Synopses & Reviews
In this powerful and sometimes shocking account, a surgeon reveals her experience of hospital life with rare frankness.
In her mid-twenties, Gabriel Weston - an arts graduate with no scientific qualification beyond high school-level biology - decided to become a surgeon. She enrolled at night school, then went through many years of medical school and surgical training.
Now in her late thirties, she has achieved her ambition and is working as a surgeon in a British hospital. But I have never quite managed to shake off the feeling that I am an imposter,she says. Even when operating, it sometimes seems like I am on the outside looking in.
Direct Red is the result of those observations. It is a superbly written, startlingly raw account of her experience of life in a hospital. All her own doubts, mistakes, and incongruous triumphs are faithfully recorded. It is also a revealing and at times chilling account of what she sees around her. The world of surgery is secret and closed - or was until now.
I knew that this man needed to be opened up immediately. I phoned the on-call consultant, offering to meet him in theatre.
Not so fast, he objected. You youngsters are always in such a hurry. When he finally did concede that we needed to go to theatre, he picked up a coffee on the way.
Physiology forced pace on the situation: once we cut the man open, we were confronted with the sight of the hollow cavern of the patient's abdomen filling with blood as quickly as a basin fills with water.
This consultant did not have a clue what to do; didn't know the simplest emergency measures. He dressed his incompetence in a mannered slowness of action. It took him almost an hour to admit he wasn't coping, at which point he shouted at the scrub nurse: Get me another surgeon Any surgeon
The night taught me the paramount value of a quick response.
From the Hardcover edition.
Surgeons have long been known for their allergy to doubt, an unsurprising trait in professionals who must play God, routinely risking someone else's life to do their job. But in this illuminating memoir, Gabriel Weston reveals the emotions, passions, and doubts normally hidden behind a surgeon's mask.
Interweaving her own story with those of her patients, old and young, Weston evokes both the humor and the heartbreak that come from medicine's daily confrontation with the ultimate unknowability of the human body. With prose that does not flinch from the raw, graphic realities of a surgeon's day, Weston confronts life, death, and the unique difficulties of being a female surgeon in a heavily male-dominated profession.
“What a terrific book….[Weston] leaves you feeling that if push came to shove youd want to be operated on by her.”
—Nicholas Shakespeare, author of Bruce Chatwin: A Biography
The continuing popularity of doctor shows on TV—from Scrubs, House, and Greys Anatomy to the television phenomenon ER—indicates a widespread fascination with all things medical. Direct Red, by practicing ear, nose, and throat surgical specialist Gabriel Weston, takes readers behind the scenes and into the operating room for a fascinating look at what really goes on on the other side of the hospital doors. “A Surgeons View of her Life-and-Death Profession,” Westons Direct Red is written not only with knowledge and insight, but with compassion, honesty, and literary flair.
About the Author
Educated in the United Kingdom and the United States, Gabriel Weston studied English literature at Edinburgh University before attending medical school in London. She went on to become a member of the Royal College of Surgeons and is a part-time ear, nose, and throat surgical specialist. She lives in London with her husband and two children.