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Publisher's Summary

"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? Like Alice in Wonderland, Dr. Allan H. 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 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 listener into a rarified world where lives and minds hang in the balance.

©2014 Dr. Allan H. Ropper and Brian David Burrell (P)2014 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"The author explores a wide variety of conditions, including the exterior degeneration of ALS and the often befuddling symptoms of advanced brain trauma, but he rarely falls into jargon and always keeps the narrative lively and engaging." (Kirkus)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 04-28-15

What An Absolute Surprise!

I'd been ready to give this book 3-stars as, for 4-stars, a book has to be an engrossing cover-to-cover listen, and this wasn't. It'd been... too folksy? or something with its narration? But as I was kinda zipping through it again to get some stories for my review, well, talk about engrossed! One would've thought I'd never heard it before! It was so engaging! The things I liked about it before, I loved: people faking blindness and neurologists catching them out by sticking notes on their foreheads that read, "F- You," or by waving $100 bills around were there. The things I disliked, I passionately hated (hey, passion's a good thing!): glib mea culpas for what is really heinous malpractice--yup, still there, pretty cool. Emotionally evocative stories about two people facing the horrors of ALS in entirely different ways, and a man making a difficult, difficult decision that turns out to have a devastating outcome despite everyone's best efforts. These are all things a neurologist sees day in day out, and it's utterly fascinating.
And heartbreaking.
Yeah, sometimes the narration is quaint and folksy, but this book is really interesting, really a treat.
Credit-worthy!

7 of 11 people found this review helpful

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Neuro Stories, Fascinating & Educational

Anyone with an interest in medicine--especially anyone interested in neurology--would love this. I actually liked it even better than One Doctor, by Brendan Reilly (a book I liked so well that I gave a copy to our beloved family doctor of 26 years when he retired this year). The only downsides: the chapter on ALS goes on so long you'll be tempted to skip past it; the chapter on brain death vs body death annoyingly never even mentions cessation of heartbeat/pulse in a seemingly endless recitation of Ways Most People Would Judge Whether Somebody's Dead; and the narrator's delivery is jarringly cheerful at times in a way horribly at odds with the material, as in the chapter in which the author relates a particularly tragic and troubling tale of borderline malpractice. (The narrator also mispronounces several key medical terms in a way that will grate on the nerves of anyone who knows, for example, that Guillain-Barre is not pronounced "GEEL-on BAR-ray.") Otherwise: This is a solid, absorbing and supremely educational listen, and there are even a few laughs. Grade: A.

2 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Very well written

What did you love best about Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole?

It was fascinating, entertaining, and just the right length for me.

What did you like best about this story?

The patient stories and diagnostic techniques explained

What does Paul Boehmer bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I liked the two voices, of different sexes. One played patient, the other doctor. Made it very easy to follow the stories.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I DID listen to it in one driving. Could not stop myself.

Any additional comments?

Actually briefly considered a vocation change. The stories are absolutely fascinating. Be warned though, the suffering of the patients is also brought out rather well. I actually teared up when her voice came back after the morphine was removed.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Travis
  • ROME, NY, United States
  • 06-23-15

Interesting stories

This book turned out to be a recap of the doctor's incredible neurology stories. I don't have a background in med but still enjoyed listening along.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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I was warned

I read the reviews about miss pronunciation of words. It really makes it tough to listen to

2 of 6 people found this review helpful

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A great book for all neurologists!

It s truly a great book! As a neurologist of a younger generation, I can fully relate Dr. Ropper's book. I highly recommend all young neurologist listen or read the book. Because it tells all about why we want to neurologist!

1 of 5 people found this review helpful

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well done.

Re-inspired me to find my patients stories interesting. written for lay people but still enjoyable to the professional.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful

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I've listened a half-dozen times so far

A neurologist explains how he weighs into the stream to take the hand of the patient and walk them back out to dryland in other words to a normal life
There are some good human interest tails of in the patients and the neurology residents and the senior doctors. There is even some neuroanatomy and neuropathology.
Spellbinding if you are interested, probably unbearable if you're not

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Recovering from a Brain Injury

What did you love best about Reaching Down the Rabbit Hole?

It explained Neurosciences so well. I did not understand neurology, now I do.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Michael J Fox's story is heartfelt

What about Paul Boehmer’s performance did you like?

Well done, nice voice

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Yes, it made me want to research more and he gave me direction to do so.

Any additional comments?

I recommend this to anyone trying to understand the function of a neurologist.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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almost perfect and definitely worth it

This is what a good read should be like. Captivating at the opening line and nearly holding that line up to the end. The cases are captivating and told in such a way that I kept hoping it was longer. The one drawback was the sense that the author seemed to be prone to self congradulating himself for his own superior skills of which I get the sense that he is mighty proud of, but then again it might simply be a case of professional pride and one well deserved for that matter. All said this is a great book that is easy to get behind and to my chagrin I found myself finishing it in a single sitting. Worth it my friends, don't miss out.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful