The follow-up to the successful and acclaimed Do No Harm, Admissions is a much more personal title from neurosurgeon, Henry Marsh, with much turmoil and debate about death and practice, as he ponders on the more personal and less professional side to it, although it’s clear that this personal approach does have a domino effect on the professional. A well written and informative book on the highs and lows of performing surgery for a living, Admissions is a very open and honest account.
Marsh retired from his full-time job in England to work pro bono in Ukraine and Nepal, which in Admissions, he goes into great detail about. He describes the difficulties of working in these sadly impoverished countries and the further insights it offered him, getting to grips to the norms practising medicine in these countries. Up close and personal, Admissions really does outline his problems with responsibility and the weight of burden he feels upon his shoulders when it comes to dying patients or how far it is possible to go to reduce or omit human suffering. Transformative and confessional, there is a great deal of the real surgeon on display on these pages, which may make for interesting or uneasy reading. At times I felt both, understanding the difficulties in this line of work, how do you tell someone that an operation did not go entirely to plan and that they will lose their life in a matter of months?
Introspectively reflecting on what forty years of neurosurgery has taught him, Marsh openly finds a different purpose in life as he approaches the end of his professional career and a fresh understanding of what matters to us all in the end. Evidently struggling with the idea of death, as he is retiring and realising that this is becoming more of a reality for himself, there is much within this text that makes the reader feel a tad voyeuristic. He even goes as far to approve countries and states that have made euthanasia legal, as he contemplates worse case scenarios for his own health, as it would too reduce the suffering and offer some degree of reassurance. As aforementioned this is an informative and uneasy read, and this is a prime example of where it becomes a little formidable.
An insightful, yet difficult read at points, Henry Marsh has laid bare his difficulties with his profession, detailing it all in this informative read.
Admissions is available now, published by W&N.