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Something for the Pain: Compassion and Burnout in the ER Paperback – September 8, 2009
"When Breath Becomes Air" by Paul Kalanithi
For readers of Atul Gawande, Andrew Solomon, and Anne Lamott, a profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question - What makes a life worth living? Learn more | See related books
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
“Austin gives a stunning account of the chaos of the emergency room, the constant drama of urgent situations calling for immediate and decisive action. He pulls us inside the chronic exhaustion ER docs fight against and fully engages us in the difficult juggling doctors do.” (Boston Sunday Globe)
More About the Author
It turns out, that working rotating shifts in a busy ER can make you, and the people around you, miserable. Paul had to learn, sometimes the hard way, that he had to take care of himself in order to take care of his family and patients.
Paul was thrilled when "Something For the Pain," was selected for Durham Reads Together, a program sponsered by the Durham Public Library, in which the entire community is encouraged to read the same book. The program runs from October 3 to November 1, 2009. For further information please visit the Durham Public Library Website.
Please also visit Paul's website: www.paulethanaustin.com
Top Customer Reviews
In "Something for the Pain", Dr. Austin exams cases that bothered him, but rather than examine exactly what when wrong with the case, he examines how that case made him feel and why. Not just medically, but mentally as well. He also takes a deep and very honest look into how his job created problems with his home life. Along the way we get an insight into life in an ER.
During a volunteer career as a firefighter, with a stint in ambulances, I can state that the book not only sounds true, but caused my nerves to twitch just a little. He hit some feeling and emotions dead on, and I have to admit that I hoped these were feelings I had buried. His discussion of treating drunks was as close to real as I have ever seen.
This is a wonderful book with a lot of insight to offer. My only complaint was that the chapters didn't line up chronologically, so when I was trying to compare work with his home relationships, I occasionally had problems. This is a pretty simple thing and could be fixed by changing the chapter order. Overall, an excellent read and maybe a book we all need to read before we get caught in the machinery of the ER.
The title led me to belief the focus would be on Dr. Austin's hospital cases, but the book was split between his career and his family. In theory, that's even better, because it interests me to know how people in stressful jobs learn to cope and keep their personal lives together.
The problem is that the book is short and by the end I don't feel like either aspect is fleshed out. Dr. Austin wisely tried to connect the joint focuses by pairing the ER stories with how they resonate with his life outside of the hospital, but there was just not enough room to really do either full justice.
There are two really potentially good books here that could have combined into one great one, but neither tale was detailed enough to lead to a fully satisfying experience.
A theme of the book is the author's struggle to find a balance between compassion and professional distance. It's a great topic. However, his writing voice errs on the side of detachment, and there is a feeling that he's still protecting himself from feeling too much. I don't know this is the case, but the tone comes across as if the doctor more than the man is in the writer's chair.
I'm glad I read this book, I admire the writer, and I would love to hear/read more about his experiences, but this particular book didn't quite meet my expectations from when I selected it, nor did it become the even better book that it wanted to be.
Yet, for Paul Austin, becoming an ER doc was a no-brainer. He enjoys the adrenaline fueled atmosphere of the emergency room, the ability to employ his considerable skills to diagnose and treat people from all walks of life with a wide variety of complaints, and the chance to work with a team of close-knit colleagues. "Night is the time when lucky people get to sleep." For him, night and day became interchangeable, increasing the likelihood that he would miss vital clues and make errors in judgment. He prayed that he would "make it to daylight without hurting someone."
The author gives us valuable insight into how his irregular schedule affected his family. We get to know his supportive wife, Sally, and his children, one of whom has Down syndrome. Austin's medical anecdotes are a familiar list of the wide variety of mishaps and illnesses that can befall a human being: a woman with recurring headaches could have a potentially fatal condition; a violent drunk threatens his doctors and nurses and refuses to participate in his care; a pregnant teenager appears to be on the verge of miscarrying; a man comes in experiencing chest pains, but it is unclear whether or not he should be admitted. Fortunately, there are many routine cases that are easy to treat, such as a broken arm or an ear infection.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book was not at all what I thought it would be. I thought I was buying a book with dramatic stories from the ER. This book is so much better than that. Dr. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Z. Z.
I found this book to be an engaging and eye opening book. What I enjoyed most was that it went beyond the medical realm and into his personality and lifestyle, which is why I... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Philippe Brunelle
Great book! Loved the story and emotional transparency Dr. Austin provides. Heart warming to read. Can't wait to read the next onePublished 8 months ago by Lauren
I love this book. Ive had it on my bookcase for several years plus now but randomly picked it up today and am almost done. ( Day off! Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a walk in the footsteps of a conscientious and caring Dr., husband, and father. He writes in vivid detail, bringing the scenes to life and allowing us to peek over his... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Kindle Customer