Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside

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Random House Publishing Group, May 2, 2006 - Biography & Autobiography - 288 pages
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.
 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gayla.bassham - LibraryThing

Probably worth reading if you are interested in medicine. It helps to not be a hypochondriac (I now suspect that I have both an AVM AND a brain tumor). On the other hand, it's poorly organized and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - PatienceFortitude - LibraryThing

It made me a little squeamish to read detailed, vivid accounts of brain surgery, anatomy- drilling holes in skulls and pulling back skin flaps, eek. However, this was an intriguing read, and didn't ... Read full review

Contents

Scientist and Mechanic
3
Small World
14
Influences
21
Acceptance 55
33
Culture
44
Routine
59
Evolution Through Blood
73
Tools
89
Emotion
115
Disturbing Deviations
129
Slices
146
Fragments
159
Brainlifts
252
Acknowledgments
265
Copyright

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Brain Surgeons
Diane Bailey
Limited preview - 2008

About the author (2006)

Katrina Firlik was the first woman admitted to the neurosurgery residency program at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, the largest–and one of the most prestigious–neurosurgery programs in the country. She is now a private practitioner in Greenwich, Connecticut, and a clinical assistant professor at Yale University School of Medicine. She lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, with her husband, a neurosurgeon turned venture capitalist. Visit her online at www.katrinafirlik.com

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