"Night Clinic" is a unique melding of medicine and magic.
I asked Mr. Gelber if he might expand upon the concept, and his response is astute. He will be giving a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to one random reader, so be sure to enter using the Rafflecopter box at the bottom of this post. For more chances to win, leave a comment and stop by other blogs hosting this tour. Here's a list of links for you to follow.
“Night Clinic” brings modern medicine into contact with a variety of mystical, magical and supernatural “patients.” A question was then raised: Where does medicine end and magic begin? And, beyond this question: Is there a difference?
Modern medicine allows us to see inside the human body with incredible detail. MRI’s, CT Scans, ultrasounds, PET Scans and so much more allow physicians to see things that would have been impossible as recently as fifty years ago. Two thousand years ago even a plain X-Ray would have been considered magic. Indeed, during ancient times no one ever considered that microorganisms existed as a cause of disease or that surgery could precisely remove a brain tumor. Such things would have been regarded as magical rather than scientific.
One could say that science has replaced magic in the medical world. The witch doctor has gone the way of the dodo, replaced by a team of well scrubbed, intellectual physicians armed with “evidence based” facts to address the ills of this day. There is no role for magic; in fact, all magic is false illusion and doesn’t exist.
Stories of miraculous healing abound in religious books. Witchcraft or voodoo still are practiced in many parts of the world where healing is accomplished through the skills of the witch doctor or voodoo high priestess. Even modern medicine has its “magical” moments as in the “cures” which sometimes come after the administration of sugar pills coupled with the power of suggestion commonly called “the placebo effect.” Is all such healing accomplished only by the power of suggestion or are there unseen forces acting behind the scenes? One could postulate that the power of suggestion stimulates the brain to release neurotransmitters and hormones which modulate the patient’s immune system and allow the individual to battle their disease more efficiently, leading to a cure.
Are the medical arts magic with a scientific basis?
I suspect that if I were to be transported back to Ancient Greece, armed with a variety of medicine, imaging tools and a fully equipped operating room I would either be hailed as a god or burned as a witch. One man’s medicine is another man’s magic.
The “Night Clinic” stories are modern, practical medicine at its best. Young, intelligent Dr. Barnes and the equally able Nurse James tackle a variety of illnesses and injuries using all their skill and knowledge. But, what about those times when that isn’t enough?
Dr. Barnes encounters a patient whose chief complaint is “black penis.” After performing his usual history and physical exam he is stumped. Nothing in all the textbooks, journal articles or his experience can explain his poor, doomed patient’s symptoms. To his credit, Dr. Barnes calls in Madame Marie, Voodoo High Priestess, who makes the diagnosis of “zombification” and is able to cure the suffering man, (for a price, of course). Magic? Or medicine?
In another chapter a mysterious baby is abandoned at the clinic door on Christmas Eve. At the stroke of midnight, a dying man is revived, another patient finds that her cancer has vanished, while a third man’s injury has miraculously healed. After all this the baby vanishes, leaving the miracles behind.
Magic is defined as the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.
Medicine is defined as the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.
It is not unreasonable to believe that there is a point where our scientific understanding of disease has reached its limits. Healing which occurs outside these limits, beyond our current understanding is easily called magic. And, who knows, what we consider supernatural today may be taught in a sixth grade science class a hundred years from now.
“Speaking of bizarre and crazy, you are aware that the Intergalactic Convention is in town again? Star Trek, Star Wars, and every other outer space franchise all together. So I’m sure we’ll get our share of phaser burns, blaster bruises, and transporter malfunctions. Oh, and to get us off on the right foot, Derek is back with his annual ‘Trouble with Tribbles.’ I’ve left all the usual instruments in the room for you.”
“Not again,” I moaned. “You would think that after four, no five years, he would learn.”
I picked up the chart and gave it a careless glance. Before I saw the words I knew the problem. I walked into the exam room and saw Derek, a regular visitor, lying on his side on the exam table. Seated on a sterile tray were a rigid sigmoidoscope and a tenaculum.
“Derek, we’ve got to stop meeting like this,” I scolded. “And think of the poor Tribbles. They’re supposed to be comforting, I know, but you’re just supposed to hold them.”
“I do hold them, Dr. Barnes; for a little while. But, the way they coo and vibrate and shake, the possibilities are endless.”
“I hope it’s as simple as last year,” I remarked.
I put on a glove and lubed up my index finger and checked up in Derek’s rectum. Sure enough there was a furry object vibrating just inside. Past experience told me not to try to grab it with my hand; it would just slip away. I greased up the scope and passed it into his rectum. Immediately I visualized a furry yellow ball which was shaking and making low Tribble noises. I reached in with the tenaculum and grabbed the object in its mid portion like a pro and pulled scope and tenaculum out with a single, gentle pull. The Tribble, which was a toy available at the convention, popped out.
“Just one this year?” I asked, although I already knew there would be more.
“No, three,” he replied.
I repeated the routine, pulling out one purple and one red Tribble, both larger that the first and still vibrating.
“I’ll dispose of these for you, Derek. And, please, stay away from Tribbles. You know they’re nothing but trouble.”
He gave a short grunt as I walked out of the exam room.
“What’s next, Nurse?”
David Gelber, a New York native, is the seventh of nine sons and one of three to pursue medicine. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 1980 and went on to graduate medical school in 1984 from the University of Rochester.
He completed a residency in General Surgery at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Texas, and Nassau County Medical Center on Long Island, NY, in 1989. Dr. Gelber now is in private practice in Houston, TX.
Gelber has been performing surgery for more than 25 years, but over the last few years he began to pursue his passion for writing, initially with his debut novel, "Future Hope", followed by its sequel “Joshua and Aaron.”
These were followed by two books about surgery “Behind the Mask” and “Under the Drapes.” The apocalyptic “Last Light” and historical fantasy “Minotaur Revisited” round out his published works, while numerous articles have appeared on his blog “Heard in the OR.”
Now he presents “Little Bit’s Story” and his collection of magical medical short stories, “Night Clinic.”
He has been married to Laura for 28 years and has three college aged children. He and Laura share their home with five dogs and numerous birds.
Future Hope ITP Book One
Joshua and Aaron ITP Book Two
Behind the Mask: The Mystique of Surgery and the Surgeons who Perform Them
Under the Drapes: More Mystique of Surgery
Last Light (e-book only)
You can learn more about his works by checking out his blog, Heard in the OR, his website, or Goodreads author page.
Night Clinic is available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.