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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

"A Doctor's Journey" A Collection of Memoirs by Fredric A. Mendelsohn, MD


Practicing neurologist Frederic A. Mendelsohn takes you on an insider’s journey through the sometimes startling landscape of American medicine today. Inspired by his own encounters during thirty-five years of clinical practice, Mendelsohn’s stories range from the tragic to the droll, but each speaks in some way to the incredible strength of the human spirit.
Here’s a taste of the remarkable stories in A Doctor’s Journey: “Searching for Salvation” – A teenage boy is seriously injured in a boating accident, but the effects of his accident are even greater on the boy who injured him. “Casanova Complex” – A gifted surgeon who looks like Tom Cruise – “if Tom Cruise were on steroids” – gets an unexpected fifteen minutes of fame while romping with a hospital nurse. “Wally the Whale” – A tale about several epileptic patients, but mostly about Wally, an unforgettable character who tries to murder the good doctor. “Angela's Angel” – A young woman, critically injured in a motor vehicle accident, makes a miraculous recovery, but the infant daughter of her angelic sister – who has been part of that recovery -- suffers a heartbreaking medical tragedy of her own. “Mambo Mendez” – Part confessional, part memoir, part introduction to the author’s musical heritage, this story shows the struggle of blending family life with the rigors of a medical practice.
Mendelsohn also explores the notion that a strong background in Debussy, Ravel and Satie may do as much to prompt the mental creativity and flexibility essential to successful doctoring as does a comprehensive training in phrenic nerves and conversion disorders.

Dr. Frederic C. Mendelsohn, MD:


Doctor Mendelsohn's journal is positively impossible to stop reading.  It is told from the perspective of a passionate and dedicated practioner of neurological medicine; but, just as importantly, it's told from the life experience of a sensitive and committed doctor.  All of this a rarity in today's practice of medicine, particularly in his chosen field of expertise, and in the writing of medical memoirs.

I could not help falling in love with Dr. M.  I loved his careful descriptions of his patients~the way he fleshed out each one so humanely and with such a caring hand.  With every attention to the respect and dignity he bases his medical practice upon, we come to see his patients through his eyes no matter how strange and horrendous their diseases and incapacities.  This careful attention and sense of the specialness of each patient makes Mendelsohn's memoirs stand out in any group.

The patients recalled in this collection are so interesting and unique as not to be forgotten.  I found myself telling friends and family about them.  They were heroic in the face of diseases, pain and earth-shattering news.  Dr. Mendelsohn handled each case with discretion and often a sense of humor that helped them cope, it seemed to me.  I was impressed with his willingness to correct doctors and nurses alike who failed to respect the dignity of his patients.

Interestingly enough, Mendelsohn attributes much of the finest of doctoring; the ability to diagnose through that "second sense" or what we often call that intuitive, gifted or natural doctoring...to a side of the brain's development enhanced by early exposure to music and/or art.  This hypothesis was a lightbulb insight to me, but stands to reason in terms of the life experiences I have had in raising children on the gifted spectrum. 

Music develops a different pathway to the brain, an area concerned with language, sensitivity, intuitiveness, and visualization of solutions "outside the box" that those who have not been exposed to it in early development do not experience to the same degree.  He sites the studies done on the "Mozart Effect" of which most of us have become familiar.

I quote:
"As so much of doctoring is listening, understanding, problem-solving, the ability to accept the details that don't quite fit, and to have a flexibility of mind--an ability to make meaning out of disparate symptoms (and sometimes hostile subjects)--wouldn't the brain sensitive to the forms that led Einstein to his most valuable scientific breakthrough be valuable in the practice of medicine? ...when Professor Einstein was asked how he came upon relativity theory, he claimed,

     "It occurred to me by intuition and music was the driving force behind that intuition.  My discovery was the result of musical perception."   (Saturday Evening Post, 1929)

All in all, this rather small book of 156 pages is one I could hardly stop reading.  I discovered it through Outskirts Press which you can find at:  http://outskirtspress.com   and which will give you more information regarding "A Doctor's Journey..."

Highly recommened book. For men, women, and college students considering a medical career.



Kaitlyn Devin and Grace

I worked as an EMT for a few years and I have a million crazy stories (aided by the fact that I work in Las Vegas, which is a crazy town!) anyway, I can only imagine the stories to come out of a lifetime of practicing medicine.

-kate the book buff

T.C. Robson

I just finished and reviewed this book myself! :D Definitely a great read.

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