The Man Who Lived in an Eggcup

A Memoir of Triumph and Self-Destruction

Non-Fiction - Health - Medical
250 Pages
Reviewed on 09/12/2011
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Janet Jensen for Readers' Favorite

The Man who Lived in an Eggcup chronicles a collection of a physician's experiences from med school through the final decade of his accomplished career. Gamel, an ophthalmologist, takes us inside the mind and the heart of the physician as he learns his craft. There are many historical notes as he reviews conditions and practices common during his early career that have changed significantly for today's practitioners. Early in the book he confesses: "I know a lot about hypochondria, having suffered from it during much of my adult life - such a severe case that my search for a cure drove me to become a physician." He describes one of his mentors, Alan Barbour, an expert on hypochondria: "Alan would be the first to heal those patients who did not want to be healed, a Don Quixote despised by his testy and vituperative Dulcineas."

Gamel is a born storyteller. I found his stories absolutely fascinating. One unforgettable section of the book describes a delicate and lengthy lung cancer surgery performed by renowned specialists, who, after the surgery is over, "hit the door of the doctors' lounge like lions after a kill . . . ." to the comfort and relief offered by their personal packs of Camel unfiltered cigarettes.

I appreciated the insights Gamel offers into the mind and daily life of a physician. His specialty, ophthalmology, is an especially interesting subject. He uses terminology the lay reader can follow, and makes his patients real. He also paints vivid pictures of the demands and stresses that can cause burnout and mistakes and of the toll this profession can take on one's personal life. An especially comedic moment occurs when he is shoved into a room full of mothers with their newborns; he must give them a lecture on baby care before they can be discharged. Totally unnerved by the task at hand, he confesses: "Logic had failed. My only hope was to turn on the charm." Which he certainly does in this book!