By The Stroke Of His Pen

By Kimoy Leon Sing
Story Updated: Mar 1, 2013 at 11:46 PM ECT

Saving lives is what Dr Emile Allen does. His weapon of choice was once his scalpel but now he uses a pen and his voice to forge ahead in life.

Taking life’s adversities and finding ways to turn them naturally into gifts, Dr Allen is proud to share his story from surgeon to patient through his inspirational book, Eaten By The Tiger- Surrendering to an Empowered Life.

This book is the first for the retired urologist turned writer and motivational speaker who came to Trinidad recently to promote the book.

A graduate of Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago, Illinois, USA, Dr Allen completed his general surgery internship and urology residency at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics. He is the former chairman of urology and vice chairman of surgery at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, California. Despite having to give up on his chosen profession, the once active urologist has turned his passion for helping others in a different direction. He believes that through his motivational speeches and astute writing, he can touch more lives than he could as a surgeon.

For the doctor, the switch in profession was indeed sudden and the self- realisation that followed shortly after that was a breakthrough in his life; something he wishes that could have happened to him a lot sooner.

Dr Allen, “In 1998 I was operating on a patient trying to save their life when a piece of medical equipment malfunctioned and I barely escaped being electrocuted. I had a near-death experience. After the accident I had a traumatic brain injury and other injuries that took quite a few years for me to recuperate from. It had gotten to the point where I could not read a book; I could not count change because my concentration was so disrupted from the brain injury that I had to close down my practice.

“I was 38 years old at the peak of my career. What was going through my mind at that time was gosh it’s gone; I’ve lost it all; how can I put my life back together again,” Dr Allen said.

“With physical injuries in time it heals but what happens is the emotional injuries are often greater and sometimes linger on even after we have fully

recovered physically. This was something I was struggling with after the accident because I was still trying to hold on to my shattered identity as that of a surgeon. After the injury I was not able to practise surgery so I had to transition and find a new purpose in life,” he said.

“It lead to a journey of self-discovery; realiSing what was really important in life. Is it your identity that you are holding on to or is it the connections you have with others or was it with life in general? I realised that in order for me to overcome this adversity that I was going through at the time I realised that the quality of our life is determined by the emotional attachments we have placed on an event. So if you change the meaning of that emotional attachment to whatever life adversity you are facing; you will change the quality of your life. One of the major things I did was I reframed the incident into a gift and found a way to share that gift with others,” he added.

Eaten By The Tiger—Surrendering to an Empowered Life the title of book, seemed fitting to the author who says it describes in length his personal journey and the tools needed to overcome hardships in life.

He said, “From my book people will have specific steps that they can take to overcome life adversity and take a negative and turn it into a positive. People will understand that the emotional attachments we attribute to certain events in our life can be controlling and can control our identity. If we control the meaning of what has happen to us, again we can change our life.”

Dr Allen admitted that although he misses surgery and being a surgeon his life has been more fulfilling than ever before.

He said, “I have a different view of life now. I have the opportunity now to help thousands and potentially millions of people with my inspirational writings and public speaking.

Whereas when I was a surgeon, I was only able to help a few people at a time—which was usually just the people that walked through my door—I feel now my reach is much greater. If I can in anyway share a thought or message with someone to improve their lives then I feel like I am doing the work that I was asked to do.” Eaten By The Tiger—Surrendering to an Empowered Life was launched February 10 on as an e-book. Hard copies of the book are set to be released very soon at all major bookstores in Trinidad and Tobago and other parts of the world.