Recently, Ari was in the hospital for nearly a week. During the course of our stay, we met numerous doctors and nurses, and I can only remember one of them who had a decent sense of humor. Her name was Shantel, and she was a Libra nurse. None of actual MDs ever cracked a smile.

Ironically, as we were walking into the hospital (to get admitted) , my great friend Leah sent me an email recommending I take a look at a blog called The Underwear Drawer. She said:
“Do you want to review a book? There’s a really funny blog I read by a mom/doctor. She is so funny! You will love it. I feel like you guys should be BFFs via the Internet.”
Well, she didn’t need to convince me any further. The book was called This Won’t Hurt a Bit (and other white lies), and the blog in question belonged to Michelle Au.
I clicked on over to The Underwear Drawer, and I immediately fell in love with it. Michelle is an anesthesiologist and lives in Atlanta with her husband, Joe (also a doctor), two boys Cal, 5, and Mack, 2, and their dog Cooper.
She, unlike the stone-faced doctors I’d become accustomed to, is downright hilarious. Take, for example, the first sentence of her book This Won’t Hurt a Bit (and other white lies):
“WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW IS THIS: I am wearing a pair of too-large latex gloves, with my right hand reaching up between an eighty-five-year-old man’s legs, searching for his anus.”
Need I say more?
I contacted Michelle Au, and asked if I might be able to review her book, and if she’d mind answering some questions about it. She graciously agreed. Without further ado, here is what Michelle had to say:

1. Tell us about your book “This Won’t Hurt a Bit and Other White Lies.” What was the inspiration for it?

The genesis for the book came from writing my blog “The Underwear Drawer,” which I’ve been keeping for the past ten years, since the beginning of my second year of medical school. Someone once told me to keep a journal from medical school, because the experiences I would go through would be so unbelievable—the blog was really nothing more than an online journal that everyone could read. A lot happens in ten years, and I’m so grateful to have a record of my development from a junior medical student to an attending physician—both on my blog and in the book.

2. What is the origin behind your blog title, “The Underwear Drawer?”

The underwear drawer is where I used to keep my private journal when I was a teenager. It seemed like a clever title when I started the blog, but I do regret not picking a name that sounds quite so much like a porno site.

3. What do you like the most about being a doctor?

Being a doctor is very much like being a parent, in that in the end, the focus should never be on you. It’s about your child; it’s about your patient. The rewards of both roles are similar as well; the trust you are bestowed and the responsibility that you shoulder go hand-in-hand. It’s tremendously rewarding to interact with patients who literally trust me with their lives within minutes of meeting me. Rewarding, and a little scary.

4. Describe each of your sons in three words.

Cal, my five-and-a-half year-old son, is deliberate, sensitive, and precocious. I often call him a little old man, and he is, but in the sweetest possible way. Mack, my two year-old, is in many ways the exact opposite: sunny, exuberant, and fearless. The amazing thing really is how well they get along, and how much fun I have watching them together.

5. What does your husband, Joe, think of the blog and the book?

He’s tremendously excited! I think he had some apprehension in the beginning about privacy and having our lives put on display, particularly with respect to our kids. In medicine in particular, it’s a fine line to tread between sharing stories and exploiting them. But I think I’ve managed to put limits on what I share and ultimately, he trusts me with the curation of the blog and the book, so he’s nothing but thrilled about the book coming out. That’s the value of a good life partner, the trust, and sharing the fun times along with the hard ones–there’s no way I could have written this book, or do anything that I do, without him.

6. What are three must-have items for new moms? Besides sanity, sleep, and chocolate.

There is only one must-have item, and that is a good partner to share the experience with, be it a spouse, family member, or friend. As getting through a medical residency proves, sleep and sanity are not strictly necessary, though, like the chocolate, it helps.

7. You have a dog right? Who walks him?

Yes, we have a dog, her name is Cooper, and we got her during our last year of medical school. She was named, just so you know, for a Dr. Cooper who precepted us during a rotation in family medicine (and whom we often referred to privately as “Coop Doggy Dog”)—we chose the name before we actually adopted the dog, so the fact that Cooper actually turned out to be female was only a secondary consideration. Nowadays we live in Atlanta and have a yard, so we don’t need an actual “walker” quite like we did when we lived in Manhattan. Manhattan is the land of the professional dog walker.

8. What do you miss the most about NYC?

The food. The food culture in New York is incredible, and I miss being post-call and just being able to head out for lunch or at 3:00am and basically be able to sample from any kind of world cuisine I could think of. I miss my family too, and I wish for the kids’ sake that we were closer to at least one set of grandparents. (Joe’s parents live in Ohio.)

9. When is your book coming out? I want to read it!

The book is actually available right now! Online, in bookstores, wherever. I can’t wait for you to read it either!

10. Do you like ice cream? I like ice cream. What’s your favorite flavor?

My favorite flavor of ice cream is whichever one is in the freezer right now.


I’m in the midst of reading Michelle’s book right now. Stay tuned for a review!


But wait! There’s more! If you’re interested in meeting Michelle, she’s having a book signing event at Columbia Univeristy Book Store on May 11. Click here for for info.