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Sick: A Memoir [PDF / EPUB] Sick: A Memoir In the tradition of Brain on Fire and Darkness Visible, an honest, beautifully rendered memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery that details author Porochista In the tradition of Brain on Fire and Darkness Visible, an honest, beautifully rendered memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery that details author Porochista Khakpour s struggles with late stage Lyme diseaseFor as long as writer Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick For most of that time, she didn t know why All of her trips to the ER and her daily anguish, pain, and lethargy Sick: A PDF/EPUB or only ever resulted in one question How could any one person be this sick Several drug addictions, three major hospitalizations, and over , later, she finally had a diagnosis late stage Lyme disease Sick is Khakpour s arduous, emotional journey as a woman, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems through the chronic illness that perpetually left her a victim of anxiety, living a life stymied by an unknown conditionDivided by settings, Khakpour guides the reader through her illness by way of the locations that changed her course New York, LA, New Mexico, and Germany as she meditates on both the physical and psychological impacts of uncertainty, and the eventual challenge of accepting the diagnosis she had searched for over the course of her adult life With candor and grace, she examines her subsequent struggles with mental illness, her addiction to the benzodiazepines prescribed by her psychiatrists, and her ever deteriorating physical health A story about survival, pain, and transformation, Sick is a candid, illuminating narrative of hope and uncertainty, boldly examining the deep impact of illness on one woman s life.


10 thoughts on “Sick: A Memoir

  1. says:

    This might be my biggest reading disappointment of the year so far I have been looking forward to this book for ages and when it finally arrived I jumped straight into reading it I find the story Porochista Khakpour tells of illness that went years without a diagnosis, about racism and sexism in medicine, about addiction and losing oneself so very very important and relevant, but the execution just did not work for me I found the structure of the book unhelpful, the jumping back and forth This might be my biggest reading disappointment of the year so far I have been looking forward to this book for ages and when it finally arrived I jumped straight into reading it I find the story Porochista Khakpour tells of illness that went years without a diagnosis, about racism and sexism in medicine, about addiction and losing oneself so very very important and relevant, but the execution just did not work for me I found the structure of the book unhelpful, the jumping back and forth, sometimes within the same paragraph difficult to follow and frustrating, even though I can see how that could have worked wonderfully.She says in the acknowledgments that she stripped her memoir of everything but herself and maybe she was a bit too successful in that aim I left the book not even quite knowing what Lyme Disease does to her, or what symptoms she had Her encounters with medical doctor after medical doctor felt undefined and somehow left me confused because I know she wanted me to see how godawful the doctors were and I am sure they were but I could only ever see her I think some grounding in the reality of Lyme would have worked better for me.My biggest problem was the prose, on a sentence by sentence level I found it weirdly clumsy in parts, while sometimes being very profound There were sentences however that I had to read multiple times to get to their meanings and I am not sure that was intentional


  2. says:

    Given that an official diagnosis doesn t come until 40 pages from the end, Sick is less a memoir about having Lyme disease than a memoir about having a mysterious illness that baffles doctors, results in a lot of inappropriate and expensive treatments, and is routinely viewed as purely psychological an infuriatingly common scenario for women For that reason alone, this book is valuable Indeed, because of my interest in the topic, I broke my new resolution to avoid current memoirs in order Given that an official diagnosis doesn t come until 40 pages from the end, Sick is less a memoir about having Lyme disease than a memoir about having a mysterious illness that baffles doctors, results in a lot of inappropriate and expensive treatments, and is routinely viewed as purely psychological an infuriatingly common scenario for women For that reason alone, this book is valuable Indeed, because of my interest in the topic, I broke my new resolution to avoid current memoirs in order to read Sick But ultimately I wish I hadn t I guess I thought because Khakpour is an acclaimed novelist, this memoir would be better than the others I ve encountered lately, but that wasn t the case Although the novelty of the story initially made this absorbing, the jumping back and forth in time was confusing and messed with the momentum, it was pretty repetitive, and the writing was competent at best and bafflingly awkward at worst Khakpour apparently wrote at least some of this while relapsing, so perhaps it s understandable that this isn t her best work, but you d think an editor could have stepped in and cleaned up some of theegregious awkwardness Don t publishers do that any I ve seen way too much sloppiness in current books and it s getting depressing Beyond that I know likability isn t really of utmost importance when it comes to memoir, but Khakpour was snide about other people just a few too many times for me to overlook it I would ve thought a serious novelist would have a somewhat better understanding of and compassion for other people, or at least be sensible enough to remove some of the snideness before publishing, but not in this case Honestly, even though this book wasn t very long, I spent the last 50 pages or so just waiting for it to be over If you re already a fan of Khakpour s fiction, you may well find Sick fascinating Otherwise you can feel okay about skipping it


  3. says:

    I think that books about chronic illness and the experiences of women of colour accessing healthcare are essential, but I did not like this book Here s the thing I think that explorations of trauma and illness, of gender and illness, of race and illness, are all so important I think exploring women s illness, and illnesses such as Lyme, and calling out how they are often characterized as psychiatric is needed I think that avoiding narratives of sick then well, of triumph over what is in fact I think that books about chronic illness and the experiences of women of colour accessing healthcare are essential, but I did not like this book Here s the thing I think that explorations of trauma and illness, of gender and illness, of race and illness, are all so important I think exploring women s illness, and illnesses such as Lyme, and calling out how they are often characterized as psychiatric is needed I think that avoiding narratives of sick then well, of triumph over what is in fact just a stage of life and inevitable outcome of living is good This book was too much of a hot mess I think that this was largely due to poor writing and editing Khakpour was not well when she wrote, and writing was one of the challenges she identified during periods of illness But where was her editor in all of this I found this book almost impossible to follow People did not stand out to me, when exes and friends re emerged in later chapters, I could not remember who they were There were no real human connections communicated in this memoir and it made it hard to connect as a reader Also, I don t know that organizing chapters by cities made all that much sense I would have picked years or months or symptoms instead Also, I didn t find the writing about romances or addiction or heartbreak or illness to be evocative I was not transported by her prose Finally, I think I had a hard time relating to the author, who I found to be kind of enamoured of her own image as the almost heroin chic waif on trend in the 90 s Thin, jittery, jumping from rich boyfriend to rich boyfriend, and seemingly expecting to be looked after by everyone in her life I didn t understand how she found all of these wealthy people to provide so much to her money, care, housing, travel, energy , but it was surreal and off putting to me An aside what was the one sentence in brackets at the end of the book about bisexuality It was so odd, and again, so poorly edited, relationships were explored in detail, so many, and then at the end she was like there were women too, but I didn t think I d mention it but also should mention it I didn t get this book


  4. says:

    I m only giving this 1 star because there isn t the option of giving it zero stars.This book is.ugh It promotes so many dangerous ideas that are gaining hold within the chronic illness disability community and the fact that it s been on so many must read lists gives it an air of legitimacy The kind of quackery the author is selling is so insidious and harmful and literally kills chronically ill and disabled people , and reading her ideas about how glamorous she thinks certain aspects o I m only giving this 1 star because there isn t the option of giving it zero stars.This book is.ugh It promotes so many dangerous ideas that are gaining hold within the chronic illness disability community and the fact that it s been on so many must read lists gives it an air of legitimacy The kind of quackery the author is selling is so insidious and harmful and literally kills chronically ill and disabled people , and reading her ideas about how glamorous she thinks certain aspects of being ill are, or how much she loves having people take care of her, or how she purposely makes herselfill are GIANT red flags The biggest red flag, however, is the fact that Chronic Lyme isn t real learnfrom the CDC here She is surely legitimately ill she is an addict, and addiction is a real disease She probably also had Lyme disease, and may have post treatment Lyme disease complications She mentions having a recurring eating disorder She is diagnosed with scleroderma an autoimmune connective tissue disorder but refuses to further look into this because she doesn t want to be seen as a lobster lady and feels like Lyme fits her soul betterBut you don t cure these things with rare Canadian antibiotics , bee pollen, bee sting therapy, Celtic sea salt, etc That s just..not how this works That s not how any of this works.Porochista s prose is full of tired cliches, and her narcissism shines through most strongly when she finds her new Best Friend Forever or Partner For Life only to discard them within a few pages after they are no longer useful Please don t recommend this book to people that you know that are chronically ill or disabled it s an insulting portrayal of life with disability and chronic illness However, if you want to give it to people to explain the dangers of woo, quackery, and malingering in the chronic illness community then you ve got the perfect example, tidily packaged here in one book


  5. says:

    A hot mess of cluster b melodrama and pseudoscientific word salad Read Lying a metaphorical memoir by Lauren Slater instead A hot mess of cluster b melodrama and pseudoscientific word salad Read Lying a metaphorical memoir by Lauren Slater instead


  6. says:

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here It s hard to summarize Sick as one thing As an exercise in beautiful writing, it is a five star book As a memoir, it is profound and selective, escaping all those traps of a person telling her own story none of the usual weight of narratives that mean much to the teller and little to the listener But for better or worse, Sick carries another burden it is a book about illness, and in particular an illness that is often over diagnosed and misunderstood The author believes she has chronic L It s hard to summarize Sick as one thing As an exercise in beautiful writing, it is a five star book As a memoir, it is profound and selective, escaping all those traps of a person telling her own story none of the usual weight of narratives that mean much to the teller and little to the listener But for better or worse, Sick carries another burden it is a book about illness, and in particular an illness that is often over diagnosed and misunderstood The author believes she has chronic Lyme or late stage Lyme, diagnoses which are highly controversial to the medical community, and she acknowledges as much Throughout her harrowing adventure we join her at emergency rooms and doctors offices where they often tell her the same things that at least some of her illness is psychological, that she does have a skin condition that would explain many of her symptoms, and that it would be wise for her to get proper care through a mental health facility For the most part, this advice is waved off as Not Quite Right, not fulfilling some basic intuition never quite articulated One gets the impression that the writer equates psychological illness with crazy, something she is clearly not At some turns this advice is heeded, albeit briefly, but usually as a form of payment to earn the right to what comes next infinitelytime and money spent in the alternative health field, receiving unproven and even harmful treatments like injectable ozone therapy Toward the end, as she becomes completely enveloped in the alt med world, she even goes to work for Gary Null, who she passes off as an eccentric but brilliant maverick of medicine You d be forgiven for not knowing the name, and the author isn t going to give you the proper context that he is an AIDS denialist who thinks HIV doesn t exist, and who has likely caused untold thousands of deaths with his crackpot theories My work brings me into close quarters with these same sorts of claims, and without a running mental roladex of these obscure names and treatments, they would have gone completely undetected She is such a gifted writer, such a lucid voice, it is difficult to believe she is espousing such dangerous and unfounded nonsense But here we are As I followed her down the dark tunnel of her story, I found myself losing my grip on her She becomes your friend in these pages, and as she slips further anddefiantly into the grip of fake medicine, she paints a picture of a brighter future But all I saw was a friend slipping, going, gone


  7. says:

    I sometimes wonder if I would have been less sick if I had a home.


  8. says:

    the deal with so many chronic illnesses is that most people don t want to believe you They will tell you that you look great, that it might be in your head, that it is likely stress, that everything will be okay None of these are the right thing to say to someone whose entire existence is a fairly consistent torture of the body and mind They say it because they are well intentioned usually, because they wish you the best, but they also say it because you make them uncomfortable Your existenthe deal with so many chronic illnesses is that most people don t want to believe you They will tell you that you look great, that it might be in your head, that it is likely stress, that everything will be okay None of these are the right thing to say to someone whose entire existence is a fairly consistent torture of the body and mind They say it because they are well intentioned usually, because they wish you the best, but they also say it because you make them uncomfortable Your existence is evidence of death, and no one needs to keep seeing thatFor those who might not be familiar with the condition, Lyme disease is caused by bacteria Borrelia burgdorferi that are transmitted to humans by black legged aka deer tick bites If the tick is removed within 24 hours of attaching to the skin, there is a good chance that a person or animal won t be infected with B burgdorferi, though he could still contract another tick borne disease The first sign of Lyme disease is usually a bull s eye rash, which appears within 3 to 30 days of the bite After this, a person often feels feverish and flu like, with muscle aches and pains The CDC has been aware of the disease since the 1970s, when it investigated a cluster of cases in New England of what seemed to be juvenile rheumatoid arthritis that had been preceded by the distinctive target like rash However, the disease s link to ticks was not known until 1981 Nowadays, infectious disease experts recommend two diagnostic tests be done in combination the ELISA and thereliable Western Blot test Since it takes four to six weeks for the body to generate antibodies to the bacteria, initial blood tests may be negative If Lyme is suspected, a patient is typically prescribed a 10 21 day course of doxycycline antibiotic treatment Chronic Lyme disease that is, disease which appears to persist after treatment has been completed remains a controversial diagnosis A decade ago, an article in Future Microbiology noted that there was growing scientific evidence that chronic Lyme disease does exist, and that this clinical condition is related to persistent infection with B burgdorferi as shown by microbiological and molecular studies All that I could find on the topic was that Experts believe lingering symptoms may be caused by residual damage to tissues and the immune system, and some may not be related to Lyme disease at all The CDC and the NIH recommend against using the term chronic Lyme disease , acknowledging only that Physicians sometimes describe patients who have non specific symptoms like fatigue, pain, and joint and muscle aches after the treatment of Lyme disease These people are said to suffering from post treatment Lyme disease syndrome or post Lyme disease syndrome According to the CDC, the cause of the syndrome s is not known Porochista Khakpour s tests meet CDC standards for a diagnosis of Lyme disease Her ordeal with what she says is chronic Lyme disease but which experts might refer to as late disseminated, neuropsychiatric Lyme has been harrowing Because she was unaware she d been infected, she didn t receive prompt antibiotic therapy, and the disease progressed She also has co infection with other tick borne bacteria parasites ehrlichia, and perhaps babesia and bartonella It is possible that these have further complicated the picture Khakpour has been chronically ill for years and had hoped to write an inspiring book with full recovery as the happy ending That was the book she sold It was not the book she wrote.I was initially interested in reading her book because Lyme disease is being diagnosed with increasing frequency in Ontario, where I live It is even being seenoften in dogs A few years ago, a relative of mine who happens to have spent a great deal of time outdoors in tick prone regions developed strange neurological symptoms and was found to have sensory deficits in his lower leg A neuron was knocked out, as he puts it From time to time, we ve wondered about his exposure to ticks He recalls no bull s eye rash, but apparently a rash doesn t appear in 20 30% of cases The tests, too, aren t without their problems It s possible, then, to miss a diagnosisSickis not strictly an illness memoir For the first 100 pages, the book isa general and amorphous personal narrative of young adulthood It gives the reader a sense of what it s like to be a refugee who arrives in America from a suspect, enemy country, and it explores one person s sense, since childhood, of not being quite right or comfortable in her own body Early in life, Khakpour had an unusual response to anesthetic drugs She also appears to have experienced seizures, seemingly triggered by emotional distress at her parents late night arguments These left her feeling like death the following morning It is not initially clear whether Khakpour s long discomfort in or with her body was due to her contracting Lyme on a hike during childhood or because of an earlier, deep, unidentifiable alteration in immune function due to PTSD, as a result of her and her family s flight from revolutionary Iran an idea she briefly floats early in the book.Khakpour was only diagnosed with chronic Lyme disease as an adult She attended university in New York, and, around that time, also visited a number of Lyme hot spots in the state It s impossible to know exactly when or where she was infected The reader also doesn t know which Lyme camp the doctor who diagnosed and treated her is affiliated with Infectious disease experts are distressed, for lack of a better word, by the emergence of a group of non infectious disease doctors, who use questionable tests to diagnose Lyme and who have evenquestionable ideas and sometimes quite harmful treatments to deal with it Damaging antibiotic therapy that lasts for years is not unheard of, for example.Although Khakpour s prose can be engagingly informal, it is sometimes vague, rambling, and imprecise She occasionally admits to not knowing what she feels or means, and some of her statements are cryptic About one romantic relationship, for example, she writes, I felt boredbut somehow also chosen by it But maybe I was chosen by something else Like what, exactly I wish Khakpour had been slightlyinclined to clarify this and other fuzzy observations.I also had a hard time keeping track of the order in which events had even occurred Khakpour s multiple boyfriends, numerous car accidents, endlessly changing living arrangements, and her addiction to benzodiazepines well, the chronology of it all is pretty confusing If you re okay with a patchwork, impressionistic account of an aspiring writer s life and baffling illness, this book won t bother you I tend to like a littleadvanced authorial processing before writing and a bitshape to the personal narratives I read However, given that the author was obviously very ill as she wrote, the disorganization, vagueness, and imprecision are perhaps understandable An editor ought to have taken aprominent role in the book s production Regardless by the halfway point, I was invested in Khakpour s story, and found that her account gained momentum Khakpour herself is the first to admit that the episodes in her story settle around the various partners she happened to be with at particular points in her illness It s hard to keep track of all these men, but rather amazing to think so many would stick around to look after her She moved frequently, often finding herself back in much loathed LA, where her parents live, whenever a severe health crisis occurred Eventually, she would receive a diagnosis and some rather unconventional treatment, which worked for a time It is evident that medical science still has much to learn about how to deal with patients who don t know they ve been bitten by an infected tick, haven t received timely antibiotic therapy, and are confronted years after the fact with a diagnosis of late disseminated Lyme disease with rheumatological, neurological, and even psychiatric symptoms Although the book is not intended as a cautionary tale, I can t see how anyone can finish it without beingcognizant about what a tick bite can do Checking yourself after you walk in the woods or long grass is just a very smart idea


  9. says:

    I do not have cohesive thoughts about this book I cannot, and I may never I can t decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars, or whether I loved it or hated it or thought it was good or bad writing or why I consistently want to treat life in binary or why any of this matters in the end.I know two things 1 I could not read this forthan small stretches at a time Once, it sent me into a hot and prickly panic attack, after which I fell asleep and dreamt half concocted nightmares of relapse.2 I do not have cohesive thoughts about this book I cannot, and I may never I can t decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars, or whether I loved it or hated it or thought it was good or bad writing or why I consistently want to treat life in binary or why any of this matters in the end.I know two things 1 I could not read this forthan small stretches at a time Once, it sent me into a hot and prickly panic attack, after which I fell asleep and dreamt half concocted nightmares of relapse.2 I have read my fair share of illness stories and Lyme memoirs most likely ghostwritten and never great , but this bookthis book does what the others couldn t.The rest is in half finished phrases and incomplete musings 1 I want need to read it again.2 Even without following Porochista on social media I would know it was written in the thrall of sickness The story isn t so much a story as it is the verbal translation of symptoms It embodies all the ways illness punts us around the jumpiness of the text, the simultaneous blunt honesty and narration shrouded in mystery, the false starts and sudden musings and mixed tenses all of these are hallmarks of illness 3 There is nothing linear about sickness There is nothing cohesive about illness narrative And for some of us, there is no end, either.4 The intersections of race and disability, of trauma and healing, of identity and displacement and movement, and of being considered an hysterical woman for years and years and years.5 Misdiagnoses and the myths after the real diagnosis.6 People who stay, people who leave.7 Marking the passage of time and experiences with illness by other means, other people.8 Of feeling lost in your body Of feeling dislocated because of your body.9 Addiction.10 Doctors who have no business practicing medicine The ones that do not help and search below the surface or worse, the ones who preach miracles instead of hope The doctors I hate, the doctors I have given money to The doctors who have casually shrugged and shaken their heads The doctors who believe medicine is best practiced conveyor belt style.11 The radical hope and resilience inherent in staying alive.It would be manipulative of me to tell my loved ones, If you love me, read this book, so I won t exactly But 258 pages is a small price to pay for empathy, something I fear we are bereft of At the very least, pick up this book to investigate yourself and the confines of this world It is not perfect Do not expect it to be We ourselves are not.Thank you, Porochista, for putting into words what I could not


  10. says:

    Anyone interested in this book absolutely has to read this review in the New York Review of books by an actual doctor this memoir might be interesting, it s an exercise in delusion, and it might well dodamage than good in the world As this review puts it, to insist beyond all plausibility that one s suffering is related to a tick bite is not feminist it s absurd And to prey on suffering people who crave that certainty, offering them expens Anyone interested in this book absolutely has to read this review in the New York Review of books by an actual doctor this memoir might be interesting, it s an exercise in delusion, and it might well dodamage than good in the world As this review puts it, to insist beyond all plausibility that one s suffering is related to a tick bite is not feminist it s absurd And to prey on suffering people who crave that certainty, offering them expensive, intensive, and dangerous treatments is worse than absurd it s cruel If you re going to read this book, read it next to the essay The Devil s Bait from Leslie Jamison s The Empathy Exams


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