Thank you to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Octopus Books for the invitation to join the blog tour and a copy of the book to read and review. My thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift.
Catch your Breath is a gut punch of a memoir by a doctor – and comedian – whose job is to keep people alive after putting them to sleep. Ed Patrick is an anaesthetist. Strong drugs for his patients, strong coffee for him.
But it’s not just sleep-giving for this anaesthetist, as he navigates emergencies, patients not breathing for themselves and living with a terrifying sense of responsibility. It’s enough to leave anyone feeling numb especially in the midst of a pandemic.
Hilariously funny, moving and truly insightful, it follows Ed’s journey from bewildered medical student in Aberdeen to unflinching anaesthetist on the NHS frontline. A dose of insight into life on the hospital wards during the pandemic, while injecting hope that we will all get through this.
But don’t worry, there’s plenty of laughing gas to be had.
Having had a general anaesthetic (or three), I was interested to read about how, and why, someone would train to do this job. Ed explains how he ended up becoming a medical student, and what his training involved, including some embarrassing moments.
The style of writing reminded me of that of Adam Kay (This is Going to Hurt) because humour is used regularly, but the content is very different. Ed talks about his time working in various areas of medicine including in General Practice and Accident and Emergency. However the most interesting section for me was his work as an anaesthetist, both before and during the Covid 19 pandemic.
There are sections of the book, talking about how the Covid patients have had to be treated, that should be shared on TV and radio shows, to make people aware of just what the NHS staff have had to do to try to save lives.
I enjoyed reading the book, and struggled to put it down once I started reading it. My 19 year old son also read my copy last week, whilst having a rest day after his second Covid vaccination. He had Covid last year, thankfully without needing any medical care, and said this book reinforced how lucky he was not to need medical help AND why being vaccinated was so important, to reduce the risks of serious complications.
I’ve already been recommending this book to friends, family, work colleagues and on social media. I work with students who are considering their future careers and I’m happy to recommend this to anyone thinking about a career in primary healthcare. However I urge everyone age 14+ to read Ed’s book, to laugh at some of his stories and to think carefully about other stories.
Ed Patrick has performed across the UK, including at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Ed hosts the “Comedians’ Surgery” podcast where he speaks to guests including Joe Lycett, Rose Matafeo and Reginald D Hunter about their health stories and experiences.
He also created and presented “Infectious Personalities” with Hat Trick Productions, broadcast on BBC Radio 2 with guests Charlie Brooker and Sindhu Vee. Ed has written and performed on BBC Radio 4, for shows such as “Now Wash Your Hands” and “Newsjack”, and he has also written for the Guardian about the intersection between medicine and comedy.