50 First Books

Disclaimer : this is a spoiler of Robin Cooks new novel ‘Host’. But for those of you who have read any of his books, go ahead. How many times can you reveal the same plot?

So there is this sweet romantic movie called ‘50 First Dates’ starring Drew Barrymore and Adam Sanders, in which Drew meets with an accident and it messes with her wiring. So she has a short term memory loss (definitely a prettier version of Aamir khan in Ghajini.) Every morning she wakes up fresh, with no memory of the previous day. Hence she has a first date with the same guy everyday. (I am not reviewing this movie… no short term memory loss there.)

I told you this story because I think Dr Robin Cook secretly had one such accident .

Since then, he sits down and writes a book . It is about a pretty , pretty brave, pretty smart and ultimately pretty lucky medical student who discovers that her hospital is working hand in glove(pun unintended) with a big bad pharmaceutical company to vegetate perfectly healthy animate young patients and harvest their organs . Or try out on them, some drug, fresh out of the oven . Or some such medically exotic and legally felonious activities.

Then Dr Robin Cook goes to sleep. He wakes up fresh next morning looking a lot less lovable than Drew and starts off on a new novel. It is about a pretty, pretty brave , pretty smart…..you get the idea! New day, old story.

He gives the books different names though. The earlier one was called Coma. The new one is called Host. What has changed over the years is that now the pretty Med student carries a cell phone and googles from her laptop instead of making a beeline for the library. Come on. Even short term memory loss, remembers new technology. What has not changed much though is that, the previously animated, presently vegetated patients are rotated in bags on hangers like some weekend laundry at the dry cleaners in a huge chamber in the hospital. And why are they laundered so ? I did not quite understand it many years back with ‘Coma’, and now with so many years in between to get mandatorily old and optionally wise, I am still searching for the answer.

Robin Cook’s faith in the health inspectors, is as good as mine in his originality. Because the hospital manages to have several huge chambers fitted with state of the art human laundering facilities and not one health inspector seems to have ever inspected , or suspected the unexpected.

Yes , another fascinating aspect of human psychology that Dr Cook seems to have studied in Med school is that while nosey medical students have the courage to ask why handsome Mr Frontpage turned into a cabbage, his own lineage seem to have some blockage to this question. What dear Dr Cook gets spot on though is the way the whole vegetable gardening is done. Faulty, or rather rigged anesthesia to patients who have come in for minor surgeries. He gets the medical process without flaw.

I should know. I am an anesthesiologist myself.

So while I check my machine every morning I feel like a supporting actress from a Dr Cook’s book ( now that may sound like a recipe book, but its the same dish cooked a dozen ways) . I have never had any patient not waking up on me in my 20 odd years of practice , but now thanks to Dr Cook I am heaving a sigh of relief every time a patient of mine shakes and stirs

PS: An anesthesia teacher of mine recently told me that after reading “Coma” she used to have nightmares that her patients may go vegetative on her and 25 odd years later, after reading “Host” I feel the same way myself. So while Dr Cook wakes up fresh every morning to begin a new copy of an old story , doctors world wide are having sleepless nights over the 50 first books.

PPS : Dr Cook should write under the pen name Deja Vu .