More Letters from the Pit

Stories of A Physician's Odyssey in Emergency Medicine

Non-Fiction - Memoir
294 Pages
Reviewed on 10/28/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

More Letters from the Pit: Stories of A Physician's Odyssey in Emergency Medicine by Dr. Patrick J. Crocker is a memoir that lifts the veil to show readers and non-medical professionals what the emergency room and experience as a doctor feels and looks like. Structured as letters to the author’s college friend, Jack, it explores the author’s experience in Emergency Medicine dealing with all kinds of patients facing life-or-death situations. Here the author shares in language that is crisp and emotions that are raw the thoughts harbored while working on patients, the frustrations, hopes and despair, and a lot more. The reader quickly understands that the experience of Emergency Medicine is fraught with unpredictable outcomes — a patient with a mild injury can easily give up while someone who is thought to be already on the brink of death can pull through. The frenzy of activities, the emotional intensity of the experience, and relationships between patients and doctors as well as family are examined. In these letters, the author explores themes of fate, destiny, faith and miracles, healing and death, and in a way that resonates with readers.

Dr. Patrick J. Crocker might be trained as a doctor, but he is a terrific writer who brings his personal experience with human suffering alive, providing insights that are thought-provoking and sharing with readers how each unique experience spoke to his humanity in the course of his career. The descriptions of healing processes are clear and fascinating. The writing is bold and engaging and the author’s ability to recreate the scenes from the cases he has handled with clarity and detail is captivating. It is poignant; it is so real that readers will feel as though they stood alongside the doctor and the frontline professionals of emergency medicine as they worked through each case. Each story is unique, each case unique, but there is a unifying factor that comes across the writing so brilliantly — humanity. More Letters from the Pit is a book like no other, written in a mesmerizing voice and with compassion. You’ll be informed, entertained, instructed, and inspired. You’ll also experience the pathos as you read.

Asher Syed

More Letters from the Pit by Dr. Patrick J. Crocker is a non-fiction anthology of stories and the sequel to Letters from the Pit, both of which detail multiple first-hand experiences the author had during his time as an emergency room doctor. The book is formatted as a collection of letters wherein Crocker writes to a recipient named Jack, relaying specific patient cases that run the gamut of horrifying, such as the time Crocker was assisting a family with their daughter's twenty-five-pound weight loss only to make the worst possible discovery, to inspiring, like the time Crocker treats a trade worker he's close to in the seemingly hopeless case of Thomas J. Throughout, Crocker delivers the good-ish, the bad, and the ugly with unflinching and painfully authentic detail.

Dr. Patrick J. Crocker dedicated his career to serving others in a way that I thought I understood but realize after reading More Letters from the Pit that I understood almost nothing at all. The saving grace for someone who may have a weak stomach is the brevity of the letters. The stories are compact in size but are remarkably heavy in content, allowing Crocker to strike the perfect balance between “tell me more” and “I can't take any more.” The most eye-opening to me was a vignette titled The Brokenhearted where a woman comes in because she feels like she's died inside, and due to the power of our mind the emotional wounds occasionally transcend into the physical, manifesting into actual damage with Takotsubo syndrome. This is an excellent book that will no doubt find its way into the hands of eager readers.