My Leaky Body By Julie Devaney. Fredericton: Goose Lane, 2012. ISBN 13: 978-0-86492-754-5 e. Paperback, 344 pages. $22.95.
A young, intelligent, politically conscious woman takes us through her experience of the symptoms, diagnosis, misdiagnosis, and all of the unrelenting indignities associated with her chronic inflammatory bowel disease within the setting of the Canadian health care system.
This book is one that anyone treating chronic disease should read, as a patient viewpoint reminder and a frank, honest, angry, and often funny demonstration of how our policies, actions, and discussions aren’t always received by patients in the way we hope. It is extremely well written in a candid and un-self-conscious style, but I was most impressed by what Julie Devaney has herself taken on in her real life. She has used her story and her experiences in courageous and innovative performances to improve the lot of other patients to come.
Her disease and its debilitating consequences may have taken their toll physically and emotionally, but Julie has faced her biggest frustrations head on by personally educating medical students and health care professionals about how to communicate, and how to perform intimate or painful procedures and examinations on vulnerable patients in the context of chronic inflammatory disease. She writes with humor, pathos, and grittily realistic descriptions of her experiences, and uses a bit of shock performance to get her message across without sounding preachy or whiny. I don’t know many people her age that could reach out with so much aplomb. I remain impressed.
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