Friday, November 18, 2011

Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years / Dr. Michael J. Collins / 320 pp.

Hot Lights and Cold Steel is the story about a Chicago construction worker who decides to go back to school and become a doctor. He ultimately excels in med school, gets matched to a residency in Orthopedic Surgery at the Mayo Clinic, and becomes Chief Resident.

But the story isn’t about that.

The story is about this unconventional and bright minded doctor in the making who wrestles with all the issues that medical students face, that newly minted doctors face, and that family men face (the author supports a family of five while completing his education).

Each chapter shows more growth and maturation in this professional’s career and making sense of it. Luckily for the reader, his insight is keen and a riot to boot! You’ll laugh out loud in several chapters, and cry in several more.

There’s the chapter on how the author meekly went into his first surgery as an observer, and left the surgery cathartic about a surgeon’s ability to heal, and to make better.

There’s also the chapter on how he battled and beat himself up for removing the cancer-ridden leg of a 17 year old girl, and how profoundly it affected him when she smiled and expressed her gratitude for saving her life.

And I’ll spare you all the fun encounters he ran into with his inebriated patients!

Our orthopedic surgeon writes his story in a way that engages and compels the reader to continue on. The ending came too soon, and had the book been three times the volume with the lessons he learned along his amazing journey, I would have tuned in just as attentively. I found this book through serendipity and wish I could retrace my steps to find other jewels that I may have missed along the way.

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