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This is an InstaRead Summary of Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander III M.D.
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1: The Pain
Eben Alexander and Holley met in 1977, while he was in medical school. Nearly three years later the young couple is married and living in a modest apartment in Durham, North Carolina. In the years that follow they relocate several times as he trains to be a successful neurosurgeon. Eben the fourth is born in England in 1987 and then a second son is born in Boston in 1998. The family spends a total of fifteen years in the Boston with Eben working at Harvard Medical School. But in 2007, they move to Virginia to be closer to their extended family.
In the early hours of Monday November 10, 2008 Eben awakes with back pain. Unable to return to sleep the doctor assumes that his pain is caused by the flu the family was still recovering from. The only one that had remained healthy was Eben IV, who was away at college. Thinking that the warmth of a hot bath might bring him some relief, Eben heads to the bathroom. It doesn’t. Feeling worse, he returns to bed. Holley is so concerned that she suggests calling an ambulance. Eben reassures her that he is fine, he just wants to try and sleep. For the next two hours, he slips in and out of consciousness. When Holley tries to wake him she is shocked to find him unresponsive and rigid. She quickly dials 911. Ten minutes later the doctor has become a patient and is on the way to the Emergency Room.
2: The Hospital
When the fifty four year old enters the ER, he is convulsing and has no control over his flailing limbs. Laura Potter is the ER physician that morning. It does not take long for her to realize that the patient on the gurney is her colleague, Dr. Alexander. She quickly runs through a list of things that could be causing the symptoms: a stroke, brain tumor or meningitis. With the last disease in mind, Eben is sedated so the staff can perform a lumbar puncture. This procedure, used to detect meningitis, uses a syringe to extract the fluid that covers the surface of the spinal cord. In a healthy individual this fluid would be clear; any opaqueness in a sample suggests an infection or hemorrhage. To Dr. Potter’s surprise the fluid she draws from Eben’s spinal column is full of pus, the fluid is cloudy and tinged with green.
The meninges are the membranes that line the inside of the skull and spine. Meningitis is a swelling of these membranes following an infection from a virus or, more rarely, bacteria. Approximately 99% of people that contract viral meningitis will survive the disease. Bacterial Meningitis has a much higher mortality rate of 15-40% even if treated with immediate antibiotic treatment. One of the deadliest forms of Meningitis is caused by E.coli. E.coli colonies usually live in the digestive tract and pose no problem. If, however, this resistant strain manages to get into the cerebrospinal fluid, it will begin taking...