Inside a Neurosurgeons head…

Inside a Neurosurgeons head…

I didn’t actually mean that literally 🙂

I just finished reading “Do no harm” by Henry Marsh a little while back.  A book, written from the perspective and view of a Neurosurgeon providing some insight to its reader, on what its like to be on the other side.  Something attracted me to this particular book to begin with…

  • Maybe it was the fact that it’s a book written by a Neurosurgeon himself which, I thought, was as good as “gold“.
  • Maybe it’s the fact that I’m at a point in my medical care where I’m trying to understand, at all costs, the reasons for certain things.  I have a growing need inside of me to understand why there’s a “reluctance” to operate on or treat patients who have Hydrocephalus.  (A seemingly common theme across the world).
  • A need to know why Neurosurgeons come across as preferring a “reactive” approach to a “proactive” one.  (I’m not talking about instances where they have no other choice).
  • A yearning for an understanding of that which I am so obviously missing and just not getting.

My search for answers is endless…

I feel like over the last 6 years, I’ve been pushing against the doctors I’ve consulted with and maybe, just maybe, I need to see things from their point of view.  I hoped this book would help to fill in the gaps.

All I can say is this:

It leaves me feeling a deeper sense of the limbo state I’ve been in for the last 6 years.  On one hand, I can understand why these surgeons are the way they are – having read this book.  Something which goes against every grain of me, being a patient of doctors specialising in Neurosurgery.  After reading this book, I realised that as a person living with an incurable condition (Hydrocephalus) I am merely a number, an unimportant brain deemed not critical to the daily routine of surgeries they deal with.  The condition is mentioned quite a few times throughout the book and it especially hit home learning that his own child was diagnosed and treated.  (Sadly, he doesn’t go into too much detail about any of the Hydrocephalus patients mentioned – it’s as if Hydrocephalus is at the bottom-end of the Neurosurgical food chain).  This is especially true in the case of people walking into their consulting rooms with brain tumours and challenges which actually excite them and get their surgical juices flowing.  (Having said that, I’m reminded of my first consult with a Neurosurgeon when I moved to New Zealand.  He had that same giddy childhood excitement at the prospect of actually having a patient with Hydrocephalus as he doesn’t “get to see too many of those).  I’m important only at the point where they have no other choice BUT to give me the attention I require and NOT a second earlier.  In a twisted way, I suppose that should be a “good thing“…

Then, there’s the flip side, it’s made me even angrier as a patient.  The reason for this is as simple as having every fear, preconceived idea of the “god-like complexes” (a term this author uses to describe doctors like himself), some of them walk around with and, ultimately, confirmation that they are after all human and DO get it wrong/make mistakes.

I think, for myself, I would like to think of these doctors as the ones who hold all the answers.  (I know…that’s dumb).  The ones who inevitably will save me from this condition and help me get to a better state of health.  But, that is a false illusion.  A dreamland where I go from time to time, thinking that I’m invincible and will by some miracle live past my expiry date.

If only it were so simple…

This book has certainly put some things into perspective for me.  Whether I like or agree with much that I have read, well that’s neither here nor there.  It is what it is so…I accept it.  I will take the good with the bad and I will face the facts as they stand.  I simply don’t have the will to fight anymore but am thankful I stumbled across this account from a Neurosurgeons perspective – probably as close as I’ll ever get to being on the inside of their heads.

As someone who prefers to just be told the truth to deal with it as best I can, I appreciate the honesty and view from the other side.  Maybe someone else will come along and change the way I see things but for now, I accept, breathe and carry on.

Is there really any other option?


  • Karen DeBonis

    May 3, 2018 at 9:42 pm Reply

    I’m so glad you shared about this book, which I’ll check out. There’s such a disconnect between doctors and patients. I don’t know how to change it, but it’s so unfortunate that people like have to continue to suffer.

    • Skyewaters

      May 3, 2018 at 9:49 pm Reply

      Agreed Karen, I share your sentiment.
      I found it at my local library, so might be a good idea to check there first.

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