by Nick Trout
Trout, a staff surgeon at Boston's Angell Animal Medical Center, shows how the daily life of a veterinarian requires the ability to be a person of many 'hats' - social worker, psychologist, grief counselor, mentor, and occasionally, guardian angel. Combining a compassionate bedside manner with cutting-edge technology, Trout introduces readers to demanding pet owners, their beloved (but not always lovable) pets, and the extraordinary advances in veterinary medicine. While the standard, "First, do no harm," remains unchanged, Trout illuminates the controversy surrounding such advanced treatment and the high price it commands. In total, Tell Me Where it Hurts offers a fascinating portrait of the comedy and drama, complexities and rewards involved with loving and healing animals.
It’s 2:47 a.m. when Dr. Nick Trout takes the phone call that starts another hectic day at the Angell Animal Medical Center. Sage, a ten-year old German shepherd, will die without emergency surgery for a serious stomach condition. Over the next twenty-four hours Dr. Trout fights for Sage’s life, battles disease in the operating room, unravels tricky diagnoses, reassures frantic pet parents, and reflects on the humor, heartache, and inspiration in his life as an animal surgeon. And he wants to take you along for the ride.…
The concept of the book is terrific and overall it was a great read. His cases involve everything from the simple, the humorous, and the impossible. Throughout it all, the most difficult part of his day seems to be dealing with the owners. Shocked? Not so much, people are usually the challenging part of any equation. :) Trout also discusses the quandary modern medicine can mean for the pet and the owners - how far should aggressive therapy be taken? When does it become the person's inability to let go, in face of their beloved pet's suffering? For any of use who have had a beloved pet 'put to sleep' we can completely empathize with the subject.
The book also covers other big issues in veterinary medicine - high cost of care, low pay for vets, and the need for owners to participate in decision making. Luckily, he doesn't shy away from discussion of animal obesity (one of my pet peeves!), cosmetic surgery for animals, and the $40 billion that Americans spend on their pets every year. While reading the book though, I did wish he had more detail in the stories about the actual pets or even more pet stories. The focus on the animals wasn't quite enough.
The only true downfall for me personally, was the writing style. I liked his sense of humor but he tended to philosophize too much. Each chapter was pretty formulaic as well - it would start with a case, segue into related cases Dr. Trout had in the past, and then conclude with the wrap-up of the present case. This layout style made it easy to lose track of where the story started. There were a bit too many tangents for me!
All in all, it was a good read and very engrossing for anyone interested in veterinary medicine.