Thursday, September 27, 2018

Booknotes: I Am Perhaps Dying

New Arrival:
I Am Perhaps Dying: The Medical Backstory of Spinal Tuberculosis Hidden in the Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham by Dennis A. Rasbach, M.D. (Savas Beatie, 2018).

Dennis Rasbach's I Am Perhaps Dying: The Medical Backstory of Spinal Tuberculosis Hidden in the Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham is a slim companion piece to The War Outside My Window: The Civil War Diary of LeRoy Wiley Gresham, 1860-1865, a 2018 book edited by Janet Croon. A surgeon by profession, Rasbach served as an editorial consultant to Croon, using his expertise to shed light on the nature of Gresham's illness and contributing his knowledge of historical treatment methods and other medical matters in the footnotes and elsewhere.  Rasbach's own book serves as an expansion of the medical diagnosis and discussion contained in The War Outside My Window.

From the description: "Like a detective, Dr. Rasbach peels back the layers of mystery by carefully examining the medical-related entries. What were LeRoy’s symptoms? What medicines did doctors prescribe for him? What course did the disease take, month after month, year after year? The author ably explores these and other issues in I Am Perhaps Dying to conclude that the agent responsible for LeRoy’s suffering and demise turns out to be Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a tiny but lethal adversary of humanity since the beginning of recorded time."

I Am Perhaps Dying details how the many signs and symptoms found in the Gresham diaries led the author to the diagnosis of spinal tuberculosis. The nature of Pott's Disease, as it is also called, is explored at some length, as are the many physical and pharmaceutical treatments of the period. In the book, which is heavily illustrated, Rasbach pictures and describes many of the natural and patent medicines mentioned by Gresham. He also compiles and annotates all of the diary entries wherein Gresham directly addressed his condition, the material providing readers with a moving record of the disease's fatal progression.

1 comment:

  1. Without Dr. Rasbach, the impact and value of LeRoy's account would not be close to what it is today. He did remarkable work.


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