Toby is eight years old. He had a routine operation. It was fine. Now he’s gone home to terror. Months have passed. But Toby still bursts into tortured screams. Because something is very wrong. Toby can remember evey moment of the operation. All the trauma. All the pain. He relives evrey horrifying detail of surgery while he’s awake. Now someone must expose the unspeakable truth about this hospital. Or else an innocent child will die. And he won’t be the last. The next victim is being wheeled into surgery right now.
One of my favorites. “What if corporations started taking over hospitals and running them with a corporate mentality as for-profit businesses?” The idea was a natural and very prophetic as it turns out. The trick with this book was to find a specific, scary example of what could evolve from my “What if?” (see writing tips) Enter Serenyl. I got the idea from a newspaper article about a woman who awoke from her surgery remembering very clearly the surgeon making disparaging remarks about her weight as he operated on her. The nurses in the OR corroborated her statements, and she ended up with huge settlements from both the surgeon and the anesthesiologist.
So my initial “What if?” was augmented by another–what if there was an anesthetic agent that made a patient look like she was asleep, and she woke up thinking she was asleep, but at some level of her brain, she was wide awake and experiencing her surgery. From that point on the writing was painless.
Ironically, after the book was published, I received dozens of letters and newspaper articles describing episodes where there was incomplete (or NO!!) anesthesia during surgery. For this book, I was assigned to editor Beverly Lewis. From 1984 until her untimely and tragic death in 1999, we worked closely together on six novels. I loved her as a person, a friend, and a professional, and I miss her every day. Once again (this time against my wishes), Bantam decided to publish the book as a mass market original. Again, the exchange: “Write faster.” “I can’t without compromising the book and giving up something I love doing.” Finally, after completing this book, I did cut back to about half time in the ER. In 1990, after my son Luke was born, I left the ER and began work in the field of physician health, helping doctors with mental illness, physical illness, and substance abuse problems. I continue with that job today.