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Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside 1st Edition

115 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1400063208
ISBN-10: 1400063205
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The brain is my business," says Connecticut neurosurgeon Firlik. "Many of the brains I encounter have been pushed around by tumors, blood clots, infections, or strokes that have swollen out of control. Some have been invaded by bullets, nails, or even maggots." In these pages, a carpenter with a nail in his left frontal lobe goes home within a day of surgery; a boy develops a raging bacterial meningitis because his New Age mother gave him herbs instead of antibiotics for a routine ear infection; and an infant with hydranencephaly looks cute despite the absence of brain matter in his skull. Along the way, Firlik muses that a healthy brain has the consistency of soft tofu, and she flies solo in the OR for the first time as she saves an 18-year-old victim of a car accident who didn't buckle up. A woman in a male-dominated specialty, Firlik doesn't get worked up over minor things that can be construed as sexist; she finds that handling a patient's anxiety can be more complicated than the surgery itself, and she expects to be sued someday for malpractice. This witty and lucid first book demythologizes a complex medical specialty for those of us who aren't brain surgeons. (On sale May 2)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Katrina Firlik shatters the myth most of us hold of brain surgeons as superheroes: they're merely masters of the trade. Critics agreed that her engaging, witty insight into the profession, her layperson's explanation of complex medical terms and routine surgeries, and her compelling stories more than overshadowed the blood-and-gore factor. A few critics expressed disappointment that Firlik only touched on her challenges as a woman in the field, particularly as the first woman admitted to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's neurosurgery residency program. Others noted some self-indulgent tangents, though she amply covers her personal inspirations. Overall, Another Day provides a fascinating look into the oh-so-routine practices brain surgeons face daily.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (May 2, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400063205
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400063208
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,303,309 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Katrina Firlik is a neurosurgeon-turned-entrepreneur who loves to be on the steep part of the learning curve. She is co-founder and chief medical officer of HealthPrize Technologies. See her author website at and follow her on Twitter @KatrinaFirlik. She lives in Darien, CT and Palm Beach, FL with her husband and daughter. She loves great food, hopes to become an excellent cook one day, and plans to write many more books.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 45 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Katrina Firlik is one of approximately 4,500 neurosurgeons in the United States. Although only five percent are women, the number is growing as more bright and ambitious females enter the field. In her book, "Another Day in the Frontal Lobe," Firlik writes about her seven years of post-medical school training which led to her appointment as Chief Resident of Neurosurgery at the age of thirty-three, and later, to a job in an upscale Connecticut hospital.

After briefly touching on the history of neurosurgery, Firlik discusses the nature of this specialty. It is a combination of science and mechanics. Unlike neurologists and psychologists, both of whom deal with the human brain, it is the neurosurgeon's task to physically heal patients who have blood clots, tumors, and other traumas that afflict the brain and spinal cord. Technical proficiency, accuracy, and speed on the part of the surgeon are all essential if the patient is to survive with minimal impairment.

The book is filled with anecdotes about unusual cases, such as the carpenter who sat placidly in the emergency room with a heavy-duty nail sticking out of his skull, and the child whose mother allowed his routine ear infection to develop into meningitis because she refused to give him antibiotics. Firlik talks about the anatomy and function of the brain clearly, using layman's terms. Squeamish readers should beware, however, since the author describes her cases in graphic detail.

Although Firlik's account is engrossing and informative enough, her writing style is a bit scattered; she routinely jumps from one subject to another. In addition, we never get to know the author very well as a person.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Reader on May 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a mother of a boy who underwent brain surgery (fortunately successful), I was naturally drawn to this title. What I hadn't expected was to find it such a fascinating and fun read. I simply couldn't put the book down. Dr. Firlik is as talented a writer as she obviously is a surgeon (and why not, how many doctors would name Raymond Carver as one of their favorite authors - most I would venture to guess, wouldn't even know his name). I learned a great deal from this book - some of which I was glad I didn't know before my son's surgery. I can't imagine anyone, whether or not they have faced neurosurgery, not enjoying this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By C. Middleton on March 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
It is really becoming quite astonishing to see the sheer amount of medical memoirs or medical autobiographies that have been hitting the book market over the last five to ten years. Having an interest in medical training as a subject and medical history, these memoirs never fail to intrigue and entertain. Another Day in the Frontal Lobe is no exception, and what makes this particular narrative more compelling is the fact that it is written by a woman, a neurosurgeon, where the profession twenty-five years ago was predominately a male domain. This is not the main focus of the text, however, as Firlik proposes, women in the profession have more or less paved the way for up and coming female (neuro) surgeons, making her experience much less troublesome. Similar to many medical memoirs, the narrative begins during the infamous residency period of training, where most of the more meaningful (and horrific) experiences occur for the doctor.

Firlik writes in a light and breezy conversational tone creating the atmosphere for the reader of sitting with her in a café drinking coffee and listening to her expound about her childhood, marriage, medical philosophy, her approach to medicine and how it developed; and her interesting personal philosophy on what life is and how she views the world. I did not expect the depth of a theologian or philosopher, but her `Nature' based views are not surprising in the least coming from a woman of science.

Horror stories are common to this genre but the author only retells a few, focusing more on the neurosurgical methods themselves and how they are developing. One of my favourite chapters is "Tools" where Firlik discusses the relatively new 3-D image-guidance technology where...
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By AJ Trivedi on June 4, 2006
Format: Hardcover
In this excellent book, shaped as a memoir, Dr. Firlik somehow manages to do several things at once - paint a genuine yet engaging picture both of the neurosurgical profession and her own life, present her well thought out opinions on several related issues like end of life treatment v.s. quality of death, religion, evolution and the future of neurosurgery and medicine (without being forceful about them, backed by interesting references) and even offers advice to patients on what to expect from and how to deal with doctors. The book is a great read and I am thankful to the author for helping me vicariously live the life of a neurosurgeon and experience almost everything associated with it.
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kate Ahmad on October 5, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a reader in a similar field to the author, I was hoping to read this book and be able to relate to the stories presented. Unfortunately this was not the case. I found the anecdotes and personal opinions rather embarrassing and narcissistic. The author expressed thoughts that some doctors may have fleetingly, but are able to self censor.
There are many other good biographies and collections by medical practitioners full of humanity, humility and far more information. Try Oliver Sacks as recommended by the author!
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