (1904)
Despite this famous advice from a legendary physician, most doctors don't live a simple life. All of us, seduced at an early age by Osler's mistress, conduct our own lifelong affair with medicine. This book is about mine.
One Doctor is a true story about real people most of which took place during two weeks in the winter of 2010. It recounts, in sometimes intimate detail, my doctoring of patients in the wards, emergency department, and intensive care unit of a renowned teaching hospital in New York City. These experiences exemplify many of the challenges doctors and patients face today in the dramatic, high-tech world of modern medicine. But doctoring has changed, not just since Osler's time but during my own time, too. For this reason, my story flashes back to ...
"Feelings matter in medicine," Reilly writes, an opinion that pervades this entire work. One Doctor is gutsy and heartfelt, a recommended read for anyone interested not only in modern medicine but also one man's professional and personal journey, as instructive as it is inspirational.
(Reviewed by Suzanne Reeder).
Full Review (834 words).
Somatizationthe conversion of a mental state (such as depression or anxiety) into physical symptomsis extraordinarily common, according to Dr. Brendan Reilly, who writes about it (among other health concerns) in his book One Doctor: Close Calls, Cold Cases, and the Mysteries of Medicine.
This broad medical term encompasses many illnesses, including recognized "somatic symptom and related disorders" described in the fifth, and most recent, edition of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
Somatization affects women and men of all ages and cultures. It's common for people suffering from somatization to complain, over a period of years, of multiple symptoms that have ...
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