Allan J. Hamilton M.D. has attended Harvard Medical School. He became chief of neurosurgery and chairman of the department of Surgery at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center. He is a script consultant in neurosurgery for Grey’s Anatomy and currently lives outside of Tucson, Arizona.
Medical doctors are often taught to become numb to death - that is probably the reason why you see little emotion on their faces when doctors have to inform families or friends that their loved ones have died. Most times you will witness this on television programmes but some unfortunate souls have first-hand experience.
Allan J. Hamilton is thankfully a doctor who does “feel” and through his own medical experience he has written this book with a foreword by friend and colleague Andrew Weil, M.D.
Andrew writes that Allan is an excellent story teller and surgeon.
I could instantly see why Andrew has said this as I read the first few chapters. Allan writes in a true-narrative style with humour where necessary and sadness where needed. He recounts events that have happened to him in his time as an accomplished neurosurgeon. From the supernatural to the spiritually challenging, stories are recalled in easy-to-read chapters.
There are so many tales that affect you deeply. A book that will cause you to stop in your tracks and let it sink in.
I came across many accounts inside this narrative that touched me. The tale of “Rocky”, a homeless man who lived on the streets of Boston, was stirring. Here was a man who stank like “an overpowering cross between rot and puke” and had a medical chart of over seven volumes for numerous diseases known to mankind, yet he’d survived all of these to just about reach the age of sixty-five.
One day he is brought into the Emergency Department, coughing up blood. Allan is left to sort him out and try and get him well again. Later “Rocky” seems to make a recovery and is sent to rehab but that is short-lived. “Rocky” keeps mentioning his son who died as a pilot in the Marine Corps. A chilling twist follows.
Another tale about a mother and daughter is also to be read. This is extremely sad. The daughter, Taylor, has a huge mass in her right thalamus. This is most likely to be a tumour. The doctors try and do all they can for her but the outcome is inevitable.
Taylor says without bitterness: “It’s too bad I didn’t know about this tumour earlier. I wouldn’t have been so reluctant to give up my virginity. Now I’m probably going to die a virgin, looking the way I do.”
I can completely sympathize with Taylor. It must be an awful feeling knowing you are probably going to die young without doing half of the things you always wanted.
I really cannot convey how heartbreaking is this chapter is. Read it for yourself to understand what I mean.
Other similar chapters are to be found, some very spiritual indeed. One about a young man who is sure he will battle and survive his ailment - the author describes him as strong. Again an ending that is poignant - absolutely read this.
At the end of this book I felt very humbled and a tear was in my eye. The Scalpel and the Soul is a thought-provoking read - the kind of book you should own if you have ever found yourself at the mercy of the scalpel or know someone who has. Exceptional!
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The above review was contributed by: Jessica Roberts: Jessica is a book reviewer for a local newspaper and has reviewed for a national women's magazine too. She has had various articles published in magazines and has now completed her novel. Jessica currently lives in West Yorkshire and enjoys walking in the dales and woodlands as part of her hobby as well as, of course, reviewing books. To read more of Jessica's reviews CLICK HERE