“This remarkable memoir vividly illuminates the on-the-job education of a young physician as he gains experience that teaches him what he needs to become an accomplished emergency room doctor. Each of the linked essays is well-chosen and well-written, providing an up-close look over the shoulders of ER physicians and nurses as they strive daily to save lives and mend bodies. The detailed descriptions of the patients’ injuries or illnesses are cinematic and indelible. As such, the book helps the reader understand what goes on in the emergency room, and why.
Yet “Life in the Balance” is far more than that, in part because Dr. Mendez is so scrupulously honest. He acknowledges his failures as well as his triumphs and seeks to balance the professional detachment required to treat his patients effectively and efficiently with the warm-hearted empathy that will make him a good man as well as a good doctor. Ultimately, while the book is a fascinating portrayal of a physician’s advances as a clinician, it is memorable because Dr. Mendez shares his emotions as he tells each patient’s story.” Laurence L. Ewing
“If you want to know what its like to work in a hospital’s emergency room, this book is a must. Some of the true life cases are heart wrenching and sad, when people make mistakes or use poor judgement . . . Some make you angry that there are still “man’s inhumanity to man” (or woman in either spot) cases . . . And some are heartwarming, like the one where Dr. Mendez gets a hand written thank you card a month later from the family with the young girls not in crayon.
“Dr. Mendez writes well in everyday, easy to read language with relatively few technical terms, which are always explained so even a lay person can understand. Emergency room physicians are not like family GP’s; they often only see their patients for the duration of the emergency, so in some cases the final outcome is not known by the reader or by Dr. Mendez. And that’s how it is in real life. THis is a fine book, sometimes hard reading but well worth it.” Martin J. Lutz
“Anyone thinking about a career in Emergency Medicine should read this book. It’s not like what you see on TV, but it is real. Dr. Mendez gives us a honest memoir about his 38 year career, with realistic vignettes that can be read alone or as part of his life story.
“I have worked in Emergency Departments on the Administrative side and found that the author’s take on actual events is done in a way that makes you feel you are there. This is written about real people, patients, care givers, families with real outcomes, sometimes successful, sometimes not, but all believable.
“The author offers honest insights to dealing with what comes through the ED doors. He is able to show the stress felt when presented with the unknown, the compassion and common sense necessary when dealing with a frightened patient, and the reward when his training and experience lead to a successful outcome. Because not every outcome is successful, Dr. Mendez lets us see that side as well but in a way that offers the complete story.
“From the way these episodes are told, I am certain Dr. Mendez’s colleagues felt they were lucky to work with him. I felt I was there in the Emergency Room again. Nice place to visit and sometimes nice to live there again if only for a little while.” Gary Dillon
“I love a fast moving thriller, a story that keeps me turning the pages. I normally find such stories in the fiction genre but not this time. Hedley Norman Mendez takes the reader from one crisis to another as he recounts his experiences in the ER. The majority of his patients survive and make a full recovery, but not always. His sensitive and caring treatment of the individuals tells us a lot about the author’s real character. He uses medical terms and then explains what they mean to the layman. This book is fascinating and educational. I recommend this book to anyone interested in real life-and-death drama.” Mark Bowman, Author of Aaron’s Odyssey
“The anecdotal style of the Author makes this an easy, must read, medical biography of life in the Emergency Room. The real-life stories of what happens in the ER, from the moment a call comes in from the Paramedics advising ER they are 5 minutes out, to the joyful moment of knowing they have saved another life, or at times having to pass on sad news to family members, is more thrilling than any novel. Serious, factual stories told in a manner which is as appealing to a Physician as well as everybody who has ever had to visit a hospital. I finished the book in one sitting and my only regret was I don’t know more about all the stories still untold.” Keith L.
“My daughter is pre-med and I got this book for us to share. It was recommended on a UNCW post so I ordered it. I gotta say, I loved the honesty and emotion I could feel reading about this physician’s journey. I would recommend this for anyone in or especially entering into the field of healthcare.” Angie
“I thouroughly enjoyed reading Dr. Mendez’s book. He told his story with warmth and kindness and humility. This is a book that I would recommend to all those individuals who are involved in emergency care. I believe that one of the things vitally important to patients is that those who are taking care of them also care for them and that is what this book conveyed. I appreciate Dr. Mendez writing this book and for his many years of service.” BJGrams
“Hedley Mendez is not focused on himself, he is fascinated by his patients. Each one is a quirky human trying to make contact with the man who is his/her healer. But from Dr. Mendez’s view, he’s only a person crammed with the knowledge of medical school trying to deduce the problem by running through all the possibilities he has learned before time runs out. One of his colleagues tells him. “The ER is a nice place to visit but I wouldn’t want to live there.
But Mendez does choose to live there, for his whole career. The book takes him full-circle from a med school graduate shooting blind to a skilled clinician too busy to connect with people, to a seen-it-all seasoned doctor who learns again how to cherish people. And it is the connection with the patients that is the most intriguing and heartfelt part of this memoir. Describing a cardiac arrest and the fight to save his patient, he ends dancing with her at a party a year later. In the joy of that moment, he says, ‘I felt the cumulation of my career in the ER.’
I sense Dr. Mendez wrote this memoir partly for his own understanding of his long carreer in the ER. It’s wonderful that he can write so vividly and share it with all of us.” Ned Trace
“In a series of short, always interesting sketches, the author takes the reader behind the scenes of the emergency room, from when he was a newly minted doctor, through to his retirement. Along the way, we experience all manner of patients, and emergencies, and learn the lessons the doctor gleaned from each of them. Taken altogether, the portrait of a sensitive, compassionate, and skilled medical practitioner emerges.” JKfromNV
“This book is not merely an account of Dr. Mendez’s career as an ER physician it is a study in empathy and compassion toward the patients, as well as their families, who entrusted their lives to him. Make no mistake about this book – the stories are gripping with the life and death decisions that have to be made instantly when the gurney is rushed through the ER doors. Dr. Mendez makes you feel that you are looking over his shoulder as he performs his surgery. He also gives credit to ER nurses who are so skilled as to be his silent partners. I bought two extra copies for one still practicing and one retired orthopedic surgeon and I know they will enjoy this insightful book. I highly recommend this book.” John T. Tufano
“I can think of few jobs with the demands of an ER doctor. To make a career in this environment is astounding.
Great stories of real life patients and all the skills (and support) needed to solve complex problems in a finite amount of time. Dr. Mendez does a great job documenting the thought process needed to come to the correct diagnosis while looking at a patient that cannot, or will not communicate the truth.
This is not a light read, but I think most people will appreciate a behind the scenes look at what really happens in the ER.” Steve Minor
“With anecdotes drawn from his many years of practicing ER medicine, Dr. Mendez paints a clear picture of a young doctor learning by fire in the ER, and its effect on his professional and personal growth. He is knowledgeable, compassionate, and creative in his work, treating his patients as people/individuals rather than just the next case on the night shift. Extremely well written, it’s a great read and teaches some valuable lessons on work ethic and serving people from all walks of life. I highly recommend Life in the Balance: Lessons Learned in the ER!” Nancy Wiersma
“The book was a compilation of cases that the author personally experienced during his career and the resulting lessons the author learned from these cases. All of the cases were interesting. The book also showed the interaction between the ER doctors, ER nurses, paramedics and other doctors. Enjoyed reading it greatly. The book also helped me understand why I sometimes have had to wait a considerable time in the ER.” Sis Ambrose
“This is a fast paced book detailing the decision making processes that a physician must make on a daily basis. Each chapter highlights a specific story about ordinary people who are caught in unexpected life and death situations. A very good read!” Kindle Customer
“I absolutely loved the stories in this book/memoir about an ER doctor. It was easy to follow and understand, and is great for laymen. Every story was captivating and the author did a great job keeping my interest. I couldn’t wait to see how each story ended. Certainly some crazy stuff goes on in hospitals.” Renee