What Doesn’t Kill You: A Life with Chronic Illness—Lessons from a Body in Revolt

Holt. Feb. 2021. 320p. ISBN 9781250751454. $26.99. HEALTH
As more is learned about the long-term effects of COVID-19, health and science journalist Miller offers a timely description of the ramifications of a chronic illness. The story of her struggle with Crohn’s disease provides the undergirding for a broader look at how every aspect of life is impacted by any disease that doesn’t kill, but also doesn’t go away. She begins with a graphic account of how her own life was upended and changed forever by the symptoms that eventually led to a correct diagnosis. Miller is open about her own struggles and intertwines autobiographical portions with reflections on life with chronic illnesses. She discusses interactions with the medical world; grieving over what will never be; evolving interactions with family, friends, coworkers, and bosses; and the reality of a new self-image. There is a chapter outlining specific things those who interact with people with chronic illness need to know (e.g. “‘inspirational’ isn’t exactly a compliment”) and one in which others with chronic illness are quoted saying what now gives them joy.
VERDICT A clear, no-holds-barred account that will be useful both to those coming to grips with their own chronic illness and also to the people in their lives.
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