Bedside Manners is a series of essays/vignettes about the encounters between doctors and patients, mostly. All but a couple are clearly intended to be true and from the perspective of Dr. Watts, who is a gastroenterologist. (The couple that seem to be about some other doctor are weird.) His writing is prosey and nice, and stories fly by, and the subject matter is surprisingly interesting. (Not that I’m surprised that the 6,049,284th medical memoir I’ve read was interesting. But he’s a gastroenterologist.)
Are you hearing a “but”? There’s a but. (Do you know how hard I’m resisting a gastroenterology joke right now?)
A couple chapters in this book struck me as really problematic. In one, a patient has sepsis from gonorrhea in her throat. It’s not the first time. Something about her body makes her particularly vulnerable to it, and her boyfriend has been the one to give it to her every time because he won’t get treatment. Dr. Watts’ mind is just blown by how beautiful she is and the fact that she keeps “giving herself” in spite of the risk. It’s gross. A few chapters later there’s a nurse being a professional and not taking sides in a dispute among colleagues and when she takes a while to top off an anesthetized patient’s meds and her boobs touch his shoulder, her takes that as a sign that she’s silently telling him she’s on his side and he can…fall backwards into her womanliness or something. Ugh.
Does a book that’s 90% great outweigh a couple of short chapters that are super icky? I don’t know. If you think so, I’d recommend it. The rest of the book was a solid four stars. If not, pass.