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Books: Walk on Water

May 12, 2010 | Books

I just finished reading Walk on Water: The Miracle of Saving Children’s Lives by Michael Ruhlman. My friend Karen sent me an autographed copy recently, and it immediately moved up to the top of my reading list.

I never would have picked up this book on my own, considering my experience with premature twins in the NICU and my unwillingness to relive it.

I had to put the book down a few times to regroup. The squirm factor was high (or maybe my tolerance level is just low). It was also hard to read without some tears. I felt deeply for the families who handed over their babies to strangers in hopes of saving their lives. I know how frightening yet necessary that is.

Ruhlman’s writing had a good ebb and flow to it, though. He balanced the emotionally difficult things to read with lots of statistics and complex information. That sort of allowed some breathing room.

There was a feeling of hyperbole about the whole “walk on water” thing. It was kind of irritating. But, hey, I’ve been known to gush about people whose talents I admire. And they’re only human, right? Yes.

Ruhlman truly admires these people he writes about. And, well, they DO things that very few people CAN do, so there’s something to the “walk on water” thing — just ask any parent whose child is walking the earth because of these people. Yet Ruhlman realizes that they are human. He tries to show all sides of them while trying to understand and explain what makes them different.

It’s a compelling read.

Even so, I’m relieved to be done with this book. While I feel privileged to have been invited into these operating rooms and the chests of infants and the dramatic events of everyone’s life, I’m glad to close the book and walk away. While I know I could never do that for a living, I am so grateful for the people who can. Because they’re the people who can make such a difference in people’s lives — people like my friend Karen. Her son had heart surgery four years ago next month, when he was 2.

Karen started an organization called Broken Hearts of the Big Bend, which offers support to other families affected by congenital heart disease. While I don’t have experience with heart surgery, I understand the need for support. I’m so grateful to know someone like Karen.

Reading this book also made me admire Ruhlman as an author. I’m reading his Ratio now, but I’m still trying to figure him out. Maybe a little math in the kitchen will help. One can hope.

Posted by Becky @ 2:09 pm  

5 Responses to “Books: Walk on Water”

  1. ruhlman Says:

    i hope it was clear that much of the “walk on water” business was ironic, and related to surgeon ego.

    saw your tweet. let me know if you have ratio questions!

  2. Becky Says:

    Yeah, I get it. But they DO walk on water for some of those parents, right?

    Wow, you’re quick. :)

  3. Karen Thurston Chavez Says:

    It wasn’t until I read your post about the twins’ birthday that I realized … hmm, maybe that book is going to be too much. I’m glad you were able to work through it.

    The first time I read Michael’s book (I’ve read it three times), I was grateful for all of the statistics, complex information, and the history of congenital heart disease that he weaved throughout the stories.

    One of the things I like most about the book is that Michael does try to show all sides of them, including ego, errors and in-fighting.

    I am the mother of a child who will now have a long, healthy life because of a gifted, compassionate pediatric heart surgeon; a thorough, confident pediatric cardiologist; and excellent, attentive critical-care nurses. So, you know, it’s easy for me to forget they are only human.

    I’m glad the book will have a long, healthy life in your library. I knew it would be in good hands with you.


  4. Karen Thurston Chavez Says:

    Yes, for us parents, many of them DO walk on water! :-)

  5. magpie Says:

    I loved this book. I did, however, read it within the week before I had my baby – which was pretty dumb because it TERRIFIED me. But I’d found it at an election day book sale, and couldn’t pass it by and couldn’t put it down.

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