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  • Writer's pictureGaili Schoen

What Doesn't Kill You

"80 percent of Americans who live with an autoimmune disease are women."

~ Tessa Miller, What Doesn't Kill You

It took me awhile to get a handle on exactly what author Tessa Miller is writing about in What Doesn't Kill You: A Life with Chronic Illness--Lessons from a Body in Revolt. She is recounting her experience with Crohn's Disease, as well as advising people with a chronic illness on how to manage their lives. Miller advises on topics such as what to do about anxiety, how to choose the right doctor, and what to say and not to say to people with a chronic illness. I was most interested in Miller's personal story, as I too was a victim of the excruciating pain and humiliation of Crohn's Disease from ages 13-17. The medical tests alone, not to mention the fear of having to someday have a colostomy bag, gave me nightmares for years. I had no idea how bad Crohn's could get, as mine has been in remission since undergoing a bowel resection during my senior year in high school; Though my weight loss made me look like a holocaust survivor I remember thinking at around age 14, I never experienced the associated conditions Miller describes such as a C. Diff. infection, which made her life so miserable, and brought her close to death more than once. I was interested to read about her fecal transplants, as I had read about them in the New Yorker and was wondering if the procedure is being performed in the US (it is, but is highly regulated, and difficult to procure). This book goes into graphic detail about Miller's poop experiences, and is not for the faint of stomach if you don't have a stake or an interest in chronic disease. But if you or anyone close to you is going through or has gone through an Irritable Bowel Disease, Cancer or other harrowing health issues, I think you will find her honesty refreshing, and her advice wise and helpful.

"Yeah, my body won't allow for a lot of ambitious plans I'd had, but it also won't allow for any bullshit--no jobs I hate, no relationships I'm not fulfilled by, no hours crying over wrinkles. Illness made me braver, kinder, and empathetic..."

Hardcover 303 pages, Audiobook 9 hours 12 minutes. ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 on Good Reads in our RipeReads group. What are you reading this week? Please leave a comment below! We love reading about your book recs!


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