by Joe Fisher
Chapter 1: A Survivor’s Tale
Describes the immediate medical emergency, my personal reaction to it, and the barriers to seeking treatment and diagnosis.
- The Attack — Hyperawareness & Self-Triage
- Response – Delay, Denial & Magical Thinking
- Seeking Treatment – Obeying ER Protocol
- Diagnosis – Giving the Disease a Face
Chapter 2: Hospitalization
Discusses the introduction and immersion of a patient into the hospital routine, a chaotic world of diffused responsibility, information overload and the need to evaluate treatment options and ways to obtain the “best” treatment in that context.
- Information Overload
- The Structural Delivery of Care — Hospitalists
- Making Treatment Choices – Coumadin or Not?
- Release — Fear & Expectation
Chapter 3: The New Normal: PTSD & Beyond
Considers the physical and psychological adaptation to the life threatening experience, symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), medical treatment and self-help.
- PTSD – Definition, Prevalence, Brain Imaging & Manifestations
- Treatment – Medical & Chemical Therapies
- Psychological Repair – Self-help & Meditation
Chapter 4: Victimization: Fate & Forgiveness
Examines the origins of depression following a life threatening event – answering the question Why Me?; the need to find a cause, place blame, find fault and bring those responsible to account; and gaining wisdom through self-understanding and freedom from depression through forgiveness.
- Fate or Cause
- Accountability — Fault & Blame
- Balancing the Scales — Malpractice
- Personal Contribution to Cause
- Forgiveness — Self & Other
Chapter 5: Facing Oblivion
Discusses the implications of the sudden and stark confrontation with death, mortality and oblivion and considers the questions: What’s God got to do with it? Where will I find peace?
- What is it Like to Die?
- What is Death?
- Prayer – Does it Work?
- Cultural Visions of the Afterlife
- Immortality – Consciousness or Memory?
- Near Death Experiences
- The Voice of God? – An Agnostic Doubts
Chapter 6: Winnowing: The Window of Opportunity
Explores the process of simplifying one’s life by deciding what is important, a process that includes answering questions such as, Who do I love? What do I want to do with my remaining time?
- Hitting Bottom – Emotional Low Point
- Death and Dying vs. Life and Living
- Winnowing — Relationships
- Winnowing – Finding Purpose
Many of the points are illustrated by the chance reconnection and conversations with an ex-spouse who is terminally ill.
Chapter 7: Relapse
Describes additional life threatening events experienced by the author– a near fatal Coumadin-related bleed out and consequent DVTs and PEs – and considers these events in the context of modern medical decision-making.
- Bleeding to Death
- Therapeutic Dilemma — Deciding Between Contradictory Options
- A Second PE – Starting Over
Chapter 8: Epilogue
A summary of the insights gained from being brought back from the edge of death and experiencing a new life event.
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