Tag Archives: book review

Teaching Surgery

Teaching Surgery

(This is an excerpt from my new book, “Heart, Guts & Steel: The Making of an Indian Surgeon“)

I was assisting my Junior Resident with her first hernia repair. And it was moving along at a snail’s pace.

From time to time, I was tempted to urge her to hurry up. “If you stick with this, we’ll be here until dinner time!”

But I left the words unspoken.

Better surgeons than I had been patient with me while I learned to operate. Now it was my turn to return the favor. So in a quiet tone, with no trace of the irritation within, I asked her: “What are you worried about?”

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Crisis

Heart, Guts & Steel - Crisis

(This is an excerpt from my new book, “Heart, Guts & Steel: The Making of an Indian Surgeon“)

My patient was going to die.

And if he did, it would be my mistake.

The thought was like a drumbeat, pounding inside my skull. Although still a trainee, I was the surgeon in charge of this operation. And I was in deep trouble!

“Give me a vascular clamp, quick!”

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Losing Control

Losing Control - Heart, Guts & Steel

(This is an excerpt from my new book, “Heart, Guts & Steel: The Making of an Indian Surgeon“)

A few minutes later, I was in the operating room, making an incision into his belly. It was full of clots. Clearly, the innocent looking stab had gone deep, slicing into vital organs.

When I cleared away the clots, we saw the problem. The knife had pierced his gall bladder, a tiny bag-like organ beneath the liver that stored bile. The wound had gone through it, barely missing the liver to stop milli-meters short of the largest vein in the body. Just a little deeper, and the patient wouldn’t have made it to the hospital alive!

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Book Review : How To Create A Mind

How To Create A Mind - Ray Kurzweil

I’m reading Ray Kurzweil’s “How To Create a Mind“.

Back in medical college, I spent an incredible amount of time reading Snell’s ‘Neuroanatomy’ to understand the structure and function of the human brain.

It’s a myriad of nerve connections, with different bits being hooked up to others, some nearby, others almost halfway across the brain. What’s more, there are redundancies galore. And keeping track of what links to what, through diagrams that showed sweeps of colored arrows pointing both ways, was mind boggling.

I read all of this, not because it’s so fascinating, but because we had an exam to pass at the end of a semester. About the lateral geniculate nucleus, or the caudate nucleus, or the red nucleus. And the insula, colliculi or corpus callosum. Without quite understanding how relevant, useful or practical it would all be.

It wasn’t. At all.

For the next twenty five years, I have never once had to use ANY of that information in my medical practice!

So, was it all a waste?

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Study, Research, Publish

Heart, Guts & Steel - The Making of an Indian Surgeon

(This is an unpublished chapter from the manuscript of my new book, “Heart, Guts & Steel: The Making of an Indian Surgeon“)

One summer, I took a few days off to surprise my parents on their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary.

To keep me engaged on the 24 hour journey, I picked up a popular bestseller from the library. For good measure, I also carried along a medical journal. I hopped into an upper berth shortly after the train left Dadar station, opened the book, and fell asleep within minutes!

I slept through the night – and all next day… waking up briefly only to gobble down the sandwiches our cafeteria manager had thoughtfully packed for me!

As our train crawled into Basin Bridge station, a few minutes from the terminus at Madras Central, I finally got down from my berth.

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