Book Review: Diagnosis by Lisa Sanders

While scrolling over the new and noteworthy books on Apple Books about a month ago, I came across a Dutch book called Diagnose by Lisa Sanders. Sanders is a Dutch name too, so I initially assumed the book was originally Dutch. I don’t generally read many Dutch books and I certainly don’t buy them. Imagine my delight when I found out that the original title is Diagnosis and the book is originally written in English. Imagine my further delight when I found that Diagnosis is available on Bookshare, so I got it practically for free.

Summary

As a Yale School of Medicine physician, the New York Times bestselling author of Every Patient Tells a Story, and an inspiration and adviser for the hit Fox TV drama House, M.D., Lisa Sanders has seen it all. And yet she is often confounded by the cases she describes in her column: unexpected collections of symptoms that she and other physicians struggle to diagnose.

A twenty-eight-year-old man, vacationing in the Bahamas for his birthday, tries some barracuda for dinner. Hours later, he collapses on the dance floor with crippling stomach pains. A middle-aged woman returns to her doctor, after visiting two days earlier with a mild rash on the back of her hands. Now the rash has turned purple and has spread across her entire body in whiplike streaks. A young elephant trainer in a traveling circus, once head-butted by a rogue zebra, is suddenly beset with splitting headaches, as if someone were “slamming a door inside his head.”

In each of these cases, the path to diagnosis–and treatment–is winding, sometimes frustratingly unclear. Dr. Sanders shows how making the right diagnosis requires expertise, painstaking procedure, and sometimes a little luck. Intricate, gripping, and full of twists and turns, Diagnosis puts readers in the doctor’s place. It lets them see what doctors see, feel the uncertainty they feel–and experience the thrill when the puzzle is finally solved.

Review

I love medical storytelling. Still, I have quite a few books written by doctors about their patients that I just can’t finish. Diagnosis definitely wasn’t one of them! I didn’t finish it as quickly as I do some books, but that’s probably because this is a collection of stories. For this reason, at the end of a story, I can shove the book aside without wondeirng how the story will end.

The book is organized into eight parts, each describing a main symptom. As said in the introduction, there are only so many ways in which the body can show that it is unwell and yet there are over 90,000 known diseases. Isn’t that fascinating?

With some stories, I guessed correctly what was going on before it was mentioned. The man collapsing after eating barracuda was one of them (no, I won’t spoil it!). I found this pretty cool. With others, I had no idea until the end. This was fascinating too.

I loved the author’s writing style. Sanders uses clear but not too simple language. She also usually starts her stories in the heat of the moment, gripping my interest immediately. Overall, this was a great book. I gave it a five-star rating on Goodreads.

Book Details

Title: Diagnosis: Solving the Most Baffling Medical Mysteries
Author: Lisa Sanders
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: August 13, 2019

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Five Books About Life as a Doctor #Connect5Books

I love reading books in which people share about their real life, including memoirs and diaries. I am also very interested in medicine. Today, I am joining in with Connect Five Books and sharing five books about life as a doctor.

1. For the Love of Babies by Sue Hall. This collection of stories from an American neonatologist is truly wonderful. I read it when it first came out in 2014 and it was one of my quickest reads at the time. As regular readers of my blog know, I was born prematurely and spent three months in the neonatal unit myself. However, in this book, Hall also shares about babies born with genetic syndromes or those born addicted to drugs their mothers used.

2. Cook County ICU by Cory Franklin. This book covers nearly fifty years of medical practice, from the author and his father, in an intensive care unit in Chicago. Franklin shares his experience becoming a doctor in the ICU very candidly, including how a supervisor tried to ruin his career because Franklin dared talk back to him. You’ll also read about some fascinating patients, such as some of the early cases of AIDS, before it was known to be AIDS.

3. Doctor’s Notes by Rosemary Leonard. This is a collection of stories by a south east London GP. I took a lot longer to read it than I did the above two books, but once I got into it, it was truly enjoyable.

4. Do No Harm by Henry Marsh. This is a book by a neurosurgeon. I have read a few chapters, but can’t seem to move along in it.

5. Tales From the Couch by Bob Wendorf. Okay, I’m cheating here, as Wendorf isn’t a medical doctor. He’s a clinical psychologist. However, psychologists in the United States are often referred to as doctors too. Each chapter in this book focuses on a particular psychiatric condition. I haven’t read much of this book either yet, but would like to.

Do you enjoy reading about people’s real life or about medicine?

Book Review: Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

Like I said before, I’m really enjoying reading a lot lately. I had a number of books on my TBR list for a while, but hadn’t gotten down to actually reading them. Now I found the time and energy to read. Some of the books I’ve been reading, have been out for many years, so I won’t bore you with a review. Though Don’t Wake Up was published two years ago already, I still think it’s worth reviewing.

Synopsis

Alex Taylor wakes up tied to an operating table.
The man who stands over her isn’t a doctor.
The offer he makes her is utterly unspeakable.
But when Alex re-awakens, she’s unharmed – and no one believes her horrifying story. Ostracised by her colleagues, her family and her partner, she begins to wonder if she really is losing her mind.
And then she meets the next victim.
So compulsive you can’t stop reading.
So chilling you won’t stop talking about it.
A pitch-black and devastatingly original psychological thriller.

My Review

This was actually the first-ever thriller I read, because the genre normally scares the crap out of me. This one, however, was so compelling I just had to check it out. And I must say, I wasn’t disappointed. Yes, the plot was very scary at times, but it also kept me wanting to read on.

The synopsis above only covers the first 25% of the book or so, so I wasn’t sure it’d be interesting enough to read on beyond that. But it was.

One of the reasons that I didn’t before like reading thrillers, is that I don’t like bad endings, in which the main character dies for no apparent reason at the last page. In this sense, Don’t Wake Up definitely didn’t disappoint. Of course, bad stuff happens to people in the book – several people die in it -, but the book didn’t make me feel sick to my stomach at the end.

The characters were really well-developed. The book is mostly written from Alex’s point of view, but several other characters get a viewpoint too. This was necessary to keep the thriller effect. I liked it.

Overall, I really loved this book and it has me longing for more thrillers. I just searched for Liz Lawler on GoodReads and found she had another book published earlier this year. I’m definitely going to want to read that one too.

Book Details

Title: Don’t Wake Up
Author: Liz Lawler
Publisher: Twenty7
Publication Date: May 18, 2017

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