Sick and Tired: An Intimate History of Fatigue

Univ. of North Carolina. Apr. 2021. 208p. ISBN 9781469663340. pap. $19.95. HEALTH
Fatigue is a term often used but seldom understood, says Abel (emerita, public health and women’s studies, UCLA; Hearts of Wisdom). The overwhelming fatigue she felt after six months of breast cancer therapy in 1993 persisted for years; only recently has it been recognized as a condition requiring intervention. Through the years, fatigue has been viewed as a minor ailment and often as some level of personal failure. Society at large still tends to dismiss the illness. A person with fatigue who doesn’t “get better” is often implied to lack the will to improve, and their social support can fade away. Abel addresses racial disparities in health care and also traces the reactions to her own condition from doctors and others in her life and describes the evolution of her own acceptance and understanding. Fatigue’s gradual recognition in medicine and society is a result of doctors’ growing trust in patients’ reports of their own pain and fatigue—symptoms which lack objective scales of measurement.
VERDICT A personal story made more universal that many readers will be able to identify with, and a well-documented study of the history and current state of the science of fatigue.
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