Women Only

The Gynecologist Is In: Real Life Stories

Randy A. Birken, M.D.

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Paperback - ISBN: 978-1-57733-225-1, 168 pp., 6 x 9, $16.95

Hardcover - ISBN: 978-1-57733-252-7, $24.95


"Moving and heartfelt. Dr. Birken expresses the physician's side of the patient relationship with grace and candor." Craig A. Miller, M.D., author, The Making of a Surgeon in the 21st Century

"Dr. Birken is authentic, empathetic, and utterly human in his amalgam of 'tales' on those conditions that most impact women’s lives. His 'creative non-fiction' will intrigue, and lighten, and inspire readers of both genders." James A. Schaller, M.D., author, Do Yourself a Favor: Love Your Wife

“Dr. Birken does a superb job in bringing human warmth and humor to an otherwise, clinical profession. His unique approach to revealing the strength and composure of his patients in crisis allows the reader to enter the inner world of doctor and patient, a heretofore revered and confidential one, to become a part of the story. Dr. Birken is a renowned doctor in his own right, but had the courage to seek additional training in the art of creative writing, having obtained a Master of Liberal Arts Degree in Literature twenty years after his M.D. His patient-composite approach is refreshing and avoids many of the pitfalls that occur in other medical accounts of the doctor-patient relationship that usually come across as clinical and perfunctory. His chronological approach, using the woman's lifespan as a guidepost to the myriad of illnesses awaiting an otherwise healthy female medically and psychologically, is both intriguing and inspirational. Dr. Birken has a potential bestseller, and women and men will buy this book if they want an inside look at the ideal doctor-patient relationship at a time when patient trust in organized medicine is lacking. Those who enjoyed Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, will find Dr. Birken's book an equally seminal one on doctoring with humility, humor, and humanness.” A. Keith Barton, Ph.D., psychologist and published author

“Dr. Randy Birken writes the stories of these women as if he has known them all his life - in reality he did. The relationship between a gynecologist and a patient transcends all what is not modern medicine. It is more than the framework of the business - it is sometimes more about the trust.” Sharon Messimer, Marketing Director for Memorial Hermann Healthcare System

“The title of this work, Women Only, may be a bit misleading and that would indeed be unfortunate. Though the subjects are women, the message is one that should be of relevance to fathers, husbands and especially daughters. Dr. Birken has done an excellent job of translating clinical and case study data into words that can be readily understood by the lay person. With care and sensitivity he explains and deals with both physical and emotional issues that most women, at some developmental stage, will no doubt confront. Dr. Birken is obviously not only an able clinician, but an excellent teller of important and helpful stories.” David Gottlieb, Ph.D., former Dean of the College of Social Sciences at the University of Houston and published author

“Randy Birken, M.D., writes with insight and compassion about the many health issues of concern to women and he gives those issues appealing human faces, inspiring readers to share in the sorrows and joys, seriousness and humor that are a part of every woman's life." Rosemary Poole-Carter, published novelist and playwright

“Dr. Birken's clinical vignettes bring gynecologic medicine to life in a readable, entertaining, and medically accurate series of 'glimpses' into the lives of women. What an enjoyable way to learn!” Dorothy Roach, M.D., Director, North Houston Center for Reproductive Medicine

Table of Contents

Part I: Introduction
Chapter 1: Doctoring and the Human Experience

Part II: Pre-Adolescence
Chapter 2: Amy
Chapter 3: Jessica

Part III: Adolescence
Chapter 4: Cindy
Chapter 5: Carrie

Part IV: Young Adults
Chapter 6: Janet and Lisa
Chapter 7: Sarah

Part V: Pregnancies
Chapter 8: Lucy
Chapter 9: Alice
Chapter 10: Laura

Part VI: Adults
Chapter 11: Cathy
Chapter 12: Jill
Chapter 13: Anna

Part VII: Midlife and Beyond
Chapter 14: Lynn and Vickie
Chapter 15: Helen
Chapter 16: Betty Jo
Chapter 17: Greta

Part VIII: Physicians
Chapter 18: Dr. Meyers
Chapter 19: Dr. Raymond

Part IX: Conclusion
Chapter 20: Medicine and the Human Condition


Women can obtain medical information, and the associated social impact on their lives, from many sources: the Internet, magazines, TV, radio, word-of-mouth, as well as healthcare providers. Yet these sources are limited to specifics and are void of the “human” shape of health and illness. What form of information can bridge these compromises and provide an overall depiction of the human dimension or the human experience? Answer: The “case study”—clinical stories about individuals enduring disease or diseases, and the ramifications on their lives....

Not only does the non-medical reader benefit and learn from the case study, but physicians and medical students as well. While teaching “Medicine, Literature, and the Human Condition” at Baylor College of Medicine, this author noticed that students responded positively to the inspiring readings and left the conference room with a more energized spirit and a renewed commitment to the medical profession. The overwhelming technological overload the students face day-in-and-day-out throughout their medical education is softened by the compassion and tenderness of case studies that are humanistic and heart-warming.

Studying literary works with medical themes exposes these intelligent individuals to the perspective of the patient, hence promoting compassion and greater empathy, while the topic of medical ethics promotes professional integrity and responsibility. Additionally, these literary works provide a catharsis for students who are burdened with the complexities of medical science as well as medical liability, consumerism, and managed health care. But most importantly, students learn to refocus their reasons for becoming doctors—the nobility of the profession—emphasizing the practice of medicine as an art as well as a science....

While some stories in this collection are warm and tender, others are emotionally visceral and present a tragic commentary on human frailties and social conditions. Topics that extend throughout the life span of a woman—the unusual but delicate pediatric conditions; adolescent problems such as eating disorders, drug and alcohol abuse, and the complexities of parental interaction; young adult issues including the confusion of new responsibilities, sexually transmitted diseases, adoption and abortion; the emotional consequences of infertility and obstetrical problems; surgical complications and its repercussions; domestic violence and divorce; the physical and emotional distress of obesity; mid-life to older age issues, including menopause, cancer, and the loss of a spouse; and the human side of physicians: their feelings, their lives as doctors, and their interaction with patients and other physicians.

Blue Dolphin Publishing, 2010

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