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In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope
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In Shock: My Journey from Death to Recovery and the Redemptive Power of Hope

4.37  ·  Rating details ·  1,399 ratings  ·  210 reviews
A first-person account from a young critical care physician describes how toward the end of her medical training she suddenly became a patient fighting for her own life, revealing how her experiences exposed her to flaws in today's care standards and how to better embrace the emotional bond between doctor and patient.

A first-person account from a young critical care physic
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published October 24th 2017 by St. Martin's Press
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Lynn I think it is the same book. I am currently reading the one subtitled like that and it seems to correspond to what this page talks about. From what I…moreI think it is the same book. I am currently reading the one subtitled like that and it seems to correspond to what this page talks about. From what I understand, different editions of the book have different subtitles. (less)

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This was an unexpected book that landed on my doorstep from the publisher.
I had no idea of this book, no idea it was arriving so an unsolicited copy for me to read.

I thought I’d pick this up over the weekend and flick through it. But I ended up reading this from cover to cover.

A doctor who ends up being a patient.

Let me copy and paste what developed in this doctors young body.


HELLP syndrome is a complication of pregnancy characterized by hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and a low platel
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
As a physician, this is the perfect reminder that what seems routine to us, is someone's very worst day. And we have the power to connect and offer more than just modern medicine. Another reminder of how important words are, and Dr. Awdish's words are amazing-powerful and haunting at the same time. This should be required reading in medical school!

The doctor became the patient when Awdish, seven months pregnant, was rushed into emergency surgery with excruciating pain due to severe hemorrhaging into the space around her liver. Initially diagnosed as HELLP, an often fatal liver syndrome that affects 1% of pregnant woman, her condition was later explained by a ruptured liver tumor. Her unborn daughter didn’t survive, and she nearly died herself. It was as if she was hovering in the upper corner of the operating room, watching her body being
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This author's journey begins when she becomes a critically ill patient and gains a new perspective on how doctors are trained to do their jobs and the flaws in that education. The story is very readable despite the many medical terms and procedures described. The author's experiences are harrowing, but she describes them clearly, sometimes with humor and usually with words that a non-medical person can understand.
How I wish more doctors would figure out what she figured out after she almost died
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's not just hope that propels this memoir. I agree with the subtitle that its redemptive power surges through this story, offering a vital trajectory that both physician and patient can traverse together. But you don't get to that redemption without trudging through murkier waters, and Dr. Awdish deftly steers readers—patients, doctors, caregivers ... all of us—through that journey. She unflinchingly approaches shame and guilt and feelings of worthlessness. When she describes how doctors are t ...more
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: five-star
This was a beautifully poetic memoir chronicling a doctors journey to the brink of death. I initially believed this to be some kind of quasi religious epiphany but in actual fact the authors spirituality is not the focal point of her book.

I found this memoir so difficult to put down and caught myself thinking of it even when I wasn’t reading. The author highlights the difficult transition from doctor to patient and how she comes to realise that even the smallest interactions leave a lasting imp
Kathleen Gray
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a book I wish physicians in training were given to read and to discuss. Awdish's tragedy- the loss of her child- is a teaching point for other physicians even as she is trying to process what has happened. Her illness and recovery are amazing; be aware that she does not spare us details of what are sometimes difficult medical and personal issues. If you've ever thought that doctors have it better when they are hospitalized or treated, this book will make you think again. The language is ...more
Latonya Davis
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Medicine cannot heal in a vacuum; it requires connection." ~Rana Awdish, MD

This book would not allow me to put it down! It is a memoire that will serve as a template for medical empathy and revising approaches and conversations had at patient bedsides. It reads as a "Do Better" manual for healthcare workers. It is a testament to true love and a hope for altruistic medical practice. Her descriptions were so visceral they left me altered. I feel as though I have done right by my patients as their
One of the last things that Dr. Rana Awdish remembers hearing was “we’re losing her.” She was on the surgical table at the hospital where she worked, and had gone into multisystem organ failure. That she survived was a miracle, and her recovery was long, with many setbacks. She recounts her medical treatment from the standpoint of knowing how medicine should work and why it sometimes doesn’t. She writes about the lack of empathy from clinicians, miscommunication among hospital staff and absolute ...more
Rebecca Fernea
Apr 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
Well I really wish reviewers would stop saying “a must read for those in the medical field.” I have been an ICU nurse for almost 15 years. The majority of nurses already have the compassion that lots of doctors lack. Often we pick up the pieces after the doctor delivers devastating news. We interpret medical jargon into layman’s terms after the doctor leaves the room. The list goes on and on.

I found the book rather lacking. It felt repetitive in that she tells readers the same message over and
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes reality is more cliffhanging, poignant and moreish than fiction. The rate I tore through this memoir of One Damn Medical Thing After Another is an indication of just how compelling it can be to encounter a story of true suffering, with pain on a scale I hope I'll never experience and the heartbreak not only of Rana Awdish's story but those of other patients she and her colleagues routinely dealt with.

But this isn't just an invitation to wallow in the sufferings of others. It's also a r
May 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dead-baby, memoir
Some parts of this were very strong and compelling. The parts that I found most impactful were the instances when she was spoken to condescendingly by medical personnel, or when they would not listen to her. I find this routinely in my medical care and that of my children, and wish every doctor would read this book. Maybe, coming from another doctor, it would improve the system. Her story was very moving, though at times I thought it struggled with the chronology and simple conveyance issues--I' ...more
Aug 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Anytime I have an opportunity to read about someone else's experiences, whether good or bad, I know I am going to learn something; this was definitely the case with In Shock. While the subject matter may seem dark (and it is), the writing style helps to lighten the load as Awdish is, impressively, able to inject humor into even her darkest moments. Even while she chronicles some very traumatic experiences (loss of a child, critical illness) she does it so eloquently that you sometimes forget you ...more
Laura Stone
Nov 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Mixed feelings about this book. The author truly has been through a nightmare with her health and her efforts to better the experience for patients through better communication are important. Minor points.. The narrative ran on at times to the point of boredom so I had to skim parts. The part that really bothered me was the sections about the baby she lost. I was horrified when she her imagined the baby would just go to pathology to be sliced up and examined as a specimen instead of having to be ...more
Judy Gacek
Mar 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
A must read for anyone working in the health field. She has an understanding of medicine that rivals that of Abraham Verghese.
AL Sanchez
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever read a book where you didn't want to stop because the story was so compelling you needed to know everything that happened next, but at the same time you didn't want it to end because you wanted to savor every single word?
Well that is how I felt reading Dr. Rana Awdish's memoir In Shock.

As a physician and a mother I felt a deep connection with her story. Thankfully I never had any such complications, and I have not suffered such a devastating loss and illness, but with pregnancy the
Jan 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was a little bit worried to pick up this book at first. I'm not big on non-fiction (I don't count scientific literature in this category), and I sometimes find it difficult to get to the end of non-fiction books. However, the topic was interesting, so I decided to give it a go. I have surprised myself by finishing it in just eight days. Most parts of this book read like a fiction akin to the medical TV shows - a patient with an impossible and usually fatal condition, residents and attendings s ...more
Sarah Ewald
Feb 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What happens when a doctor becomes the patient? Dr. Rana Awdish, at 27 weeks in her first pregnancy, experienced catastrophic hemorrhaging, and nearly died. In fact, she describes her 'out of body' experience during the surgery to save her, looking down at the scene. She even describes the intern sitting in the corner. She heard the words uttered by the surgeon. Fortunately she survived (her baby didn't), but not without complications that sent her back to the hospital in which she worked severa ...more
Matt Hope
Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Undoubtedly one of the most powerful books I read this year. Throughout my life I spent over a year in hospitals as a patient for various reasons. I recognized many of the things Dr Awdish talks about in the book.

It’s a book that tells of life and death, describes the elaborate dance physicians and patients alike have to perform to not fall into the abyss known as death. At least not for a little while.

This book should be required reading for every medical professional everywhere. To say it st
Aug 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was incredible. Awdish was able to articulate so many things I've felt as a clinician who regularly delivers bad news and deals with the death of patients. The section on resilience made me cry with the relief that my feelings of shame and inadequacy are not uncommon. I'm going to try to get everyone I work with to read this.
Bruce Campbell
Nov 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Arthur Frank defines several types of illness narratives; Dr. Awdish's remarkably told journey sits somewhere between a "restorative" and a "quest" experience. She is restored to her family and her work, yet she is transformed by having seen into the abyss of her near-death challenge. Her insights and moments of "Wow. I used to say things like that," are convicting for those of us who are privileged to care for people who come to us for care. The fact that she emerged from the other end of her i ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has truly changed my practice as a nurse. I take the time to sit down introduce myself and actively listen without interrupting. In a busy emergency room, this easy task can be challenging. However, I leave work with energy instead of physically and emotionally exhausted. When I leave for the day I feel I have really made a difference because I took the time to listen and address their biggest fears. Thank you for your insight and sharing your experiences! It has made me a more compass ...more
Michelle Neely lalonde
Oct 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Emily Hindelang
Jan 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story of a Doctor who overcomes a fascinating journey of life-threatening critical illness and recovery. The medical story itself is jaw-dropping, interesting, at times heartbreaking, and suspenseful. Like an episode out of House. Dr. Awdish's commentary and perspective is written so eloquently and she explores ideas that kept me interested and found myself re-reading right away. Working in a fast-pace medical hospital setting myself, it was a great inside perspective from a pati ...more
Susan Burke
Jun 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am not one who likes to read stories about blood and gore and awful suffering of human life, but such as we live in a time of tremendous pain and suffering from all walks of life, in all shapes, forms and sizes, and after some suffering of my own from an obscure, and in diagnosable illness (simply because doctors are not up to snuff on what is killing humans today); I felt compelled to read a book about a woman's ordeal, a near-death or death (as she describes it) experience from a terrible il ...more
Megan Gerken
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
I loved this book. I would never have guessed that a nonfiction book like this would fall into the "I can't put it down category" but this did. I will say that if you are pregnant or still considering having a child or more children this might not be the best book to read, especially if you are anxious or very empathetic.

I thought this book had such an interesting and thought-provoking perspective. I think this book or a lecture by this author should be required for medical students. Even thoug
Jan 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had a hard time thinking about the review of this book because there is just so much I want to say. It is an astoundingly good book and I am grateful to my dear friend for pressing it into my hands and insisting I read it. My now (lovingly tattered) copy is full of book darts and highlights of passages I can't wait to return to again and again. Dr. Awdish's story is heartbreaking and hopeful and full of really important lessons for those of us privileged to practice medicine. It should absolut ...more
Oct 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This poignant, excruciatingly intimate revelatory undertaking was a privelege to read. It is a tranformational and extraordinary piece of literature that is a must read for everyman.
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What I liked about this book is that the author is not only a trained medical doctor but she has an innate gift of using language and metaphors to describe deep thoughtful and feelings. The story itself is very well written and includes both objectivity and subjective interpretations as a patient would feel and think.

The book is about the author’s experience as a clinical scientist and her journey to the other side of the paradigm. At seven months pregnant, she suffers a hemorrhage within her bo
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
There is so much in this book to consider and ponder. Dr. Awdish is a physician who soon becomes a patient - and not just any patient but a critically ill patient who, at one point, dies on the operating table. In an excellent treatise on how being a patient taught her how to be a different, more compassionate doctor, Dr. Awdish offers hope and insight as well as many ideas for changing the way doctors treat their patients. But at the same time, she lets patients know how to help their doctors f ...more
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Rana Awdish, MD, FCCP is the author of In Shock, a memoir based on her own critical illness. A critical care physician and faculty member of Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, Michigan, she completed her medical degree at Wayne State in 2002 where she was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha national medical honor society, her residency at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York, and ...more
“It is entirely possible to feel someone’s pain, acknowledge their suffering, hold it in our hands and support them with our presence without depleting ourselves, without clouding our judgment. But only if we are honest about our own feelings.” 5 likes
“The traits we revile in others are often the ones that remind us most of our worst selves. And we react most strongly to the faults and flaws we see in others that we are most ashamed of in ourselves” 1 likes
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