Counting Backwards: A Doctor’s Notes on Anesthesia

Henry Jay Przybylo. Norton, $25.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-393-25443-3
Przybylo, associate professor of anesthesiology at Northwestern University School of Medicine, weaves an enjoyable narrative out of personal anecdotes from the wealth of experience he has gained over more than 30 years in a field that’s “ubiquitous but largely invisible.” He displays an ever-fresh wonder at and faith in “the gas” that makes invasive medical procedures possible, as well as a determined drive for perfection: “I am striving for pinpoint skill,” he writes. Przybylo meticulously cares for patients and their families, who often don’t meet “Dr. Jay” until they’re on their way to the operating room. He recounts an array of stories, including that of an impish four-year-old whose preoperation snack nearly caused disaster and a lifesaving operation he performed on a baby gorilla. After observing a young patient’s hospital agony during a life-altering trip to China, Przybylo says he defined his goal: “to wipe away all pain.” Przybylo exalts in his triumphs and learns from his mistakes, taking none of it for granted. He ponders how future generations may judge his field: “Will they view my career as barbaric, as I view the barber-surgeons of the nineteenth century?” Przybylo offers a rare and thoughtful look behind the scenes of this crucial yet arcane specialization. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 08/21/2017
Release date: 11/14/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
MP3 CD - 978-1-5414-5771-3
Compact Disc - 978-1-5414-0771-8
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