Sunday, April 3, 2011

Book Review - In Stitches A Memoir

In Stitches
A Memoir
Anthony Youn M.D.
with Alan Eisenstock

Anthony Youn M.D. is a board-certified plastic surgeon with a private practice in Michigan. He has made several tv appearances on programs such as Dr. 90210, The Rachael Ray Show, The O'Reilly Factor and more. This book tells his story - from growing up in Michigan as a Korean-American through his college and medical school days.

Raised by strict, traditional Korean parents, Anthony (Tony) Youn knew from an early age that his future path would lead him to become a doctor. His father, a physician himself, made it clear that becoming a surgeon was the only way Tony would be successful. And while Tony wasn't always sure he even wanted to become a doctor, he always studied hard and excelled in school. We follow Tony through his awkward teenage and early college years - where besides his schoolwork, his main interest is girls. We read about his grueling days in medical school, where he finally realizes his purpose, his calling - to be a plastic surgeon.

I really enjoyed reading In Stitches. It was easy to read and heartfelt. The reader gets an inside look at the high-pressured, stressful life of a medical student - from practicing suturing skills on a pig's foot that Tony kept in his freezer, to the crazy and sometimes scary interactions with psychiatric patients. It's a tremendously difficult journey. There are lots of laugh-out-loud moments in the book as well as many poignant moments. I found myself laughing and crying throughout.

Check out this excerpt from the book:

At our first class, Dr. Gaw hands out equipment, including latex gloves, goggles, and what I really want, nose plugs, which I stuff into my nostrils, hoping to at least partially deflect the stench. The nose plugs don’t help, so except for gloves, I go commando. I figure I might as well get used to the smell. I’ll have to, if I ever do become a real doctor. Most of the other first-years wear as much protective covering as possible. One guy, a gunner, shows up on the second day of anatomy wearing a hazmat suit. The whole ball and tackle. Goggles and ventilation mask. Dr. Gaw says nothing, but I think I see her scowl flutter, and I imagine her dropping Hazmat’s grade.

Tim and I scramble to find seats together. Tim, I’ve learned by now, has exactly zero mechanical aptitude. A week into medical school, we’ve eliminated the possibility that he will ever become a surgeon. He struggles to pull on his gloves. This first day, I face him and yank them on for him. Once they’re secure, I turn back and find Dr. Gaw standing over me. She reeks of formaldehyde. She holds a moist body part in one bony gloved hand.

“Dr. Youn.”

How the hell does she know my name?

“Yes, Dr. Gaw?”

“Which valve of the heart am I holding?”

Am I glad she said heart. I thought she was holding a liver. I take a shot. “Mitral valve?”

“Congratulations.” Do I detect a trace of a Nazi accent? “This is the aortic valve.” She spits the words at me. “You have the deductive ability of a monkey. I pity your future patients, Dr. Youn.”

She limps away.

Tim whispers, “If it makes you feel any better, I thought it was the small intestine.”

Dr. Gaw suddenly materializes in front of Tim. Where did she come from? It’s as if she stepped out of a fog.

“Do you have something to add to the class, Dr. O’Laughlin?”

“Me? No. Not at all. Not at the moment.”

“I assumed as much. If you have any reasonable hope of passing this class, I would suggest that you and Dr. Youn refrain from talking and joking and making fools of yourselves. Oh, and a helpful suggestion. As doctors, you will find it useful if you can distinguish the heart from the small intestine.”

I’m shaken. I’ve never found myself in such unfamiliar territory. Academically—from elementary school through college—I have always excelled. I’m the school scholar, the student hotshot, the freaking valedictorian. Within seconds, Dr. Gaw has trashed all that. To her, I’m the class idiot.

I’m left with two choices. I can shrink away. Or I can bounce back.

It takes me two seconds to decide.

I am going to dominate anatomy.

Starting tomorrow.

You can preorder In Stitches at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Borders Books. And, if you preorder the book now, you can enter to win prizes like a free iPad, Amazon Kindle, Barnes and Noble Nook and a Grand Prize of $1000 in nonsurgical treatments of your choice at YOUN Plastic Surgery! Visit the In Stitches website for all the details on how to enter the giveaway.

Sneak Attack Media provided me with a free review copy of the book, In Stitches. I was not paid to post and all opinions are my own.