Voracious. That’s how I would describe my reading style. From the very beginnings of my lovely life, I have always loved to read. In fact, that’s how I skipped a grade – I was reading chapter books in kindergarten (a little ahead of the curve much?), and I began to split my time between kindergarten and first grade. Two years later, it was decided that I was precocious and apparently socially skilled enough (who knows where on earth they got that idea) and next thing you know, I missed out on the experience that was third grade.
To this day, reading is still one of my favorite activities. That’s all that I do when I’m home! One of my biggest regrets about school is how little time I have for non-academic readings. What a nerd, I know. But if I sat down with a book, I promise you I would get nothing done until I finished that sucker. So this week’s blog post was simultaneously exciting and annoying…. I got to look at fiction books! But…. I got to look at books I wanted to but knew I couldn’t read because otherwise I’d not do my work, fail my classes, and not graduate. Great.
So, this afternoon found me reluctantly heading towards the fiction section on the first floor. The first book to catch my eye was Monday Morning, written by Sanjay Gupta, MD. The cover is mostly black with a large white font, which made it stand out from the rest of the books with picturesque scenes of trees or lakes or other romantic sappy things. When I looked closer, I almost left it; I saw that it was written by a real doctor, who apparently is also the Chief Medical Correspondent to CNN. I’ll be honest, I want nothing to do with dry medical reports, especially if it’s all gonna be bad news. But then I saw the “a novel” line and I was instantly intrigued. A real doctor who is also a reporter who wrote fiction? Wait… what?
I glanced at the inside cover to find a synopsis which goes a little something like this: “Every time surgeons operate, they’re betting their skills are better than the brain tumor, the faulty heart valve, the fractured femur. Sometimes, they’re wrong. At Chelsea General, surgeons answer for bad outcomes at the Morbidity and Mortality conference, known as M & M. This extraordinary peek behind the curtain into what is considered the most secretive meeting in all of medicine is the back drop for the entire book.
Monday Mornings, by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, follows the lives of five surgeons at Chelsea General as they push the limits of their abilities and confront their personal and professional failings, often in front of their peers at M & M. It is on Monday mornings that reflection and introspection occurs, usually in private. It is Monday Mornings that provides a unique look at the real method in which surgeons learn – through their mistakes. It is Monday Mornings when, if you’re lucky, you have a chance at redemption.” (Amazon.com‘s book description.)
I was hooked. I couldn’t quite figure out if it was fiction, non-fiction, or some strange mix of the two, so I flipped to a random middle page. In this section, a doctor was heading into the M&M conference described above: seems he had let a swastika-tattooed patient, who the doctor knew had shot and killed his own grandmother because she wouldn’t loan him $20, die on the operating table. On purpose. Ethics discussion, anyone?
In the few pages I then skimmed, the doctor is called in, with everyone (the doctor himself as well) expecting the doctor to protest otherwise, accept the slap on the wrist since no one can prove he did it on purpose, and walk away. However, the doctor finds a change of heart, and shockingly admits to it. “I did it, okay? I did it!”, he yells. Talk about bravado. The conference members begin to clap and the scene ends, only to switch to some drama-filled romantic conversation that I lost interest in. I flipped to the beginning of the book, which starts off with a dramatic operating room scene, but quickly had to put the book down as I am extremely squeamish and this book does not skimp out on bloody details.
Would I read it? Probably not, I can’t handle blood. Would I recommend it? Yes! It sounds super interesting. I’m just a wuss. And I love that I flipped open the book to a scene that is taken almost directly from one of our “what would you do?” conversations. Would you have let that kid die? He was clearly a “bad” person – Nazi sympathizer, shot his own grandmother. What would you do if you were on that M&M conference? Would you fire the doctor? Or sympathize with the surgeon?