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Hot Lights, Cold Steel: Life, Death and Sleepless Nights in a Surgeon's First Years Paperback – Jan 24 2006

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1 edition (Jan. 24 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312352697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312352691
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 295 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #86,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

Collins begins this personal chronicle with an account of a choice he had to make between amputating a 14-year-old boy's leg and saving the limb at a greater risk to the boy's life. (He amputated the leg.) This dilemma came at the conclusion of Collins's grueling four years of residency at the Mayo Clinic, culminating in his appointment as chief resident in orthopedic surgery. Now in practice in Illinois, he details, with admirable humor and insight, the early, virtually sleepless years when he learned not only to perfect his craft but to come to terms with the emotional impact of causing pain and losing patients. Collins brings to life the dramatic moments when he made his first, terrifying incision and hand-drilled a traction pin into a weeping six-year–old's leg. Collins and his wife, Patti, wanted a large family, but the economic strain of having three children in three years (they eventually had 12) forced him to moonlight every other weekend at rural hospitals. There are moving passages about his love for Patti and the bonds he developed with other residents, and empathetic evocations of those he treats. Collins describes powerfully how he came to understand that his calling was not just to develop as a skilled surgical technician, but to treat his patients humanely as individuals.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* If he didn't feel overwhelmed before the Mayo Clinic senior orthopedic surgery resident lobbed a beeper at him with the nonchalant order, "Cover for me," 29-year-old ex-cabdriver, ex-construction worker, and, at the time, brand-new resident Collins certainly did then. It was his first day on the job, and instantly he began fielding calls from staff nurses requesting orders for patients he hadn't laid eyes on. If it hadn't been for his innate sense of humor--brilliantly demonstrated in this memoir of his Mayo residency--and a sense of perspective derived from that experience, he might have failed. He didn't, and here he honors those who helped him along the way and those whom he helped. As a man who recognizes that he, too, makes his living with his hands, Collins anguishes over the options available to a carpenter who had severed four fingers. After assisting at a young cancer patient's leg amputation, only to learn later that she had died within months, anyway, he agonizes over what drew him to his profession in the first place and what could possibly keep him on course. "I wanted to be the guy who confronted the arbitrariness of life and strangled the unfairness out of it." Instead, while honing his craft, he learned from a Vietnam vet that the main thing patients deserve is compassion. If Collins' scalpel is as sharp as his pen, his patients are in capable hands, indeed. Donna Chavez
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
If you're a fan of such medical novels as House of God and Intern Blues then this book is for you. It's very well written and the pages practically turn themselves. I was especially impressed at how he managed to convey a deep sense of compassion towards his patients. This book deserves to be read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I loved this book! The author uses a great voice to write with and shows the true life of what it is like to get through medical school and work with the real life medical drama of the world. You will laugh, cry, groan, and tell everyone you are around about the stories that he tells. There were even times I wish I knew him so I could have helped him get a better car! He shares family life and struggles along with personal and professional ones. This book is a keeper and if you like medical stories, or learning that a doctor is just like the rest of us normal people, you will love this book!
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Format: Paperback
Fascinating story written by a doctor who obviously cares deeply about his patients...too bad he doesn't care as much about offending God with his profanity!!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0x9b192a80) out of 5 stars 110 reviews
43 of 43 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99b4b9fc) out of 5 stars Blood, Sweat and Tears Dec 6 2005
By C. Middleton - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well-written and highly polished memoir about an Orthopaedic surgeon's four year residency at the famous Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Dr. Collins is a good writer, giving the impression that he poured his heart and soul into this text: it's funny, at times sad and gruesome in parts, but again, reading about the training surgeon, one gets the distinct feeling that these men and women, having to run through the depths of hell to finally get qualified, must be born to the task - or simply masochistic by nature.

If this memoir is to be believed, and there's no reason why it shouldn't, every nightmare story that you have heard about the four-year residency is absolutely true. It's astounding that these people manage to survive - the tortuous long stretches on their feet saving lives, sometimes reaching 60 to 70 hours is nothing less than miraculous. Treating patients day and night, constantly worrying that you'll screw up, taking peoples lives in your hands could send the most grounded individual around the bend - in some cases it does, but for the most part, these people get through to become qualified surgeons, as did Dr. Collins, but through a lot of blood sweat and tears.

Hot Lights, Cold Steel reads like a novel, as the characterization, structure of the plot and the pathos, the utter sadness of some of his cases, and the joy and exhilaration of his successes, had me just as enthralled as any top selling thriller. Dr. Collins has a gift for description as he illustrates the amputation of a limb, including a section of the patient's pelvis, in such detailed imagery, that it became difficult to read. He also has a great sense of humour, which I believe is so necessary to survive in this profession.

One of the more terrible of the Dr.'s experiences was the attempted resuscitation of a six year old boy who had been run over by a drunk. Collins and the ER staff did everything humanly possible to save the child, but his injuries were too severe. The undeserved death of innocence is hard to take, and it affected the attending staff in a big way. This was also terribly difficult to read. Then there was the young kindergarten teacher who just came in because of a slight pain in her hip, to discover her entire skeleton was riddled with cancer, unfortunately she died six months later. After reading about these cases one realizes that life is fleeting and fragile, and should never be taken for granted.

I have always had great respect for those in the medical profession, but this book has doubled that respect and opened my eyes to their tenacity, courage and skill. This is a great book and is highly recommended.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e76724c) out of 5 stars great book, fascinating story Feb. 8 2005
By Edward C. Olliver - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book! The story of Collins' surgical residency at the Mayo Clinic is passionate, well-told and very funny. The stories of the sometimes serious injuries facing his patients are balanced with often humorous stories about his young and growing family struggling to make ends meet. I enjoyed gaining an insight into the often difficult life of a barely paid, over-worked resident. What Scott Turow's "One L" was for law students, this book will be for residents. I highly recommend this book!
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d81b94) out of 5 stars This is a great book! Feb. 15 2005
By Eileen Keenan - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Even though this is technically a medical memoir, there is no need to be a medical professional to appreciate this humorous and well-written book chronicling Collins' journey to become an orthopedic surgeon. Although the book primarily focuses on the patients he treated and the lessons he learned along the way, some of the funniest and most touching parts of the book center around Collins' ever-expanding family. Also entertaining are his woes revolving around several piece-of-junk cars. Collins has a cunning wit and a fantastic sense of humor that make this book a joy to read.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99cc33fc) out of 5 stars No editing or proofreading in Kindle version Oct. 29 2011
By C guttatus - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Skip the Kindle version and buy the paperback or hardback. The Kindle version is riddled with typos and (presumably) digital conversion errors. If I were the author, I would be appalled that my publisher deemed this acceptable. When I complained to Amazon, they suggested I send them a detailed list of all the errors. I bought the book for $9.99 and they would like me to do the proofreading as well? Although this is the worst book I have come across in terms of errors (I would never buy another digital book published by St. Martin's Press), other Kindle books are similarly poorly edited and much of my initial enthusiasm for this medium has been dampened by the poor quality.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x99d81c9c) out of 5 stars Hot Lights & Cold Steel Aug. 19 2005
By James J. June - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very heart-rendering, gut-wrenching book that causes you to get misty-eyed one minute and laugh out loud the next.

It follows a new physician through his four year residency program. He explores the trials and tribulations of his residency while living on the edge of total poverty. All this with no sleep. It is far superior to Willian Nolan's "The Making of a Surgeon."

The real question is, when is Dr. Collins going to write his next book?