A retired ob-gyn shares the personal drama, tragedy and comedy that he’s seen arise through patients’ medical issues in this insightful, impressive autobiography.
Siegel’s sensitively written book spans his entire medical school experience and career. Peppered throughout the chronology are numerous vignettes of cases that demonstrate the many challenges he faced toward seeking positive outcomes. He also chronicles his personal sacrifices and struggles.
The author’s residency took place at a hospital in a rough part of Brooklyn, where he saw more than his share of difficult cases, from a dangerous ectopic pregnancy to the end-stage cervical cancer of a woman in her 40s. In the latter, Siegel recognized the importance of compassion and empathy in sharing the news that she was terminal. “People like Lilly must not go unappreciated, unnoticed, unrecognized, and unmemorialized [sic] like a passing breeze,” He writes.
Siegel was in private practice from 1980 to 2008 in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, working long hours on little sleep and severely compromising family time while taking on patients with issues such as incest-related venereal disease, pelvic infections, difficult cesarean births and ovarian cancer. Through it all, he was driven by “adrenalin, responsibility, motivation and duty.”
The author writes in an engaging narrative voice and has a literary flair for description (“Entering the brain of a dead person felt like invading an unguarded vault of memories . . .”) while moving from one absorbing, heart-wrenching or memorable experience to the next. He also has the unique ability to relate complex surgical procedures in words clear to the lay person while giving credence to the critical minutiae of surgical skills necessary to save lives.
Overall, the author’s treatise shares the beauty and truth of one man’s dedication to women’s health care, which should inspire the careers of many an aspiring doctor and enthrall anyone fascinated with medicine.
Also available in hardcover.