About the Book
Three friends drove across the Navajo Reservation in northern Arizona after backcountry skiing in Colorado. They talked about their lives, and one said,
“I really shouldn’t be alive today.”
David Scalia’s astounding story occurred in 1982, but he had a scrapbook documenting everything he told his friends that day. It included photographs, names of doctors who cared for him, newspaper articles, and notes.
A scuba equipment failure caused a devastating accident. He suffered incalculable damage to his body for more than 12 grueling hours. Days later, he was given a profound choice — to live or to die. Almost unbelievable, this is his true story.
About the Author
Monte Anderson was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and moved to Denver, Colorado, with his family when he was ten years old. After graduating from high school, he enlisted in the US Army, where he was first assigned to the infantry, then automotive repair, and finally, the medical corps. After an unimpressive freshman year at the University of Colorado, where he spent most of his time on extracurricular activities like skiing, he entered the University of the Americas in Mexico City, where one of his professors sensed in him a talent for writing.
Later, he worked for several years in pharmaceutical sales. From there, a desire to enter medical school was rekindled. During one of the most exciting times of his life, he completed required courses at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, then was admitted to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. He completed a medical residency at Creighton University and continued his studies with subspecialty training in gastroenterology and hepatology as an army officer at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas.
After his discharge from the military, most of his career was happily devoted to the Mayo Clinic in Arizona. Feeling that true tales tend to be more compelling than fiction, he has always preferred reading nonfiction, especially since something is always learned in the process. The Choice: A Story of Survival, his first effort outside of scientific writing, is nonfiction. Anderson lives in Prescott, Arizona, with his wife, Pat. They have three children, five grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
In the Media
The Daily Courier of Prescott, AZ
Making 'The Choice': New book details retired Prescott firefighter's fight for survival
Blog Articles by the Author
Decompression in a Hyperbaric Chamber Explained
In this blog article Dr. Anderson explains how decompression sickness (DCS) occurs in the human body and how and why decompression treatment in a hyperbaric chamber works.
Dive Accident Management: There's no hyperbaric chamber nearby, now what?
In 1982, when David Scalia (from the book, The Choice) was evacuated to San Diego after suffering an air embolism to his brain, there was no hyperbaric chamber in the city.
The USS Dixon (pictured in the blog article), a submarine tender complete with a hyperbaric chamber aboard, was in port and permission was given to bring David aboard for what proved to be the definitive treatment.
The Physiology of the "Bends"
If you're a diver, you've most likely heard of the "bends" or "divers disease."
The "bends," formally called decompression sickness (DCS), was first seen as an industrial phenomenon that struck caisson workers (caisson disease) as they labored to set the bridge footings on a river bottom. The photo above shows the construction of the Eads Bridge over the Mississippi River, 1873.
In Dr. Monte Anderson’s book, The Choice: A Story of Survival, his friend, David Scalia, suffered a devastating diving accident that included an arterial gas embolism to the brain during an uncontrolled ascent from 10 meters.
Read the full article and find how you can benefit from this engaging story.
The Choice of Life or Death
Surveys in the United States say that 15% of the population claim they have had an NDE. In Germany it is 4%, Australia 8.9%, and the Netherlands 18% (Netherlands focus was on cardiac arrests).
Some who experience near death experiences report that they were given the choice of life or death. Some survivors say they were “bitterly disappointed” when, after choosing not to return to life, did so anyway. David Scalia, principal in the book, The Choice: A story of survival, was also given the choice of life or death. Read more about his experiences here . . .