For a decade, Linda Clarke and Dr. Michael Cusimano had offices across from one another at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. She worked in Clinical Ethics and he was a staff neurosurgeon. They knew one another to say hello, to nod as they passed one another on the stairs, to wish each other a Merry Christmas. Michael's patients sat in the chairs along that shared hallway, waiting for their appointment with him. For ten years, Linda heard their talk outside her door, smiled at them as she passed by, tried to give them their privacy. She was always impressed by the things people endured.
Ten years into her work, Linda got sick; she left her job and, weeks later, she sat in one of those hallway chairs, waiting for her appointment with Dr. Cusimano. In the blink of an eye, she was a neurosurgery patient and he was her surgeon.
Linda and Michael wrote In Two Voices together: it is the intimate account of Linda's surgery with Michael as her surgeon. The story builds a piece at a time as Linda and Michael tell each other their experience and then respond to one another's writing. As the relationship shifts from one of patient and surgeon to one of Linda and Michael as colleagues and friends, they encounter surprises as their trust and mutual understanding develop. Here is an unprecedented view into the experiences of illness, care, and compassion, an intimate picture of the experiences, challenges, skills, and commitment of a surgeon. The worlds of both surgeon and patient are framed by a most critical and delicate surgical procedure.