Rewired is one of those books where you already know the ending, but it’s how both the doctor and the patient get there that makes this book fascinating. I’ve been leaning towards non-fiction lately, and since joining the amputee community, have added a new genre to my very long list of books I have yet to read. Rewired was one of the first books I read that dealt with an amputee, and I’m glad it was my first choice.
Melissa, the patient, was bitten by a raccoon – nothing unusual – it happens. She went to the emergency room for treatment, but the story takes a turn when her wound becomes uncontrollably infected. Dr. Seth does everything he knows to stop this infection to no avail. He is, in a word, stumped (forgive the pun). A series of events, coincidental and serendipitous, with a douse of faith, spirit, and just plain grit, allow Melissa and him to navigate a sea of unknowns.
Dr. Seth is, in his words, a “country” doctor without any special knowledge of the medical side of the amputee’s world. He does possess, however, the ability to research everything, to pivot when something he thought would work doesn’t, to seek and meet specialists who can help him save his patient, and to go the extra mile when necessary.
Melissa, his patient, was the “perfect” patient. She and her family not only come to respect Dr. Seth as a doctor but also to have an “all-in” belief in his ability to treat her. Even when things are looking dire and Melissa is on the brink, her family learns to trust Dr. Seth’s gut feelings to the point where they don’t want any other doctor to be in charge of her care. Melissa is always a willing participant; “negativity” is not part of her vocabulary. Her trust in Dr. Seth is not blind; she and her family have serious questions about Dr. Seth’s ability to treat her. As the story unfolds, though, it is evident that he will do absolutely everything he can to save her life, and that’s exactly what he does. He does not do it alone – he meets the very people he needs to treat her successfully.
At the time it was written, Melissa was the recipient of the most technologically advanced prosthetic arm in the world. More than anything, she wanted to get back to her life with her husband and the dogs that were so much of her world. Her journey, like ours, was not a straight road – twists, turns, setbacks, and triumphs all come into play in this book. It is proof positive that it takes a team – medical professionals, the patient, the family, spiritual beliefs, and even a little luck – to have positive outcomes. And that attitude is a large part of healing, both physically and mentally.
Although I have only a bit of medical knowledge (don’t we all?), I enjoyed the medical descriptions of what Dr. Seth did during his treatments and his surgeries. It’s ok not to understand all the anatomy and names of medical equipment and terms – you get the idea of the intricacies of the procedures, the frustrations (that’s why doctors “practice”), and the joy when a procedure delivers a successful outcome. I learned a great deal about the anatomy of an upper limb!
In most complicated cases, it’s not only doing the correct procedures but doing them in the correct order, that creates a successful outcome. Dr. Seth’s process of deciding what needed to happen in order to treat Melissa allows us to see a doctor’s thought process. Ultimately, he could not save her arm – no surgeon would have been able to – but he did save her life and gave her the chance to live her “new normal” life. That’s what we all strive for, isn’t it?
In my book group, we rate books on a scale of 1-10; I rarely give a 10, but this book deserves the 10. It was riveting, fascinating, educational, scary at times, and truly showcased the human elements, both positive and negative. If you want to read a great book about positivity, resiliency, faith, and medical technology Rewired is a book that should go to the top of your stack.
And remember, you never know how much strength you have until you are called upon to use it.