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pre-REVIEW: In Stitches, a medical memoir

March 17, 2011

Dr. Tony Youn’s memoir, In Stitches, is waiting at home for me to read. Whether you are a patient, a medical assistant, a pre-med candidate, a worldly Attending, or just someone who wants a laugh, I’m told this book has something for you. Looks like a few bloggers, including the lovely Albinoblackbear, are also reading this.

You can too – stay tuned for the draw in which you can enter to win a copy of the book!

Being far from ‘home’ (if I have one) on elective, I’ve had a lot of time and reason to reflect. Mainly, I’m thinking forward, and in looking forward I can’t help but reminisce. Medical school is a rocky road. I remember: panicked nights trying futilely to memorize the clotting cascade, having a snowball fight at 16000 ft elevation in the Himalayas, spending public transit rides with peers scoffing at our Attending’s old-school (and unsafe) medicine, and being frightened of being pimped by a nasty Orthopedic surgeon. There were also superb and debaucherous 80s nights and Halloween parties, scrubbing in and screwing up, the frustration of group-think in problem-based learning, Dr. Doroudi’s small bowel ‘eflower,’ and our clever jokes as we came in to our own (eg. “pass the diabetes, please” in reference to the Timbits that traversed our study table).

Dr. Youn’s ‘book of moments’ is all about his memories from the road to becoming a doc. Now a plastic surgeon in the US, he has had some pretty goofy experiences along the way. How does an awkward Asian-American kid get to be a Celebrity Plastic surgeon (his blog)? I don’t know. I’m going to have to read it and find out.

Part of the prologue:

What a pair. Double D’s. Poking up at me like twin peaks. Pam Anderson, eat your heart out.

Too bad they’re attached to a fourteen-year-old boy.

(read more)

I haven’t read it yet, but his writing style – from the excerpts- easily transports me to shared moments. I can smell it.

I see dead people.
Eighteen bodies covered with plastic, lying on gurneys. An occasional toe protrudes to verify that beneath the shiny black tarp, a dead person lies.
I smell dead people, too.
Or at least the thick chemical stench of formaldehyde, tearing at my eyes and packing my nose, enough liquid preservative in here to float a yacht. The smell rises from the bodies and from a dozen large clear plastic bins—similar to the type you find at IKEA—lining the back wall of the lab, some stacked on top of each other. The bins contain body parts and organs, all of them cataloged, numbered, and labeled. (more)

In Stitches comes out April 26, through Simon & Schuster. You can pre-order or learn more about the book at

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