3 out of 4 stars
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Dr. Frederick Kassis is both the author and subject of Sherlock and I: A Memoir of Medical Mysteries in a US Rural Practice. As a doctor of internal medicine, Dr. Kassis chose to practice in rural areas of Idaho and Texas to make a difference for a population that was isolated from large, metropolitan medicine. In Sherlock and I, he illustrates his devotion to patient care as well as his ability to diagnose and treat rare diseases. Dr. Kassis loved the Sherlock Holmes books from a young age and gladly took on the role of detective in his medical practice, thus the title.
Being in rural areas, especially forty years ago when Dr. Kassis first became a doctor, the hospitals did not always have the resources that most of us would take for granted, such as a CT scanner. The nearest cardiothoracic or neurosurgeon was sometimes more than 80 miles away, with no air transport available. Dr. Kassis had to rely on his vast knowledge and instinct to treat his patients. Each chapter tells the story of a patient – their symptoms, their history, how he diagnosed them and finally, the treatment plan. One young woman had debilitating trigeminal nerve pain in her face and though it took 10 years, Dr. Kassis was able to cure her by pushing her neurological specialists to try different methods. He also shares his own story of gastrointestinal pain that took 20 years and several specialists to diagnose.
My favorite aspect of Sherlock and I is Dr. Kassis’s humility in how he relates these stories. Though he clearly takes pride in his diagnostic ability, the tone of the book is not even slightly arrogant. He gives credit to research he read voraciously in journals. He has a deep emotional connection with his patients and shares both wins and losses. He analyzes each diagnosis with the facts and the errors that were made. He reflects on how recent changes in medicine have impacted a doctor’s ability to practice the way he does, by looking at the whole patient. It is clear throughout his narration that his goal in this book and in his practice is to help people.
I also loved how much I learned from this book. I have always enjoyed medical television shows and books, and so I found the details of each disease fascinating. Dr. Kassis does a fantastic job of translating complex medical terminology into layman’s terms. For example, for the first time, I understood that arthritis is caused by extra bone growth. As our bones rub against each other over years of use, they are trying to reinforce the structure by adding more bone and that is what causes arthritic pain. I also know more about how to advocate for myself as a patient by reading this book.
I rate Sherlock and I 3 out of 4 stars. The only reason it was not a perfect 4 star rating is that I found multiple grammatical errors throughout the book. There were issues with incorrect capitalization and verb tenses that did impact my reading experience. I highly recommend a review by a professional editor. Beyond the editing, this was a wonderful book that kept my attention engaged. I’d recommend it to adult readers only as some of the medical terminology might be too much for younger readers. I think all doctors should be required to read it to ensure they are practicing medicine like Dr. Kassis, by looking at the whole patient. Any fans of medical topics would appreciate this book.
Sherlock and I A Memoir of Medical Mysteries in a US Rural Practice
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