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The Tincture of Time: A Memoir of (Medical) Uncertainty


Edited by Emily Cunningham

Growing up as the daughter of a dedicated surgeon, Elizabeth L. Silver felt an unquestioned faith in medicine. When her six-week-old daughter, Abby, was rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with sudden seizures, and scans revealed a serious brain bleed, her relationship to medicine began to change.

The Tincture of Time is Silver’s gorgeous and haunting chronicle of Abby’s first year. It’s a year of unending tests, doctors’ opinions, sleepless nights, promising signs and steps backward, and above all, uncertainty: The mysterious circumstances of Abby’s hospitalization attract dozens of specialists, none of whom can offer a conclusive answer about what went wrong or what the future holds. As Silver explores what it means to cope with uncertainty as a patient and parent and seeks peace in the reality that Abby’s injury may never be fully understood, she looks beyond her own story for comfort, probing literature and religion, examining the practice of medicine throughout history, and reporting the experiences of doctors, patients, and fellow caretakers. The result is a brilliant blend of personal narrative and cultural analysis, at once a poignant snapshot of a parent’s struggle and a wise meditation on the reality of uncertainty, in and out of medicine, and the hard-won truth that time is often its only cure.

Heart-wrenching, unflinchingly honest, and beautifully written, The Tincture of Time is a powerful story of parenthood, an astute investigation of the boundaries of medicine, and an inspiring reminder of life’s precariousness.

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Praise

The Tincture of Time is at once a medical mystery and an affecting meditation on how to live without certainty. Elizabeth L. Silver has written a compelling account of a mother’s worst nightmare with grace, intelligence, and love.”—Jill Bialosky, author of History of a Suicide

The Tincture of Time is just the kind of memoir this world desperately needs. In precise and powerful language, Elizabeth Silver uses her deeply singular experience to shed light on universal issues of wellness, health, the body, healing, and trust. She shines her bright, generous intellect into the deepest reaches of her own heart, and into the heart of every reader. This book will change you, teach you, move you. Read it.”—Emily Rapp, author of The Still Point of the Turning World

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