Tag Archives: Medical

It’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me by Kristy Chambers

Overview

Title: It’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me
Author: Kristy Chambers
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Humour, Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2014

Thoughts

We may have made leaps and bounds in our understanding, but mental health is still a pretty hard topic to broach. There is so much stigma remaining and it can be hard to convey what its like to live with a mental health issue to someone who has never had one. Which is why whenever I see a book that talks about it openly and honestly, I’m pretty quick to jump on it. The fact that I’ve JUST read another book by Kristy Chambers that I thoroughly enjoyed made me dive into this with much more excitement and impatience than I normally would.

Combining travel narratives with mental health just helped to draw me in further and further. I’ll be the first to admit that I am a pretty major home body. So I do love to live vicariously through other people’s travel adventures. I loved doing this with Chambers. She is so damn honest and sassy that you got the ugly alongside the good. Which is what travel is all about.

Throughout every chapter and adventure, Chambers draws back to her mental health and numerous breakdowns. Yet, where this could feel quite serious and negative, she talks about it in such an open and honest manner that you end up laughing. It takes a special someone to talk about their mental health. It takes someone even more special to joke about it with such abandon. Definitely my kind of woman.

I loved, loved, loved this book. It was that perfect blend of travel adventure and realistic recountings of the trials that this entails. Mental health and depression are unabashedly talked about and often joked about. And there’s even a beautiful happy ending that makes you want to read MORE about Chambers’ life, but content if you can’t do so.

<- Get Well Soon!An Appetite for Wonder ->

Image source: Booktopia

Get Well Soon! by Kristy Chambers

Overview

Title: Get Well Soon! My (un)Brilliant Career as a Nurse
Author: Kristy Chambers
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Australian authors, Humour, Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Fast
Format: Novel
Year: 2012

Thoughts

Nursing is a career path and life choice that holds a lot of fascination for me. It’s such a powerful thing to do, but I honestly can’t imagine dealing with people’s shit (both literally and figuratively) like that. I also have a couple of girlfriends who are nurses I’m different fields, so understanding their day to say lives is also enthralling.

Chambers manages to write about a pretty hectic and serious career with an amazing amount of sass and humour. I particularly like when she points out that ultimately her decision between teaching and nursing came down to who do I hate less, teenagers or sick people… and teenagers are assholes. It’s a sentiment that had me laughing out loud.

Alongside all of the wit and humour throughout this, there are some pretty powerful emotional moments. It’s a start reminder of the intensity of this kind of career. But, also a brilliant way to highlight how some people are able to deal with the horrors of a fairly intense career path.

This is one if those memoirs that I will read again and again. It has my preferred level of dry, witty humour; plenty of sass; and a subject matter that ceaselessly fascinates me. I may have read this through my kobo plus account, but its going on my wish list for a physical copy too…

<- Rolling with the PunchlinesIt’s Not You, Geography, It’s Me ->

Image source: BookDepository

Confessions of a School Nurse by Michael Alexander

Overview

Title: Confessions of a School Nurse
Author: Michael Alexander
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2015

Thoughts

After reading through Confessions of a Male Nurse, I knew that I needed to get Confessions of a School Nurse. I did start reading a book on Thredbo (Survival) before I actually put this onto my Kobo. But then I couldn’t stop myself from also picking up this book. And, because it is such a great and easy read, I managed to read this before I’d even finished the first chapter of the other books that I had started… I mean, there is something kind of humorous about the fixes that people find themselves in in the medical world. And there is just a sweetness about Alexander that I can’t get enough of.

Having never been to boarding school, or come from the kind of money that Alexander talks about in this novel, I was transported into a whole new world. One that I’ve only imagined from some of the more ridiculous movies that I’ve watched. This might have taken me a little step closer to such an unfathomable world. But, honestly, that’s as close as I ever want to get. It was most definitely an interesting world to step into for a few hours, but one that I found a little terrifying. Although, I suppose that those who Alexander sees and writes about are the extremes – there’s no point in writing about the boring, everyday occurrences now, is there?

Not only did this memoir give me an insight into what it is like being a school nurse and treating children in a boarding school, it also gave me insight into the school system and realities for some people in Europe. Actually, a lot of the different students and people that are discussed in this novel are from the Northern Hemisphere. A totally different life to immerse myself in, one that I enjoyed doing so. I  mean, a lot of my  memoirs lately are based around some pretty horrific moments in modern history, so it was nice to read about something that was a little lighter and fluffier.

As with Confessions of a Male Nurse, I absolutely adored this novel. It was fun and engaging. A little lighter than the other memoirs I have on the go at the moment and just, generally fun. Definitely the kind of memoir that I will be buying a physical copy of. And one that I look forward to sharing and recommending to others.

<- Confessions of a Male NurseWorking Class Boy ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

Confessions of a Male Nurse by Michael Alexander

Overview

Title: Confessions of a Male Nurse
Author: Michael Alexander
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs, Nursing
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Year: 2012

Thoughts

I’ve definitely been on a bit of a medical memoir kick lately. Maybe because I recently had major surgery and have a whole new appreciation for what it’s like to be a patient. And a whole lot of love for the staff that made a potentially traumatic moment into something that was good and I can think of fondly. Regardless of why, as soon as I saw this title in my Kobo Plus section, I knew it was a book I wanted to read.

Any nurse memoirs is going to be interesting – they do tend to have a whole lot more patient interaction than doctors when it comes to hospitals. But I was intrigued to read about interactions that involved a male nurse. After all, a different gender is going to have different experiences. Add in the fact that the man’s a Kiwi and I was sold.

I love how Alexander separated each of the sections if this memoir into the different areas if nursing he’s worked in. It gives a common theme to each section that creates a more cohesive narrative from some very disjointed stories. It was also interesting that alcohol related issues are so predominant within his work life that he created a whole section just on alcohol abuse. It’s a good reminder to imbibe responsibly.

After reading Get Well Soon and thoroughly enjoying it, I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy another nursing memoir so thoroughly. It was a pretty tough act to follow. But, luckily for me, I most definitely did. This wasn’t quite as sassy, but wonderfully open and honest. With just the right amount of dry, what the hell humour thrown in.

<- The Zookeeper’s WifeConfessions of a School Nurse ->

Image source: HarperCollins Australia

The Answer to the Riddle is Me by David Stuart MacLean

Overview

Title: The Answer to the Riddle is Me: A Tale of Amnesia
Author: David Stuart MacLean
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs, Mental health
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Year: 2014

Thoughts

Finishing this, my first thought was… WOW. Followed closely by holy crap. And finally by just a fleeting feeling of fear. I mean, we’re talking about a medication with known side effects that changed this man’s life forever. Completely. Totally. And maybe not tragically now, 10 years later, but most definitely at the time. And with our current global climate? Yeah, that is guaranteed to give you a little fear if you’re sane.

At first I, admittedly, struggled a little to get into this. Partly because what was happening just felt so ridiculously outlandish. I mean, I just can’t even fathom the confusion and mental gymnastics that such a rude awakening would leave you with. I have enough trouble dealing with my OWN reality (but don’t we all?) let alone being given realities that aren’t even true. It definitely makes your heart squeeze painfully.

Then, I found the first part difficult because of the jumpiness of the writing. It was incredibly important – without this style and confusion I don’t think MacLean would have been able to impart the horrors and confusion of those first moments in India. But it was incredibly hard to read. Maybe because I work with people who have similar realities at times, and it was honestly confronting and difficult to read.

Yet, I also found this book impossible to put down. For all the moments that made me uncomfortable, I also felt more and more intrigued. After all, if we don’t push our boundaries, particularly in our reading, how are we going to grow? The Answer to the Riddle is Me not only told a pretty damn intense story of hospitalisation, amnesia and mental health. It also bought up issues of identity and self. It highlighted how important our past is to the present and how easy it can be to lose this.

<- Full BlownHeart Berries ->

Image source: Goodreads

How to Grow a Baby by Clemmie Hooper

Overview
How to Grow a Baby and Push It Out: A guide to pregnancy and birth straight  from the midwife's mouth: Hooper, Clemmie: 9781785040382: Amazon.com: Books

Title: How to Grow a Baby
Author: Clemmie Hooper
Rating Out of 5: 2.5 (Readable, but not worth reading again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 17th August – 21st October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Vermilion
Year: 2017
5th sentence, 74th page: It is around 37.5cm long (from head to toe, but it is curled up inside you).

Synopsis

Everything you wanted to know but were too embarrassed to ask – a guide to pregnancy and birth straight from the midwife’s mouth.

Mum to four and midwife to many, Clemmie Hooper wants to share her knowledge, wisdom and stories about pregnancy and birth. Based around the time of your antenatal appointments, she’ll guide you through each crucial stage of pregnancy as well as fully preparing you for labour, birth and beyond. From how to prevent tearing to what you really need in your hospital bag, Clemmie reveals everything pregnant women need to know with a good dose of humour and wit.

Thoughts

Probably not one of my favourite pregnancy books of late. I think partly that was because this was very UK based, and it was a little more decisive in advice than others. Plus, Up the Duff was amazing, and I don’t think much actually compares to it.

Having said that, I didn’t mind this book. It was interesting and did have some good information. Just not much that is pertinent to me. I mean, I’m Australian, it makes somethings hard to relate to in a UK based book.

Regardless of the fact that I didn’t necessarily love this, it was still worth the read. Still a book that I enjoyed and found some useful information in.

I’ll probably flick through this book another few times our if interests sake. But, not one I feel the need to ever read cover to cover again.

<- More pregnancyMore medical ->

Image source: Amazon

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Overview
When Breath Becomes Air: Kalanithi, Paul: 9781784701994: Books - Amazon.ca

Title: When Breath Becomes Air
Author: Paul Kalanithi
Rating Out of 5: 4.5 (Amazing, but not quite perfect)
My Bookshelves: Death, Medical, Memoirs
Dates read: 2nd – 13th October 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Novel
Publisher: Vintage Books
Year: 2016
5th sentence, 74th page: The surgeon got to work, passed a small endoscope through Matthew’s nose, and drilled off the floor of his skull.

Synopsis

What do you do when life is catastrophically interrupted?
What does it mean to have a child as your own life fades away? 8 What makes life worth living in the face of death

At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, the next he was a patient struggling to live.

When Breath Becomes Air chronicles Kalanithi’s transformation from a medical student in search of what makes a virtuous and meaningful life into a neurosurgeon working in the core of human identity – the brain – and finally into a patient and new father.

Thoughts

I knew that I was probably going to shed at least a few tears at the end of this book. I mean, it’s a book written by a man who is terminally ill. It’s going to make you cry. I didn’t quite expect how much I cried though. Partly because I didn’t think that it would be the epilogue written by Kalanithi’s wife that would really set me off… maybe not the best book to read when you’re pregnant and hormonal.

When Breath Becomes Air is incredibly humbling. It is filled with reminders that your world can change in a moment and everything you worked towards can just be ripped away. Yet, even though Paul was writing this in his final months and knew what was coming for him, he writes in such a way that you feel… at peace with his fate. Having been around numerous people with a terminal illness, reading about someone who faced their diagnosis head on like this… as I said, humbling.

The first part of this memoir focuses on Kalanithi’s decision to become a neuroscientist. About his constant battle to find a meaning in life where he isn’t entirely sure there is one. I love that he talks about his love for both literature and science. And how instead of being independent of each other (an assumption I’ve often come up against), they build upon one another. You can feel the passion for both fields streaming off the page as you read about Kalanithi’s numerous experiences and a life well lived.

This is one of those amazing memoirs that makes you feel… well, everything. It definitely left me feeling a little bit raw. But, mostly it just made me feel humble and aware of all of my own faults. But not in a bad way. I know that I couldn’t go through a terminal diagnosis like Kalanithi with the kind of calm and grace that he shows. And it’s kind of nice to read the words of someone who actually was capable of doing so.

<- Lab GirlIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) ->

Image source: Amazon

Expecting Better by Emily Oster

Overview
Expecting Better, Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom is Wrong and What  You Really Need to Know by Emily Oster | 9781409177920 | Booktopia

Title: Expecting Better
Author: Emily Oster
Rating Out of 5: 3.5 (Liked this)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Non-fiction, Pregnancy
Dates read: 17th August – 25th September 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text, Novel
Publisher: Orion Spring
Year: 2013
5th sentence, 74th page: In one study the miscarriage rate was 4.4 percent for women under 20, 6.7 percent for women 20 to 35 and almost 19 percent for women over 35.

Synopsis

Award-winning economist Emily Oster debunks myths about pregnancy to empower women while they’re expecting.

When Oster was expecting her first child, she felt powerless to make the right decisions for her pregnancy, so she drew on her own experience and went in search of the real facts – by using an economist’s tool.

In Expecting Better she overturns standard recommendations for:

  • alcohol
  • caffeine
  • sush
  • bed rest
  • miscarriage
  • induction

She also puts into context the blanket guidelines for antenatal testing, weight gain, risks of pregnancy over the age of thirty-five, and nausea, among others.

Thoughts

This was an incredibly unique take and spin on the whole pregnancy thing. Most of the time it out and out disagreed with what we see as the conventional wisdom. And, whilst I may not agree with everything in this, I was most definitely intrigued with the ideas and discussions set forth.

Although I didn’t necessarily agree with everything in this book, I did love how the evidence was presented. That, and the fact that as Oster pointed out, everyone has different cost / benefit analyses and so should be equally educated. It also made me feel better about the little bit of caffeine I consume every week in my one or two coffees… that alone made me incredibly happy.

I also loved that throughout this Oster used numbers to weigh up the evidence. I may not be great at doing statistical analysis, but I am good at understanding it and using this to weigh up my decision making. In fact, there’s been a few more controversial topics / decisions in my pregnancy which have used pretty much the same system.

All in all, I found this to be a very, very worthwhile buy. As I said, there were some things I just didn’t agree with, but as Oster points out, she looked at the numbers and made her decision. I (or her friends) look at them and make another choice. It certainly made me feel a lot more settled and comfortable in my pregnancy decision making.

<- More pregnancy booksMore medical books ->

Image source: Booktopia

The Gap by Benjamin Gilmour

Overview
The Gap by Benjamin Gilmour - Penguin Books Australia

Title: The Gap
Author: Benjamin Gilmour
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Medical, Memoirs, Mental health
Dates read: 22nd – 25th August 2021
Pace: Medium
Format: Novel
Publisher: Viking
Year: 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: I lean down beside our patient and speak in a whisper so no one will hear.

Synopsis

Benjamin Gilmour has been a paramedic for more than twenty years. He has seen his fair share of drama. But the summer of 2008 remains etched in his memory for the very worst reasons.

In this riveting memoir, Gilmour recounts the call-outs that summer: some dangerous, some gruesome, some downright ridiculous. And we meet fellow paramedic John who, they say, can get a laugh out of everyone except the dead. As they city heats up, however, even John begins to lose his sense of humour. People are unravelling – and Benjamin and John are no exception.

The Gap is a vivid portrait of the lead-up to Christmas; an unflinching, no-holds-barred look at what happens after the triple-zero call is made – the drugs, nightclubs, brothels, drunk rich kids, billionaires, domestic disputes, the elderly, emergency births, even a kidnapping. Patients share their innermost feelings, and we witness their loneliness, their despair and their hopes. 88 BB Beautifully written and sharply observed, The Gap exposes the fragility of our lives and the lengths that paramedics will go to try to save us.

Thoughts

I honestly just bought this because I needed a book with an ambulance on the cover. I really didn’t expect this to be such an amazing emotional rollercoaster ride. It was just… words can’t describe. I just don’t have the words to describe what it felt like to read this book. There’s such a potent emotional ride that had me reading this story until late in the night. Bated breath and eyes burning.

I knew that being a paramedic is an incredibly mentally taxing career. I know a few people who work in the field and the mental toll that it can take on a person. But, Gilmour’s words add a whole other layer of context to this reality. It provides faces and personalities to an issue that we all know is there. Provides a face to the trials, tribulations and tragedies of paramedics and those working within the health sector. It also kind of broke my heart throughout as I read about the daily life and experiences of Benjamin and his partners.

The title didn’t really mean much to me at the beginning of this novel. I mean, cool, it’s called The Gap, but that meant literally nothing to my brain. Then I read the opening paragraphs – and the title began to make much more sense. Which wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I mean, you knew some of this was going to be a tough read because it’s about a day in the life of a paramedic. When there is a spot that he is frequently called to that is known for suicides…it’s going to be a whole new kettle of fish and difficulties.

I’ve been on a good run of books lately. Read a few that, once I close the final page, I just lie there, staring at the ceiling. This was most definitely one of them. Although Gilmour deals with the very serious issues of mental health and wellbeing, there is humour and light throughout his words. Some incredibly difficult real world realities are faced up to, but they are paired off with some of the more ridiculous adventures of the paramedics. It shows you that whenever there is dark, you can also find some light.

<- CommittedTalking as Fast as I Can ->

Image source: Penguin Books Australia

Gray’s Anatomy by Henry Gray

Overview
Barnes and Noble | Grays Anatomy | Henry Gray P.R.S — Heebie Jeebies

Title: Gray’s Anatomy
Author: Henry Gray
Rating Out of 5: 3 (On the fence about this one)
My Bookshelves: Classics, MedicalNon-fiction
Dates read: 18th February – 11th May 2021
Pace: Slow
Format: Non-fictional text
Publisher: Barnes and Noble Leatherbound
Year: 1858
5th sentence, 74th page: When a small quantity can be collected, it is found to resemble lymph, and like tha tfluid coagulates sponatneously; but when secreted in large quanities, as in dropsy, it is a more watery fluid, but still contains a considerable amount of proteid which is coagulated on boiling.

Synopsis

No longer need you search through second-hand bookstores for a scarce, used copy of this grandfather of all anatomy books. It is here in this unabridged facsimile of the 1901 edition — with a full 1,257 pages and 827 illustrations!

Thoughts

I started reading this because I wanted to understand a bit more about human anatomy for my Jiu Jitsu. I mean, how else can you figure out how best to bend people and make them tap if you don’t know how bodies work? It didn’t necessarily quite work that way. But it was still a supremely interesting read.

The language in this is hard going. Which is kind of expected, because it is a textbook. And it is most definitely of the sort that I will have to read again and again to even get a drop of the knowledge in this textbook. But, it’s also presented in a way that is actually quite accessible.

Human anatomy has always perplexed and confused me (for whatever reason, animal anatomy makes sense to me when human doesn’t, go figure). So I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of the writing in this went completely over my head. But, I still enjoyed it.

This is an awesome, beautiful book to have on my shelves. The fact that it is the Barnes and Noble Leatherbound edition just makes it all that much prettier and fun. Definitely a book I will flick through again and again.

<- The Complete Sherlock HolmesFairytales from Around the World ->

Image source: Heebie Jeebies