Ben Franklin once said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and local orthopedic surgeon Dr. John F. Tompkins II agrees.
He completed his first book, “An Ounce of Prevention: The Truth About Our Health,” with the help of his father, the late S. Fulton Tompkins, who was also a surgeon. The idea was hatched in 1993 by the elder Tompkins, but he had trouble working alone.
“He got this idea that there ought to be a book written for the layman on how to stay in good health,” said John Tompkins, who will sign copies of the book Monday night at Full Circle Bookstore.
Tompkins, who is also an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Oklahoma, took over the project in 2001, and it took him up until just recently to get it all put together. It finally published in April.
Although his father had been working on the book for eight years, Tompkins started mostly from scratch. He did the majority of the writing, with his father contributing with editing.
They wanted to avoid writing another encyclopedia of medicine, and instead focused on preventative methods, something Tompkins said was unique for a medical book.
As far as research goes, they received help from 48 health professionals across the country, each with a specific area of expertise. Some assisted more than others, while some were very difficult to get any input from, he said.
Having passed away in October, his father was unable to see the completed product. Tompkins did print off one copy of the near-completed manuscript, however, allowing his father a preview of what was to come.
“I was very happy to hand it to him,” he said. “It brought a big smile to his face.”
Richard Crum, a former National Geographic writer and editor, released “An Ounce of Prevention” through his Edmond-based publishing house, The Editorial Annex. Tompkins said going through a small publisher was very beneficial to the writing and editing process, both of which were difficult.
The book is written in a manner that most people can understand, and Tompkins said he did his best to keep it that way, although it was a challenge. He acknowledged some readers might be more difficult to reach than others.
“The goal is really just to educate the layman on how to stay healthy,” he said.
Most of the chapters have a similar structure, with sections devoted to basic facts, what can go wrong, prevention tips and a Q-and-A section.
The original plan was to have a chapter on each organ system, but after a while, there was some expansion and more chapters were added, like ones on alcohol and tobacco.
Because different people have different health concerns, Tompkins wrote the book in a way that any chapter can be read independently of the others.
“The focus of the book is trying to educate people on how the body works, and what we can do to keep it working, keep it in good shape,” he said.
Tompkins hopes people will read the book, then use the suggested practices, although he realizes there is no way to document whether that happens. He said knowledge of preventative methods is quite valuable, allowing people to save money in addition to staying healthy.
“In this case,” he said, “you can reasonably say that an ounce of prevention is worth a ton of cure.”