Chapter 10- Her

Cathy Quinlan, NSMC Intern summarizes my favorite chapter of the book.


Every doctor has had that moment when they fell in love with their chosen speciality. For me it was the patients; two loving sisters with cystinosis, the smiley toddler with Turners, the hilarious teenager with spina bifida and an anephric baby boy. All these wonderful children taught me how to be a paediatrician first and a nephrologist second. But Grubbs, whose initial attraction to nephrology was inescapably personal, seems seduced by the ultrastructural beauty of the nephron. Describing a pathology lecture she waxes lyrical about the electron microscopic form of the glomerulus, imagining the different roles of the kidney from the juxtaglomerular apparatus to the collecting duct. While contemplating the multitasking ability of the kidney, she feminises it, reasoning that only a woman could juggle like a kidney.

Earlier in the chapter she describes her initial foray into clinical nephrology. Poor thing, managing patients in need of urgent filtration while still weighed down by the detritus of a medical student, index cards and quick reference guides. Later during her nephrology fellowship she struggles through the 16-hour days, still feeling as though she doesn’t quite belong. But while she may feel as though her knowledge base is inferior and her earlier focus on research has held her back, it is clear that she has a strong partner to provide stability. Most doctors can relate to feeling exhausted paranoia, the rising panic of being unable to find one’s car post-call. But Grubbs, when she reaches the end of her tether, can rely on Robert for sensible advice with a hefty dose of perspective.