In this intimate memoir of a doctor who faces a serious medical condition, Castellino shares how his tragedy transformed his own life and helped others.
Late one night, Castellino experienced all the symptoms of an impending heart attack. The ambulance took him to the hospital where his tests showed nothing. When his symptoms persisted, he called on a doctor friend. The next round of tests revealed that Castellino had been right all along—a massive heart event was occurring. As he was rushed to the cardiac unit of another hospital, Castellino passed out and awoke from a coma nearly a week later to find that his health was severely compromised. During his coma, Castellino experienced a vision that haunted and transformed him as his life began to spiral out of control. Aside from physical and emotional fatigue, Castellino faced a reduced work schedule, financial anxieties, several personal tragedies and the constant setbacks of his condition. During his recovery, the author reached many conclusions about illness and recuperation that helped him become a better doctor and more compassionate person, namely that mental wellness and spiritual growth are essential to the difficult transition back to good health. In candid and approachable prose, Castellino criticizes his initial care and misdiagnosis. But he doesn’t spend a large portion of the book critiquing the medical system. He primarily recounts his own experience, commending those he felt helped bring him back to center. Although a great deal of his post-heart attack attitude seems to be influenced by his new way of envisioning the world, he never shares this vision or his feelings about it with his family or closest friends—an odd choice considering his own endorsement of talking and sharing after just such a life-altering event. Although Castellino tackles an incredibly personal topic, that of his own near-death experience, he gives it universal application.
A doctor successfully turns his own experience of a heart attack and subsequent spiritual awakening into a guide to help others understand and cope with their own health issues.