Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness

Overview

One night in November 1991, National Public Radio essayist Tim Brookes, who had suffered from mild asthma for thirty years, suddenly found his throat and chest starting to close up in a terrifying internal claustrophobia. He was suffering a near-fatal asthma attack. Jolted out of his state of steady denial, Brookes began a passionate and fascinating quest into the mysteries of asthma. Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness is the entertaining and eloquent result of that quest. Brookes surveys the ...
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NY 1994 Hard cover First edition. New in new dust jacket. Gift Quality. Brand New. Fast Arrival. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 291 p. Audience: General/trade. Gift Quality. ... Brand New. Fast Arrival. Read more Show Less

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Overview

One night in November 1991, National Public Radio essayist Tim Brookes, who had suffered from mild asthma for thirty years, suddenly found his throat and chest starting to close up in a terrifying internal claustrophobia. He was suffering a near-fatal asthma attack. Jolted out of his state of steady denial, Brookes began a passionate and fascinating quest into the mysteries of asthma. Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness is the entertaining and eloquent result of that quest. Brookes surveys the dubious history of asthma treatments (which include decayed flesh, "parentectomy," and tea made of cockroach intestines). He consults five doctors, who offer five conflicting explanations for his attack. In the name of alternative medicine, he suffers injections of silver and tobacco leaf in his back and neck. He navigates the treacherous waters of insurance companies - who agree to cover him only if he doesn't get sick - and even sees a psychic to ask otherworldly spirits about the causes of asthma. He also visits a New York City welfare hotel and finds that the politics of health are intertwined with the politics of rich and poor. Written with grace and wit, Catching My Breath is an engrossing, informative, and thoroughly unconventional exploration of illness from a patient's point of view. It is also the first book to give serious attention to the social roots of asthma and raises profound questions about our attitudes toward illness in general.

Autobiographical survey incl. trmt history/alternative trmts/psychics/etc.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
British-born former U.S. public radio editor Brookes's first asthmatic attack is described as a bolt of lightning that caused him to gasp and suffer painfully swollen sinuses, a flooded trachea and heart fibrillations. Self-injected epinephrine finally left him feeling as if he had been ``turned inside out.'' Since medical science has been unable to unravel the mystery of asthma's causes, the author studied medical books, attended lectures, interviewed specialists and experimented on himself, even meeting with a psychic who suggested that ``hidden emotional conflicts'' might lie at the root of his illness. Brookes concluded his asthma is probably due to a synergy between physical allergy and psychosomatic reactions, along with exterior elements like pollution, work and economic conditions. Of interest chiefly to asthmatics. June
Library Journal
Brookes creative writing and media criticism, Univ. of Vermont provides a personal account of how he deals with a chronic condition that robs him of his ability to breathe. As he chronicles his attempts to understand a disease that even the medical community cannot explain, the terror of the asthma attack comes through. Brookes effectively illustrates the desperate feeling of having no control over the disease, and his frustrations with doctors, medications, insurance providers, and the misconceptions people have about asthma are well articulated. Although this is not a "how to live with asthma" book, those who suffer from the condition may benefit from reading about someone else's experiences with the disease. Recommended for public libraries.-Kathleen McQuiston, Philadelphia Coll. of Pharmacy & Science
William Beatty
Doctors usually don't like to see asthmatic patients because asthma is not a clear-cut complaint with obvious causes and treatments. Brookes' last chapter recognizes how vexing asthma can be to both patient and physician: it is entitled "Successfully Ill" and speaks of a working relationship between patient and illness that entails a compromise that is both philosophical and practical. Leading up to it is the account of an intellectually curious asthmatic--Brookes himself. He wants to know why he has asthma but can't arrive at a definite answer. He looks at how science and folklore have seen and see asthma, at how modern science explains its various causes, at the external and internal actions that can produce asthma attacks, and at what can be done about it all. Along the way, he notes that asthmatics are the patients least compliant with their doctors' orders and suggestions, that the drug companies are the real beneficiaries of asthma medicines, and that asthmatics should learn about not only the disease but themselves. Brookes' wheezing odyssey fascinates and instructs.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812921823
  • Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 5/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 291

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