Diane's Reviews > Oxygen

Oxygen by Carol Cassella
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Sep 05, 10

bookshelves: general-fiction
Read in September, 2010

This book had me hooked from the first several pages. The author begins with a really beautiful description of the fragility of life as a patient lies on the operating table, and the fine line an aesthesiology walks to keep the patient alive. The description was chilling, and thought provoking.

A doctor who has devoted her life to her career, and truly cares about her patients, is devastated when an 8 year old girl dies on her operating table, and her role in it comes under scrutiny. She is consumed with guilt, confused about what she may have done wrong, obsessed with her role in destroying a mother's life, and questions her competency for the first time in her medical career. I thought the author did an excellent job of humanizing the medical profession. The technical aspects appear authentic but are not too dry for a lay person. The doctor finds herself sucked into the legal system, and appears to be totally naive about the legal ramifications of what happened. As a lawyer, I appreciated and totally believed the doctor's confusion, suprise and horror about where the legal process took her.

During this crisis, the doctor has to reevaluate her relationships. People she worked with every day and trusted, question her. She comes to rely on an old friend with whom she had a brief relationship. Her bonds with her family become more important. The doctor's father, who let her down long ago, reaches out to his daughter and offers some valuable insight.

I have to say that, from the beginning, I had the resolution basically figured out. Still, this was a good read. I finished it in one sitting. It made me appreciate doctors in a new way. I hope this author will continue to write.
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