Seven Signs of Life

Unforgettable Stories from an Intensive Care Doctor

LIST PRICE $24.99

About The Book

For Readers of Paul Kalanithi’s​ When Breath Becomes Air, an Intensive Care Doctor Reveals How Everyday Emotions Are Taken to Extremes in the ICU

Dr. Aoife Abbey takes us beyond the medical perspective to see the humanity at work inside our hospitals through the eyes of doctors and nurses as they witness and experience the full spectrum of human emotion with every shift. It is their responsibility to mitigate the grief of a family in mourning, calm a patient about to die, and confront their own fear of failure when lives are on the line. Whether they're providing hospice care, tending to victims of car accidents or violent attacks, determining the correct treatment for someone displaying signs of a heart-attack or stroke, and managing staff, stress is a doctor's number one companion. Cycling through the whirlwind of emotion that accompanies every case isn’t only exhausting—it can be fatal. 
Told using seven key emotions—fear, grief, joy, distraction, anger, disgust, and hope—Seven Signs of Life opens the door, and heart, of the hectic life inside a hospital to reveal what it means to be alive and how it feels to care for others.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Arcade (October 15, 2019)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781948924825

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Raves and Reviews

“She names her chapters after human emotions—fear, grief, joy, distraction, anger, disgust and hope—which is fitting, since she is trying to lay bare the complex feelings of people who make life-or-death decisions on a daily basis. . . . What Abbey lacks in style, she makes up for in raw power.”—The New York Times

Compelling encounters between a young Irish doctor and patients in intensive care . . . Abbey's account is warm and accessible, leaving readers with a feeling of relief that such thoughtful doctors exist and the hope that if one is ever in need of critical care, a wise and caring doctor like her will be by the bedside. Merits a spot on a list of required reading for medical students.”
Kirkus Reviews

"A brilliant, compelling account of what it is like to spend your days caring for patients "on the fringe of existence" ... A hugely life-affirming book. In between the many grim situations encountered on a daily basis, Abbey shows us moments of both joy and deep emotional connection."—Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

"Heartfelt, honest, illuminating and wise – a wonderful book that I would urge everyone to read."—Julia Samuel, author of Grief Works

“Illness is a thicket through which doctors and patients struggle—sometimes at odds, sometimes in concert. Into the harrowing penumbra between life and death come Dr. Abbey's signs of intelligent life.  These seven cogent chapters probe the range of experience and emotions that patients, families, and medical workers must navigate. A welcome addition to the medical-literary canon.”—Danielle Ofri, MD, PhD, author of What Patients Say, What Doctors Hear

"A powerful glimpse into the high stakes of intensive care …Above all this book is insightful about the grey areas where a doctor must go ... Some readers may be wearying of doctor memoirs. This one ... has a freshness and a sincerity that moved me. She is a gifted writer ... honest, compassionate, sensitive… [and] the doctor we would crave in our greatest need."—Melanie Reid, The Times

"A thoughtful and necessary book about a world all of us might inhabit at some point in our lives."—Rosita Boland, Irish Times

"A wonderfully frank assessment of the emotions shared – and unshared – between doctors and their patients ... Dr Abbey writes movingly ... and asks us all to think about what we want for ourselves at the end."—Daily Mail

"Bold, courageous and most welcome ... Abbey imparts a wisdom concerning human emotional life that is sophisticated, and also simple and poignant ... Abbey is brave; she is lion-hearted in her no-holes-barred account of what it is like to care for a living ... If she is representative of an emerging generation of healthcare professionals, there is reason to be optimistic for the future of healthcare."—Paul D'Alton, Irish Times

"A beautiful insight into the extraordinary highs and lows of intensive care. Dr Aoife Abbey writes with such sensitivity and obvious kindness about the emotions that define us all, doctors and patients alike. I was deeply moved by this wonderful book."—Rachel Clarke, author of Your Life in My Hands

"Effortlessly absorbing and illuminating ... Seven Signs of Life offers a prismatic set of arguments for a truth that we too often forget: doctors, nurses and consultants are human, too ... a perspective that feels like new territory ... Measured out in Abbey's crystalline, personable voice, it occurs to you that this is a somewhat Herculean feat."—Belfast Telegraph

"A sensitive, honest, unsentimental and, yes, brave piece of writing that makes for compulsive reading."—Nigella Lawson
"Aoife Abbey’s honesty and insight are breath-taking. If you want to find out what it is really like to be a doctor, read this book."—Dr Caroline Elton, author of Also Human: The Inner Lives of Doctors

"Honest, compelling and compassionate ... worthy of a place on the medical school curriculum ... Dr Abbey is the type of doctor most people I think would want to find at the side of their bed if they were critically ill. This is a book with a warm heart, but also does not shy from honesty ... This is not a grim read. It's beautifully written, with valuable insights about how different patients and their families want different things from her and it is fascinating."—Fergal Bowers, RTÉ

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