Counting Backwards: A Doctor's Notes on Anesthesia

Counting Backwards: A Doctor's Notes on Anesthesia Review

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 Counting Backwards, Dr. Henry Jay Przybylo—a pediatric anesthesiologist with more than thirty years of experience—delivers an unforgettable account of the 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, and then reversing all of these effects—on newborn babies, screaming toddlers, sullen teenagers, even a gorilla. With compassion and candor, he weaves his experiences into an intimate exploration of the nature of consciousness, the politics of pain relief, and the wonder of modern medicine.


Filled with intensity and humanity, with moments of near-disaster, life-saving success, and simple grace, Counting Backwards is for anyone curious about what happens after we lose consciousness.

Title:Counting Backwards: A Doctor's Notes on Anesthesia

    Some Testimonial About This Book:

  • 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. Af...

  • 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 wonder...

  • 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. ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 del...

  • 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 wi...

  • 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 medic...

  • 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 f...

  • 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 calc...

  • 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 m...