Local doctor finds freedom, uses real medical innovation to kill in fiction novel
By Mat Cohen
In the last scene of the 1977 film “Annie Hall,” Woody Allen jokes most people can’t break from a rut if they need the means it’s providing.
Dr. Michael Young, a Streeterville resident, had a private urology practice from 1991 to 2017 and is thankful he wasn’t dependent on a proverbial chicken providing him eggs. This led Young to break free of the medical industry and write his two books, The Illness of Medicine and Consequence of Murder.
“If you are stuck, but you don’t have any options and you need the eggs, you’re still stuck,” Young said. “I had an opportunity to say goodbye—I financially was secure and was able to cut that chain. I have other interests, other abilities and the means to pursue them.
“So I took advantage of that.”
Young’s other interests include medical innovation, underwater photography, teaching, riding his bike along Lake Michigan and writing. At the peak of his game, as the head of two departments and with a private practice, Young stepped away for those interests.
“I just got fatigued with where medicine was going,” he said. “It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, I just don’t enjoy the environment in which we have to practice.”
Currently, he is the director of the division of innovation in the Department of Urology at the University of Illinois Chicago and has been on radio shows discussing the state of the medical industry.
His first book, Illness of Medicine, published February 2018, recounts his 33 years of experience in the medical field.
“I wanted patients to understand what physicians are going through and I wanted physicians to understand what patients are going through,” he said. “I wanted both to see the other side of the table.”
Consequence of Murder, a fictional story published in June, uses a HydroGel to kill evil. The gel, which Young developed in real life for about a year, changes its state based on temperature. Its original purpose was to hold kidney stones still for doctors to break them down easier. But when the Office of Technology Management found other work in that area, the HydroGel was used to fictitiously take away lives instead.
“I’ve done all this work and now I can’t do anything with it,” he said. “What do you do when you get upset? Well you say, ‘I’m going to kill somebody,’ figuratively. So I decided I was going to use this stuff to kill somebody. It was my venting.
“So, that’s the process of murder. It’s a little warped, I know, but this is how I think.”
Christian Luciano, Ph.D., is a colleague of Young’s at UIC was impressed Young was able to turn the book into a mystery.
“It’s amazing how this involved a mystery novel,” he said. “It’s an extraordinary complex thing and he makes it understandable. The perfect balance between facts and details, but while still keeping the essence of what it is.”
Young said fictional writing is more challenging than nonfiction. He is currently writing his third book with many of the same characters overlapping from his second.
For more information, visit https://michaeljyoungmd.com/.