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Just Here Trying to Save a Few Lives: Tales of Life and Death from the ER

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An emergency medicine physician for nearly a decade, Dr. Pamela Grim has delivered babies, treated heart attacks, saved car accident victims, comforted the dying, and consoled the living who were left behind. She has worked all over the world, caring for victims of gang life in America's inner cities, victims of the war in Bosnia, poverty-stricken patients in Nigeria, and An emergency medicine physician for nearly a decade, Dr. Pamela Grim has delivered babies, treated heart attacks, saved car accident victims, comforted the dying, and consoled the living who were left behind. She has worked all over the world, caring for victims of gang life in America's inner cities, victims of the war in Bosnia, poverty-stricken patients in Nigeria, and bank presidents in the United States. Relating these rich and varied experiences with compelling prose, Dr. Grim takes readers into the E.R. and lets them experience first-hand what it takes to make split-second, life-and-death decisions in the course of an average day. And with unflinching honesty, she conveys what it's like to be a caring physician with one of the most demanding, exhilarating, frustrating, and rewarding jobs in the world.


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An emergency medicine physician for nearly a decade, Dr. Pamela Grim has delivered babies, treated heart attacks, saved car accident victims, comforted the dying, and consoled the living who were left behind. She has worked all over the world, caring for victims of gang life in America's inner cities, victims of the war in Bosnia, poverty-stricken patients in Nigeria, and An emergency medicine physician for nearly a decade, Dr. Pamela Grim has delivered babies, treated heart attacks, saved car accident victims, comforted the dying, and consoled the living who were left behind. She has worked all over the world, caring for victims of gang life in America's inner cities, victims of the war in Bosnia, poverty-stricken patients in Nigeria, and bank presidents in the United States. Relating these rich and varied experiences with compelling prose, Dr. Grim takes readers into the E.R. and lets them experience first-hand what it takes to make split-second, life-and-death decisions in the course of an average day. And with unflinching honesty, she conveys what it's like to be a caring physician with one of the most demanding, exhilarating, frustrating, and rewarding jobs in the world.

30 review for Just Here Trying to Save a Few Lives: Tales of Life and Death from the ER

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mari

    While I found the case studies fascinating, in the end, I really didn't enjoy the book at all because I thought the author was so disatasteful. Yes, she did work with Doctors Without Borders, which of couse is admirable and wonderful work, but I found her attitude very condescending and judgemental, particlarly towards psych patients (there was one paragraph in which she talked about how much of a waste of resources suicide attempts take up). Also, the writing style was a bit strange, going from While I found the case studies fascinating, in the end, I really didn't enjoy the book at all because I thought the author was so disatasteful. Yes, she did work with Doctors Without Borders, which of couse is admirable and wonderful work, but I found her attitude very condescending and judgemental, particlarly towards psych patients (there was one paragraph in which she talked about how much of a waste of resources suicide attempts take up). Also, the writing style was a bit strange, going from the first person to talking about the cases in hypotheticals. It got annoying.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Nace

    I loved this book. As a lab tech in a county hospital, I have more interaction with ER docs than any other kind and while I have grown to like and repsect some of them, I find myself whispering a little prayer to myself when I have to call certain ones or cringe when I pick up the phone to be yelled at by an irate ER doc. I often find myself wondering "What is this idiot THINKING?"- especially with the new younger ones. My fellow techs and I have pacts where we say "If I come in as a trauma and I loved this book. As a lab tech in a county hospital, I have more interaction with ER docs than any other kind and while I have grown to like and repsect some of them, I find myself whispering a little prayer to myself when I have to call certain ones or cringe when I pick up the phone to be yelled at by an irate ER doc. I often find myself wondering "What is this idiot THINKING?"- especially with the new younger ones. My fellow techs and I have pacts where we say "If I come in as a trauma and doctor so and so is on- DONT let him/her touch me- ship me out!! LOL So, this book was really fascinating to me...just to get a look inside the thought process in dealing with a trauma etc. The utter chaos and sadness didn't come as a shock to me. I have no illusions about emergency med in this country. Her chapters where she worked in Africa and Bosnia are equally heartrending. She is a good writer and I love her sense of humor. Dr Grim, wherever you are, you can be my ER doc anyday! I highly recommend!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Connie Curtis

    Oh my gosh. How this woman, or any doctor who is with Doctors Without Borders, can stand doing the work is beyond me. Substandard conditions doesn't even begin to describe the horror of what the doctors and patients must deal with. It is very enlightening and a bit depressing. Makes you feel blessed to live in this land, and my prayers are with those who don't. It goes deeply into details that may bore some, but I devour medical story books like this. Oh my gosh. How this woman, or any doctor who is with Doctors Without Borders, can stand doing the work is beyond me. Substandard conditions doesn't even begin to describe the horror of what the doctors and patients must deal with. It is very enlightening and a bit depressing. Makes you feel blessed to live in this land, and my prayers are with those who don't. It goes deeply into details that may bore some, but I devour medical story books like this.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Spook Sulek

    I liked this one a lot; I liked Grim's unvarnished account of the situations and people she met in the episodes of her life she shared. There is so much of interest in this book, from the choices she made in her life and the possible reasons why to her stirring descriptions of diseases we in first-world countries have all but forgotten, this is definitely a worthwhile read. I liked this one a lot; I liked Grim's unvarnished account of the situations and people she met in the episodes of her life she shared. There is so much of interest in this book, from the choices she made in her life and the possible reasons why to her stirring descriptions of diseases we in first-world countries have all but forgotten, this is definitely a worthwhile read.

  5. 5 out of 5

    B. M.

    I enjoyed the book very much for its educational aspect of life in the ER. Captivating, a little slow at the beginning, but later very descriptive with real people, situations and just totally worth reading. Gripping until the end.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Viktorija B.

    Honest, insightful, tragic, hopeful. Full of personality. Doctor Grim took me on one hell of a ride and got me crying and cringing and grimacing and laughing when I was just 50 pages in- the rest of it was just as good. The occasionally insane a mount if detail did make me queasy at times but this book wouldn't be the way it is without the details. You have to take them. An easy 5/5 rating! Honest, insightful, tragic, hopeful. Full of personality. Doctor Grim took me on one hell of a ride and got me crying and cringing and grimacing and laughing when I was just 50 pages in- the rest of it was just as good. The occasionally insane a mount if detail did make me queasy at times but this book wouldn't be the way it is without the details. You have to take them. An easy 5/5 rating!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jackie

    When I was 10 years old, I was in a big city ER. I saw a lot of things that night, but none compared to the stories described here. I don't know how anyone stays sane in these jobs. The stories in Bosnia and Nigeria were very depressing. The book is 20 years old so maybe conditions have improved. Somehow I doubt it. When I was 10 years old, I was in a big city ER. I saw a lot of things that night, but none compared to the stories described here. I don't know how anyone stays sane in these jobs. The stories in Bosnia and Nigeria were very depressing. The book is 20 years old so maybe conditions have improved. Somehow I doubt it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Liralen

    TOUCH THIS IV AND YOU DIE -DR. GRIM (241) If you're in a position to have to write such notes, you might as well have such a fitting name, yeah? This was one of those books that made me deeply grateful -- for a number of things, actually. Grateful to live somewhere with abundant hospitals and advanced medical systems; grateful that there are doctors like Grim around should emergency services be necessary; above all else, profoundly grateful that I have never had even the slightest interest in the me TOUCH THIS IV AND YOU DIE -DR. GRIM (241) If you're in a position to have to write such notes, you might as well have such a fitting name, yeah? This was one of those books that made me deeply grateful -- for a number of things, actually. Grateful to live somewhere with abundant hospitals and advanced medical systems; grateful that there are doctors like Grim around should emergency services be necessary; above all else, profoundly grateful that I have never had even the slightest interest in the medical profession. Grim's a good storyteller, and she trots out the...grim...realities of working in an emergency room; of working in a country devastated by war; of working in a Nigerian hospital with inadequate supplies; of being the ER doc when a beloved police officer, one you know, has been shot. Some of her stories are triumphant. Some of them are sad, even when technically successes. Some are just confusing: "What did you take?" "Aspirin, man, I took a bottle full of aspirin. Then I drank bleach, you know, bleach for clothes." "Were you trying to hurt yourself?" He looked at me, scowling. "I was trying to kill myself." "And then you got shot?" "Yeah." I gazed at him, confused. "Did you shoot yourself?" He gave me another look. "Are you crazy?" he said. "Why would I shoot myself?" (294) It's pretty safe to say at this point that I will not become a doctor (and definitely not an ER doctor), but that clearly hasn't stopped me from devouring medical memoirs. This was a good one.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Pamela Grim is an emergency room doctor who sometimes goes on forays into Third World countries to practice medicine there as well. There has been a spike in the number of doctors writing books (I think we can blame the popularity of ER for this…), and while all interesting, they are often not particularly well-written. Just Here Trying to Save a Few Lives is an exception to this rule. Dr. Grim recounts the incidences that most influenced the way she practices medicine, as well as who she has bec Pamela Grim is an emergency room doctor who sometimes goes on forays into Third World countries to practice medicine there as well. There has been a spike in the number of doctors writing books (I think we can blame the popularity of ER for this…), and while all interesting, they are often not particularly well-written. Just Here Trying to Save a Few Lives is an exception to this rule. Dr. Grim recounts the incidences that most influenced the way she practices medicine, as well as who she has become as a person. There is a good deal of philosophy mixed in with the anecdotes, which makes for a fascinating and thought-provoking read. Personally, I would still recommend any of Oliver Sacks’ books over this one, but all in all, one of the best of its kind.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Emmy

    I enjoyed the read because it was an enjoyable topic and not anything I really needed to analyze. However, her prose bugged me. I hated how some chapters were written in the "I" form and then she switched to "you". I understand what she was doing but I thought it was lame. Also, she would make what were supposed to be poignant statements that didn't really pull through for me - I would be left thinking, "What is she trying to say?". Again, I understood what she was going for but it just didn't w I enjoyed the read because it was an enjoyable topic and not anything I really needed to analyze. However, her prose bugged me. I hated how some chapters were written in the "I" form and then she switched to "you". I understand what she was doing but I thought it was lame. Also, she would make what were supposed to be poignant statements that didn't really pull through for me - I would be left thinking, "What is she trying to say?". Again, I understood what she was going for but it just didn't work. I wouldn't not recommend this book but it is what it is. Just a quick, enjoyable read that you may or may not be bugged by. Take it to the beach this summer.

  11. 4 out of 5

    LeAnne

    Interesting book about being an Emergency Physician. Unfortunately, it was pretty depressing. The author is an unhappy, cynical person and working in the ER has not helped her. There are many stories about emergency cases and a couple sections about her work with Doctors Without Borders in Bosnia and Nigeria. I found the ER stories most interesting.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    "Forget the made-up medical dramas on television; this is the real thing 14gripping, powerful, and memorable. 14"Kirkus Reviews." An emergency medical doctor offers an insider's look into the true drama, action, and heartache of a physician's life in the Emergency Room" This is a fairly memorable book -=- Dr Grim saw things we hope we will never, ever have to see or experience. "Forget the made-up medical dramas on television; this is the real thing 14gripping, powerful, and memorable. 14"Kirkus Reviews." An emergency medical doctor offers an insider's look into the true drama, action, and heartache of a physician's life in the Emergency Room" This is a fairly memorable book -=- Dr Grim saw things we hope we will never, ever have to see or experience.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    It started off a little slow but Dr. Grim soon settles into a groove with her interesting stories and anecdotes. It may not be an apt comparison but fans of the TV series 'ER' (a ratings juggernaut at the time this book was first published - coincidence? I think not) would likely enjoy this book. It started off a little slow but Dr. Grim soon settles into a groove with her interesting stories and anecdotes. It may not be an apt comparison but fans of the TV series 'ER' (a ratings juggernaut at the time this book was first published - coincidence? I think not) would likely enjoy this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    the best part about this book is the humor . .. I'm not kidding. the author really gives a great feel for some of the ridiculous situations she has encountered in emergency medicine. also heartbreaking at times. the best part about this book is the humor . .. I'm not kidding. the author really gives a great feel for some of the ridiculous situations she has encountered in emergency medicine. also heartbreaking at times.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    I really enjoyed this book. Dr. Grim does an excellent job of capturing the challenges of Emergency Medicine. As an EMT, I encounter many of the same situations she describes in her book. My only complaint is that she leaves you hanging on some of the stories.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan

    A very engrossing account of the day-to-day life of an emergency room physician. There were some chapters about the author's work with Doctors Without Borders as well. The style of writing gave me a very immediate sense of the breath-holding dramas that happen in ER several times a day. A very engrossing account of the day-to-day life of an emergency room physician. There were some chapters about the author's work with Doctors Without Borders as well. The style of writing gave me a very immediate sense of the breath-holding dramas that happen in ER several times a day.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Robert Rodriguez

    One of those books that sat on my shelf for over 8 years and didn't even bother to look.. Glad I did... Very insightful. It's amazing the life these doctors live.. I sure do have a new respect for them... One of those books that sat on my shelf for over 8 years and didn't even bother to look.. Glad I did... Very insightful. It's amazing the life these doctors live.. I sure do have a new respect for them...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

    I think this is perhaps the most honest book about emergency medicine that I've ever read - the author's style and attitude definitely shows how being in that line of work can definitely wear you down after a while. A fantastic, fascinating book. I think this is perhaps the most honest book about emergency medicine that I've ever read - the author's style and attitude definitely shows how being in that line of work can definitely wear you down after a while. A fantastic, fascinating book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

    Loved the true life stories this ER physician wrote about and that each chapter was a short story. Some might think her writing was a big direct, even harsh, but she was only telling the honest truth. The stories about her mission trips were interesting too.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Nisa

    The part about why she chose e med is deep. The sarcasm and sense of humor are on point. The writing makes me feel like I'm in the middle of her ER. Good review of super basic doctoring stuff. Motivational for me. The part about why she chose e med is deep. The sarcasm and sense of humor are on point. The writing makes me feel like I'm in the middle of her ER. Good review of super basic doctoring stuff. Motivational for me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    K

    Not my usual reading genre, but surprisingly enjoyable.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Interesting, but I don't know if the reader really gains anything beyond just knowing this: Emergency room medicine is a mess. But then I bet you already knew that. Interesting, but I don't know if the reader really gains anything beyond just knowing this: Emergency room medicine is a mess. But then I bet you already knew that.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jay Holmes

    The real ER plus experiences from Bosnia and Nigeria through Doctors Without Borders.

  24. 4 out of 5

    K8e

    Some of the accounts were heartbreaking, some were funny, but it was a neat look into the life of an ER Doctor.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    well written and enjoyable even without a medical background. A bit gruesome at times but very real and even funny.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    It's an older book, but still describes a lot of what I see and do from day to day. It's an older book, but still describes a lot of what I see and do from day to day.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mylissa

    Excellent. If you ever wonder what it's like to work in a hospital ER, or as a traveling MD, you should read this book. Excellent. If you ever wonder what it's like to work in a hospital ER, or as a traveling MD, you should read this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl S.

    Not perfect writing but informative and interesting.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Martha

    Absolutely engrossing. I finished it in less than a day. Her experiences in Bosnia and Africa with aid agencies is particularly fascinating.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Pancha

    Stories from an ER doctor. Grim comes off as a little harsh sometimes, but her voice is strong and the accounts very interesting.

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