Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside
Katrina Firlik is a neurosurgeon, one of only two hundred or so women among the alpha males who dominate this high-pressure, high-prestige medical specialty. She is also a superbly gifted writer–witty, insightful, at once deeply humane and refreshingly wry. In Another Day in the Frontal Lobe, Dr. Firlik draws on this rare combination to create a neurosurgeon’s Kitchen Confidential–a unique insider’s memoir of a fascinating profession.
Neurosurgeons are renowned for their big egos and aggressive self-confidence, and Dr. Firlik confirms that timidity is indeed rare in the field. “They’re the kids who never lost at musical chairs,” she writes. A brain surgeon is not only a highly trained scientist and clinician but also a mechanic who of necessity develops an intimate, hands-on familiarity with the gray matter inside our skulls. It’s the balance between cutting-edge medical technology and manual dexterity, between instinct and expertise, that Firlik finds so appealing–and so difficult to master.
Firlik recounts how her background as a surgeon’s daughter with a strong stomach and a keen interest in the brain led her to this rarefied specialty, and she describes her challenging, atypical trek from medical student to fully qualified surgeon. Among Firlik’s more memorable cases: a young roofer who walked into the hospital with a three-inch-long barbed nail driven into his forehead, the result of an accident with his partner’s nail gun, and a sweet little seven-year-old boy whose untreated earache had become a raging, potentially fatal infection of the brain lining.
From OR theatrics to thorny ethical questions, from the surprisingly primitive tools in a neurosurgeon’s kit to glimpses of future techniques like the “brain lift,” Firlik cracks open medicine’s most prestigious and secretive specialty. Candid, smart, clear-eyed, and unfailingly engaging, Another Day in the Frontal Lobe is a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes glimpse into a world of incredible competition and incalculable rewards.
From the Hardcover edition.
"The brain is my business."
By E. Bukowsky "booklover10" - July 23, 2006
Katrina Firlik is one of approximately 4,500 neurosurgeons in the United States. Although only five percent are women, the number is growing as more bright and ambitious females enter the field. In her book, "Another Day in the Frontal Lobe," Firlik writes about her seven years of post-medical school training which led to her appointment as Chief Resident of Neurosurgery at the age of thirty-three, and later, to a job in an upscale Connecticut hospital.
After briefly touching on the history of neurosurgery, Firlik discusses the nature of this specialty. It is a combination of science and mechanics. Unlike neurologists and psychologists, both of whom deal with the human brain, it is the neurosurgeon's task to physically heal patients who have blood clots, tumors, and other traumas that afflict the brain and spinal cord. Technical proficiency, accuracy, and speed on the part of the surgeon are all essential if the patient is to survive with minimal impairment... read more
By Reader "Reader" - May 10, 2006
As a mother of a boy who underwent brain surgery (fortunately successful), I was naturally drawn to this title. What I hadn't expected was to find it such a fascinating and fun read. I simply couldn't put the book down. Dr. Firlik is as talented a writer as she obviously is a surgeon (and why not, how many doctors would name Raymond Carver as one of their favorite authors - most I would venture to guess, wouldn't even know his name). I learned a great deal from this book - some of which I was glad I didn't know before my son's surgery. I can't imagine anyone, whether or not they have faced neurosurgery, not enjoying this book.
If I only had ... a brain
By J. Robles - June 11, 2006
I approached Dr. Firlik's book with some trepidation, having undergone brain surgery a few years ago for a diving board accident of all things. I wasn't sure I really wanted to know what might have gone on when the door to my skull was opened. But I'm glad I did if only to appreciate what it takes to become a neurosurgeon. I really couldn't put this book down. From the cute but sad baby story to the question that I'm not sure is ever answered - what color is the brain? - It's nice to know someone on the other end of a scalpel appreciates another 24 hours as much as I do now.
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