Tag Archives: Short Stories

Book Review: Cook County ICU by Cory Franklin

I am a big lover of medical memoirs and stories from doctors and other health care workers. A few weeks ago, I was browsing an eBook store I don’t normally go to, because Kobo has become harder to search and browse. I discovered Cook County ICU by Cory Franklin in the medical biographies and memoirs section. Because that eBook store doesn’t accept PayPal, I bought the book at Kobo anyway. I knew I wouldn’t be able to review it till today, because of the #Write31Days series, and I really had to keep myself from speeding through it. Of course, if I’d finished the book earlier, I could’ve scheduled my review, but in a way I was trying to keep myself from finishing the book too soon and getting bored afterwards. I just finished the book tonight.

Synopsis

An inside look at one of the nation’s most famous public hospitals, Cook County, as seen through the eyes of its longtime Director of Intensive Care, Dr. Cory Franklin.

 

Filled with stories of strange medical cases and unforgettable patients culled from a thirty-year career in medicine, Cook County ICU offers readers a peek into the inner workings of a hospital. Author Dr. Cory Franklin, who headed the hospital’s intensive care unit from the 1970s through the 1990s, shares his most unique and bizarre experiences, including the deadly Chicago heat wave of 1995, treating some of the first AIDS patients in the country before
the disease was diagnosed, the nurse with rare Munchausen syndrome, the first surviving ricin victim, and the famous professor whose Parkinson’s disease hid the effects of the wrong medication. Surprising, darkly humorous, heartwarming, and sometimes tragic, these stories provide a big-picture look at how the practice of medicine has changed over the years, making it an enjoyable read for patients, doctors, and anyone with an interest in medicine.

Review

Like the synopsis says, the stories in the book are mostly fascinating. I loved learning about the first surviving ricin poisoning victim and the suicidal biochemist. These obviously have got to be the first stories I mention, because I’m fascinated with (and deathly afraid of) poison. I grinned at the duke of Spain being mistaken for an alcoholic and the resident calling for a stat (as soon as possible) dermatology consult because “the rash might be gone tomorrow”. I almost cried with pity for the medical student asking a “stupid” question in a conference with some of the area’s top doctors (which turned out to be a really smart question later on). Most times, I felt eager to find out how each story unfolded. Even if the title explained some things already, as in the chapter on the disease that turned out to be AIDS, I found there were fascinating turns in the stories.

Dr. Franklin seems to intend his book to be a testament to the old-fashioned doctor-patient relationship. He ends the book by recounting some recent changes in the practice of medicine, like the change from covenant to contract in the doctor-patient relatiosnhip and the increased part money plays. He sounds a bit bitter at this point, because he considers the changes mostly negative but says we cannot go back. I have to mostly agree with him here, even though I am mostly a 21st-century patient so don’t know the era in which Dr. Franklin practised. Some things have improved. Like, when AIDS wasn’t known yet, doctors and nurses didn’t wear gloves when drawing blood, and Dr. Franklin is terribly lucky that none of his team treating the early patients were infected. In this sense, protocols help. That being said, things can go too far, and they probably have.

Despite HIPAA and similar laws, I know even today there are practitioners of “romantic medicine”, as 20th-century neurologist A.R. Lurija originally called it and as continued in the English language by Oliver Sacks. What I mean is, there are still doctors who will listen to their patients’ stories rather than just their immediate health concerns. That doesn’t mean all will publish books on their patients, but I’m sure some will. In this sense, medicine as a human-centered profession is not doomed. Cook County ICU is a great example of a fascinating book of interesting medical cases brought to life.

Book Details

Title: Cook County ICU: 30 Years of Unforgettable Patients and Odd Cases
Author: Cory Franklin
Publisher: Chicago Review Press
Publication Date: September 2015

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Book Review: Wosie the Blind Little Bunny by Rose King

Wosie the little bunny wanders away from the blueberry bush. Because she is blind, she cannot find her way back. She finds a stick to tap and feel her way around. At one point, she touches something soft with her stick, which turns out to be Bobo the bear, who’s sleeping. After Wosie explains that she is blind and what that means, Bobo agrees to bring her to the blueberry bush, and they end up being friends from that point on.

Wosie the Blind Little Bunny is suitable for ages three and up. It is written in a beautifully poetic way. I ended up smiling at the rhyming several times. While Wosie is not the most independent blind bunny, and therefore some self-proclaimed competent blind adults might find this story offensive, you have to remember that Wosie is a little bunny. The story does explain the fct that blind bunnies can hear and feel fine. Overall, I liked the story and found ii very suitable for toddlers. It emphasizes the importance of friendship over differences.

Book Details

Title: Wosie the Blind Little Bunny
Author: Rose King
Publisher: Xlibris
Publication date: January 2013

Book Review: Peter’s Asparagus by Angela Nicole Krause

When looking at Kobo for children’s books that I might like to read and review, I stumbled across Peter’s Asparagus by Angela Nicole Krause. This little book is the first in a series of short stories which are easy to read, sensitive and entertaining. Peter’s Asparagus is about a young boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. Peter has a hard time making friends and he doesn’t like changes. He is however really good at math, spelling and science. The story explains Asperger’s quite well for a children’s book. I got to really feel for Peter as he was getting upset because the other children in his class laughed at him, thinking he’d said that he had asparagus. In the end, Peter can even laugh at the misunderstanding himself.

This story is really good for class or family discussion on children’s differences and disabilities. As I said, it makes the reader quite aware of what Asperger’s Syndrome is. The story also teaches about the value of friendship and about the fact that children are good and not so good at different things and that it can be good to help each other. Besdies being a good book for teaching every child about accepting differences, this book is great for children with autism or Asperger’s to feel that they are not alone.

Book Details

Title: Peter’s Asparagus
Author: Angela Nicole Krause
Publisher: York Publishing Services, Ltd.
Publication date: January 2014