Three themes run throughout The Next Breath:
|The Healing Journey
The stages of the recovery process are identified and described, e.g., PTSD, victimization, spiritual searching, winnowing, as are emotions such as denial, anger, depression, angst, fear, and vulnerability that ebb and flow like sine waves through the aftermath of the emergency and recovery from it.
The not always constructive interplay between the peculiarities of how contemporary medicine is practiced and patients’ psychological and therapeutic needs in times of crisis is documented. In the process many issues that are in the public discourse are discussed: PTSD, medical errors, malpractice, over prescribing, deciding between conflicting medical opinions in life threatening situations, and the effect of meditation, if any, on recovery among others.
How chance dictates the course of our lives and how reacting to, perhaps accepting, the undirected nature of existence can affect the recovery and adjustment to a life-threatening event. The demonstration of the arbitrariness of existence leads to consideration of spiritual matters such as death and immortality, prayer, miracles, and the significance of NDE’s as seen from the author’s agnostic perspective.
Each chapter in turn is organized around a central question that arises during and after a medical emergency.
|1. Crisis||Will I Die?||Shock & Confusion: Real time reactions to the event|
|2. Hospitalization||Will I recover?||Stabilization: Observations on contemporary medical practice|
|3. New Normal||Will it happen again?||PTSD & Beyond: Physical & emotional recovery|
|4. Victimization||Why me?||Malpractice: Blame, retribution, depression, fate & forgiveness|
|5. Spiritual||Where can I find peace?||Facing Oblivion: Is faith the answer? Contemplating mortality without god|
|6. Winnowing||What really matters?||Simplification: Emotional vulnerability, Shedding & leaving behind|
|7. Relapse||What will I do differently?||Life or Death: Making decisions in a context of conflicting medical advice|
|8. Epilogue||Will I get it right this time?||The Next Breath: A life reimagined and remade|