Hot Best Seller

The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery

Availability: Ready to download

In this vulnerable, insightful memoir, the New York Times columnist tells the story of his five-year struggle with a disease that officially doesn't exist, exploring the limits of modern medicine, the stories that we unexpectedly fall into, and the secrets that only suffering reveals. In the summer of 2015, Ross Douthat was moving his family, with two young daughters an In this vulnerable, insightful memoir, the New York Times columnist tells the story of his five-year struggle with a disease that officially doesn't exist, exploring the limits of modern medicine, the stories that we unexpectedly fall into, and the secrets that only suffering reveals. In the summer of 2015, Ross Douthat was moving his family, with two young daughters and a pregnant wife, from Washington, D.C., to a sprawling farmhouse in a picturesque Connecticut town when he acquired a mysterious and devastating sickness. It left him sleepless, crippled, wracked with pain--a shell of himself. After months of seeing doctors and descending deeper into a physical inferno, he discovered that he had a disease which according to CDC definitions does not actually exist: the chronic form of Lyme disease, a hotly contested condition that devastates the lives of tens of thousands of people but has no official recognition--and no medically approved cure. From a rural dream house that now felt like a prison, Douthat's search for help takes him off the map of official medicine, into territory where cranks and conspiracies abound and patients are forced to take control of their own treatment and experiment on themselves. Slowly, against his instincts and assumptions, he realizes that many of the cranks and weirdos are right, that many supposed hypochondriacs are victims of an indifferent medical establishment, and that all kinds of unexpected experiences and revelations lurk beneath the surface of normal existence, in the places underneath. The Deep Places is a story about what happens when you are terribly sick and realize that even the doctors who are willing to treat you can only do so much. Along the way, Douthat describes his struggle back toward health with wit and candor, portraying sickness as the most terrible of gifts. It teaches you to appreciate the grace of ordinary life by taking that life away from you. It reveals the deep strangeness of the world, the possibility that the reasonable people might be wrong, and the necessity of figuring out things for yourself. And it proves, day by dreadful day, that you are stronger than you ever imagined, and that even in the depths there is always hope.


Compare

In this vulnerable, insightful memoir, the New York Times columnist tells the story of his five-year struggle with a disease that officially doesn't exist, exploring the limits of modern medicine, the stories that we unexpectedly fall into, and the secrets that only suffering reveals. In the summer of 2015, Ross Douthat was moving his family, with two young daughters an In this vulnerable, insightful memoir, the New York Times columnist tells the story of his five-year struggle with a disease that officially doesn't exist, exploring the limits of modern medicine, the stories that we unexpectedly fall into, and the secrets that only suffering reveals. In the summer of 2015, Ross Douthat was moving his family, with two young daughters and a pregnant wife, from Washington, D.C., to a sprawling farmhouse in a picturesque Connecticut town when he acquired a mysterious and devastating sickness. It left him sleepless, crippled, wracked with pain--a shell of himself. After months of seeing doctors and descending deeper into a physical inferno, he discovered that he had a disease which according to CDC definitions does not actually exist: the chronic form of Lyme disease, a hotly contested condition that devastates the lives of tens of thousands of people but has no official recognition--and no medically approved cure. From a rural dream house that now felt like a prison, Douthat's search for help takes him off the map of official medicine, into territory where cranks and conspiracies abound and patients are forced to take control of their own treatment and experiment on themselves. Slowly, against his instincts and assumptions, he realizes that many of the cranks and weirdos are right, that many supposed hypochondriacs are victims of an indifferent medical establishment, and that all kinds of unexpected experiences and revelations lurk beneath the surface of normal existence, in the places underneath. The Deep Places is a story about what happens when you are terribly sick and realize that even the doctors who are willing to treat you can only do so much. Along the way, Douthat describes his struggle back toward health with wit and candor, portraying sickness as the most terrible of gifts. It teaches you to appreciate the grace of ordinary life by taking that life away from you. It reveals the deep strangeness of the world, the possibility that the reasonable people might be wrong, and the necessity of figuring out things for yourself. And it proves, day by dreadful day, that you are stronger than you ever imagined, and that even in the depths there is always hope.

30 review for The Deep Places: A Memoir of Illness and Discovery

  1. 5 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Nostalgic for the rural New England they’d grown up in, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and his wife, science writer Abigail Tucker, sold their row house in a recently gentrified Washington, DC neighbourhood for a great price and bought an old home on a large property in Connecticut. Their fantasy about the richness and wonder of country living didn’t last long. You could argue that their “folly” was exposed before Douthat, his pregnant wife, and their two young daughters had even moved in Nostalgic for the rural New England they’d grown up in, New York Times columnist Ross Douthat and his wife, science writer Abigail Tucker, sold their row house in a recently gentrified Washington, DC neighbourhood for a great price and bought an old home on a large property in Connecticut. Their fantasy about the richness and wonder of country living didn’t last long. You could argue that their “folly” was exposed before Douthat, his pregnant wife, and their two young daughters had even moved into the quaint 1790s-era house. In the spring of 2015, the two-hour home inspection revealed the need for major repairs that would require significant expenditures. The outdoor portion of the inspection would also leave the author with a bite from a tick carrying both Lyme disease (Borrelia Burgdorferi, a shape-shifting spirochete bacterial disease that can evade the immune system) and the Bartonella bacterium. Shortly after the inspection, Douthat woke one morning with a stiff neck and a painful, enlarged lymph node, a few inches below one ear. A DC walk-in-clinic doctor diagnosed a boil and prescribed mild antibiotics. However, the symptoms persisted, and a new one was added: a peculiar vibration in the patient's head. Several weeks later, Douthat had to cancel a journalists’ trip to Italy, as he now had widespread chest pain, a gagging feeling in his throat, and liquefied bowels. The vibratory sensation initially felt only in the head was now ranging throughout the body. He consulted multiple doctors—an internist, neurologist, rheumatologist, and infectious diseases specialist—and had innumerable medical tests, including an upper endoscopy when his GI symptoms had become overwhelming and he’d lost a lot of weight. The Lyme tests, notoriously unreliable, were inconclusive. Ultimately, as recommended by the physicians who could find nothing wrong with him, he saw a Connecticut psychiatrist who told him his illness wasn’t stress-related; it certainly wasn’t psychiatric; indeed, she was certain his symptoms pointed to tick-borne disease, which the DC doctors evidently didn’t see much of. Douthat’s memoir covers his six-year ordeal with chronic Lyme disease, his desperate search for doctors who might help, and the significant controversies around diagnosis and treatment (which bear some remarkable similarities to the heated public disagreements and polarization over Covid-19). Increasingly, the narrow official line of the medical community is being abandoned as scientific evidence grows that Lyme disease, like cancer, can trick and evade immune defenses. Douthat tried multiple antibiotics, combinations of antibiotics, and non-antibiotic antimicrobials, including herbs. He was supervised by various doctors, some of whom had caught the attention of state medical regulatory boards for their eyebrow-raising treatment regimes. He also did a fair bit of very unorthodox (even wacky) experimentation on himself, collecting “anecdata” about his own symptoms and reactions to drugs, supplements, and devices. His memoir is not essentially a religious one, but Douthat, a Catholic, acknowledges that desperate, pleading prayer figured in his self-treatment, and his faith offered a way to frame his suffering when he felt he was at the end of his rope, which was apparently often. In spite of its relative brevity, The Deep Places is a wide-ranging book. Douthat includes a short history of Lyme disease —including a discussion of a conspiracy theory about its origins in a bioweapons lab on an island in Long Island Sound. The controversies around the condition, its impact on the family, and the ways in which chronic illness transforms the sufferer (physically, psychologically, spiritually, and financially) are also considered. While I wish Douthat had provided a bibliography, he does leave enough hints about sources in the body of his text for the interested reader to follow up on. I particularly recommend the article that alerted him to what he was really dealing with: Alexis Tsoulis-Reay’s June 2015 interview with Dr. Neil Spector, an oncologist and professor at Duke University’s School of Medicine. Spector had chronic Lyme that went undiagnosed for years, and he ultimately required a heart transplant as a result. https://www.thecut.com/2015/06/what-i... This is an engaging and illuminating read about one person’s ordeal and his attempt to make meaning of it. Douthat explains that he wrote it for other sufferers, who “are more numerous than the healthy ever realize,” to encourage them to experiment and possibly save their own lives, “but also for the skeptical doctors and doubtful experts who are so often the targets of long-suffering Lyme patients’ fury and suspicion, in hopes of convincing them to see more clearly the enfleshed reality of a chronic, life-stealing disease.” Thank you to the publisher and to Net Galley for providing me with a copy.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marialyce (absltmom, yaya)

    Learning to live with a debilitating illness is quite an arduous task. For writer Ross Douthat, it becomes a constant battle to try to regain the life he once knew. He relocated his family, a pregnant wife, and two daughters to a lovely farm house in Connecticut hoping to both repair the old farm adapt an idyllic life living away from the frenetic DC life they were anxious to get away from. After some time passes, Ross begins to feel alarmingly sick. He is stricken by headaches, nausea, and beco Learning to live with a debilitating illness is quite an arduous task. For writer Ross Douthat, it becomes a constant battle to try to regain the life he once knew. He relocated his family, a pregnant wife, and two daughters to a lovely farm house in Connecticut hoping to both repair the old farm adapt an idyllic life living away from the frenetic DC life they were anxious to get away from. After some time passes, Ross begins to feel alarmingly sick. He is stricken by headaches, nausea, and becomes a man living with constant pain. This, whatever it is, is wrecking his life. He visits a plethora of doctors and after a time gets a diagnosis of Lyme disease, which there is no course of treatment for. Ross becomes so desperate that he starts down the path of dosing himself, trying various combinations of antibiotics, drug, herbs, and literally whatever he finds to give him relief. Nothing seems to offer any long-term relief and to add to all of this, the Dumonts are forced into selling the "dream" home because of financial issues. Luckily their immediate families are wealthy and help them in many ways. Maddeningly, the CDC has refused to recognize what appears to be Ross's issues, chronic Lyme disease. Many who have chronic pain live with it daily and often survive with the hope that one day there will be methods of treating this pain. They develop coping mechanisms that often send them into bizarre methods for treatment that offer a glimmer of hope. Ross's story is frightening, yet it is one that many live with. Ross writes well providing copious details about his illness which at times does become a bit long winded. This story is solely about himself and lacks much detail in the way his wife and family handle the limitations of a father who is a shell of his former self. I will say that I was disappointed in that aspect of the story. However, he and others fight for a return to normalcy, one that often seems out of their grasp. Thank you to Ross Douthat, Convergent Books, and NetGalley for a copy of this journey Ross has taken with pain and suffering.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Murtaza

    Touching memoir of Douthat's own battle with chronic illness, in this case lime disease. The book is a trip through his life behind the "veil of pain" that separated him all the things he loved. Its also a look at the world of alternative medicine and the limits of the scientific consensus on many issues. Illness is a part of life, and it is too often airbrushed from the neat pictures that people present of themselves on social media. Over so many years of reading Douthat I would never have susp Touching memoir of Douthat's own battle with chronic illness, in this case lime disease. The book is a trip through his life behind the "veil of pain" that separated him all the things he loved. Its also a look at the world of alternative medicine and the limits of the scientific consensus on many issues. Illness is a part of life, and it is too often airbrushed from the neat pictures that people present of themselves on social media. Over so many years of reading Douthat I would never have suspected what he was going through privately. This is a vulnerable book and he does not omit the many times he broke down in tears fighting his illness. It's a good reminder to all who read it about the painful and complex thing that ones mortal life inevitably is.

  4. 5 out of 5

    ♥ Sandi ❣

    3 stars Thank you to Random House and Convergent Books for allowing me to read and review this book. Published October 26, 2021. This was a very in-depth reading of one man and how he coped with Lyme disease. The way he felt, the doctor recommended cures, his own high controversial cures, his suicide ideation, the ups and downs he and his family went through. He was in the throes of this nasty little blood borne disease for 6 long years. I was interested in this book due to my own grandson havin 3 stars Thank you to Random House and Convergent Books for allowing me to read and review this book. Published October 26, 2021. This was a very in-depth reading of one man and how he coped with Lyme disease. The way he felt, the doctor recommended cures, his own high controversial cures, his suicide ideation, the ups and downs he and his family went through. He was in the throes of this nasty little blood borne disease for 6 long years. I was interested in this book due to my own grandson having contracted Lyme disease while hunting in Mississippi a few years ago. As Douthat states, 'every person has their own individual case - and cure'. Whereas my grandson could not eat red meat, which seemed to make him violently ill, Douthat could not tolerate even the smallest drink of alcohol. Although it is said that Lyme disease is never 'cured', since it stays in the body just waiting for another irruption, my grandsons course ran right at a year under Drs care. Douthat was still suffering 6 years later, which obviously shows that Lyme disease is nothing to ignore. It is a very serious and dangerous disease that doctors still know very little about.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Teaghan

    I'm a paid-up Douthat fan already, so maybe that clouds my judgement a bit, but I really think this is the best thing he's ever written. Few contemporary writers are as honest and vulnerable as he is here, and I came away with far more sympathy for those with chronic disease and invisible wounds. I'm a paid-up Douthat fan already, so maybe that clouds my judgement a bit, but I really think this is the best thing he's ever written. Few contemporary writers are as honest and vulnerable as he is here, and I came away with far more sympathy for those with chronic disease and invisible wounds.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lilisa

    This is a candid, insightful, and well-written account of the author’s struggle with chronic Lyme disease, which was difficult to pinpoint and was achingly frustrating as he tried to identify what was causing his illness. As a young husband and father in the prime of his life, with a good job and the world before him, he had everything to look forward to. Then the crippling disease hit him - mysterious and undiagnosable. The book takes us through his everyday struggle as he attempts to figure ou This is a candid, insightful, and well-written account of the author’s struggle with chronic Lyme disease, which was difficult to pinpoint and was achingly frustrating as he tried to identify what was causing his illness. As a young husband and father in the prime of his life, with a good job and the world before him, he had everything to look forward to. Then the crippling disease hit him - mysterious and undiagnosable. The book takes us through his everyday struggle as he attempts to figure out what’s wrong and his dogged research for relief and remedies trying every avenue possible to beat the disease. Along the way, many in the medical profession doubted the severity of his illness wondering if it was all in his mind. Sometimes his wife thought the same. He points out that despite the fact that he is someone viewed as having his stuff together, his descriptions of what the illness he was experiencing was met sometimes with skepticism. What then of others who are ill with indescribable symptoms yet cannot be diagnosed because the number of cases is small and the patterns don’t fall into place as known symptoms by medical professionals. (I recall the book Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan who wrote about the rare form of encephalitis she had contracted but could not be diagnosed. She spent time confined to a mental health facility because people thought she had mental issues.) Douthat bares his soul as he documents the rollercoaster ups and downs of his life and physical, mental, and emotional toll the illness had on him and his family for more than five years. Not only that, the financial strain and burden as a result of his illness were significant. He was fortunate to have parents who supported and helped him financially. He wondered how those who are not as fortunate as him could handle and survive a debilitating illness on all fronts. He also points out how the medical industry has a long way to go in how they handle and support patients with rare forms of symptoms that don’t fall cleanly into the more commonly diagnosed diseases they generally encounter. The author does a nice job shining a light on Lyme disease and balances his personal struggles against the realities of a disease that can inflict anyone. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Stetson

    Ross Douthat, probably NYT Opinion's most talented and thoughtful writer, has delivered a moving and engaging memoir, The Deep Places, concerning his one-man guerrilla war against a disease that the medical establishment holds doesn't officially exist, chronic lyme disease. The body of work focuses on his family's fateful choice to move from the D.C. suburbs to pastoral Connecticut. During the inspection of his soon-to-be idyllic property, Ross is ostensibly bit by a deer tick carrying Borrelia Ross Douthat, probably NYT Opinion's most talented and thoughtful writer, has delivered a moving and engaging memoir, The Deep Places, concerning his one-man guerrilla war against a disease that the medical establishment holds doesn't officially exist, chronic lyme disease. The body of work focuses on his family's fateful choice to move from the D.C. suburbs to pastoral Connecticut. During the inspection of his soon-to-be idyllic property, Ross is ostensibly bit by a deer tick carrying Borrelia burgdorferi and maybe some other nasty bacteria too, causing him to spiral deep into the turmoil of a seemingly inescapable medical malady. Douthat intertwines his chronicles of illness and despair with accessible science writing on chronic lyme disease and social commentary on the limitations of bureaucratic, evidence-based medicine. His case for the existence of chronic lyme and advocacy for experimental efforts is persuasive, especially given that he acknowledges why such N of 1 experimental effort cannot be sanctioned by medical practitioners. Douthat's narrative opened my mind about medicine's approach to chronic illness, though I would still hold the only tenable, scalable solution for issues like chronic lyme disease will require rigorous, evidence-based practices otherwise everyone's journey will have to be through a dangerous and painful wilderness like Douthat's. Douthat's story about his mysterious medical odyssey and personal growth is rendered in beautiful yet brief prose that moves the reader quickly yet thoughtfully through. I strongly recommend this work and am happy to hear that Douthat is on the mend. *Disclaimer: I received The Deep Places as an ARC through NetGalley

  8. 4 out of 5

    Flynn Evans

    A striking narrative that, more than anything else, is one’s wrestling with the woes of modern epistemology as it is so often abused in the context of medical care. Douthat’s reckoning with the ineptitude of the establishment in regards to his own chronic illness illumines the reader to the necessity of sometimes acknowledging that the darkest places in our lives don’t bring forward the light as quickly or conveniently as we might hope.

  9. 4 out of 5

    AmyRose

    This might be my favorite book of 2021, evident in the fact that I read it cover to cover in four days. With brilliant prose and gripping story-telling, Ross shares his experience of chronic illness. I couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kait Griffin

    While I do not suffer from Lyme disease, I do suffer from another chronic illness- endometriosis. So much of the author's journey resonated with me; the uncaring medical professionals and implied mental illness. After all, we LOOK healthy. His was an interesting journey to follow. And while I am no stranger to ticks in northwestern Pennsylvania, I will certainly be more aware of them after learning of his torturous experience. Overall I would rate this a 3.5. While I do not suffer from Lyme disease, I do suffer from another chronic illness- endometriosis. So much of the author's journey resonated with me; the uncaring medical professionals and implied mental illness. After all, we LOOK healthy. His was an interesting journey to follow. And while I am no stranger to ticks in northwestern Pennsylvania, I will certainly be more aware of them after learning of his torturous experience. Overall I would rate this a 3.5.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kimba Tichenor

    In this book, Ross Douthat, a conservative pundit, recounts his experiences with "chronic Lyme disease" (CLD) -- the term used by some people to describe a broad array of illnesses or symptom complexes for which at this time there is no reproducible scientific evidence to justify its association with Lyme disease. In fact, currently, there is no accepted clinical definition for the phenomenon and only a very small percentage of doctors in the United States and Europe recognize the concept of CLD In this book, Ross Douthat, a conservative pundit, recounts his experiences with "chronic Lyme disease" (CLD) -- the term used by some people to describe a broad array of illnesses or symptom complexes for which at this time there is no reproducible scientific evidence to justify its association with Lyme disease. In fact, currently, there is no accepted clinical definition for the phenomenon and only a very small percentage of doctors in the United States and Europe recognize the concept of CLD. This skepticism, in part, stems from the fact that many persons (not all) who claim to suffer from this condition, including the author of this monograph, never tested positive for Lyme disease. This is not to say that the physical suffering experienced by those who claim to have CLD is not real; no doubt it is. The controversy centers on whether Lyme disease is the cause of their long-term suffering and what, if any, treatment is advisable. This controversy over diagnosis and treatment means that those who manifest long-term this broad array of symptoms, which includes fatigue, cognitive dysfunction, headaches, sleep disturbance and other neurologic features, such as demyelinating disease, peripheral neuropathy and sometimes motor neuron disease, cardiac presentations (including electrical conduction delays and dilated cardiomyopathy), and musculoskeletal problems--often find themselves turning to experimental treatments that range from lengthy courses of antibiotic to much more unorthodox alternatives in an effort to find relief from their symptoms, It also means that many who seek treatment encounter doctors who believe the cause of their illness is psychological rather than physical. The author both tried many of these unorthodox treatments and interacted with doctors who thought it was all in his head. Thus, he sets out to present himself as a "fundamentally reliable narrator, open-minded but not naive, vulnerable but not an outright wreck, aware of my own limitations and the possible doubts about my story, but neither paranoid nor mad." And there are times in the narrative where he succeeds; however, at least for this reader, the times when he failed at this endeavor abysmally were more numerous. When I started this book, I had no preconceived ideas about CLD, and in fact knew of some persons through FB who claimed to have this condition. Based on their brief descriptions, it seemed very real; however, after reading this narrative, I am much more skeptical, owing to statements such as the following: "In the beginning only prayers to Mary seemed to have any effect, but then eventually there were reactions when I asked specific saints for help, beginning with my own namesakes--Gregory (my middle name) and Athanasius, which I had pompously adopted upon conversion..." Such statements make it hard to accept his claims of reason or relying on science. Not to mention, by his own admission he was not one for spending time in the great outdoors; if he contracted Lyme disease (again he never tested positive for the disease), it had to have been from the one visit to the country house that they were looking at buying (and ultimately did buy). Although not impossible that he could have been bitten by a tick during this single visit to the countryside and contracted Lyme disease, it is statically unlikely. I also found this narrative of illness at times tiresome, because the author is so focused on proving the disease is real and describing his self-prescribed methods of treatment that he never delves into the impact of his chronic illness on his marriage and his children. It is a "me" narrative that never really explores how chronic illness impacts loved ones or how it changes family dynamics. Although the author briefly references his wife's skepticism about the cause of his symptoms, he leaves largely unexplored how this skepticism or his obsession with alternative treatments impacted their relationship, what tensions it created, or how it changed daily routines. The sacrifices that family members must have been making so that over the course of six years, he could pursue his self-prescribed path to wellness (including massive doses of antibiotics that left him unable to function or his investment in a machine that produced high-level sound frequencies to kill off the Lyme infection) go mostly unmentioned. There is no sense in this narrative of it "taking a village" to combat chronic illness; there is only the image of lone warrior whose suffering has blinded him to his illness's impact on those who love him. That said, what the author does capture well is the anger and sense of betrayal that chronic sufferers of pain feel towards their own bodies as well as towards the medical community that has let them down. For some, this may be enough to make this a powerful and empowering narrative. I would like to thank NetGalley, the publisher, and the author for an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    What a haunting and yet poignant story of determination and honesty in the face of pain and disease. Despite having only met the author once at a conference, I feel like I know him since I have been reading him since the early days of the blogosphere. So to read such an honest and vulnerable portrayal of chronic illness and the emotional, financial and, of course, physical toll it takes on mind and body left me frequently fervently wishing for a “Hollywood ending.” While knowing that the truly tr What a haunting and yet poignant story of determination and honesty in the face of pain and disease. Despite having only met the author once at a conference, I feel like I know him since I have been reading him since the early days of the blogosphere. So to read such an honest and vulnerable portrayal of chronic illness and the emotional, financial and, of course, physical toll it takes on mind and body left me frequently fervently wishing for a “Hollywood ending.” While knowing that the truly tragic ending would be avoided, I soon realized that the “happily ever after” was also not in the cards. Thankfully, the family came out scared and wounded, and a little humbled, but as a family and a future to look forward to and embrace. If you have any interest in chronic ailments like Lyme Disease this is a must read. But in the age of the pandemic, it is also just a brutally honest story about wrestling with illness, the complexity and mystery of the human body and the challenge of a medical system that works remarkably well for many but leaves far too many alone seeking answers with little or no guard rails. Douthat allows the reader to see this too often hidden world and understand better the tragedies and challenges it presents. Given you probably know someone who is wrestling with these issues this is not only a poignant and honest story it is one that will leave you with a better understanding and hopefully more empathy and sympathy.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    I received a free digital ARC; this did not influence my review. Oh, I strongly disliked this memoir. As someone who has been on both sides of the coin - someone who worked in healthcare, and who has also dealt with disability and chronic illness (though, to be fair, not Lyme Disease) I found many of Douthat's characterizations, assumptions, and criticisms deeply unfair. I don't disagree that there are a slew of doctors with no bedside manner, who rely almost solely on lab work rather than full h I received a free digital ARC; this did not influence my review. Oh, I strongly disliked this memoir. As someone who has been on both sides of the coin - someone who worked in healthcare, and who has also dealt with disability and chronic illness (though, to be fair, not Lyme Disease) I found many of Douthat's characterizations, assumptions, and criticisms deeply unfair. I don't disagree that there are a slew of doctors with no bedside manner, who rely almost solely on lab work rather than full histories and physicals. (And Lyme is far from the only disease that can be missed due to negative lab tests and blood work, despite Douthat's implications that this is a problem unique to Lyme). Yet there are also countless doctors who are true medical investigators and pioneers, who are invested in helping patients live fuller lives. It's worth noting that even once Douthat found a doctor who practiced outside the typical realm of Lyme care, he still conducted his own "experiments" and took a large number of both leftover prescription meds and self-administered alternative therapies and supplements (many of which he discovered through online Lyme communities, not medical professionals or scientists). He seems unwilling to trust than any doctor or scientist might know better than him. One passage that I deeply resented was Douthat's concerns for the future, "...and through it all his father [refers to fathering his newborn son] unable to be the dad he needed, not a baseball coach or a biking tutor but a cripple in the house, tapping away on columns to pay the bills..." Parents come in all shapes, sizes, and abilities, and I deeply resented the notion that a "crippled" parent leaves a child lacking in some inherent way - we all want to give our children the best, but Douthat's view of parenting is limited at best. I also worry that he will leave many readers with the assumption that a life lived with chronic illness is one of chronic misery with no bright spots, one to be pitied, which is simply untrue for so many people. He also takes on the opioid epidemic at least once in the book, despite the fact that most overdoses do not occur to chronic pain patients, many of whom are often appropriately prescribed opioids or other pain medications (he seems to imply that the opioid epidemic is a result of patients being abandoned by doctors and taking pain relief into their own hands - probably because he takes so much of his own medical care into his own hands). By the end of the book, Douthat takes on Covid-19 as well, and while the U.S.'s response certainly left/leaves a lot to be desired, Douthat (a journalist by trade, not a doctor or scientist) criticizes everyone from the CDC, to the FDA, to Anthony Fauci. If Covid treatments existed in direct relation to Douthat's pride and ego, we'd all be healthy with nary a concern about Covid. Douthat's assessments of the medical community would be akin to saying that he is a bad journalist because there are writers spinning falsehoods for tabloids. I gave this book two stars (rather than one) because Douthat expressed himself clearly and the book was fairly organized and easy to follow. However, my enjoyment of the book sits at one star, rounded up.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sunday

    I'm a member of the chronic pain club and picked up Douthat's book because I wanted to read the words of someone whom I respect who is also suffering. A passage that jumped out at me as words of wisdom I need to remember (when I think about others' responses to my pain as well as my response to others' pain): p. 86-87 "To get sick and fail to bet better is to realize the harsh truth of this insight. Human beings have a great capacity for kindness, empathy, and help, but we are more likely to rise I'm a member of the chronic pain club and picked up Douthat's book because I wanted to read the words of someone whom I respect who is also suffering. A passage that jumped out at me as words of wisdom I need to remember (when I think about others' responses to my pain as well as my response to others' pain): p. 86-87 "To get sick and fail to bet better is to realize the harsh truth of this insight. Human beings have a great capacity for kindness, empathy, and help, but we are more likely to rise to the occasion when it is clearly an occasion--a moment of crisis, a time-bound period of stress. In the aftermath of a hurricane, society doesn't usually fragment; it comes together in solidarity and support. Likewise with families and individuals facing suffering in the moment that it descends, or when a terrible finally bottoms out: Not always but very often, people behave well, with great generosity, in the face of a mortal diagnosis, a mental collapse, an addict's nadir. Not least because in those circumstances there are things you can clearly do, from the prosaic--making frozen dinners for a suffering family--to the. more dramatic and extreme, like flying across the country to help drag a friend into rehab. But when the crisis simply continues without resolution, when the illness grinds on and on and on--well, then a curtain tends to fall, because there isn't an obvious way to integrate that kind of struggle into the realm of everyday life. It's not clear what the healthy person is supposed to give to a friend or family members who isn't dying, who doesn't have some need that you can fill with a discrete act of generosity, but who just has the same problems--terrible but also, let's be frank, a little boring--day after depressing day. 'Pain is always new to the sufferer, but loses its originality for those around him," the nineteenth-century French writer Alphonse Daudet, wrote of his experience of a different spirochetal infection, syphilis, whose pain could be managed but in his case never cured. 'Everyone will get used to it except me.'" Douthat writes about a friend who lived across the country but kept showing up - not to talk about or try to solve Douthat's pain. Instead "His appearances were, in their way, acts of love and solidarity--offering no answer to my illness, no cure for our distress, save his solid physical presence, his good humor, and the proof, in all the miles he'd traveled, that he genuinely cared." (p. 89)

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barb

    What a slog to get through. Having had the same illness (albeit with multiple positive tests and a return to wellness after many years), I was surprised To find this simply didn’t resonate. It felt so detached and tiresome to read. His main point, about western medicine docs needing to be more open to experimenting when illnesses don’t easily conform to diagnostics and treatment recipes, is spot on. And his section about the overlap between long COVID and chronic Lyme Disease is the strongest pa What a slog to get through. Having had the same illness (albeit with multiple positive tests and a return to wellness after many years), I was surprised To find this simply didn’t resonate. It felt so detached and tiresome to read. His main point, about western medicine docs needing to be more open to experimenting when illnesses don’t easily conform to diagnostics and treatment recipes, is spot on. And his section about the overlap between long COVID and chronic Lyme Disease is the strongest part. But otherwise the book was a dry recitation of challenges, both medical and with his home, that he had all the money to deal with. That is part of the detachment. Having been through this, living on little money while on disability, not being able to pay for just any expensive treatments or specialists, this isn’t reflective of many peoples experience. Not losing ones home and maintaining ones career through this? Amazing! N=1. Not relatable. But glad it worked out for him. A more relatable book regarding chronic illness: Brave New Medicine by Cynthia Li. Different chronic illness but so much more relatable despite her own financial abundance. Seems like someone who did/does not have such financial resources might share their story so that it isn’t so much the 1-5% perspective.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin Shurance

    I binge-listened to the audiobook over two days. Fascinating information, a compelling personal narrative, a challenging experience and an unconforming perspective: all make for a enriching memoir.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Seth

    A Disease that Doesn’t Exist? Thousands of Americans suffer chronically from Lyme disease, a mysterious tick-born illness that has surged in pockets of the United States since the 1970s. The symptoms are as varied as the people afflicted, and conventional treatment protocols often provide scant relief. Yet despite an array of extremely painful symptoms, much of modern medicine dismisses these patients, often implying that mental health is the root cause, not an actual physical disease. So wh A Disease that Doesn’t Exist? Thousands of Americans suffer chronically from Lyme disease, a mysterious tick-born illness that has surged in pockets of the United States since the 1970s. The symptoms are as varied as the people afflicted, and conventional treatment protocols often provide scant relief. Yet despite an array of extremely painful symptoms, much of modern medicine dismisses these patients, often implying that mental health is the root cause, not an actual physical disease. So what do you do when doctors believe you have an affliction that doesn't really exist? You can succumb to resignation and despair, or perhaps live with the cognitive dissonance between what your body tells you and what your doctor tells you. But there's a third path: you go down the rabbit hole of alternative medicine, into the realm of off-the-wall treatments, untested remedies, and borderline pseudoscience. Ross Douthat, conservative columnist at the New York Times, picked path #3, and what a wild ride it was. The narrative begins as he and his wife decided to leave urban life and pursue a property in Connecticut--a homestead apparently of their dreams: an idyllic country setting, a rural plot where life could slow down, they could raise their kids in stability, and Ross could leisurely putt around and maintain the grounds. Alas, it was not to be. His illness broke into daily life, both before and after they moved, and his chronic symptoms and attempts to treat them were interspersed with a series of property incidents that anyone with a mortgage knows intimately as Homeowner Hell. After a few years of constant struggle, they sold the property at a major loss, yet were still relieved to escape it. The Hidden Life of the Chronic Sufferer One observation that stood out to me was that, although the chronic pain was persistent and often debilitating, the worst of Douthat's experience was the fear of dying, of being absent from his family. "Early the next morning I woke in the hotel with a burning sensation all around my throat, and I went to the mirror and saw that my entire upper torso was as red as a Soviet banner. Then I felt the old summertime pressure on my chest, the horrible closing-up feeling in my throat, and I was sure that I was going to die there, alone in a hotel room. I called the front desk, gagging, and begged for an ambulance. As I waited for it to come, I prayed and scrolled through pictures of my kids, the fear that I would leave them fatherless returning in a rush." Douthat quotes and comments on writer Scott Alexander: "In the same way that 'we filter for people who are like us intellectually and politically, we also filter for misery,' so that the suffering around us passes unheard and unseen." [Loc 1153]. As someone who has never dealt with chronic pain, getting into Douthat's head was a truly eye-opening experience. His reflections generated empathy and compassion for some people in my life and community that suffer under various chronic ailments, or suffer watching a child with a terminal illness steadily decline. I suspect these friends and family would find great catharsis in reading this book, would discover an eloquent painting of their own struggle. The narrative is interspersed with insightful reflections on the difficulties of being perpetually unwell. Not just the physical/medical ones--those are obvious--but also the awkward social realities. "People [often] behave well, with great generosity, in the face of a mortal diagnosis, a mental collapse, an addict's nadir. Not least because in those circumstances there are things you can clearly do.... But when the crisis simply continues without resolution, when the illness grinds on and on and on--well, then a curtain tends to fall, because there isn't an obvious way to integrate that kind of struggle into the realm of everyday life." Struggling under chronic Lyme tested but ultimately strengthened Douthat’s Christian faith. He specifically lays claim to the comfort afforded by a worldview where pain and suffering have meaning. "To believe that your suffering is for something, that you are being asked to bear up under it, that you are being in some sense supervised and tested and possibly chastised in a way that’s ultimately for your good, if you can only make it through the schooling—all this is tremendously helpful to maintaining simple sanity and basic hope." [Loc 1293] And he observes insightfully that philosophical complaints over theodicy have it exactly backwards: "the real Christian answer to the 'problem' of suffering is that we have the problem all wrong, that it’s actually more mysterious when good things happen to good people than when bad things do, because if God gave His son to the cross, then a version of the same test is what every Christian should expect." [1305] I expect this book to be a cool balm of understanding to the chronic sufferer, and an eye-opening revelation of that world for the rest of us who aren’t afflicted. Taking the Red Pill Even with all the above, the most fascinating part of The Deep Places was having a front-row seat to Douthat getting red-pilled to the hypocrisies, corruption, group think, and obtuse idiosyncrasies of mainstream medicine. Even more importantly, his reflections bring deep and timely value to our hottest contemporary global issue, one that runs parallel to, and shares many similarities with, the Lyme experience. More on that in a bit. Douthat is an intellectual by trade, a reasoner and a synthesizer of information and arguments. His abundance of curiosity and his relentless desire to understand truths pushed him deep into the world (one might say the underbelly) of Lyme medicine and treatment protocols. The deeper he went, and the more rocks he overturned, Douthat discovered that the polished world of Official Medicine is incomplete at best, in some places even corrupt. "The deeper I went into the world of the chronically sick, the more people I met, the more testimonials and case histories I read, and the more I familiarized myself with the scientific background of the debate, the more impossible—and infuriating—it seemed that an entire medical establishment could be ignoring, denying, and dismissing the scale of suffering taking place all around them, not in some far-distant or exotic place but in their own hometown, their children’s schools, the street or house next door."[Loc 934] He experienced this himself, with at least one doctor gently offering to refer him to a psychiatrist, insinuating he needed a mental health evaluation. But this casual insult drove him instead to pursue unorthodox answers. Despite initial skepticism, Douthat eventually became desperate enough that he was willing to try almost anything to alleviate his pain, to fight off the illusive bacteria coursing through his blood that is impervious even to a bleach treatment in a laboratory. His self-treatment took him to magnets, audio frequencies (with great success), acupuncture (briefly), intravenous vitamin C, tons of bottles of antibiotics and natural supplements, including various herbs. He even purchased medications of dubious quality from online pet stores so he could acquire them without a prescription. It was his inability to relieve the chronic pain or get satisfying answers from his doctors that drove him to experiment with treatments he would have casually dismissed with a scoff prior to getting Lyme, treatments which directly contradict mainstream wisdom. And he defends the scientific and methodological validity of his tactics with an eloquence I found refreshing: "The initial task of battling my disease with half-understood medicines, the self-doctoring that I found myself doing, was in its own way intensely empirical and materially grounded—the most empirical work, in fact, that I have ever attempted in my life. Empirical, to be clear, doesn’t mean meeting the rigorous standard for FDA approval. But neither does it mean wandering a natural-foods store with a dowsing rod and popping whatever supplement the metal points you toward, or keeping a dream journal and then parsing it for subconscious codes that spell out the herbal remedies you need. Nobody who experiments on medicine’s frontiers has to sally forth at random. They can follow the wisdom of crowdsourcing, the accumulated testimony of other sufferers, attacking their own N of 1 with the benefit of a larger sample, which, even if its results aren’t subject to placebo-controlled trials or peer review, still offers evidence rather than pure guesswork, data rather than just individual anecdote." [Loc 1508] But Douthat, ever the needle threader, still retained the ability to see both sides of the argument. He understood that there are multiple legitimate ways to frame and interpret data, and why the natural incentives and worn footpaths of mainstream medicine would develop the way they did. "[...] But then again, I could also see how the divide sustained itself, because the deeper I went into the world of chronic sickness, the more I could feel the tug of paranoia, the sense that the world is not as I had imagined and who knows what else might be true. I could feel the experience of illness and bafflement remaking me, and I could see in other people how far this remaking could go—well beyond just taking extra antibiotics and doubting the wisdom of the CDC, into a more comprehensive rejection of any establishment wisdom, any mainstream consensus." Loc 938] Lyme vs the Pandemic And now to address the track running parallel in my mind to Douthat's Lyme journey. For the average person who has little awareness of Lyme, no knowledge of its controversial history, and certainly no formed opinions about the sharp divide it's fomented within the medical establishment over the years, Douthat's account and reflections provide a unique opportunity for the reader to engage deep questions of health and wellness, treatment protocols, and their intersection with politicized science--all with a level of objectivity and detachment, sans emotional and political baggage, that is almost impossible elsewhere. You know exactly what I'm referring to: the real-time global debate around COVID-19. The fact that all the topics Douthat engages with regard to Lyme also exist within the hottest contemporary controversy ripped from today’s headlines provides an opportunity of great magnitude and Providence. Douthat carefully describes the two camps that rose up around Lyme within the medical community, and the cause of the rift: "the CDC guidelines essentially ratified the split already opening in the 1980s, between an official understanding of the disease and a dissenting view, between a medical establishment that felt satisfied with how it diagnosed and treated this novel-seeming pathogen and a growing population of patients and sufferers (or self-described sufferers, at least) who felt ignored, abandoned, and betrayed. It created not just two worldviews but two cultures, two concentric circles of insiders and outsiders—the inner one confident and authoritative and buoyed by institutional support, the outer one more fluid and open-minded but also necessarily more peculiar and paranoid and sometimes, frankly, gonzo in its theories and experiments." Douthat clearly has one foot in each camp here (and I'm referring to both the Lyme and Covid debates—so make that four feet?). He obviously prefers the more formal, regimented, and systematic approach to data collection and analysis that is (often, but not exclusively) the hallmark of mainstream science (when it lives up to its aspirations, that is). Yet there are some lines even he won't cross, or at least is quick to note his position on: vaccine hesitancy, for example, is beyond the outer ranges of what he deems acceptable skepticism of mainstream science, as is the idea that Big Pharma owns the media. Although there are certainly extremes in both of these positions, I'm frankly surprised he retained such a reflexive insistence on both claims. But he also readily affirms the legitimacy of the trial and error, small-scale treatments that doctors and patients in the medical wild west try out. As defended above, they may not be double-blind randomized controlled trials, but they are no less methodical or valuable for developing effective personalized treatment protocols. In some ways, Lyme and COVID are very similar. Both have an underworld of treatments that are looked down upon or ignored by orthodox medicine. But their paths diverge at a hard-to-ignore reality: COVID controversies have been treated vastly differently—scientifically and culturally--than Lyme. I totally understand if mainstream doctors and public health officials are skeptical of various proposed treatments for COVID-19. But what I don't understand, or at least what I cannot explain charitably, is all the censorship, suppression and propaganda against them and in favor of the vaccines. Douthat describes two broad camps of doctors who treat Lyme patients with varying degrees of openness to unorthodox treatment protocols. Imagine if the entire public health establishment came down with an iron fist on all the methods with which the latter camp researched and experimented. It's one thing to respond to unapproved treatments with silence, or even disparagement. But imagine if the mainstream bureaucracies went even further, if pharmacies and state medical boards stepped into the heretofore sacred doctor-patient relationship and blocked their ability to prescribe disapproved drugs. Imagine if all of Big Tech and the social media companies colluded to suppress any content questioning the Approved Narrative or that expressed support for alternative Lyme treatments? What if YouTube updated their formal community guidelines with reference to drugs commonly used to treat Lyme and forbade the world from discussing it on their platform? What if they deleted footage of a credentialed physician testifying to Congress about the evidence supporting his protocols? Yet all of these things have happened in the last 18 months with COVID-19. The level of censorship and ostracizing in the COVID-era is utterly shocking and unprecedented. Thank God it hasn’t happened with Lyme. Why is it happening now with COVID? Douthat contracted COVID and suffered from the long haul version for months after. His recent familiarity with the medical underworld and a nascent trust in his own analysis found expression in interesting, one might say contradictory ways: “When the seriousness of the coronavirus threat hadn’t yet become a partisan issue and the mood among mainstream experts was sanguine, I was staring at grainy videos from Wuhan and reading dire predictions from right-wing eccentrics. If I had learned anything from almost five years of illness, it was to trust my own read on a situation at least as much I trusted reassurances from the medical establishment. So I gave up handshaking before anybody else I knew; I was the only non-Asian mask wearer on a cross-country flight; I filled our cellar with toilet paper and canned goods weeks before the shortages began; I stockpiled masks when we were still being told they didn’t work.” [Loc 2222] “And long before it was picked up by Donald Trump, back when it was just an internet theory based on French and Chinese trials, I knew all about hydroxychloroquine—which had been prescribed to me long ago, in a bottle that still had a few pills remaining, which I now found and took.” [Loc 2247] What fascinates and flummoxes me is how Douthat's Lyme experience so clearly illustrates and confirms an insight I've had about COVID and other controversial topics: the primary disagreement is almost never over facts, but over narrative and framing. The structure, the paradigm, the context in which we place and organize facts relative to each other is the key driver of our interpretations and conclusions, not the facts themselves. In one sense, this is an obvious truism. No serious or thoughtful person disputes it. Yet that recognition gets lost amidst all the appeals to authority, the demands to "just trust the science," to “wear the damn mask,” etc. “The science” has not really ever been the main problem for the so-called COVID skeptic crowd, although there certainly are disagreements about the accuracy and relevance of the data. (Can we trust the official death tallies? Are we in a "casedemic?” Do high PCR cycles inflate the numbers and generate unnecessary fear?) For those who distrust the CDC, NIH, WHO and the amalgamated, miasmic sludge of advocacy from corporate journalism, doctors, local public health officials, politicians, Big Tech and Big Social, the most offensive element of their output is not the outright lies, the deceptive nature of their unified propaganda about the science, but what is missing entirely from the public discussion--namely, the obvious profit incentives in play by the pharmaceutical companies combined with the liability protection provided by the state, the myriad other costs to our pandemic response (economic, psychological, educational, medical-but-not-COVID-related, social), and the fingers-in-the-ears refusal to acknowledge that official guidance seems to shift every five minutes. “Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia.” Douthat on Lyme, but which is also applicable to COVID: “It’s completely understandable that the medical establishment doesn’t want to officially endorse any of the various unproven paths. But there’s a difference between declining to endorse a single path and ruling further treatment out entirely, a difference between acknowledging the diverse attempts to treat them.” [Loc 2504] Did He Find Relief? Was Douthat’s descent into the medical underworld successful? Did he cure his Lyme disease and beat back the chronic pain? You’ll have to read it to find out. If you’re a suffer yourself and need an eloquent reflection to put words to your afflictions, or a blessedly healthy person who could benefit from a more empathetic understanding of your fellow man, this is worth a read. If you tend to believe the claims of unorthodox medicine and wonder if a highly educated, wealthy WASP member of the elite intellectual class could possibly come to share that openness, read this book. If you are in the tribe that believes whatever the CDC puts in their press releases is the sum total of objective science, you should definitely read this book, although the struggle to shed your preconceived notions may be painful. The good news is that—hopefully--it won’t be a chronic pain, but rather a short-term cleansing one.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Suzy

    Extremely moving chronicle of the author’s struggle with severe chronic Lyme disease.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Marion

    As a longtime Lyme sufferer myself, I have nothing but sympathy for the unremitting ghastliness experienced by the author. I found the chapter comparing Lyme to CoVid especially fascinating.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jean Greenberg

    Searingly honest account of what it is like to have Lyme+ and the lengths one will go to be released from the pain.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Katie Avagliano

    The exploration of chronic disease is worthwhile but this review seemed most grounded when the author was talking about his experience rather than an overview of establishment facts.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Aaron Brown

    As any regular reader of Ross knows, he is probably the most thoughtful and skilful writer on politics and religion on any op-ed page in America. You won't find much politics, however, in this book. Ross, instead, writes a beautiful, heart-wrenching memoir of his travails into the sclerotic, exasperating world of medicine and chronic disease. The book is particularly timely during this pandemic as so many claim to operate under the authority of the "experts" or "the science" or the CDC. Not so f As any regular reader of Ross knows, he is probably the most thoughtful and skilful writer on politics and religion on any op-ed page in America. You won't find much politics, however, in this book. Ross, instead, writes a beautiful, heart-wrenching memoir of his travails into the sclerotic, exasperating world of medicine and chronic disease. The book is particularly timely during this pandemic as so many claim to operate under the authority of the "experts" or "the science" or the CDC. Not so fast, claims Ross, as he details his exasperating struggle with chronic Lyme disease. Ross is a wonderful writer and he does not disappoint here. There is a lot to learn by Ross's experience, which is clearly why he wrote the book. A quick, enjoyable read and highly recommended.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Zach Hollifield

    Like all things Douthat writes, this is engrossing and entirely worthwhile. An extended meditation on human suffering. A peculiar theodicy in its own right.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey

    A really sad, beautiful and timely book. I know a few people who've mentioned in passing that they've suffered long-lasting disability as a result of Lyme disease. This book gives a window into the hell that their lives must have been while they were sick. Douthat is no one's idea of a whiner or melancholic, so it carries a great deal of weight with me when he describes in graphic terms how the misery and physical agony of chronic Lyme almost broke his marriage and pushed him to the edge of suici A really sad, beautiful and timely book. I know a few people who've mentioned in passing that they've suffered long-lasting disability as a result of Lyme disease. This book gives a window into the hell that their lives must have been while they were sick. Douthat is no one's idea of a whiner or melancholic, so it carries a great deal of weight with me when he describes in graphic terms how the misery and physical agony of chronic Lyme almost broke his marriage and pushed him to the edge of suicide. Douthat also writes quite a bit about the science -- both established and ad hoc -- of Lyme. After two years of watching the medical establishment struggle and often fail to keep up with new evidence on COVID, I'm more open to the idea that smart, focused amateur scientists can beat the pants off the supposed pros in the amateurs' area of interest. Douthat makes a compelling case that just this is happening with Lyme. He argues persuasively that doctors are working with a failed paradigm: they believe that Lyme circulates in the patient's blood and is thus easy to test for and knock out with a 2 week course of antibiotics. Instead, Douthat says that Lyme burrows deep into tissue, so it doesn't reliably show up on tests or respond to antibiotics. And it can alter its chemistry somewhat to further neutralize antibiotics and antibodies. Much of the book is the story of Douthat coming to be persuaded of this alternative paradigm. Like any chronically ill person he tries accepted medicine first, and slowly sinks into despair as it fails. With time he becomes more willing to try something -- anything, really -- to stop the pain. And he finds that he is not alone. New England has a silent but considerable population of Lyme victims (there seems to be one or two in every family) who have developed their own theories and approaches to treatment. These theories and treatments are refreshingly scientific. The core of every alternative Lyme therapy is a metric crapton of antibiotics (ironically, it's the alternative medicine practitioners who have more faith in antibiotics than the MDs), taken for months or years. The antibiotics are paired with various other supplements or interventions that (so the theory goes) flush the Lyme spirochetes out of the deep tissue they're hiding in. Douthat conducts small-scale blind experiments on himself to validate that the therapies aredoing something real, and sure enough -- things doctors consider quack therapies seem to help. And in some cases there's a good theoretical reason: e.g. magnets change bacterial surface chemistry, and a magnetic device that passes Douthat's blind testing. By the book's end in 2018, he is limping towards recovery. All in all an excellent book. And I'd like to add: thanks, Mom, for being so adamant about tick checks after hikes in Connecticut. I had no idea what you were protecting me from.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

    Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, famously said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” As I read Douthat’s book, this saying kept coming to mind. Could anything else happen to this family? It felt like one blow after another. Ross and his wife, science writer Abigail make the decision to move away from the crowded Washington, DC area to a property in Connecticut. Ross had been longing for a small portion of land and a larger home since he visualize these things as perfect fo Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, famously said: “That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” As I read Douthat’s book, this saying kept coming to mind. Could anything else happen to this family? It felt like one blow after another. Ross and his wife, science writer Abigail make the decision to move away from the crowded Washington, DC area to a property in Connecticut. Ross had been longing for a small portion of land and a larger home since he visualize these things as perfect for raising a family So when an older, much older, house on some property is located for a wonderful price, he and his wife jump at the opportunity. Country living. At last. Something that will be relaxing and good for their children. But will everything work as they planned? Unfortunately, not so much. This book captured my attention very quickly and had no trouble keeping me turning pages. As might be expected since Douthat is a columnist for the New York Times, the writing flows. Though the book chronicles a mix of medical information and memoir, the two blend seamlessly. What Concerned Me While this didn't concern me since I love learning anything medically related, this memoir has more medical information than most. I think most readers will want to know the facts provided in the book, but I'm just noting what makes this story a little different than some memoirs. Final Thoughts I’m so glad I had the opportunity to read this. And even if you think you’re not interested in Lyme’s Disease, I think you’ll still want to read it. This story was enlightening and I feel since Ross Douthat is still kickin’ that he has been made a stronger man by all that he has experienced. (Though he no doubt would be content with maintaining a weaker status, I felt it necessary to tie the ending in with the earlier quote.) Thumbs up. If you like medical-related memoirs, definitely reach for this book. Though this book was gifted to me, I was completely free to post my opinion if I decided to write a review.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jackie Sunday

    This is a memoir written by a highly regarded NY Times columnist, Ross Douthat, with his personal trials of chronic pain with Lyme disease. The book starts with the American story. He and his wife had wonderful careers enjoying all the benefits of the nice life with adorable children. He was starting a new job and could work anywhere. So after a long search, they decided to move out of the crowded DC city life to a place with more room to spread out in Connecticut near relatives. However, just as This is a memoir written by a highly regarded NY Times columnist, Ross Douthat, with his personal trials of chronic pain with Lyme disease. The book starts with the American story. He and his wife had wonderful careers enjoying all the benefits of the nice life with adorable children. He was starting a new job and could work anywhere. So after a long search, they decided to move out of the crowded DC city life to a place with more room to spread out in Connecticut near relatives. However, just as they were getting ready for the big move, he had pain and then more pain over time and even after multiple ER visits, there was no cure. Was it mental? He was pretty sure his mind was clear but over time, he was willing to try anything with all types of doctors, blood tests and off the chart cures. Meanwhile, the new house had problems and it started to get financially draining. After three years, knowing they would lose thousands, they wanted out. They had to find a better life and decided to sell. The book describes his frustration with the limited medical system and how patients in pain end up spending hours on Google to decipher the medicines, treatments and symptoms in hopes of finding possible ways to feel better. He also makes a comparison with Covid and Lyme disease with the pain that has lasting affects. If you have Lyme disease, this is one book that you will want to read just as a great self comparison. For me, it was overwhelming in parts to learn more than I ever wanted to know in detail about the disease. Yet, he has some good points. He wrote about the frustration of getting proper treatment in the beginning and weeks it took at times to get referrals. He said when doctors can't plug the symptoms into their list of medical diagnosis, it comes out as anxiety and stress. And of course, there is the hardship of trying to work in social settings with pain on the side when few people realize what's going on. And trying to find a normal life. It's a book that reveals his most inner thoughts and is meant to help others.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christi

    I never thought that I would learn so much about Lyme disease, but I am so thankful that I was able to read The Deep Places. Ross’s illness paralleled his life’s situations so eerily, not only by being haunted by his undiagnosed illness, but also everything that he went through with the dream house that he bought right as he started to get sick. I identified so much with Ross’s plight, as I myself have an illness that I’ve dealt with for over 12 years and despite multiple hospital stays, multiple I never thought that I would learn so much about Lyme disease, but I am so thankful that I was able to read The Deep Places. Ross’s illness paralleled his life’s situations so eerily, not only by being haunted by his undiagnosed illness, but also everything that he went through with the dream house that he bought right as he started to get sick. I identified so much with Ross’s plight, as I myself have an illness that I’ve dealt with for over 12 years and despite multiple hospital stays, multiple major surgeries, and a tremendous amount of tests, I have yet to be officially diagnosed. It has been an infuriating and defeating journey, so reading Ross’s thoughts mirrored my own, making me feel all the feels, and also put the thought in my mind that I could have Lyme disease (I doubt it, but the symptoms he has are almost identical to my own, so I can’t help but wonder). I hate that anyone has had to go through this but reading stories like this gives me a sense of comradery, knowing I am not alone in my journey. Ross’s writing is impeccable, showing off his journalistic talents, while at the same time getting down and real. At times it read more like a magazine or newspaper article and not a novel, but that’s to be expected with his profession, and I didn’t hate it. I highly recommend this resource, especially for those of us that struggle with chronic illnesses, that are left to wonder what ails us while also trying to lead a normal life. We are in this fight together. Huge thank you to Ross for being so transparent and for taking the time to write your story. *I have voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I received from Penguin Random House through NetGalley. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest, and my own.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jena Henry

    Ross Douthat is an American conservative political analyst, blogger, author and New York Times columnist. Prior to 2016, he led an invigorating, purposeful life. He was happily married and loved his young children. He had an elite education and a successful career. Then, in a hideous Stephen King plot twist, he and his family decide to move to the gentrified countryside of Connecticut. They buy an old home that needs extensive repairs. Sadly, this is where his nightmare begins. Just like a terri Ross Douthat is an American conservative political analyst, blogger, author and New York Times columnist. Prior to 2016, he led an invigorating, purposeful life. He was happily married and loved his young children. He had an elite education and a successful career. Then, in a hideous Stephen King plot twist, he and his family decide to move to the gentrified countryside of Connecticut. They buy an old home that needs extensive repairs. Sadly, this is where his nightmare begins. Just like a terrifying horror-suspense book, Mr. Douthat is suddenly afflicted with various and debilitating pains, bad feelings, mental confusion which was (probably) a result of Lyme disease. The memoir details his quest for at first a cure, and then just the hope of feeling better. His first recourse was traditional medicine, then he relies more on alternative methods, even developing his own courses of treatment. He connects with the many other Lyme sufferers. His spiritual life also guides him through his healing challenges. Interestingly, his book ends with the beginning of the COVID pandemic, which also affects him. I think the pandemic has brought home to most of us the feeling that we are all in this together, that medicine can only do so much and we have to rely on our own hope. Mr. Douthat’s well-written and compelling story taught me that there are many people suffering greatly from puzzling ailments. It also convinced me never to set foot in Connecticut. My heart also went out to Mr. Douthat’s patient and loving wife. Thanks to NetGalley and Convergent books for an advance digital review copy. This is my honest review.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Christian Hamaker

    The tepid-to-mildly-favorable reviews I'm seeing for this book in various outlets are puzzling. This is the finest nonfiction book I've read since Christian Wiman's "My Bright Abyss." Perhaps I just have a thing for faith-infused-depictions-of-health-crises, having had a few such crises myself, although nothing like the extent/magnitude of those authors' afflictions. But I like to think I can more objectively assess a book's merits, and believe me, this book has more to offer than you might thin The tepid-to-mildly-favorable reviews I'm seeing for this book in various outlets are puzzling. This is the finest nonfiction book I've read since Christian Wiman's "My Bright Abyss." Perhaps I just have a thing for faith-infused-depictions-of-health-crises, having had a few such crises myself, although nothing like the extent/magnitude of those authors' afflictions. But I like to think I can more objectively assess a book's merits, and believe me, this book has more to offer than you might think. What doesn't really come across in what I've read is just how beautifully written this book is. I've long admired Douthat as an opinion writer (although my admiration has cooled in recent years). As eloquent of a columnist as he can be in arguing for ideas, I simply didn't think he had a book with this sort of prose in him, particularly in the first half of the book. I read slowly, but after taking in the first chapter one night, I knocked out the rest of 'The Deep Places" in two sittings - something that simply never happens. This book consumed in ways few others have. I'm sure many readers will experience something similar. I don't know if the published reviews in major outlets will help the book find its audience, but if not, word of mouth among those who give "The Deep Places" a chance should do the trick.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Parker

    At one point while discussing his battle with Lyme disease, the author writes about how, with chronic illnesses, friends and family are so eager to help out whichever way they can. But when the illness just keeps keeping on, they get tired of the whole thing and stop coming around. That’s exactly how I felt about this book. When first describing his mysterious symptoms and the frustration with a lack of diagnosis, I was intrigued. And when he finally felt some resolution, if not actual relief, f At one point while discussing his battle with Lyme disease, the author writes about how, with chronic illnesses, friends and family are so eager to help out whichever way they can. But when the illness just keeps keeping on, they get tired of the whole thing and stop coming around. That’s exactly how I felt about this book. When first describing his mysterious symptoms and the frustration with a lack of diagnosis, I was intrigued. And when he finally felt some resolution, if not actual relief, from his Lyme pronouncement, I was sympathetic. But the story never really changed. He had Lyme disease. He felt miserable. He tried every treatment in the book but he still had Lyme disease. And he still felt miserable. I started feeling a bit miserable too with how long it was taking me to get through this book. It picked up a bit when he recounted the advent of COVID while still dealing with his current illness. But then it was back to Lyme. And feeling miserable. Don’t get me wrong - Lyme disease sounds horrible and I definitely feel for anyone going through what the author describes. It was just way more than I wanted to know. Thanks to #netgalley and #convergentbooks for this ARC of #thedeepplaces in exchange for an honest review.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...