The Tenth Nerve
A Brain Surgeon's Stories of the Patients Who Changed Him
Riveting and dramatic, The Tenth Nerve offers a rare window into the world of a pre-eminent neurosurgeon and the seven exceptional patients that made him a better person.
“The scalpel can only go so deep, and technical skill can only take one so far.”
In this absorbing narrative, Dr. Chris Honey, an accomplished neurosurgeon at Vancouver General Hospital, weaves his personal journey together with case studies that reflect the thrill of scientific discovery and the limitations of medicine. Operating on a terminally ill child amid an Ebola outbreak in Liberia, he questions his preconceptions about what it means to "win" against a disease. Reflecting on his own path into neurosurgery, he brings to life a relatively new, high stakes field of medicine—one that historically demanded emotional detachment and often attracts extreme personalities. With a compassionate eye, he traces the courage and determination of several patients suffering from mysterious, unrecognized illnesses, two of whom led Dr. Honey and his team to discover an entirely new disease and its cure. In clear, engaging prose, he invites us into the operating room to witness this extraordinary discovery—involving the tenth cranial nerve—alongside him. And, outside the OR, an unusual friendship with a former patient alters his perspective on clinical detachment, and what "quality of life" really means.
Combining a humane perspective, lively anecdotes, and a deep curiosity about the uncharted territories of the human brain, The Tenth Nerve is a richly fascinating memoir that will fill you with wonder.