Tag Archives: surgery

Sacks, Oliver. A Leg to Stand On

leg leg3d

When Oliver Sacks, a physician by profession, injured his leg while climbing a mountain, he found himself in an unusual position – that of patient. The injury itself was severe, but straightforward to fix; the psychological effects, however, were far less easy to predict, explain, or resolve: Sacks experienced paralysis and an inability to perceive his leg as his own, instead seeing it as some kind of alien and inanimate object, over which he had no control. A Leg to Stand On is both an account of Sacks’ ordeal and subsequent recovery, and an exploration of the ways in which mind and body are inextricably linked.

Publisher: Picador
ISBN-10: 0330507621

(spoiler alert)

Almodóvar, Pedro. The skin I live in.

Quad_Skin I Live In_AW.indd

A brilliant plastic surgeon, haunted by past tragedies, creates a type of synthetic skin that withstands any kind of damage. His guinea pig: a mysterious and volatile woman who holds the key to his obsession.

Producers: Agustín Almodóvar, Pedro Almodóvar
Year: 2011
Director: Pedro Almodóvar
Writer: Pedro Almodóvar

Weston, Gabriel. Direct Red: A Surgeon’s Story

direct red dir_red

How does it feel to hold someone’s life in your hands? What is it like to cut into someone else’s body? What is it like to stand by, powerless, while someone dies because of the incompetence of your seniors? How do you tell a beautiful young man who seems perfectly fit that he has only a few days left to live?

Gabriel Weston worked as a surgeon in the big-city hospitals of the twenty-first century; a woman in a world dominated by Alpha males. Her world was one of disease, suffering and extraordinary pressure where a certain moral ambiguity and clinical detachment were necessary tools for survival. Startling and honest, her account combines a fierce sense of human dignity with compassion and insight, illuminating scenes of life and death the rest of us rarely glimpse.

Publisher: Vintage
Year: 2010
ISBN-10: 0099520699

Currie, K. Three Oncologists (Professor RJ Steele, Professor Sir Alfred Cuschieri and Professor Sir David P Lane of the Department of Surgery and Molecular Oncology, Ninewells Hospital, Dundee)


Ken Currie
Medium Oil on canvas
Size 195.58 x 243.84 cm

The painting is at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh

The men represented in this painting are professors in the Department of Surgery and Molecular Oncology at Ninewells Hospital and Medical School in Dundee. The Head of Department and Professor of Surgery, Sir Alfred Cuschieri, is in the centre. Sir David Lane, Professor of Molecular Oncology is on the right. On the left is surgeon Professor Steele. All three men appear to have been disturbed in the middle of their duties: Professor Steele has blood on his hands and Sir Alfred Cuschieri is holding a medical implement. The luminous quality of the paint makes the figures look almost ghostly, expressing the sense of horror and anxiety associated with cancer.

Hepworth, B. The Hospital Drawings


Barbara Hepworth
Skiagram 1949
Oil and pencil
54.6 x 36.8 cm

Between 1947 and 1949, Barbara Hepworth produced around 80 works of surgeons at work in operating theatres. This period of activity followed the friendship that resulted from the hospitalisation of the daughter of Hepworth (and Ben Nicholson) with the surgeon who treated her at the Elizabeth Orthopaedic Hospital, Exeter: Norman Capener.

You can see a selection of these works here; and there is a good review of the paintings here – including a short video-clip – when they were exhibited together at the Hepworth Gallery in Wakefield

Marsh, H. Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death and Brain Surgery


What is it like to be a brain surgeon?
How does it feel to hold someone’s life in your hands, to cut into the stuff that creates thought, feeling and reason?
How do you live with the consequences of performing a potentially life-saving operation when it all goes wrong?
DO NO HARM is an unforgettable insight into the countless human dramas that take place in a busy modern hospital. Above all, it is a lesson in the need for hope when faced with life’s most difficult decisions.

Publisher: W&N
Year 2014
ISBN-10: 0297869876

(spoiler alert)

Gawande, A. Complications: a Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science

Gently dismantling the myth of medical infallibility, Dr Atul Gawande’s Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science is essential reading for anyone involved in medicine–on either end of the stethoscope. Medical professionals make mistakes, learn on the job and improvise much of their technique and self-confidence. Gawande’s tales are humane and passionate reminders that doctors are people, too.

Title: Complications:a Surgeon’s notes on an imperfect science.

Author: Gawande, Atul

Publisher: Profile books

Year: 2008

ISBN: 1846681324

Kaplan J. The Dressing Station: A Surgeon’s Odyssey

Surgeon Jonathan Kaplan has flown around the world on medical assignments, but as his debut book suggests, he never feels more engaged with life than when among the dying.

Stephen Bradley HYMS: Experiences of a surgeon who worked in various conflicts and disasters including amongst the kurds during the first gulf war

Publisher: Picador
Year: 2002
ISBN-10: 0330480790

(spoiler alert)

Carson, Ben. Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

Gifted hands, an autobiographical glimpse into the life of one of the top American Neurosurgeon who went from being a “common black boy” in the inner-city Detroit, Michigan to being the director of paediatric neurosurgery. M.D., Ben Carson mother Sonya Carson, one of 24 children and a third grade school dropout, married at the age 13 and later divorced when Ben was young.  As an uneducated single parent, Sonya found it difficult to raise her children and as a result Ben resorted into being a “Ghetto Boy” full on uncontrollable temper tantrums.  However, somehow along the way his mother managed to motivate Ben under strict rules of study before play – a strategy that led to the development of M.D Ben Carson, a leader in paediatric neurosurgery.   One of his famous works includes performing separating a pair of seven-month-old German conjoined twins in 1987, who were joined at the head; he also lead team that lead to the separation of and Luka Banda, infant boys from Zambia in 1997.

Author: M.D., Ben Carson
Title: Gifted Hands
Publisher: Grand Rapids, Mich. : ZondervanPublishingHouse
Year: 1996, ©1990.
ISBN:  ISBN 0-310-21469-6

Viewer Comments:


A “common” black boy from an impoverished and single parenthood home to become a top American neurosurgeon, and the Director of Paediatric Neurosurgery at John Hopkins Hospital??? What? Are you dreaming??!! Who would have thought this would happen in America especially in the 70s – an era of the turmoil of social and race distinctions?

This is a truly motivating and inspiring well paced autobiography for anyone.  For me, after reading this book, my faith in God was re-affirmed. I assure you that after reading this book, you’ll walk away a changed person.


Other Books by M.D., Ben Carson

Think Big: Unleashing your Potential for Excellence

Take the Risk: Learning to Identify, Choose and Live with Acceptable Risk

The Big Picture: Getting Perspective on What’s really Important in Life

I was given a copy of this book whilst living in Michigan and finally got round to reading it this summer. Inspiring story, especially as a Christian, who like Ben Carson, attributes any gifts or skills i may possess as a gift from God and not of myself.

Plath Sylvia. Crossing the Water

Steven Oliver HYMS: Sylvia Plath’s poetry often contains imagery of the body and contacts with health care and ill-health.
This small collection came out after ‘Ariel‘, perhaps her most famous book, both posthumously.  Poems in this collection which might be of particular interest to medics could include: ‘Face Lift‘, ‘In  Plaster‘ and ‘The Surgeon at 2 A.M.’

Publisher: Faber and Faber
Year : 1976
ISBN-10: 057110861X


Verghese, A. Cutting for Stone

Jean McKenree HYMS: This story (by Abraham Verghese) is narrated by one of a pair of twins of Indian descent born in Ethiopa.  Both grow up to be doctors in very different ways.  While the story line is a bit contrived, especially the ending, the earlier part set in Ethiopia is intriguing and weaves in the impact of poverty and corruption on health in fascinating and somewhat disturbing ways.

Publisher: Vintage
Paperback Edition
Year: 2009
ISBN-10: 9780099443636

Hooker, R. M*A*S*H

Is it a book, is it a film, is it a long running TV series? Well it’s all three, a book about the experiences of US medics in the Korean War that was read and then watched in the context of another in Vietnam. The original book was written by Richard Hooker, the film was directed by Robert Altman and the TV series made a star of Alan Alda.

Andy Kardasz HYMS: I like the use of humour in such difficult situations the Medical staff use to cope with the awful casualties they deal with. That’s why it appeals to me.

This was the original trailer for the film M*A*S*H 

Title: M*A*S*H, 20th Century Fox, 1969.
Direction: Altman, Robert
Preminger, Ingo
Writing: Lardner, Ring
Based on the novel by Richard Hooker.

DVD copies of the film available