For many of the 40 million Americans who undergo anesthesia each year, it is a source of great fear and fascination. In Counting Backwards, Dr. Henry Jay Przybylo - an anesthesiologist with more than 30 years of experience - has written an unforgettable account of the routine procedure's daily dramas and fundamental mysteries.
Przybylo has administered anesthesia more than 30,000 times in his career - erasing consciousness, denying memory, and immobilizing the body before reversing all of these effects - on newborn babies, screaming toddlers and sullen teenagers, his own son, and even a gorilla. With compassion and candor, he weaves his experiences into intimate stories that explore the nature of consciousness, the politics of pain relief, and the wonder of modern medicine.
Through its intense and humane tales of mistakes, near-disasters, life-saving successes, and moments of grace, Counting Backwards shines a light on one of the most fascinating but unexplored corners of the medical world.
"[Pryzbylo] weaves an enjoyable narrative out of...the wealth of experience he has gained over more than 30 years...[and] offers a rare and thoughtful look behind the scenes of this crucial yet arcane specialization." (
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