Something for the Pain: One Doctor's Account of Life and Death in the ER by Paul Austin, Hardcover | Barnes & Noble
Something for the Pain: One Doctor's Account of Life and Death in the ER

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

4.3 3
by Paul Austin
     
 

In this riveting memoir, an ER doctor reveals how his high-stress career of helping others led to a struggle to save himself.
"It turns out there are all kinds of things about working in an ER that most of us haven't learned from TV or having sat in one. In Something for the Pain, Paul Austin—the ER doc you'd hope to get if something really bad

Overview

In this riveting memoir, an ER doctor reveals how his high-stress career of helping others led to a struggle to save himself.
"It turns out there are all kinds of things about working in an ER that most of us haven't learned from TV or having sat in one. In Something for the Pain, Paul Austin—the ER doc you'd hope to get if something really bad happened—tells us, vividly and with uncommon candor, how, if you aren't careful, saving people's lives can make you sick."—Ted Conover, author of NewjackIn this eye-opening account of life in the ER, Paul Austin recalls how the daily grind of long, erratic shifts and endless hordes of patients with sad stories sent him down a path of bitterness and cynicism. His own life becomes Exhibit A, as he details the emotional detachment that estranges him from himself and his family. Gritty, powerful, and ultimately redemptive, Austin's memoir is a revealing glimpse into the fragility of compassion and sanity in the industrial setting of today's hospitals.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

With a relentlessly honest look at modern emergency medicine, Austin, a former firefighter now living in Durham, N.C., writes in his debut book of his transformation to a highly capable ER doctor struggling to stay one jump ahead of death in the crowded critical care ward. The book begins deftly with Austin, a sleep-deprived physician, trying to avoid mistakes stemming from fatigue by relying on his instincts, frequently both skill and luck, to treat patients with gunshot wounds, brain tumors, asthma, heart ailments and general problems. In a narrative blur of flashbacks, he tells of his career as a firefighter before landing in medical school, which was followed by an internship at a local hospital and marriage to a lovely nurse and having a family. What makes this inspiring medical memoir stand out is the courageous measure of Austin's humanity in taking on the endless weight of suffering, and what he becomes to his co-workers, his patients, his family and his community. (Sept.)

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Kirkus Reviews
Memoirs of an emergency-room doctor-his personal life as well as his professional challenges. Austin pursued a roundabout path to a medical degree and emergency medicine. After dropping out of college to spend nine years as a full-time firefighter and a part-time carpenter, he returned to college at age 27. Enrolled at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he took a job as a nursing assistant in the ER at North Carolina Memorial Hospital, which introduced him to his chosen field. He vividly tells all the usual stories of ER crises: men and women with heart attacks or strokes, gunshot and accident victims, violent, vomiting drunks. (Some tales are definitely not for the squeamish.) What is unusual is the degree to which Austin shares the details of his personal life. He writes frankly of his reaction to the birth of his first child, a girl with Down syndrome, and of the difficulties raising her. Getting a good day's sleep after a night on duty was a major problem in a house with (eventually) three young children; the author recounts with candor and just a dash of dry humor coping attempts ranging from sleeping in a motel or at his mother-in-law's house to building, and briefly setting fire to, a garage with a soundproof room above it. The stress of his job, which he carried home with him, eventually led him to a therapist who helped him recognize that he had been suppressing negative emotions until they burst out as anger at patients and family. In an epilogue, Austin examines the diametrically opposed perils of cynical detachment and overemotional involvement, pondering the question of just how empathetic a clinician can be and still be competent. An ER physician givesserious thought to what he does, how he does it and what it does to him.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393065602
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
09/08/2008
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.94(w) x 10.88(h) x 1.07(d)

Meet the Author

Paul Austin, an emergency-room doctor, is the author of a previous memoir, Something for the Pain. His essays have appeared in Creative Nonfiction, the Southeast Review, and the Gettysburg Review. He lives in Durham, North Carolina.

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