Counting Backwards by Henry Jay Przybylo

Counting Backwards

For many of the 40 million Americans who undergo anesthesia each year, it is the source of great fear and fascination. From the famous first demonstration of anesthesia in the Ether Dome at Massachusetts General Hospital in 1846 to today’s routine procedure that controls anxiety, memory formation, pain relief, and more, anesthesia has come a long way. But it remains one of the most extraordinary, unexplored corners of the medical world.In Count...

Details Counting Backwards

TitleCounting Backwards
Release DateNov 14th, 2017
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
GenreNonfiction, Health, Medicine, Autobiography, Memoir, Medical, Science, Biography

Reviews Counting Backwards

  • Petra X
    My late father had a triple bypass where the anaesthetic didn't work. As his muscles were completely paralysed as they have to be, he was unable to let anyone know that he was in excrutiating pain. Afterwards he repeated to the surgeon things he had said and the surgeon was very apologetic but that was all. (If he'd been American he could have sued!) I thought maybe this was a one-off but then last year I had surgery in the Bumrungrad in Bangkok,...
  • Dorie
    I would rate this book a 3.5 rounded up to a 4!I am always interested in any books related to the medical field and this sounded like a great one. I’ve had several surgeries and I’ve always wondered what it must be like to be the anesthesiologist, the one who really holds your life in his or her hand!What I loved about this book were his descriptions of interactions with his pediatric patients. He seems to have figured out a way to calm his p...
  • Lynn
    This is a simple but fascinating memoir about the life of one particular anesthesiologist. The book provides pertinent history, medical knowledge, case studies and musings about the job and it's art. There is much more to the job than I thought. The anesthesiologist must examine the patient, decide on an anesthesia plan, put them out, keep them out, avoid mishaps, deal with emergencies, bring them back, and manage their postoperative pain. What I...
  • Katie/Doing Dewey
    Summary: The sections on history and philosophy of anesthesiology weren't my favorite, but the fascinating, moving patient stories were fantastic.In his career of more thirty years, anesthesiologist Dr. Henry Jay Przybylo has administered anesthesia more than 30,000 times. His patients have included everyone from "newborn babies, screaming toddlers, sullen teenagers, even a gorilla." (source). As he shares his experiences with these patients, he...
  • Jen
    I'm always interested in medical history and autobiography, so I was very excited to read about an anesthesiologist's history and views on his profession. Too many of us take anesthesia for granted without a real understanding of what the practice entails. I found the historical background very interesting, especially how little really changes in the field. And I do admire his commitment to his patients. There were a few off-putting things for me...
  • SibylM
    I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and an honest review was requested. Thank you to W.W. Norton for providing me this engrossing memoir! I absolutely love a good medical memoir, and this one delivered all of what I love: a smart, committed person with a real passion for medicine to narrate, a window into a new medical field I know little about, many interesting stories about patients (Tabibu was my favorite!) and excellent writing. I would ...
  • Robert Swan
    3.5 stars. I’m a sucker for a physician memoir and this was everything it needed to be.
  • Marika
    Anesthesiologist/author Przybylo takes readers beyond the forbidden operating room doors into the O.R. itself. In a calm, warm tone, the author details how patients are given anesthesia prior to medical procedures and the myriad of ways in which they differ. He deftly includes the history of anesthesia, from the discovery of ether to more modern ways of blocking pain and alleviating pre-surgery anxiety. Wonderful book for those skittish about und...
  • Rachel
    This book is a quick easy read, which was not what I expected. It was a mix of medical science/history and anecdotes, which is fine. But the science was science lite, and the patient stories were either inspirational (thankfully in a non-religious way) or had morals like Aesop's fables. The author specializes in pediatric anesthesia, so his patients are cute kids, and he seems to have a good rapport with them. He paints a pretty picture: Anesthes...
  • Leah K
    If you’ve ever been to the hospital for a surgery or long-term care, you may remember your doctor or a certain nurse, but your anesthesiologist? Probably not. That isn’t the case for me. When I had to go in for an emergency c-section for my second son, I was terrified, screaming not to let me lose another child. My husband by my side…and my anesthesiologist. He obviously HAD to be there, at least at first. But after our child was born early...
  • Stephanie
    Counting Backwards: A Doctor's Notes on Anesthesiaby Henry Jay PrzybyloI have to disclose first that I am a surgeon's daughter, so this may give me a different slant on this book than the general reader. When I was growing up in the 1960's & 70's, medicine was an old boy's club, more interested in forming a supportive line of protection when someone screwed up than truly focusing on the patient's well-being.For me it was refreshing to read a book...
  • Stephen Yoder
    This was a fun and fast read. Dr Przybylo is clearly a guy who is conversant in a very technical, high-stakes field of medicine but his writing isn't a thicket. It was darn clear. Anesthesia isn't a forgiving area, I suppose, and Dr Jay (as he calls himself) wasn't able to forgive himself for some earlier goofs in his career until those patients themselves showed some grace. High expectations are important, and yet they also can lead to painful m...
  • Rosemary
    In the ever growing genre of reality medical texts for non medical readers, this book is a very well crafted view of the critical role played by the anaesthesiologist. Our .ives depend upon their calculations, attention to vitals and their interventions to prevent consciousness an post operative pain. The writer’s craft is on view throughout, asking this book an enjoyable and engaging “read.”
  • Mkmadden99
    Too much medical terminology for me. I think I'd rather be in the dark about how some medical procedures work. If you are interested in this topic, you'll probably enjoy it.
  • Tina
    Gave me a peek into my dad's work world. I get why he's such a control freak. ;)
  • Amy
    Part memoir, part medical history, the book provides an interesting peak behind the surgery curtain and into the mystery world of the anesthesiologist. As someone who as undergone anesthesia over half a dozen times, "Doctor Jay" is correct that the anesthesiologist is often an overlooked part of the process. You choose your doctor, surgeon, and surgical center, but you meet the anesthetist the day of the procedure, often for just a few minutes, b...
  • Becky
    I initially heard about this book while listening to Terry Gross interview the author on NPR. The interview (worth listening to!) persuaded me to seek out the book. It is a fascinating look into the mostly invisible, somewhat mysterious yet absolutely critical world of anesthesiology. If you ever need anesthesia, you want someone with this doctor's skill and compassion taking care of you.
  • Dkettmann
    Fun listen (audiobook version), some interesting stories, and a good book on the generalities of Anesthesia and the practice thereof. Its a bit short, slightly under 6 hrs of audio. And it never goes very deep.To me, the book was similar to if a younger person had gone up to this very knowledgeable doctor and asked to tell the story of what it is like to be an Anesthesia doc. It sums up the main points very nicely, and very digestable, but never ...
  • Cynthia
    3.5 rounded up.
  • John
    Personal memoir of the professional life of an academic anesthesiologist. I think it provides good insights from my standpoint as a non-anesthesiologist physician. It is truly your anesthesiologist hold your life in his hands during surgery, but in fact it is the surgeon who gets the recognition and credit for a successful procedure. In addition to the general reading public, I think this book would be particularly useful for someone considering ...
  • Pat Lampe
    I enjoyed this audio memoir very much. I cannot imagine having the responsibility of an anesthesiologist. Yikes. Learned so much and liked the attitude of the author.
  • Ricardo
    Przybylo is first an anesthesiologist, then a writer. That’s not to say that what he has to say isn’t important or necessary, it’s simply a statement that expresses that this author is clearly not used to writing for an audience. The beginning of Przybylo’s collection of “notes” largely gives the reader a backstory on the history of anesthesia (all the way back to October 16, 1846 where William Morton gave a public demonstration of an...
  • Doninaz
    In Counting Backwards, the author, an anesthesiologist, relates his first-hand experiences. This short book includes unusual lesson-based stories, detailed descriptions of the environment, and reflections on the profession.An anesthesiologist, as the “General Practitioner of the operating room,” needs to know something about almost every part of the human body. For a surgery, an anesthesiologist must exercise his capabilities to:• Relieve s...
  • CarolB
    Maybe this is more than I need to know about anesthesia, but it was like watching a really good documentary. "Dr. Jay" (which is much easier to say than his actual name, Przybylo) gives us some background on how the science of avoiding pain, avoiding motion and keeping the vital signs steady came to its present state. In an interview on Public Radio, he said he steals time from people, which is a pretty fascinating way to think of it. In several ...
  • Jennifer S
    This is "anethesia for the populace" - a collection of anecdotes, history, and medical observations about the practice of anesthesiology. Although it's not a fast page-turner, I did learn some interesting things about this branch of medicine, which is often taken for granted in medical procedures ranging from wisdom tooth extraction to life-saving operations on preemies or the dying. The stories were interesting, the outcomes almost always succes...
  • Aliceconlon
    I listened to the audio version of Counting Backwards. I heard the author on NPR and thought the book sounded interesting. While Dr Jay may be an excellent anesthesiologist, he comes across as arrogant and condescending especially towards the mothers of his young patients. He even recalls a time when he rudely dismissed his wife's concerns about their son and excuses himself by explaining that when people have been married a long time, they under...
  • Alex
    Usually I’m crazy for books of this kind, medical memoirs, but I couldn’t quite get into this one by an anesthesiologist who specializes in pediatric cardiac cases. Though I liked that he described his evolution as a caregiver and his dedication to providing comfort to his patients’ families as well as the patients themselves, maybe it was his ego that turned me off. An empathetic man, he said several times that he’s most comfortable when...
  • Bonnie
    As a reader who has undergone many operations, I have to admit that until I read this book, I wasn't giving the anesthesialogist his due. Usually he/she is the person who comes in pre-surgery, asks a few questions and then you never see him/her again.Dr.Przybylo - in a very readable format - explains the role - and its importance to the success of your operations. While a surgeon works elsewhere, the anesthesialogist is monitoring all of your vit...
  • Tanya
    I found this book about the practice of anesthesiology fascinating, but I know this was very influenced by the fact that my husband is an anesthesiologist, and it gave me a more complete view of what he does every day. I think it's amazing that no one understands exactly why anesthesia works, yet trained physicians are able to do so much to control bodily functions when we are essentially put into a coma-like state. I would recommend this book to...