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Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician's Search for True Healing
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Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician's Search for True Healing

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  144 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Dr. Neil Spector, one of the nation's top oncologists, led a charmed life. He was educated at prestigious universities, trained at top medical centers, and had married the woman of his dreams. It seemed too perfect. And it was.

In 1994, it all came crashing down. He and his wife lost two unborn children. And a mysterious illness brought him to the brink of death. In his com
Published February 15th 2015 by Nautilus Publishing (first published January 29th 2015)
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Jul 21, 2015 rated it really liked it
Really wonderful, inspiring, courageous story of a physician's difficult and trying health journey.

So much power in his story, full of courage, honesty, and inner strength. Beautiful, touching.

Highly recommended, especially for anyone who has dealt with chronic illness or dealing with illness in general. One of the big takeaways is you have to be your own best advocate as a patient. Trust your gut. Research your condition and your treatment options, don't take drs input as 100% truth. Don't be c
Feb 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-reviews
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

Dr. Spector chronicles his at times frustrating experiences trying to find out what was causing his heart to fail. I was surprised that his doctors didn't listen to his complaints and take him more seriously considering he was a colleague. I found the book read like a novel, it kept me very interesting. He wove his own poetry in with the book and I felt they worked well with the chapters. He also provided good advice such as not to
Tina Downs
Feb 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Gone in a Heartbeat: A Physician's Search for True Healing is a heart wrenching story of a physical’s agonizing ordeal with an undiagnosed disease that almost kills him numerous times and eventually destroys his heart. During 16 years of horrendous pain and suffering, many prominent doctors refuted Dr. Spector’s self-diagnosis of Lyme’s disease. Where most people would have caved in and succumbed to many misdiagnoses, Dr. Spector questioned the “experts” and finally found the answers himself.

Gary J.
Feb 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In “Gone In A Heartbeat, “ Dr. Neil Spector — a leading oncologist, researcher and educator — shares the story of his brave quest to find answers when faced with a debilitating and, eventually, life-threatening medical condition brought on by an untreated tick bite. This highly engaging book reads like a mystery, as each chapter recounts Dr. Spector’s uphill battle to find answers for why his previously strong heart is beginning to fail. The clues for what is happening are few and hard to find, ...more
Jonathan Leffert
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Neil's book is a uniquely personal story of an academic physician turned patient who perseveres through faith and at times, top notch medical care to obtain a life saving heart transplant. This is a fast paced book which keeps the reader glued to the pages. Neil tells the story of missed diagnosis, compassionate nurses and physicians, and ultimately a life saving procedure. Throughout the book, and probably more profound, are the emotional ups and downs that he and his family endure over 20 year ...more
Justin Reilly
Jul 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"We know that people are dying all the time...from Chronic Lyme Disease." -Prof. Neil Spector, MD, Duke Medical School

Prof. Neil Spector lifts the veil on a dirty medical secret hiding in plain sight: Millions of Americans have been victimized, some even killed by a small handful of insurance lobbyists posing as scientists who deny that Chronic Lyme Disease (CLD) exists. Prof. Spector can say this with certainty, because not only has he exhaustively examined the science (and pseudo-science), but
Julie Schoerke
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This memoir by one of the top oncologists in the United States is riveting. Neil Spector, M.D., who ran track for UNC in college, spent grueling years as a resident, intern, etc. at hospitals from Harvard to Parkland Memorial in Dallas, was the picture of health...until he could feel that he wasn't. His navigation through the medical maze as a patient is quite the cautionary tale for lay people like me. There are stories in here that are not exactly religious - but give me goosebumps for the spi ...more
Sandra Silberman
Jan 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Just finished reading - both crying and laughing throughout the book. It's about the strength of a man's spirit in being able to overcome obstacles to the diagnosis and treatment of an incredibly horrific outcome of a relatively common disease. A page turner, as in "could it get worse? yes!", and heart warming with insights that could only be provided by a physician who happens to also be a loving, caring human being. A must read for every physician and patient wanting an ultimately uplifting st ...more
Wendy Stokes
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
It takes guts for a well respected physician to share deeply about his personal journey. Dr. Neil Spector is a High School friend, an exceptional man, a loving husband and father as well as a wonderful physician. His book has lessons for all of us. Neil's diseased physical heart may have failed him, but his spiritual heart is in impeccable health. My respect for him makes shameless promotion of his book a no brainer. Once again, he lays his life down in compassionate service to others and tells ...more
Jan 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Neil Spector shares his personal story with a voice that is heartfelt and appreciative of the greatest gift one can give to another human being. His letter to his donor's family expressed such deep gratitude for the ultimate demonstration of love that their loved one gave to him you cannot help but be moved. It is a celebration of the human spirit, the love and caring of family, the importance of friends and the connection we have to one another. A fast and uplifting read!
Barbara (The Bibliophage)
This is more about surviving heart disease, and ultimately transplantation, than it is about Lyme disease. I was hoping the author would talk more about Lyme, since it was his appearance on Diane Rehm's NPR show about Lyme that brought him to my attention. That said, this is a fascinating book about the medical and spiritual aspects of chronic illness. I learned a lot about physiology, but more about perseverance amidst horrible odds.
Sharon Rainey
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is representative of the struggle many Lyme patients experience in getting the correct diagnosis and proper treatment. A cancer researcher finally undergoes a heart transplant because Lyme has ravaged his own. Thankfully, the author is healthy and running half marathons now, and even better, speaking about his journey and enlightening the masses about Lyme disease. His descriptions are direct, honest, tangible. Best book i have read about Lyme disease thus far.
Apr 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I literally couldn't put this book down--it gripped me right from the first page and didn't let go. Neil's story is so heartbreaking, triumphant, and incredible; he is truly an inspiration for all of us. I encouraged my friend to read it and now she's raving about it too!
Shirley Leighton
Courage and faith

Having experienced atrial fibrillation and currently experiencing early and sometimes rapid heart beats this story has given me courage to live life to the fullest. I am a patient at duke heart clinic with a similarly caring physician.
Christina Kovacs
Jun 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book was simply impossible to put down. The story was a gripping thriller, and the fact that it's a true story makes it simply captivating. A highly recommended read that is heartbreaking, informative, eye opening & ultimately gives you hope.
Feb 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is so good, I couldn't put it down !
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
While I was a good book on surviving heart disease I felt the Lyme aspect of his illness wasn't developed enough
Ben Palpant
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Dr. Spector still has some theological thinking to do—as we all do—but this book is a must read for anyone in the medical field. A smart and sympathetic call to more human clinical care.
Nancy Kennedy
Aug 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dr. Spector suffered years of agonizing pain, debilitating heart malfunction and gut-level anxiety, all because of an undiagnosed illness. By the time he began to suspect what was wrong, he was on his way to a heart transplant. Despite his medical training and the involvement of world class specialists, Dr. Spector endured what many of us do: the endless rounds of invasive tests, the arrogance of doctors who think our pain is all in our heads, the repeated denial of what Dr. Spector's instinct w ...more
Dec 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, read-2015
The book is extremely well-written by a man who is a well-rounded person made only more well-rounded by the addition of a heart from another person. It unfortunately did not get the benefit of good editing and has a couple of continuity problems, but nothing the reader can't quickly figure out.

I am lucky in that I have forced my way through to treatment for cardiac Lyme far earlier than the author of this book. At the same time, the book is terrifying for anyone with this condition. And the frus
Apr 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I heard the author of this book speak on a radio program. I was so entirely moved by his experience and his interview, that I decided to read the book. If one could look at my Kindle, you could tell I don't read many books from cover to cover - but I did this one. Even after hearing the entire interview on the radio (and knowing the outcome), I was still motivated to read the book. I'm glad I did because I would have missed a lot if I didn't. It's not only a story of a medical doctor who goes t ...more
Sep 21, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A doctor's story of his own healing

There is to admire in this book. From one medical emergency to another, the narrator manages to survive and thrive. For me, the vast amount of religious content was perplexing, coming from a medical doctor. The silliest coincidences, for example that a consulting physician is named Dr. Perfect, is used as proof that God exists and wants this particular person to survive. The author includes a lot of terrible verse. Any editor, worth his or her salt, should have
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Real & inspirational

Dr. Spector's account of his search for the correct diagnosis and the frustration of being dismissed, even by his peers, is all too real for Lyme patients. The strength he showed to follow his gut instincts and the urging of others to do the same, advocating for themselves, is a necessary part of the journey in healthcare today. The humanity and spirituality of this author is refreshing, especially coming from someone educated in the sciences. The book is an easy read tha
Sep 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Worth a read for any patient or provider.

Loved the book. As a healthcare professional, an excellent reminder of how important it is to listen to the patient. Many great take always, and very touching. It brought me to tears when I read the donors nickname at the end. Dr. Spector, thank you for sharing your journey with us.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was ok
I received an advance copy of this book from The book starts off interesting enough. The examination of the medical profession by a doctor who has become a patient is very enlightening. About half-way through the book the author begins to ramble about his own mortality and I just couldn't read any more.
Bianca Gachot
Sep 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
Probably the most depressing book I have ever read. Just when you think that things are bad, and can't get any worse...they actually do.
It's a book about Lime disease, family, love, support, believe, trust...
Dec 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
"Plenty of people have beaten the odds and gone on to become their own statistic."
Jun 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
Great story from both medical and spiritual viewpoints. The author endured so much, and all from a little tick.
Wendy Buhrendorf mickunas
rated it really liked it
Apr 21, 2015
rated it it was amazing
May 27, 2017
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“I had always thought of my heart as the two of us against the world. My heart and me — that was it. We could do this. It was more than an organ in my body. The seat of the soul, my heart, was part of my personality. I wasn’t ready to concede the fact that I was going to lose it forever. It had weathered the storm with only 10 percent function and sustained two potentially fatal episodes with barely detectable blood pressure, events that would have likely been too much for even the healthiest heart to handle. As weak as it was, my heart had gotten me to this point. It stuck with me. It was determined to see me through, and I somehow felt as if I couldn’t leave it now. As strange as it seems, I wasn’t thinking about how much I needed the transplant to survive. I was focused on what life was going to be like for me from a spiritual standpoint. Over the years since discovering it was damaged, I had developed a spiritual connection to my heart. I talked to it regularly and visualized it being encased in healing light to open up whatever chakras were blocked — whatever bad karma was happening in the heart. I concentrated on treating my heart with loving-kindness and prayed for the chance to let me get it through this. I would silently say to my heart, the doctor said you shouldn’t have made it through,” 0 likes
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