Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness

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9780679762065: Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness
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In this engrossing and informative book, National Public Radio commentator Tim Brookes conducts a passionate inquest into the origins and treatment of asthma. His motives are both journalistic -- some 12 million Americans have asthma -- and personal: Brookes himself is asthmatic and nearly died from an attack.

Catching My Breath records Brooke's mystifying and sometimes infuriating encounters with doctors, insurance companies, and homeopathic healers. He peers into a living human lung, undergoes homeopathic injections of silver and tobacco leaf in his back and neck, and even sees a psychic to ask otherworldly spirits about the causes of asthma. He surveys the dubious history of treatments (which include the use of decayed flesh and cockroach intestines) and grapples with an insurance company that agrees to cover him only if he doesn't get sick. A thoroughly unconventional exploration of illness from a patient's point of view, Catching My Breath 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.

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About the Author:

Tim Brooks teaches writing and media criticism at the University of Vermont.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A literate investigation of asthma from just about every conceivable angle. Brookes (Creative Writing and Media Criticism/Univ. of Vermont), an asthma sufferer since age 11, opens with an intense account of a 1991 attack that nearly ended his life. When doctors in five different medical fields could not answer his questions, he undertook his own inquiry into this chronic illness that kills more than 5,000 Americans yearly. Although he refers to his work as a ``possibly compulsive self-examination,'' Brookes is also a journalist who knows how to research a subject. He reads widely in the medical literature, he persuades a thoracic surgeon to let him watch an operation so that he can better understand the lungs, and he tags along with a mobile health unit in New York City as it treats asthmatic children in a welfare hotel. He also reports on his reluctant venture into homeopathic medicine and on a rather unsatisfactory consultation with a psychic. Progress reports on his own health are slipped in among engaging and informative essays on the various types of asthma, its possible causes, the range of treatments that have been offered (yoga, acupuncture, hypnotism, cockroach tea, to name only a few), patient compliance, doctor-patient relations, the cost of drugs, health insurance, and the experience of illness. One need not have asthma or even know someone with the disease to appreciate this free-ranging exploration of the subject, but certainly asthmatics and their families--possibly even their doctors--will be enlightened. However, aside from the fact that Brookes seems to be managing his condition quite well at the book's end, they will not find it particularly reassuring: Little is known about asthma, the author reminds us, and there are treatments, but no cure. Strong reporting, nicely balanced between the subjective and the objective. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780812921823: Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness

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ISBN 10:  0812921828 ISBN 13:  9780812921823
Publisher: Crown, 1994
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9780788157134: Catching My Breath: An Asthmatic Explores His Illness

Diane ..., 1994
Hardcover

9780517361238: Catching My Breath

Random..., 1999
Hardcover

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