Pam Douglas Winner of the Humanitas Prize


Back to Life

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Paperback: 200 pages
Publisher: Divine Arts (June 1, 2011)
ISBN-10: 1611250021
ISBN-13: 978-1611250022
To purchase this book, please contact the author or use this link to

More than half a million back surgeries are performed each year. For anyone who has ever faced debilitating illness or surgery, Pamela Douglas shows how traumatic experience can awaken deep potential, talent and creativity.

BACK TO LIFE: A Journey of Transformation through Back Surgery, explores the psychological, emotional and spiritual stages of preparation, hospitalization, and recovery from spine surgery. In 2005, Pamela, an award-winning writer and artist, faced the challenge of her life. Years after a diagnosis of scoliosis — and after decades she spent working, exercising, gardening, having a baby and raising a family — doctors told her she would need to undergo major, life-threatening spine surgery.

She took six months out of her busy life as a television writer and professor in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California for the preparation, surgery and recovery. The experience, which could have left her paralyzed, instead led her to personal discovery.

Through two weeks in the hospital and many more confined to a bed, Pamela found inner strength and the depth of love and support from her family that she did not know she had. She had time to ask herself fundamental questions about her life. When she finally was able to once again walk, with steel rods and screws supporting her spine, she discovered joy in the simple gift of restored mobility.

"I wrote this book to let others, who might be living in pain or going through any physical challenge, see how day-to-day, a person can endure and finally even flourish," Pamela says.

She details her experiences in journal form through brief entries written as she was going through surgery and recovery. BACK TO LIFE takes the reader into the immediacy of the moment and through the transformational power of an experience far beyond surgery.

"It's about the process of having the courage to go through surgery or any extreme healing process, and to know that there is more to you than the pain or whatever is happening in the body at that time," Pamela says. "For me, it was a life-changing experience and, ultimately, a great one."

Examples of Acclaim for Back to Life:

"Moving, inspiring, and poetically written, BACK TO LIFE belongs in the hands of anyone who has gone through a difficult patch in life, or cares about someone who has. We all hope to transit the major challenges of life with honesty and grace. This book is a model of how to do just that."
— Lance M. Dodes, M.D., Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Training and Supervising Analyst, Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute

"Medical trauma is an overwhelming and terrifying experience. Pamela Douglas' book on the trauma of back surgery both informs and tells a story -- all the while holding the reader's hand. For what is inspiration if not the ability to comfort during a time of fear? Ms. Douglas has found the language that tenderly and bravely describes the human journey through medical trauma, resulting in a document that maps the way through tragedy and loss to triumph and celebration."
— Alesia Willow Montana, MA, LPC, CSAC, Trauma Therapist

"Pamela Douglas chose to have a very difficult back surgery and, having chosen it, she tells the story with clarity, wry humor, and an eye for the practical. Behind this, though she doesn't point it out, stands her courage. That and the love of a very dear family can inspire the rest of us who also have mortal challenges. Here's how to face them."
— Beverly Pierce, MLS, MA, RN, CHTP, The Institute for Integrative Health

"A light read about a difficult endeavor, both physically and psychologically. A real down-to-earth anecdotal account of going through back surgery and how to cope with it all. Ms. Douglas provides us with a positive model for enduring the ups and downs."
— Dr. Susan F. Rabin, PhD. CCCJS, DAC, CDVC, MFT

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