3 out of 4 stars
Share This Review
Dr. Patrick J. Crocker (Crocker to his colleagues), retired emergency physician, wrote More Letters from the Pit: Stories of a Physician’s Odyssey in Emergency Medicine as a sequel to his Letters from the Pit. Following the conversational style of the first book, Dr. Crocker formatted his stories as letters to Jack, his “great college friend.” There were 40 “Dear Jack” letters in the book, but none were actually sent. I am curious to know what Jack has to say about the letters. Maybe a later edition of the book could feature a “Dear Crocker” for Jack’s reactions.
The stories in the letters usually revolve around particular incidents in the emergency room. The patients and their complaints are identified (though the patients are rarely named), and Dr. Crocker discusses the intricate process of arriving at a diagnosis. We then watch the medical team as they administer life-saving interventions. A few stories transpire out of the hospital: One happens on the street where a fallen Austin 10K runner is attended to. Another is on a cruise ship; the retired Dr. Crocker takes charge after the ship’s medical personnel falter in their efforts to revive a collapsed man. We witness victorious saves, but there are also horrific failures.
While all the stories are about the ravages brought about by illness, we find welcome humor, too. The author cleverly describes a violent patient as similar to King Kong but who unfortunately does not mistake Crocker for Jessica Lange. The reader also discovers the amusing side benefits of Vicks VapoRub.
Each story ends with lessons learned from the exhausting exercise: “Medicine is a team sport.” A doctor should not be quick to judge an ailment as “benign.” Not everyone can be saved.
The preface gives the reader the right orientation in facing the book, and the epilogue wraps everything up satisfactorily. The book ends with a poem about a miraculous recovery. That save clearly made a lasting mark on Dr. Crocker. I will remember that story, too.
The book will be appreciated by emergency medicine practitioners and health personnel, for the stories will certainly be familiar to them. However, even laypeople will be able to enjoy the book because Dr. Crocker defines most of the medical jargon. The reader will experience the adrenaline boost of one gloved and gowned for action in the pit, the emergency room. The squeamish ones who fear gore, needles, and death may not be the right audience for this book.
I would have given a perfect rating for this riveting book if there had been fewer grammatical flaws. Nonetheless, I am sure that the author will be able to doctor the errors to perfection very easily. Until then, I will have to give the book 3 out of 4 stars.
The present global situation underscores the significant role that health workers play in the preservation of the human race. This book will open our eyes to the challenges that they grapple with every day, even without a pandemic. Let us thank them for the work they do, the risks they take, and the sleep they forgo to keep us well.
More Letters from the Pit
View: on Bookshelves | on Amazon