Office Upstairs:: A Doctor's Journey (American Heritage) 1st Edition
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He started out in the black-bag era when specialization wasn't common and many doctors did it all. He opened his first practice during his Navy medical service, moonlighting in a jerkwater Texas town. And he's still at it a half century later, having specialized in allergies and travelled the world in the course of his practice.
I found many stories here moving or funny.
--Being entertained at a totally empty restaurant with his fiancee by a major gangster whose mouth he'd sewn up;
--Treating the working girls sent to his practice by a madam in a nearby town; and
--Being called to the house one day of a doyenne of Charleston society. Eighty-eight years old, she was jumping up and down on her bed stark naked, swearing repeatedly with the only two swear words she actually knew. It proved be an insulin overdose causing extremely low blood sugar, treatable with orange juice.
--The charity case of a 3 year old girl retarded girl, until then written off to a state group home, whose mental state dramatically improved when Dr. Banov treated her asthma. She grew to lead a normal and productive life involving job, marriage and kids - a patient he still sees.
--The Banovs' experience raising their autistic fourth child. Life's most difficult medical challenges do not spare doctors' families.
And some of it is just plain interesting. He and his wife served as unwitting stage dressing on an espionage mission to the Soviet Union. During it he and another surgeon snuck away for an unchaperoned visit to a Soviet synagogue, where elderly congregants risked their lives to tell the doctors how Jews were persecuted there. They later asked their official guides to let them visit the synagogue, where they were greeted with a Potemkin congregation of happy, smiling congregants - all planted by the KGB. No less exciting was being kidnapped and held for ransom, along with his Merchant Marine crewmates, by Venezuelan terrorists.
Banov's perspective on growing up Jewish in the South is quite absorbing, a way different perspective from the stickball-in-New-York background more common to his generation.
There is virtually nothing here about HMOs, insurance companies, government regulations, malpractice lawyers or today's other grim medical realities. Quite refreshingly, this is about people.
Dr. Banov possesses a certain wisdom gained from life as a doctor, one you hope all doctors have - that the human touch is the most important element of medicine, not replaceable by all the technology in the world.
During his career as in intern and he was called upon to make decisions not included in his field of expertise like Ob-Gyn work and cardiac problems. He talks about his travels in other places, in one such place he went he was kidnapped by South American revolutionaries. He was helping patients in crisis during Hurricanes Hugo and Katrina and was involved without his knowledge, in espionage action during the Cold War. Dr. Banov makes no bones how much he loves his wife and their two sons who are doctors and the daughter who has Rhett's syndrome. He is a Marcus Welby M.D. who cares about his patients and people in general, working through government agencies to get things that need taken care of done Anyone reading this book will want this man as their doctor.
Told in a breezy style, filled with anecdotes, humor and picturesque events, OFFICE UPSTAIRS is a memoir of a doctor filled with fear and uncertainly but somehow always getting the job done.
I think young doctor's/med students should read a book or two like Dr. Banov's so they can understand the importance of perspective; both in the moment and over time.
I wish I had a physician like Dr. Banov!