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You know how it is when you go under. The jab, the countdown, the—
—and then you wake.
This book is about what happens in between.
Until a hundred and seventy years ago many people chose death over the ordeal of surgery. Now hundreds of thousands undergo operations every day. Anaesthesia has made it possible.
But how much do we really know about what happens to us on the operating table? Can we hear what’s going on around us? Is pain still pain if we are not awake to feel it, or don’t remember it afterwards? How does the unconscious mind deal with the body’s experience of being cut open and ransacked? And how can we help ourselves through it?
Haunting, lyrical, sometimes shattering, Anaesthesia leavens science with personal experience to bring an intensely human curiosity to the unknowable realm beyond consciousness.
‘The prose is quite gorgeous—simultaneously tough and tender.’
‘A work of splendid richness and depth, driven by a curiosity so intense that it hazards at times the extreme boundaries of the sayable.’
‘Kate Cole-Adams has been fascinated with our funny non-being during surgery for a long time, and Anaesthesia feels like a book that’s taken over a decade to write, which it is. It also feels like you’re having a decade’s worth of conversations with a dogged, but generous and resourceful thinker, with someone (she is both a journalist and a novelist) who can crack open a complex idea, and then run with it.’
‘Comfortably numb. A close-up look at anaesthesia is equal parts social history, popular science and report on experience.’
‘Anaesthesia is not just an account of medical research but a poetic exploration of the mysteries of the human mind.’
‘Cole-Adams’s prose is sinuous, at times intoxicating, and witty.’
‘A troubling, anxious subject that most of us would rather avoid or deflect with dark humour. Cole-Adams has illuminated it in a memorable way. The book is a gift not of oblivion but of awareness.’