I planned on starting this book before I went to bed, hoping to get in 50-60 pages before hitting the sack…but little did I know that I made a huge mistake. Dr. Vertosick’s book is nothing short of captivating, I could not put it down until I finished reading it at 1:30 AM. One thing that really caught my eye when I read this book was the great attention to detail, while reading this book it felt as if you were in Dr. Vertosick’s mind feeling what he felt, and seeing what he saw as he progressed from a medical student to a fully fledged neurosurgeon.
The author goes to great lengths to show how much power we place in the hands of doctors, and how a single slip during an aneurysm dissection could lead to catastrophic results. One of my favorite lines from the book was “the only minor operation is one that someone else is doing. If you’re doing it, it’s major.” I think this line from the book captures the essence of the book, and the gravity of each of those operations. Dr. Vertosick does a great job of showing how much pressure neurosurgeons are really under, and how often a single mistake can affect one’s mind more than a hundred successes.
The book was extremely moving, as you followed the path of a young neurosurgeon, maturing and growing into an attending physician. From the extremely moving story of Rebecca, an infant with a brain tumor, to the story of Sarah, a woman with determination stronger than steel, and the story of Charles, the ruptured aneurysm almost leading to emotional incarceration. Dr. Vertosick not only recounts the physical and mental challenges that take place along the road, he recalls the emotional trials and challenges that took place. He recalls the time he spent in London during his residency and how that affected him as a physician and his interactions with patients.
This book is a truly unique insight into the world of neurosurgery and the world of medicine. It is a constant roller coaster of emotions, at one moment you will be laughing, and at the next you will be moved to tears by an emotional story of survival or death. Dr. Vertosick does a phenomenal job of showing both the human and robotic sides of medicine, and how difficult the job of a physician actually is. His portrayal of a surgical psychopath and how easy it is to become one in the field is eye opening. After reading this book you gain a profound insight into the real world of neurosurgery and medicine in general.
I would highly recommend that everyone read this book, it was a pleasure to read, and I think anyone remotely interested in the field of medicine should read this book, future doctors and patient alike. Everyone should read this book and understand the true pressure that doctors are often under. I think that it is fitting to end this post with a final quote from the book and rule number one of neurosurgery “You ain’t never the same when the air hits your brain.”
You can find the book on Amazon by clicking this link: When the Air Hits Your Brain: Tales from Neurosurgery