Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole: Tales of Life and Death on the Neurology Ward (Paperback)
"The title of this book is chosen to convey the wonder that lies in our brains. Dr. Ropper, a distinguished neurologist who deals with some of the most difficult neurological cases in the Boston area, focuses on what the patient’s brain can tell us about what ails it. While he continues to prescribe the usual physical tests, he adds extensive conversations with the patient as a key element in diagnosing the underlying causes and in prescribing effective treatment. I found his approach to be compelling and his candor to be exceptional — even including cases where errors contributed to unsuccessful outcomes. I believe that readers of this book will be excited by the insights that it provides into personal, teamwork approaches for treating persons with brain diseases."
--Reviewed by Rod— From Guest Recommendations
"Tell the doctor where it hurts." It sounds simple enough, unless the problem affects the very organ that produces awareness and generates speech. What is it like to try to heal the body when the mind is under attack? In this book, Dr. Allan Ropper and Brian Burrell take the reader behind the scenes at Harvard Medical School's neurology unit to show how a seasoned diagnostician faces down bizarre, life-altering afflictions. Like Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Ropper inhabits a world where absurdities abound:
A figure skater whose body has become a ticking time-bomb
A salesman who drives around and around a traffic rotary, unable to get off
A college quarterback who can't stop calling the same play
A child molester who, after falling on the ice, is left with a brain that is very much dead inside a body that is very much alive
A mother of two young girls, diagnosed with ALS, who has to decide whether a life locked inside her own head is worth living
How does one begin to treat such cases, to counsel people whose lives may be changed forever? How does one train the next generation of clinicians to deal with the moral and medical aspects of brain disease? Dr. Ropper and his colleague answer these questions by taking the reader into a rarified world where lives and minds hang in the balance.
About the Author
Dr. Allan H. Ropper is a Professor at Harvard Medical School and the Raymond D. Adams Master Clinician at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He is credited with founding the field of neurological intensive care and counts Michael J. Fox among his patients.
Brian David Burrell is the author of Postcards from the Brain Museum. He has appeared on the Today Show, Booknotes, and NPR's Morning Edition. He divides his time between writing and statistical research with neuroscientific applications.
“An entertaining and eminently readable book, Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole. Demystifying the art and practice of healing neurological disorders, he turns a keen eye on his patients, interviewing them and recounting stories straight from the hospital front.” —Huffington Post
“Dr. Ropper comes through as the very model of a modern neurologist, an elegant combination of Fast Medicine and Slow Medicine, expert in the panoply of diagnostic techniques developed since Hippocrates: from clinical neurologic exam to MRI to neuropathology lab. What he models for us is the essence of good doctoring attention, carefulness, and Oslerian dedication; he throws in, for good measure, his own irony and humor. Listening to the Brain is well written and intriguing, deep but light; it reveals the complexity, the demands, the satisfactions and the regrets of what it means to be a true physician.” —Elizabeth Loftus, author of The Myth of Repressed Memory