Julia's Mother

William Bonadio, Author
William Bonadio, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (192p) ISBN 978-0-312-25251-9
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
Paperback - 192 pages - 978-0-312-27735-2
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These artfully written, real-life narratives about what goes on in a pediatric emergency room detail one doctor's devotion to medicine and patient care. The eponymous episode concerns the death of six-year-old Julia, from injuries she sustained in a traffic accident. A year after Julia's death, her mother contacted Bonadio to ask if he knew whether she had actually arrived at the ER before the moment of her daughter's death--i.e., had her daughter died alone? Bonadio (a doctor at the Children's Hospital of St. Paul, Minn.) poignantly describes groping for words to reassure the grieving parent that her bond with Julia had not been broken by her death. It's this sort of humane medicine, learned anew each day, that the author recounts here--a process informed by his conviction that ""parents know certain things about their children in a way the doctor can never know."" He convincingly explains that even the most competent doctors can misread an X-ray or make other mistakes because of the exhaustion that comes at the end of an emergency room shift. (After reading the X-rays of one child who was sent home by another ER physician, he remembers, he found a fracture in her second vertebral bone. Fortunately, he reached the family and had the child immobilized and taken back to the hospital before further damage was done.) Bonadio also details the exercise and diet routines that he follows before the beginning of an overnight ER shift and the agonizing process of deciding when to abandon a resuscitation effort on a critically ill child. This is a deeply moving memoir by a physician who clearly loves his work. (Apr.)
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