Author: Laurie Edwards
Rating: 3 Stars
Review By: Shana
Overall this is a solid book, outlining the history of chronic illness in the United States, offering the reader both a medical perspective and a patient perspective. There is some excellent insight to glean and a lot to think about, especially as our longer lives mean more of us will deal with some form of chronic illness. Of course, such illnesses run the gamut. Some are miserable conditions that cause constant pain, extreme fatigue, or other ailments that severely limit many life activities. Others are milder conditions that either can be reliably controlled with medication and lifestyle changes (e.g., some forms of diabetes) or issues that can be tolerated as a “new normal” (e.g., some forms of allergies and asthma).
In the end, the book got repetitive and I think Edwards’s desire to be accommodating to everyone’s opinion lessened the power of the book. In discussing vaccines it appeared that Edwards understands that there is absolutely no scientific evidence linking vaccines to autism, yet she did not make the point strenuously enough, seeming to prefer to let everyone have their say rather than providing vetted evidence (and thus letting dangerous misinformation that could lead to others getting sick have equal space on the page).
I also thought the author (who deals with several diseases and has been chronically ill for her entire life) showed a little short-sightedness in her conclusion when she recounted how some friends and family questioned her decision to have children given that her condition is likely genetic. It isn’t that I think a genetic condition means no procreation, but I likewise know that many parents screen for conditions (especially debilitating ones) or screen themselves and their partner to ensure that no deadly conditions will inadvertently be passed on. It seems irresponsible to sweep such questions aside out of hand, as if such concerns do not deserve deep consideration. Instead of a thoughtful analysis or weighing of the risks, Edwards only stressed her emotional reaction to people asking if she had considered whether or not it was a good idea to have children. The book would have been better with a larger discussion of this issue.
My love of reading was sparked in 3rd grade by the promise of personal pan pizzas via the BOOK IT! Program. Hmmmm... any chance that someone might give adults free food for reading? Asking for a friend...