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Something for the Pain: One Doctor's Account of Life and Death in the ER

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2010

    An inveterate reader of nonfiction

    Not only does Paul Austin, a truly Renaissance man, allow us an inside look into the workings of a busy emergency department, he does so with skill and unspeakable honesty.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2008

    Equal measures of empathy and honesty

    In his new memoir, Something for the Pain: One Doctor¿s Account of Life and Death in the ER, Paul Austin takes a clear-eyed look at the profession he has chosen¿that of a doctor in a metropolitan Emergency Room, who frequently works what other (less superstitious) professionals might term ¿the Graveyard Shift.¿<BR/><BR/>Within the covers of this thoughtful and moving debut, Austin graciously allows us an insider¿s look at the struggles and rewards of his job, as well as the toll it can take on a growing family, especially when the detrimental effects of persistent sleep-deprivation fray nerves and breed frustration. (When the author finds an innovative way around these struggles, we silently cheer for his ingenuity and for the sake of his patient, empathetic wife, herself a former nurse.)<BR/><BR/>Unlike many of our nation¿s first responders (and ER doctors are definitely first responders), Austin and his ilk often don¿t get the respect that a fireman (which Austin has also been) or a paramedic might, and they certainly don¿t receive the full measure of respect they¿re due. (Have you ever tried staying up all night, on constant alert, dealing with bleeding, vomiting, angry people¿many of them drunk and violent¿or patients with chest pains and grisly car crash wounds that need immediate attention and split-second medical decisions? All this, while frequent understaffing creates delays that in turn create patients so angry that once they are finally seen it can complicate the process of diagnosis? ¿I thought not.)<BR/><BR/>With equal measures of honesty and empathy, Paul Austin has created a timeless memoir that deserves a wide readership. As Richard Selzer¿s "Letters to a Young Doctor" helped to open the public¿s eyes to the general practitioner, so can "Something for the Pain" give us important insights into the working conditions for an ER physician. I do know that without a doubt, the next time I visit an ER, no matter my circumstances, I plan to extend empathy to the doctor on duty and not just expect it. And I plan to be thoroughly grateful. And definitely sober.

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