A physician describes his travels and adventures while educating us about our body parts.
Reisman presents 15 compelling, sometimes scattershot chapters that mix personal experiences with lessons on anatomy—e.g., organs (lungs, heart, brain), fluids (blood, mucus, feces), and regions (genitals, throat, digits)—and even readers familiar with college biology will enjoy the experience. The author provides clear explanations of how blood must circulate, food enter and move steadily from one end of the body to the other, and urine, mucus, bile, and air flow smoothly. “A physician’s task in treating disease,” he writes, “is to alleviate blockages and allow fluids to resume their proper motion. In other words, most of the practice of medicine is plumbing.” Doctors spend much of their day dealing with a leak or “a clog stopping up the flow of some fluid sloshing through the body’s corporeal pipes.” The author delivers his lessons in a few pages before taking up subjects that fascinate him, a strategy that mostly works. Frostbite and finger injuries, with which Reisman has long experience, take up most of the discussion of digits, while in the chapter on blood, the author discusses leeches and how they are sometimes applied to skin grafts to prevent veins from clotting. In another chapter, Reisman chronicles the liver’s role in metabolism, a patient in the terrible throes of liver failure who was saved by a transplant, and his initial disgust with his relatives’ beloved chopped liver. Curious after studies in medical school, he took his first taste during Thanksgiving dinner and discovered that he liked it. This leads into a section on his global travels, many of which involved the consumption of various animal parts: kidneys, pancreases, marrow, brain, lungs, and even eyeballs. Little is known about the pineal gland in the brain except that it seems to regulate sleep, so Reisman writes about his sleep-deprived training and the miseries of the hospital routine on patients and health professionals alike.
Quirky, never-dull popular science.