Dr. Sarah Baldwin races to a Boston hospital with a young woman whose normal labor has suddenly become a matter of life and death. As she struggles to save both mother and baby, she doesn’t know that two other women have already died under horrifying identical circumstances. And so begins Sarah’s own nightmare, as she learns that the prenatal herbal vitamins she prescribed are the only thing these women have in common. Soon Sarah is fighting to save her career, her reputation–her life. For she’s certain there must be some unknown factor linking these women, and as she gets closer to the truth, it becomes clear that someone will do anything–even murder–to keep a devastating secret.
I have been interested in alternative medicine since the day I started medical school. My school, Case Western Reserve University, was very psychiatrically oriented, and spent more time than most schools looking at the mind-body connection. During those years, I once witnessed a hypnotist do a C-section on a woman with no anesthesia save his voice. The operation took only minutes, and the joyful mother walked back to her room. Another time, a hypnotist told a woman she was going to be touched by a hot poker, and touched her arm instead with a pencil eraser. The skin beneath the eraser became red and blistered! That event spoke to me.
Sarah Baldwin, the heroine of the book, says many of the things that I believe about mind-body medicine. “Our microscopes keep getting bigger, and the things we can look at keep getting smaller, but we still don’t know why person “A” got a strep throat and person “B” standing right next to them didn’t.”
It is Sarah’s belief, and mine, that whatever helps a patient is worth doing, provided there is minimum downside, and also that he is not kept from finding the therapy that will do the most good. Ultimately, I believe that emotional state and the immune system will prove at least as important as genetics in determining who gets sick and who doesn’t.
Natural Causes was a breakthrough book for me in that it was the first of my novels to make it into the top five of The New York Times Best-Seller List. Also, although I generally steer away from listening to the audio abridgment of my books, I did enjoy Natasha Richardson’s reading of this one.