Book review: The man who mistook his wife for a hat

I recently red the book ‘The man who mistook his wife for a hat’ written by Oliver Sacks, a British neurologist. Oliver sacks is quite a famous writer, he has written 14 books of which 7 were made into a movie. This specific book was written in 1985 and it consists of 24 cases in which different neurological issues are being discussed.

The book is divided into four categories that each talk about a specific neurological issue. Part one deals with losses, part two with excess, part three transports (about perception, imagination, dreams,…) and part four the world of the simple (how ‘simple’ people understand remarkable concepts).

I’m going to talk about one of these stories because it stood out to me. It’s the story of Jose, the autist artist. This is written in chapter four – the world of the simple. Jose was a 21 year old male who was said to be retarded and had seizures which caused him to be hospitalized. During his examination he was asked to draw a pocket watch which he drew remarkably well. Dr. Sacks was amazed by this and wanted to learn more about this patient. He wanted to see more drawings and asked Jose to draw some more and again his drawings were really nice.
It appeared that Jose was indeed autistic, but that he was quite talented. He could draw, remember what he drew and he was able make adaptations to his drawings.
This story definitely stood out for me because it just goes to show that there is a whole world to people that often stays unnoticed, even for many many years.
The drawings are included in the book but I wanted to show you an example. On the left we see the picture, on the right the drawing that Jose made.

Schermafbeelding 2017-07-30 om 10.08.55
There are many more extraordinary stories written in this book. It’s an easy read making it is a book that will appeal to a lot of people. Difficult concepts are all explained in the book making the book fit for anyone interested in knowing more about brain related issues.
For those wanting to learn or read more about neurological problems, there are also a lot of references to other scientifical books. Especially Loeria (neuropsychologist) and Jackson (neurologist) are writers who are often referred to.

For me this was such an interesting book that I was able to finish it within the day. It is therefore no surprise that I strongly advise you to read this book.

When breath becomes air 

I’ve tried re-writing this one a few too many times but that’s only because I felt like this review didn’t do justice to the book. It still doesn’t but here we go.

The book ‘When breath becomes air’ is an autobiography written by Paul Kalanithi. It’s the story of a neurosurgeon who gets diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. He starts thinking about ‘living a meaningful life’ and he wonders what it takes to achieve one. As he starts cancer treatment he tells about his struggles, his thoughts and his feelings.

The book is magnificently written and it’s ending is bittersweet. It’s book that definitely deserved the attention it got. There were a lot of things I loved about this book but I mainly want to talk about what I learned from it.

  • I learned that life is short, full of unexpected things sometimes the worst things in life come together with the best and if you’re lucky you’ll be around to see the good. If not it’s up to you to create good things in the middle of bad ones!
  • I learned that humans often live life as if life is endless. We even postpone the thought of death itself until someone around us dies. When you think about it there isn’t a single person in the world who is completely ready to die at any given day. There is always something more we want to do, something more we want to realize.
  • I learned that when bad things happen and we get knocked down, we need to keep going and keep pushing.
  • I learned that the best way to live a meaningful life is to give it your absolute best every single time no matter how hard life gets. It’s often easier said than done but it’s all we can do.

I hope you enjoyed this blogpost! I would definitely recommend this book to everyone. It’s a remarkable story that left it’s imprint on me and I’m sure that you’ll find it as special as I did.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe


Review: how to think like a doctor

As some of you might know I wanted to read a lot of books this summer. I personally liked going for books related to the medical field hoping that I’ll learn from them. I recently made up my entire book list and I’ve already started reading some books. The first one I’ll be reviewing is ‘How doctors think’ and was written by Jerome Groopman M.D. This book has received the quill award for health/self improvement.

The title of the book is quite self-explanatory and though I’m not a doctor yet I figured that this book had to contain some valuable information on the topic. I don’t mean to spoil the book but the book reveals it goal in the first chapters. Students who eventually become doctors struggle with the transition from books to real cases but even older doctors make mistakes. The book gives a ton of anecdotes on the subject to try and show what went wrong with the diagnoses and how doctors can avoid making mistakes.

There are a few things I liked and learned from this book
… I liked the cases that were discussed and that there were a lot of them. Each case was different but the general conclusion was the same
… I liked that there were reasons given on how doctors make small mistakes. However it’s obvious that every human makes mistakes. The thing is that we can all learn from others’ mistakes and thus we can all learn from this book
… I liked the structure of the cases. Each case had a lot of explanation that accompanied it. There was a clear structure.
… I most definitely liked the advise that was given: think in the other direction when somebody comes with complaints. They have headache? Don’t think that it’s just due to tension look further!
More importantly I feel like this book is good for students starting residency. It’ll show you how patients reveal very small clues that are often misinterpreted. Small things like words or signs that make a big difference. It can also show you how confidence can form an issue. Leading to confirmation bias is the enemy here!

I would advise any medical student to read this book because it shows that small things that patients say can mean an entire spectrum of things and that it’s important to try and look for a correct diagnoses instead of assuming the first solution or the most common solution is correct. It’s important to keep all possible diagnoses open and think further than you normally would when diagnosing patients.

Though I’m on vacation definitely leave a comment in the comment section down below telling me what you’re favorite books are.

Lots of love
-A doctor in spe ❤

The emperor of all maladies

About a week ago one of my friends told me about a book that was written by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It was an author I’d never even heard about so I went to the library and got ‘The emperor of all maladies’. This book was so interesting that I had to write about it!

The book starts with the history of cancer. Diagnoses started very early but throughout history nobody could find a cure. Not even a way to relieve some of the symptoms. It’s amazing to see that most treatments only started a century ago. Throughout history people often saw cancer as something incurable and there weren’t many scientists who tried to find a cure.

The rise of chemicals has had such a big influence on cancer treatments. The first use of chemicals on cancer patients were more of a trial and error. People kept trying out different chemicals and hoped to find something that could stop the growth of cancerous cells. Some chemicals worked but they always worked temporarily and caused such disappointment. Even trough all of those disappointments people kept going on and kept combining medicines and different techniques to find something.

The reason why this book is really good is because it’s one of the few books that can grab your attention and keep it. It was so well written that you could even think of it as a novel. There is a way of expressing desire in such way that it’s almost as though you’re reliving the entire thing – that’s what this book is able to do.
I would probably tell you more about this book but I don’t want to spoil it by telling everything. I hope that this brief resume interests you enough to go to the library and read it because I promise you this book is amazing.

Lots of love
-M. Doctor in spe