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Dogmeat: A Memoir of Love and Neurosurgery in San Francisco

Ambitious and cocky, a young neurosurgery resident left his hometown of Chicago for what became an unforgettable adventure in San Francisco, both exhilarating and disheartening, destined to irrevocably change his future. “Dogmeat” was the moniker he was given as apprentice to a famous-and famously intimidating-neurosurgeon.

Moris Senegor gives a disarmingly honest account of his “Dogmeat” days in the wards and operating rooms of UCSF. He also vividly recounts how he fell in love with San Francisco and a woman he found there. His story is for both surgeons and anyone ever beguiled by San Francisco.

Back Story

“While Dogmeat is, as the subtitle indicates, a recounting of my adventures in love and neurosurgery during a memorable residency, it’s also my love letter to the San Francisco I discovered when I moved there in 1986. It was well after the Haight-Ashbury ’60s and before the hoodie Silicon era.

This San Francisco, with its quirky neighborhoods and abundance of mom and pops, was disarmingly similar to my birth city of Istanbul. One of my goals in the book was to capture San Francisco at this moment in its history—what it looked like, felt like, and even smelled like. There are detailed descriptions of various locales, as seen through the eyes of a beguiled newcomer.

After I completed my residency, I moved to Stockton to start my neurosurgery practice. But that famous song about leaving your heart behind is true. I eventually bought a second home in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood.” —Moris

Dogmeat review
I purchased this book within minutes of hearing about it from the author and another colleague. Thank goodness for electronic books. Considering the large unread collection of books in my kindle library, I didn’t think that I would get to it anytime soon, but since I bought the book without knowing anything about it, I open it, and that was a mistake. I could not put it down. Dr. Senegor’s introduction immediately drew me in. His description of the city that I spent a year during my internship brought back my own nostalgic memories, and then I read his story with fascination and trepidation.

Read on ...

Neurosurgery was a field that was full of mystique when I was a lowly medical student, and I still remain in awe of that breed of surgeons as an anesthesiologist working with them in many operating rooms today. Dr. Senegor’s description of his six months as the resident for Dr. Wilson and the trials he was under brought back memories of my own training days, and I dare say, of many physicians’ residency period. While we were each learning different crafts, we were all learning. I appreciate Dr. Senegor putting into words what was an angst-fill period of time for young doctors and give it the perspective that time can give. As young people who has high expectations of themselves embarks on this lonely path, each fall from grace magnifies our own self-doubts. It is important to know that time do heals everything.

While not all of us aspires to be neurosurgeon, I think this is a book that every medical student and resident should read for the perspective from the lens of time. For everyone else who reads, it is and entertaining glimpse into a world of academia that few ever experience.