I’m going to recommend that you get to know the British neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, a bit better. I only learned of Henry 10 days ago when I read a review in the Wall Street Journal of his newly published memoir.
It is an amazing book, one that humanizes and personalizes neurosurgery and its participants about as well as it can be done. Perhaps most telling is the first line of the author’s acknowledgements: “I hope that my patients and colleagues will forgive me for writing this book.” One might gather this is part of the British tradition in Medicine of limiting self-aggrandizement, and in several places Mr. Marsh notes the contrast between his own medical upbringing and the comparative swagger of some of his American trainees and counterparts. (I’m still intrigued by the tradition in England of referring to male surgeons as “Mister”.)
I hope to be blogging about Mr. Marsh numerous times, but here’s a line from the book delivered with frank openness – self-effacing enough to have prompted Henry to ask his colleagues for forgiveness in writing the book: “As with all operating, it is a question of balancing risk, sophisticated technology, experience and skill, and of luck.” Or consider this line: “Few people outside medicine realize that what tortures doctors most is uncertainty.”
Henry shares that a famous rock star whose sister he treated helped fund his humanitarian efforts in treating patients in the Ukraine. He refers almost parenthetically to an award-winning documentary (released in 2007) that was made about his collaborative work there. Take a look at the short trailer for the documentary:
If that isn’t a good enough teaser for you to watch the full-length 93 minute documentary, just trust me. The English Surgeon is phenomenal.