Rachel Clarke is a current NHS doctor and former television journalist who cares passionately about standing up for her patients and the NHS. She originally read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University before making current affairs documentaries about subjects as diverse as the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Al Qaeda and the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She retrained as a doctor in her late twenties, graduating in 2009. She now works in palliative medicine, believing that helping patients at the end of life experience the best quality life possible is priceless. Rachel lives in Oxford with her husband and two children.
From the Sunday Times bestselling author of Your Life in My Hands comes this vibrant, tender and deeply personal memoir that finds light and love in the darkest of places. As a specialist in palliative medicine, Dr Rachel Clarke chooses to inhabit a place many people would find too tragic to contemplate. Every day she tries to bring care and comfort to those reaching the end of their lives and to help make dying more bearable. Rachel's training was put to the test in 2017 when her beloved GP father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She learned that nothing - even the best palliative care - can sugar-coat the pain of losing someone you love. And yet, she argues, in a hospice there is more of what matters in life - more love, more strength, more kindness, more joy, more tenderness, more grace, more compassion - than you could ever imagine. For if there is a difference between people who know they are dying and the rest of us, it is simply this: that the terminally ill know their time is running out, while we live as though we have all the time in the world. Dear Life is a book about the vital importance of human connection, by the doctor we would all want by our sides at a time of crisis. It is a love letter - to a father, to a profession, to life itself.
How does it feel to confront a pandemic from the inside, one patient at a time? To bridge the gulf between a perilously unwell patient in quarantine and their distraught family outside? To be uncertain whether the protective equipment you wear fits the science or the size of the government stockpile? To strive your utmost to maintain your humanity even while barricaded behind visors and masks? Rachel is a palliative care doctor who looked after the most gravely unwell patients on the Covid-19 wards of her hospital. Amid the tensions, fatigue and rising death toll, she witnessed the courage of patients and NHS staff alike in conditions of unprecedented adversity. For all the bleakness and fear, she found that moments that could stop you in your tracks abounded. People who rose to their best, upon facing the worst, as a microbe laid waste to the population. Her new book, Breathtaking, is an unflinching insider's account of medicine in the time of coronavirus. Drawing on testimony from nursing, acute and intensive care colleagues - as well as, crucially, her patients - Clarke argue that this age of contagion has inspired a profound attentiveness to - and gratitude for - what matters most in life.
FROM THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLING AUTHOR OF DEAR LIFE 'I am a junior doctor. It is 4 a.m. I have run arrest calls, treated life-threatening bleeding, held the hand of a young woman dying of cancer, scuttled down miles of dim corridors wanting to sob with sheer exhaustion, forgotten to eat, forgotten to drink, drawn on every fibre of strength that I possess to keep my patients safe from harm.' How does it feel to be spat out of medical school into a world of pain, loss and trauma that you feel wholly ill-equipped to handle? To be a medical novice who makes decisions which - if you get them wrong - might forever alter, or end, a person's life? In Your Life in My Hands, television journalist turned junior doctor Rachel Clarke captures the extraordinary realities of life on the NHS frontline. During the historic junior doctor strikes of 2016, Rachel was at the forefront of the campaign against the government's imposed contract upon young doctors. Her heartfelt, deeply personal account of life as a junior doctor in today's NHS is both a powerful polemic on the degradation of Britain's most vital public institution and a love letter of optimism and hope to that same health service.
To be a medical novice who makes decisions which - if you get them wrong - might forever alter, or end, a person's life? To toughen up the hard way, through repeated exposure to life-and-death situations, clinging on until your skills, expertise and the thickness of your skin are finally a match for them? Now frame these questions in the context of a health service so overstretched and understaffed that its doctors and nurses feel every day as though they are scrabbling against the odds just to keep their patients safe. In this heartfelt, deeply personal account of life as a junior doctor in today's health service, former television journalist turned doctor, Rachel Clarke, captures the extraordinary realities of ordinary life on the NHS front line. From the historic junior doctor strikes of 2016 to the 'humanitarian crisis' declared by the Red Cross, the overstretched health service is on the precipice, calling for junior doctors to draw on extraordinary reserves of what compelled them into medicine in the first place - and the value the NHS can least afford to lose - kindness.Your Life In My Hands is at once a powerful polemic on the systematic degradation of Britain's most vital public institution, and a love letter of optimism and hope to that same health service and those who support it. This extraordinary memoir offers a glimpse into a life spent between the operating room and the bedside, the mortuary and the doctors' mess, telling powerful truths about today's NHS frontline, and capturing with tenderness and humanity the highs and lows of a new doctor's first steps onto the wards in the context of a health service at breaking point - and what it means to be entrusted with carrying another's life in your hands.