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, Science, Medical, 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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.”
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • Julia
    I heard this Dr interviewed about his book and thought it would be interesting to read. It was a very well written book for non-fiction or a rather narrow topic. It reads more as a story of this Dr's practice, philosophy, learning, interactions with patients than a typical non-fiction. Having had a few surgeries in my life and at least one of my kids having had surgery, it was interesting to read about what goes one, the history of the various dr...
  • Karen Schnakenberg
    Very disappointing -- lots of details but little in the way of a helpful context or an overarching framework for helping to understand the methods and experience of anesthesia; lots of small anecdotes + too much focus on "I" and "my." I've read a number of books by doctors on their particular professions or how they've developed and learned in the process. The author here presents himself primarily as a fully-formed and professional expert, so th...
  • Sheri S.
    Dr. Jay, an anesthesiologist who works primarily with children, recounts some of the history of anesthesiology and shares a number of his own cases. The book provides a solid understanding of what anesthesiology is, the types of drugs used (including their origins) and how doctors monitor the use of anesthetics during surgery. I thought the book was very interesting and appreciated the candid way in which Dr. Jay wrote of his strengths and areas ...
  • Corinne
    Could not put this book down till the last page. I encourage anyone who is interested in healthcare to read it. I enjoy reading about other modalities - especially if I've worked side by side with them or have been a patient on the receiving end. Gives a whole new perspective. I remember a time I was in the OR with the C-Arm - the anesthesiologist sat working on a crossword puzzle - hate to say it, but that clouded my perception of anesthesiologi...
  • Ryan Boomershine
    The musings of a highly conscientious pediatric anesthesiologist reflecting on his work as a science and an art...but mostly as a science. I feel like Przybylo beat himself up too much about a few very small issues, including the matter of the lost artifact at the very end of the book, but...that I want a doctor who cares about the most minute matters tending to me.I'm a school administrator and there was lots of medical jargon, and the author ma...
  • Gloria
    An interesting account about the history and use of anesthesia written by an anesthesiologist. I was interested in reading the book because of my fascination with the effects on the mind of anesthesia and drugs that induce amnesia. While the books did not go as deeply into this subject as I would have liked, there was a lot of interesting information. It was not particularly readable unfortunately.Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for an eARC...
  • Nanci
    When I received in the mail because of a goodreads giveaway, I was hesitant to start reading. I'm glad I did. Having had surgery this past April coming out of anesthesia was a vivid memory. Dr Jay's passion for his profession is evident. I wish I had had more interaction with my anesthesiologist even just to say thank you. If any of my local friends would like to read this book, I'll be happy to get my copy to you.
  • Holly
    Very interesting book with clear descriptions of what it's like to be an anesthesiologist, to administer anesthesia and the different components involved. Wonderfully responsible and humanistic approach. I highly recommend this book to anyone who might find this topic of interest. Anesthesia still remains a mystery as to exactly how it works but even that conundrum is carefully and simply stated. Insightful read that I would recommend.
  • Beth
    Well written and engaging narrative nonfiction. I was fascinated by the many elements an anesthesiologist has to keep track of to safely keep a patient "under" and help them recover. Dr. Jay's anecdotes give context and are absorbing and enlightening. Recommended for all who enjoy medical narrative nonfiction as well as aspiring anesthesiologists and surgeons.
  • Ray
    Doctor Henry Jay Przybylo's book "Counting Backwards" provides a look into what it's like to be an Anesthesiologist, as told by a doctor with decades of experience. His story is personal, detailing examples and experiences from his practice. While there may be people with stories of unsatisfactory experiences with anesthesia, the feeling one gets from Dr. Przybylo's book is that when administered by a professional, anesthesia is safe and satisfyi...