BY BOB CUMMINS
[star rating = 4/5]
Gavin Francis, a physician in Edinburgh, writer and explorer shares insights from his past that have inspired his current book, Shapeshifters; on Medicine and Human Change.
Gavin recalls a lecture, back when he was studying medicine, explaining the process of the binding of oxygen into red blood cells. He was fascinated that the hemoglobin in blood and the chlorophyll in plants share the same process of forming porphyrin rings, which in plants, helps to trap the sun’s energy and are ultimately responsible for all life on earth as we know it.
“The thing that allows us to breath and live is found in plants and every other living thing.” proclaims the evidently still excited GP.
“Constant change keeps us alive”, he further adds.
The book, appears itself to be a living piece. Exploring myths and reality together. From werewolves and the power of the moon to Hercules and the lengths some of us go to to change our bodies.
There are 24 short chapters with examples of human change. Like the transformation our heart goes through in the moments straight after our birth, the switching off of the mechanism that suppresses our brain from triggering puberty allowing us to change into an adult, to the ultimate changes reached at the end of our life.
Dr Francis respectively uses examples from his experience as a general practitioner for the background to many of the phenomenal stories in the book. When asked if this breached patient confidentiality, he explained that many people would be able to relate to the examples as they are common across our society and therefore the stories are not specifically about individuals.
The book helps to share examples of the changes we go through and the subsequent suffering that can occur. Some may seek comfort in the knowledge that they are not alone in their metamorphic experiences.
As well as taking you on a journey, the book is littered with a plethora of facts. Did you know that the female pelvis can continue to expand until the age of 22 and that eating a haggis supper at 3am will leave you with double the amount of cholesterol in your blood than eating the same haggis supper at 3pm? Nightshift workers beware.
Gavin shows a genuine wonder and love for his patients and in turn, or perhaps because of this, he is able to give a vivid insight as an author.
Shapeshifters, published in association with the Welcome Collection is a wonderful collection of stories about medicine and the changing human body with the added personal touch of a Doctor, who still finds time to practice three days a week, research, write and share his insights about human life.