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Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain

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For any woman who has experienced illness, chronic pain, or endometriosis comes an inspiring memoir advocating for recognition of women's health issues In the fall of 2010, Abby Norman's strong dancer's body dropped forty pounds and gray hairs began to sprout from her temples. She was repeatedly hospitalized in excruciating pain, but the doctors insisted it was a urinary tr For any woman who has experienced illness, chronic pain, or endometriosis comes an inspiring memoir advocating for recognition of women's health issues In the fall of 2010, Abby Norman's strong dancer's body dropped forty pounds and gray hairs began to sprout from her temples. She was repeatedly hospitalized in excruciating pain, but the doctors insisted it was a urinary tract infection and sent her home with antibiotics. Unable to get out of bed, much less attend class, Norman dropped out of college and embarked on what would become a years-long journey to discover what was wrong with her. It wasn't until she took matters into her own hands--securing a job in a hospital and educating herself over lunchtime reading in the medical library--that she found an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis. In Ask Me About My Uterus, Norman describes what it was like to have her pain dismissed, to be told it was all in her head, only to be taken seriously when she was accompanied by a boyfriend who confirmed that her sexual performance was, indeed, compromised. Putting her own trials into a broader historical, sociocultural, and political context, Norman shows that women's bodies have long been the battleground of a never-ending war for power, control, medical knowledge, and truth. It's time to refute the belief that being a woman is a preexisting condition.


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For any woman who has experienced illness, chronic pain, or endometriosis comes an inspiring memoir advocating for recognition of women's health issues In the fall of 2010, Abby Norman's strong dancer's body dropped forty pounds and gray hairs began to sprout from her temples. She was repeatedly hospitalized in excruciating pain, but the doctors insisted it was a urinary tr For any woman who has experienced illness, chronic pain, or endometriosis comes an inspiring memoir advocating for recognition of women's health issues In the fall of 2010, Abby Norman's strong dancer's body dropped forty pounds and gray hairs began to sprout from her temples. She was repeatedly hospitalized in excruciating pain, but the doctors insisted it was a urinary tract infection and sent her home with antibiotics. Unable to get out of bed, much less attend class, Norman dropped out of college and embarked on what would become a years-long journey to discover what was wrong with her. It wasn't until she took matters into her own hands--securing a job in a hospital and educating herself over lunchtime reading in the medical library--that she found an accurate diagnosis of endometriosis. In Ask Me About My Uterus, Norman describes what it was like to have her pain dismissed, to be told it was all in her head, only to be taken seriously when she was accompanied by a boyfriend who confirmed that her sexual performance was, indeed, compromised. Putting her own trials into a broader historical, sociocultural, and political context, Norman shows that women's bodies have long been the battleground of a never-ending war for power, control, medical knowledge, and truth. It's time to refute the belief that being a woman is a preexisting condition.

30 review for Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain

  1. 5 out of 5

    ~Bookishly

    I initially picked out this book, because it has the word "uterus" in the title. According to some of our society, people actually don't want to talk about uteruses, and it is apparently a taboo subject. For me, I fail to see how on Earth that is even remotely possible. When I began reading this book, I felt like I was listening to a friend, offloading her troubles, to a being that totally understands and more importantly, believes, in women's pain. Many, MANY Doctors and consultants however, do I initially picked out this book, because it has the word "uterus" in the title. According to some of our society, people actually don't want to talk about uteruses, and it is apparently a taboo subject. For me, I fail to see how on Earth that is even remotely possible. When I began reading this book, I felt like I was listening to a friend, offloading her troubles, to a being that totally understands and more importantly, believes, in women's pain. Many, MANY Doctors and consultants however, don't. This book is a memoir of Abby Norman, and her battle with endometriosis, and the bitter struggle she has had to get any kind of understanding or even recognition of the disease from Doctors. I have PMDD, (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), which is a very severe form of PMS. As well as many physical symptoms, there are a range of emotional ones too, and they are life debilitating. I used to feel weak and pretty pathetic because of the struggles I deal with for two weeks of every month, but now, I'm really unapologetic. If I'm in pain, and I'm finding it hard to deal with, I'll make that known. Unfortunately, like Abby Norman, I know all too well, that feeling of being shunned by a doctor when you feel so ill. I'm not sexist, but, I've not came across one male doctor yet, that has took me seriously about my condition. The most I've received, is a prescription for some painkillers I've had before, and a closed door. That, is why I stopped seeing male GPs. Not all the female doctors understand and support that there is such a condition, but they definitely would if they were the ones suffering with it. I find it such a sad world, that we, as women, are expected to deal with pain quietly as we are the child bearers, or even worse, we are told, it is all in our heads. We still have to fight to be heard, and that is where the health care system fails us. I mean, why the hell, should we suffer in silence? The belief that being a woman is a preexisting condition is in all aspects wrong, and I'll always argue with anyone with that belief. And yes, just writing this review has set my rage alight! Abby Norman is a force, and she is an inspiration for women who have suffered with such pain. Uterus, or no uterus, I would definitely recommend this personal and poignant memoir.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Abby Norman for your courageous voice in advocating women's health. Ironically as I write this review, Nelly Furtado's version of Maneater is playing. A song that I feel my fellow Canuck turned into a powerful anthem for women. In this non fiction/memoir Abby Norman launches the microscope and takes look at women's health and the author's own personal struggle with endometriosis, Abby Norman explores just ho Thanks to NetGalley for an advanced ebook in exchange for an honest review. Thank you Abby Norman for your courageous voice in advocating women's health. Ironically as I write this review, Nelly Furtado's version of Maneater is playing. A song that I feel my fellow Canuck turned into a powerful anthem for women. In this non fiction/memoir Abby Norman launches the microscope and takes look at women's health and the author's own personal struggle with endometriosis, Abby Norman explores just how difficult it still remains to have doctors listen to the intuition women possess when it comes to their own bodies. I do take a star away because there were a few times that my mind wandered during Abby's extensive family problems that sometimes were a bit repetitive in nature. Overall, I appreciated the message and do believe that this is a must read book for March!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    I was really looking forward to reading this, and now that I'm done with it, I can tell you my excitement was not displaced. I very much enjoyed certain aspects of it, but also experienced feelings of indifference to it. At certain times, my attention strayed. I would read several paragraphs before realizing I was not absorbing any of what I had just read. It was quite tedious and repetitive at times, but I believe, in a way, that is a small testament to how the author must have felt (and probabl I was really looking forward to reading this, and now that I'm done with it, I can tell you my excitement was not displaced. I very much enjoyed certain aspects of it, but also experienced feelings of indifference to it. At certain times, my attention strayed. I would read several paragraphs before realizing I was not absorbing any of what I had just read. It was quite tedious and repetitive at times, but I believe, in a way, that is a small testament to how the author must have felt (and probably still feels) when she repeatedly told her doctors there was a problem, only to be met with disbelieving exasperation. Aside from that, I found this book to be a mix of memoir and non-fiction, both that [obviously] pertained to the synopsis. It was more of a memoir than I had originally anticipated, but I believe all of the back story was very necessary to convey her message. It helped me understand and empathize with the author. This book taught me a lot not just about endometriosis, but self-advocating for physical and mental health symptoms and treatments. The medical jargon was a tad confusing at times, but also very informative. I like when books teach me things, especially things I know nothing about. This book definitely did that, and that is the largest reason why I appreciate it so much. The writing style was very easy to read and made me feel like the author was having a laid back conversation with me, face-to-face. It felt personal, inviting and informative. Over all, I'd absolutely recommend this book, if only for the simple fact that I think it's important to know how and when to pay extra attention to the signs your body and mind are giving you, but also how to take a stand against ignorance. To know that when you need help, or simply information, from doctors who don't advocate for you, you need to learn how to advocate for yourself, because no one knows how you feel inside better than you do. Thank you to NetGalley, Perseus Books, PublicAffairs, Nation Books, and Abby Norman for a digital ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. Publication intended for March 6, 2018.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Canadian Reader

    Rating: 2.5 At the beginning of her second year of college at Sarah Lawrence, Abby Norman experienced excruciating knife-sharp abdominal pain, which eventually took her to the hospital, caused her to withdraw from university, and led to surgery to remove a “chocolate cyst”, a type of ovarian cyst that forms when endometrial tissue (the membrane that lines the uterus) grows inside the ovary. Norman’s battle with endometriosis—with debilitating abdominal and pelvic pain, and eventually, with inexpl Rating: 2.5 At the beginning of her second year of college at Sarah Lawrence, Abby Norman experienced excruciating knife-sharp abdominal pain, which eventually took her to the hospital, caused her to withdraw from university, and led to surgery to remove a “chocolate cyst”, a type of ovarian cyst that forms when endometrial tissue (the membrane that lines the uterus) grows inside the ovary. Norman’s battle with endometriosis—with debilitating abdominal and pelvic pain, and eventually, with inexplicable neurological deficits—was far from over. Her condition did not allow her to return to Sarah Lawrence, but Norman did gain a job as a medical records clerk. This gave her an education of another sort: a medical one. She determinedly read medical texts and journals to understand what was going on in her body. Her research led to a successful surgery to remove a problematic appendix and to the discovery that part of her large intestine was not where it ought to be. Nevertheless, the excessive bleeding and abdominal pain continued. They were life-altering. At the conclusion of the book, Norman finds herself battling other strange symptoms, which at least one medical professional tells her (yet again) are “all in her head”. Women’s pain, particularly that pain associated with the reproductive organs, is (as Norman repeatedly tells us in this book) all too often regarded as the manifestation of a psychiatric illness. A very significant portion of Norman’s hybrid nonfiction/memoir is dedicated to relating key details of a traumatic and unusual childhood at the hands of a mentally ill, severely eating-disordered mother, who regularly withheld food from her daughter—to the point of near starvation. Norman feels she has reason to deliberate over the link between trauma and physical illness, but ultimately recognizes that, for far too long, real anatomical and physiological bases for women’s pain have been categorically dismissed or left uninvestigated. While Norman should be lauded for her perseverance and determination in her struggle to understand her condition, seek a cure, and bring attention to a disease that likely plagues more than one in ten women, I do wish her book had received the editorial oversight it needed. Norman has a lively, colloquial style, but she is prone to prolixity. She regularly goes off on unnecessary tangents; she rambles and repeats herself. Her diction is often imprecise—for example: the word “edification” is used when “education” is meant; “particulate” is chosen over the correct “particle”. I grew more and more frustrated as I read, finding the last quarter of the book a particular slog. The organization of the material is also less than optimal. While I believe there is value in Norman’s book, I cannot recommend it wholeheartedly. I found the medical science the author addressed to be interesting; I only wish there had been more of it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Janday

    "Even now, it's been so many years since I've lived in a pain-free body that I don't really remember what it feels like." I'd accuse Abby Norman of plagiarizing me if I didn't wholeheartedly, bone-achingly, gut-wrenchingly, atom-pulsingly believe her. Even though this is a book about endometriosis, everyone should read this book. Norman recounts her own experience with endometriosis and the (seemingly innumerable) complexities related to endometriosis (spoiler: it is not a "menstrual" disease, it "Even now, it's been so many years since I've lived in a pain-free body that I don't really remember what it feels like." I'd accuse Abby Norman of plagiarizing me if I didn't wholeheartedly, bone-achingly, gut-wrenchingly, atom-pulsingly believe her. Even though this is a book about endometriosis, everyone should read this book. Norman recounts her own experience with endometriosis and the (seemingly innumerable) complexities related to endometriosis (spoiler: it is not a "menstrual" disease, it is not a "female" disease). Just as pain from endometriosis can lead to pain in other systems, disbelief and dismissal of women's pain leads to a lifetime of silent suffering...even when we're screaming.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    Abby Norman tells her often harrowing story with grace in Ask Me About My Uterus. She’s had to make her way through life in pain, and mostly alone. I’m in awe of her courage and fortitude! Norman spent her childhood with an absent father, and a functionally absent mother who was too sick with her own disease to care for her children. In case that wasn’t hard enough, her abusive grandmother stepped in to care for Abby. Somehow, she survives this and has the unimaginable presence of mind to request Abby Norman tells her often harrowing story with grace in Ask Me About My Uterus. She’s had to make her way through life in pain, and mostly alone. I’m in awe of her courage and fortitude! Norman spent her childhood with an absent father, and a functionally absent mother who was too sick with her own disease to care for her children. In case that wasn’t hard enough, her abusive grandmother stepped in to care for Abby. Somehow, she survives this and has the unimaginable presence of mind to request emancipation at age sixteen. As she tells this part of the story, I cheered for her while I was marveling at her teenage grit. Norman moved forward with life, got herself help, and thank goodness, had people who were equipped to offer her safe and healthy shelter. Amazing as it is, this is only one small segment of Abby Norman’s story. She actually explains her childhood as an adjunct to the excruciating abdominal pain she began experiencing at nineteen. As with many people who experience chronic pain, Norman searches for an explanation. Is it a result of her difficult childhood? Was the neglect an emotional or physical catalyst? Doctors don’t take her seriously. So finding an explanation isn’t simple cause and effect. Norman begins to do medical and scientific research about endometriosis. Turns out there isn’t much information available, which leads her to examine why women’s pain isn’t addressed effectively or often. It’s these components—her story and her research—that make up Ask Me About My Uterus. Norman deconstructs each topic with eloquence and care. She acknowledges that each endo patient has a different story, including those from the LGBTQIA+ community. And yet, many pieces of her story are clearly universal to endo and other chronic pain patients. My conclusions: As a woman living with chronic pain, I wanted to first bump Norman every page or so. I’m also an adult woman who survived an untraditional upbringing, especially as it related to medical care. More fist bumps for her story and survival. Abby makes the world of living with invisible illness visible. She puts her uterus, her sex life, her heart and soul on display. And it’s obvious her intention is to help women with endo and other types of chronic pain. She’s a fighter who tells a damn interesting story. I never felt that Norman was a drama queen looking for sympathy. Instead, her approach was matter of fact and easy to read. She’s solution-oriented and a captivating writer. I’d like to give this book to my doctors. There are also a few doctors in Norman’s story that I’d like to give a piece of my mind. The mom in me wants to charge in and fight for justice. But thankfully, Abby Norman is doing a great job of that in her life and in this book. Acknowledgements: Thanks to NetGalley, Abby Norman, and Perseus Books, PublicAffairs, and Nation Books for the digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    My main issue with this book is that it is poorly written and/or edited. The chapters, and writing in general, are meandering and oftentimes baffling as to why certain writing choices were made. Too often, probably most of the time, the author seemed to want to introduce a story/topic but it was done in such a way that the proceeding content just felt like non sequiturs. In many ways it felt like listening to someone speak that took a million tangents and only sometimes completed their thoughts. My main issue with this book is that it is poorly written and/or edited. The chapters, and writing in general, are meandering and oftentimes baffling as to why certain writing choices were made. Too often, probably most of the time, the author seemed to want to introduce a story/topic but it was done in such a way that the proceeding content just felt like non sequiturs. In many ways it felt like listening to someone speak that took a million tangents and only sometimes completed their thoughts. The author also makes allusions to her mother's illness and the severity of it but does not even bother to tell us what the illness is until the 24% mark. If you're using it to support your views/statements etc., you should probably be clear on what the illness is. Also, the book summary pretty much gives you the proper information to go into the book that the author does not bother to tell you until well into the book. She does not really make it clear that she is serious about dance until later on and there is no mention of weight loss, gray hairs or a dwindling "dancer's body" until nearly the end. I feel as though all of this should have been clear to the reader from the get-go, sans the help of the book summary, via some sort of prologue or first chapter. The author also spent entirely too much time focusing on her childhood, very weakly trying to tie it into the topic at hand. At the most, the childhood should have been a chapter that could have been alluded to randomly, not large random swathes of discussions dedicated to it throughout. Seriously, where was the editing? While there was information on the trials and tribulations of being a woman dealing with doctors throughout history, it was minimal IMO and absolutely nothing you have not read if you have read on this topic prior. However, it is the only reason I am (currently) not giving the book 1 star instead of 2. The reason I wanted to read the book was this, which the title implies will be the bulk of the book, but is actually a minimal amount of the pages. Overall, the book is much more of a rambling, poorly put together memoir than it is a book on "a quest to make doctors believe in women's pain." Bare minimum it was about this particular author's quest, which is quite different IMO than a quest for all women. Disclosure: ARC received from Netgalley & publisher in exchange for an honest review. (They may regret this.) Any and all quotes were taken from an advanced edition subject to change in the final edition.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Rhiannon Johnson

    **In this post I review ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS and PERIODS GONE PUBLIC. Publishers have provided complementary copies to me in exchange for honest reviews** . . Let's talk about...uteruses/uteri! Yes, those are both acceptable plural forms of 'uterus'. Half the human population has one but *wow* are they controversial! However, regardless of where you stand on hot button issues like birth control and abortion, you probably agree that periods, albeit annoying, aren't very revolutionary. But you are **In this post I review ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS and PERIODS GONE PUBLIC. Publishers have provided complementary copies to me in exchange for honest reviews** . . Let's talk about...uteruses/uteri! Yes, those are both acceptable plural forms of 'uterus'. Half the human population has one but *wow* are they controversial! However, regardless of where you stand on hot button issues like birth control and abortion, you probably agree that periods, albeit annoying, aren't very revolutionary. But you are also probably (like me) reading this post from somewhere in the United States, you've likely had ready access to feminine hygiene products, and you have hopefully never experienced a medical problem such as endometriosis. In PERIODS GONE PUBLIC: TAKING A STAND FOR MENSTRUAL EQUALITY by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf I discovered that "a new, high-profile movement has emerged—one dedicated to bold activism, creative product innovation, and smart policy advocacy—to address the centrality of menstruation in relation to core issues of gender equality and equity." In dancer Abby Norman's memoir ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS: A QUEST TO MAKE DOCTORS BELIEVE WOMEN'S PAIN, Norman describes having her pain dismissed repeatedly by medical professionals and "shows that women's bodies have long been the battleground of a never-ending war for power, control, medical knowledge, and truth. It's time to refute the belief that being a woman is a preexisting condition." I would recommend these releases to everyone and anyone...you need not have a uterus to learn something from these releases. As a matter of fact, more of the non-uterus owning half of the population should read these!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I liked this overall, but had a hard time reading it, and it wasn't what I was expecting. Abby Norman dropped out of college due to debilitating pain she started experiencing one day, and which doctors minimized for years before she finally was semi-diagnosed with Endometriosis (among other things). The title and synopsis of this book makes it seem like more of a book about the relationship between women and doctors, but really this is a memoir that mostly focuses on Abby's medical history, and s I liked this overall, but had a hard time reading it, and it wasn't what I was expecting. Abby Norman dropped out of college due to debilitating pain she started experiencing one day, and which doctors minimized for years before she finally was semi-diagnosed with Endometriosis (among other things). The title and synopsis of this book makes it seem like more of a book about the relationship between women and doctors, but really this is a memoir that mostly focuses on Abby's medical history, and she sort of extrapolates outward (with help from research, yes) how her journey was affected by (or could have been different than) the way that the medical establishment treats women, and specifically, women in relation to their reproductive systems/sexual organs, and as a result, how under researched Endometriosis is as a condition, and how often misunderstood. She does acknowledge that she is a cis white woman, and that cis women aren't the only ones affected by this, that other people with uteruses (like trans men) are also affected, but again, this is mostly a memoir, and she is white and cis, so that's the focus. Going in, I was expecting way less of Abby and more of a general exploration of gender/sexual bias in the medical field. The title is really a problem, I think. Framing it as "women's pain" makes it seem like that is the actual topic of the book, when it is just a subtopic, something she deals with as a consequence of her medical history. And really, it is a compelling book, but combined with those expectations, and the fact that her experiences kept giving me anxiety (they related a little too much to some experiences I've had of my own), and the fact that her experiences are just horrific. This woman is in PAIN the whole book. It doesn't let up, and she describes it in detail. Her abusive childhood is also something that she grapples with the whole book, and is gone into detail. She eventually became emancipated from her family, but not before her manipulative grandmother, and mentally ill mother traumatized her for life. Occasionally she would step away from her own life and do little mini-history lessons. She relates Gilda Radner's troubles, which horrified me. Gilda knew she was sick for a long time (years) before she was eventually diagnosed with stage IV ovarian cancer , but doctors never believed her, or minimized her pain. She also goes further back than that. There is a lot of nonsense with Freud, and you know what, I'm done with that guy. He was a fuckhead. These were honestly the parts of the book I enjoyed the most. So, all in all, this book was a good experience, but it wasn't what I was expecting, and the subject matter made me anxious, so it wasn't a super pleasant reading experience. That cover, though, right?

  10. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa

    There's this quote in the book about how conditions that seem to lurk unnoticed in a woman's body go unnoticed by others because, for one thing, they are an assumed part of womanhood, and, for another, women are taught to keep those pains private. This was one of the parts - among many others - that really hit me because it took me almost a decade to realise that there might be something wrong with my body because ever since I was a child I heard that it's normal for periods to be painful to the There's this quote in the book about how conditions that seem to lurk unnoticed in a woman's body go unnoticed by others because, for one thing, they are an assumed part of womanhood, and, for another, women are taught to keep those pains private. This was one of the parts - among many others - that really hit me because it took me almost a decade to realise that there might be something wrong with my body because ever since I was a child I heard that it's normal for periods to be painful to the point where I just assumed being afraid to leave the house because I might pass out if my painkillers fail to work once again was something I just had to deal with. I still don't know what exactly is wrong with me but there were so many parts of the book I could relate to, even if my experiences were by far not as bad as the author's, and at times I just wanted to put the book down and never pick it up because it was surprisingly triggering for me. I do have to say that I don't really understand why the book was structured the way it is since the all of the chapters seem to be shifting between various topics that mostly aren't related at all only for them to be picked up again several chapters later. Not that I would want the book to be completely chronological but it would have been nice if all these topics had been summed up in individual chapters instead of blending everything together to a point where a lot of the structural choices seemed random.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Siria

    Ask Me About My Uterus recounts science writer Abby Norman's years-long attempt to get doctors to understand that she is ill. Despite having endometriosis and other debilitating chronic pain conditions, medical professionals have repeatedly dismissed her as a "bright and wound tight" hypochondriac. Norman's story will be familiar in kind, if not in severity, to many women. Studies have repeatedly shown that doctors are less likely to believe women's accounts of their symptoms or suffering. I foun Ask Me About My Uterus recounts science writer Abby Norman's years-long attempt to get doctors to understand that she is ill. Despite having endometriosis and other debilitating chronic pain conditions, medical professionals have repeatedly dismissed her as a "bright and wound tight" hypochondriac. Norman's story will be familiar in kind, if not in severity, to many women. Studies have repeatedly shown that doctors are less likely to believe women's accounts of their symptoms or suffering. I found the book's subtitle slightly misleading. Norman isn't necessarily on A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain (at least, her activist work isn't as sharply in focus here as other elements of her story are). Much of the book focuses on her dysfunctional family life and her legal emancipation at the age of 16, and the ongoing consequences of her relationships with her mentally ill mother and grandmother. I did hope that there would be more discussion of gynaecological health issues in here than there actually was (though I still learned a lot—endometriosis isn't actually associated with fertility issues! It's not actually a disease of the uterine lining and/or menstruation! Cis men have endometriosis! Foetuses have been found to have endometriosis!). Still, a powerful and important read.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I'm going to be honest and say that I was expecting more from this. I thought it would be more about Norman's health struggles and fights with her doctors. Instead, the constant focus on Norman's horrific childhood were a distraction from that. While her background was important to the story, it felt like there was more focus on it than necessary, turning it into a general memoir by Norman, rather than a medical-focu I received an ARC of this title from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I'm going to be honest and say that I was expecting more from this. I thought it would be more about Norman's health struggles and fights with her doctors. Instead, the constant focus on Norman's horrific childhood were a distraction from that. While her background was important to the story, it felt like there was more focus on it than necessary, turning it into a general memoir by Norman, rather than a medical-focused one. I think the book would have been better served by shortening the stories of Norman's childhood into one chapter with occasional brief anecdotes, and then using more time to focus on her work with other women. But despite these issues I will still happily recommend this to people because the medical aspects are so important and should be shared.

  13. 4 out of 5

    April

    A cross between a blunt but heart-felt memoir and a medical mystery; Abby delves into life with chronic pain and a medical system which refuses to believe it. I appreciated that she early (and more than once) noted that despite the title; women are not defined by their ownership of a uterus. More than that; as a woman who has had her own medical woes, I recognized and can certainly empathize with the many familiar ways in which Abby has navigated a health care system which has always been Men Fi A cross between a blunt but heart-felt memoir and a medical mystery; Abby delves into life with chronic pain and a medical system which refuses to believe it. I appreciated that she early (and more than once) noted that despite the title; women are not defined by their ownership of a uterus. More than that; as a woman who has had her own medical woes, I recognized and can certainly empathize with the many familiar ways in which Abby has navigated a health care system which has always been Men First and Women Last (if ever). Her narrative was at times a bit rambling but overall this was a fascinating and compelling mix of medical history, scientific research, and self-inspection which I didn't want to put down. Highly recommend.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    I wanted to like this—after all, I’m super fascinated by the politics of the female body. And while I feel for the author, this book isn’t great. The writing and structure are clunky, and the whole thing is about 100 pages too long. Norman’s writing is best when she’s summarizing medical or historical knowledge, but those moments are often dwarfed by the meandering chunks of memoir. Despite the gorgeous cover and a few interesting tidbits, I’d skip this one in favor of more academic fare.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Alex Linschoten

    A personal story of endometriosis pain mixed in with the meta-tale of how female pain has always been undervalued by a (male-dominated) medical profession. Both parts are interesting, but her writing really shines when she describes the raw sensations in her body as well as her ongoing process of dealing with the fallout. Recommended.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jillian Coleen

    I came across Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus on Bitch Magazine’s list of most anticipated non fiction for 2018 and was immediately interested. A few of the women that I love dearly in my life have been affected by endometriosis, and I’m aware that it’s a challenging disease to both diagnose and treat. Reading this, however, opened my eyes to just HOW difficult it can be to obtain quality healthcare for women, who are constantly questioned and disbelieved. It lit my rage on fire. Norman walk I came across Abby Norman’s Ask Me About My Uterus on Bitch Magazine’s list of most anticipated non fiction for 2018 and was immediately interested. A few of the women that I love dearly in my life have been affected by endometriosis, and I’m aware that it’s a challenging disease to both diagnose and treat. Reading this, however, opened my eyes to just HOW difficult it can be to obtain quality healthcare for women, who are constantly questioned and disbelieved. It lit my rage on fire. Norman walks us through her experiences with the healthcare system, augmenting the story with historical facts and current research. Were you aware that most clinical trials for medications didn’t include women, until recently? Or that women are more likely to be given a sedative for their pain, whereas men are more likely to be given a painkiller? Or, that of the limited research on endo that exists, it’s almost entirely focused on white women? Cue Feminist Hulk smash. My gut reaction to finishing this book is that it’s both incredible, and important. Women who struggle with endo will hopefully find a measure of solace and validation that they are not alone. Any other reader will hopefully walk away with a better understanding of the tremendous barriers in women’s healthcare, and hopefully, more empathy and compassion for those navigating the system. Norman herself is a force – advocating for herself and others, through her own pain. Bonus credit for the audiobook, which is read by Norman herself and is infused with her personality and perseverance. Highly recommended. 5 Stars.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Abby Norman's memoir covers her childhood, her request for emancipation at sixteen, and mostly her unending pain from endometriosis. I do not have endometriosis, but I do have chronic pain. There were many parts of this book that made me stop, and stick in a bookmark, and nod my head in a 'yeah, I get you'. Abby Norman put in an amazing amount of time and effort to figure out her diagnosis on her own, because doctors were not able/willing to listen to her and figure it out on their end. And stil Abby Norman's memoir covers her childhood, her request for emancipation at sixteen, and mostly her unending pain from endometriosis. I do not have endometriosis, but I do have chronic pain. There were many parts of this book that made me stop, and stick in a bookmark, and nod my head in a 'yeah, I get you'. Abby Norman put in an amazing amount of time and effort to figure out her diagnosis on her own, because doctors were not able/willing to listen to her and figure it out on their end. And still she's in constant pain. There was a line in the book about coming to terms with being sick, and becoming able to deal with it, only to discover that you might get sicker. This is what terrifies me. "Even now, it's been so many years since I've lived in a pain-free body that I don't really remember what it feels like." This is the one quote I feel summarizes the book. At the end, the author has new challenges with a different type of illness - it made me cry. Good luck, Abby. I hope you stick in there and someone figures out how to help you.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Hanna

    Wow, I was absolutely enthralled by Abby Norman's journey. Part memoir, part history of women's pain, this book was everything I was looking for & more. Norman is a skilled researcher, in large part, because her life has greatly depended on it, but also because she's truly an academic at heart. Norman artfully wove her story into the fabric of shared experience regarding women's turbulent history navigating our health in a medical world that is set up to dismiss us. This read is both extremely f Wow, I was absolutely enthralled by Abby Norman's journey. Part memoir, part history of women's pain, this book was everything I was looking for & more. Norman is a skilled researcher, in large part, because her life has greatly depended on it, but also because she's truly an academic at heart. Norman artfully wove her story into the fabric of shared experience regarding women's turbulent history navigating our health in a medical world that is set up to dismiss us. This read is both extremely frustrating but also immensely inspiring. Norman not only is a voice for the voiceless, but a voice for the exhausted, the pained, the misunderstood, the lost, the alone, and the ones who are just now beginning what will become an arduous journey to the truth. This is absolutely an important non-fiction read of 2018.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    Abby Norman does an amazing job of describing life as a woman with endometriosis. She mixes in humor, with very specific details about living with this disease. It’s amazing she found the time and strength to write this terrific book. Reading her book let me know that my own struggles with endometriosis and adenomyosis are real, not in my head, and to keep searching for the right doctor who will listen and validate my pain. In addition to being a great read, “Ask Me About My Uterus” is a wonderf Abby Norman does an amazing job of describing life as a woman with endometriosis. She mixes in humor, with very specific details about living with this disease. It’s amazing she found the time and strength to write this terrific book. Reading her book let me know that my own struggles with endometriosis and adenomyosis are real, not in my head, and to keep searching for the right doctor who will listen and validate my pain. In addition to being a great read, “Ask Me About My Uterus” is a wonderful seat saver on an airplane, and conversation starter with fellow women who struggle with similar pain.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Josephine

    2019 review: 5 stars. This was my first re-read of Ask Me About My Uterus - I read it again as research for my Society & Culture PIP. I have never once (in memory) cried because of a book, but this made me sob. I cannot express to you how much I needed this book in my life. Read it, read it, read it. This will not be my last re-read of this masterful piece of non-fiction. P.S I wrote a short note to the author via Instagram and she so kindly replied. 2018 review: 5 stars. I have read a few memoirs i 2019 review: 5 stars. This was my first re-read of Ask Me About My Uterus - I read it again as research for my Society & Culture PIP. I have never once (in memory) cried because of a book, but this made me sob. I cannot express to you how much I needed this book in my life. Read it, read it, read it. This will not be my last re-read of this masterful piece of non-fiction. P.S I wrote a short note to the author via Instagram and she so kindly replied. 2018 review: 5 stars. I have read a few memoirs in my time and have enjoyed them a minimal amount. I find that most of the content is rather mundane, unimportant stories that are dressed up to seem as though they are more significant than they really are. That is not to say that memoirs need to be filled with one of a kind experiences, but as a reader you want to be interested and engaged - you want to feel like what is written has meaning to the author. For me, this was the exception. Abby Norman has published a well researched and incredibly articulate body of work that I found immense pleasure in reading. I related to her endometriosis journey to an extent that made me less isolated. Ironically, I was experiencing a very intense pain flare whilst reading this, but I found her story so comforting. Norman somehow made her memoir not seem self-obsessed. She achieved the perfect balance between research, her experiences and observations and I commend her for it. I would highly, highly recommend this book to anyone. It provides insight into what so many women silently endure.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Corinna Fabre

    Ask Me About My Uterus is an informative and well-researched read on an under-treated ailment and, maybe more importantly, on the general systemic dismissal of women's pain. The author, Abby Norman, draws from her own medical experiences to illustrate the problems that are all too often faced by all women who look for help addressing chronic issues alongside her personal history to create a nuanced tale of what it takes to take your health and hope into your own hands. To me, the book's shining Ask Me About My Uterus is an informative and well-researched read on an under-treated ailment and, maybe more importantly, on the general systemic dismissal of women's pain. The author, Abby Norman, draws from her own medical experiences to illustrate the problems that are all too often faced by all women who look for help addressing chronic issues alongside her personal history to create a nuanced tale of what it takes to take your health and hope into your own hands. To me, the book's shining moments were rooted in the human connections (for instance, meeting other women at a conference and finding a deeper understanding of the universal pain in the endo community by witnessing the microcosm of the women's restroom) and personal stories, but, ultimately, I felt like the book could have used a heavier editing hand. There were moments that the book crossed into overly-descriptive/repetitive where I either found myself skimming or my mind wandering. To me, the speed that was established in the beginning of the book was markedly bogged down the further along it got and felt like more work to get through. The author is clearly an adept writer with a wealth of personal stories to draw from - the more polished pieces in the book are truly heart-wrenching - and I would have loved to see that more regularly. Thank you to NetGalley, Perseus Books, PublicAffairs, and Nation Books who gave me access to a digital ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    MarissaQ

    I found Abby's story very relatable, we are both Sarah Lawrence women with chronic pain who have mothers with chronic pain who grew up below the poverty line. I love that she's bringing this issue to light because it's an important one. What I felt the story lacked was that it's structured as part personal narrative, part science/theory of endometriosis, part history of the treatment of women in medicine. I suppose I wanted more personal narrative, or more science and history. It kind of sits in I found Abby's story very relatable, we are both Sarah Lawrence women with chronic pain who have mothers with chronic pain who grew up below the poverty line. I love that she's bringing this issue to light because it's an important one. What I felt the story lacked was that it's structured as part personal narrative, part science/theory of endometriosis, part history of the treatment of women in medicine. I suppose I wanted more personal narrative, or more science and history. It kind of sits in the middle of both. I loved that by the end of the book, Norman is still searching for an exact diagnosis. So am I. Sometimes science just isn't there yet, and it doesn't make your condition any less real or debilitating. I finished it in one day, so that's also worth mentioning.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ashley Holstrom

    Abby Norman suffers through undiagnosed endometriosis for years. Her leg goes numb, she loses 30 pounds, and when she goes to a doctor, she’s sent home with antibiotics. She knows her pain is real, not “all in her head,” so she starts digging through medical journals to find her own diagnosis. But doctors never believe her, thinking she’s too young and naive to really understand her body the way a medical professional can. A truly eye-opening read about gender bias in the medical community. From Abby Norman suffers through undiagnosed endometriosis for years. Her leg goes numb, she loses 30 pounds, and when she goes to a doctor, she’s sent home with antibiotics. She knows her pain is real, not “all in her head,” so she starts digging through medical journals to find her own diagnosis. But doctors never believe her, thinking she’s too young and naive to really understand her body the way a medical professional can. A truly eye-opening read about gender bias in the medical community. From Get Your Bleed on: 5 Important Books about Periods. Also my pick for the Best Books We Read in February 2018 at Book Riot.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    This is kind of an odd mix of traditional memoir and illness narrative (I'm not sure that's the right term for that, but it's definitely a thing). It's definitely more illness- and endo-focused than something like Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir, and post-diagnosis, I think it does a really good job of showing how endo affects every aspect of her life. This doesn't have a tidy narrative resolution, which makes total sense, since it's a story about coming to terms with a chronic pain condit This is kind of an odd mix of traditional memoir and illness narrative (I'm not sure that's the right term for that, but it's definitely a thing). It's definitely more illness- and endo-focused than something like Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir, and post-diagnosis, I think it does a really good job of showing how endo affects every aspect of her life. This doesn't have a tidy narrative resolution, which makes total sense, since it's a story about coming to terms with a chronic pain condition, and the author has to fight again and again to get the medical treatment she knows she needs, no less at the end of the book than at the beginning. It may be frustrating in that respect if you're looking for a neat story, but hey, welcome to being an endo patient. It's hard to say whether I liked this or not - in a way, a lot of this is my story, and will be the story of a lot of people reading this, so I feel almost too close to it to review it fairly or discuss how it might come across to someone else. It's not satisfying in the way you'd expect a traditional narrative to be, but as the author learns to advocate for herself and becomes an expert in her condition, there is the satisfaction of going on that journey with her. (Special shout-out to the section at the (view spoiler)[endometriosis conference, where she gives a presentation and all the (mostly male) doctors are astounded and almost offended that she's still in pain even after having surgery. Spare me, dudes. (hide spoiler)] ) If you have a chronic illness or chronic pain, read this and know that you're not alone, no matter how difficult things are. If you have someone in your life with a chronic illness, read this to see why we're so frustrated. (This doesn't have anything to do with the book itself, but per the author's Twitter, the Korean edition is titled MY UTERUS IS EXTREMELY LOUD AND TERRIBLE, which is 1) delightful and 2) true. https://twitter.com/abbymnorman/statu...)

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leah Rachel von Essen

    I’ve been putting off this review because I wanted to get it right. This book, you see, haunts me. Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain is a horror story and a call to action. After falling sick in college and having to drop out due to her pain, Abby Norman spent years seeking a diagnosis, begging doctors to believe her pain was real or take her illness seriously. She was forced to take her research and pain into her own hands, fighting a daily struggle to find I’ve been putting off this review because I wanted to get it right. This book, you see, haunts me. Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain is a horror story and a call to action. After falling sick in college and having to drop out due to her pain, Abby Norman spent years seeking a diagnosis, begging doctors to believe her pain was real or take her illness seriously. She was forced to take her research and pain into her own hands, fighting a daily struggle to find her own answers and be treated. Several times, I just wrote “what the fuck” in the margins of this book. Examples: In the 1940s to create the pain scale, researchers burned the hands of women in labor. Freud wrote that a patient was hysteric because when an older man pressed himself on her, she wasn’t aroused. A doctor told Norman verbatim: “You were probably molested as a child and this is just your body’s way of trying to handle it.” The “twilight sleep” of the 50s was to help doctors, not women, and often resulted in women having no say in what happened to their bodies while they were out cold. Author Hilary Mantel, who has endometriosis, was once diagnosed with “stress, caused by over-ambition” and treated with tranquilizers. The book serves as a wealth of knowledge about endometriosis, full of things I didn’t know. Like that it has been discovered in fetal autopsies as well as in men, in the uterus but also in places as far as the esophagus and lungs, challenging the assumption that the illness is rooted in menstruation. I learned that the 28-day cycle is a complete myth, and that it’s only the average—no woman in the study even actually had a 28 day cycle. She touches on many of the things that can impact women’s health. Historically, women were not included in clinical trials for drugs, treatments, and surgeries due to their cycles, despite the fact that sex and hormones can cause drugs to metabolize differently. Norman’s own personal story highlights the failures of the healthcare system—she doesn’t shy away from discussing the debt she incurred; at another point, she highlights that women who can’t afford health care for their pain aren’t included in statistics or studies. She also pointed out a catch 22: you have to work to pay the bills, but then working makes doctors doubt how sick you are. She talks specifically about women and her experience as a woman, but has an author’s note and a few notes throughout highlighting inclusivity of anyone who has a uterus. Women’s pain goes unnoticed because our pain is “part of womanhood” and we are taught to tolerate it—this is also why diseases such as ovarian cancer are mischaracterized by men as “silent” diseases. I almost cried when I read: “When a woman is suffering, her competence is questioned, but when a man is suffering, he is humanized.” A 2001 study called “The Girl Who Cried Pain” first led me down the path to Norman’s book: it found that postoperation, women are more likely to be given sedatives (it’s assumed they are actually anxious), while men are given pain medications (it’s assumed that because they are usually stoic, they must truly be in pain). These findings carry over for children. Women are often forced to contextualize their pain to doctors, proving it’s real with how it’s impacted their lives or relationships, while men can stick to the facts. “Women...have to prove that they are as sick as men before they will be given the same level of care,” Norman says, and adds that while women have more coping skills than men do, it’s likely because they need them, whereas men know their pain will be believed and attended to. This is further complicated when sex and fertility come into the picture. Sex and masturbation are excruciating for Norman, but despite her persistence, doctors as well as people in real life insist that she just needs to try different positions, or people, or open her mind. She also only got even that advice when she stopped saying she wasn’t enjoying sex, and started saying her boyfriend was sexually frustrated. “I was the primary source of data for the investigation into my condition,” Norman writes, “and yet it often felt like the data I presented was questioned by others as unreliable.” In the end, she had to accept: “a woman’s sexual pleasure is rarely anyone’s priority, not even her own.” And when fertility comes into it? Oh boy. Endometriosis is primarily studied as a disease of fertility. One doctor in the 1980s thought endo was the result of delaying childbirth too long. Endo is more likely to be diagnosed in women struggling to get pregnant, both because they seek help, and because the infertility issue is one doctors actually take seriously. “I have often felt,” Norman wrote, “that my explicit intention to be childless had a direct and exceedingly negative impact on my diagnosis and treatment.” Her pain, nausea, appetite loss, lack of sexual pleasure, and loss of her livelihoods did not carry weight against the concerns of her fertility. She once told a doctor specifically and explicitly to do something in surgery to fix her even if it meant risking infertility; when she woke up, the doctor told her she hadn’t done it. “I had never wanted to be right; I had only wanted to be well,” writes Norman, and that sums up what is so heartbreaking about this memoir and mediation on the science of women’s pain and disease. This is a long review because I can’t hold any of this knowledge back—it is too terrifying and shocking. I knew doctors didn’t believe women’s pain, but even so, this book left me speechless. It is a must-read for all intersectional feminists.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sachi Argabright

    ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS is an informative memoir from Abby Norman, a woman with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a chronic disease where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can lead to severe lower abdomen and pelvic pain, and heavy menstruation cycles. This book explores womens’ pain and how difficult it can be for women to receive the medical care they need. Norman explores topics such as self advocacy, invisible illnesses, and the lack of support women receive whe ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS is an informative memoir from Abby Norman, a woman with endometriosis. Endometriosis is a chronic disease where tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. It can lead to severe lower abdomen and pelvic pain, and heavy menstruation cycles. This book explores womens’ pain and how difficult it can be for women to receive the medical care they need. Norman explores topics such as self advocacy, invisible illnesses, and the lack of support women receive when it comes to their health. Before I read this book, my knowledge of endometriosis and medical care had been limited. I have been fortunate enough that I haven’t had any major health complications, and I rarely go to the doctor/hospital. I didn’t know much about the wide range of issues that fall under the chronic illness umbrella, and this book opened my eyes in many ways. I was shocked by the lack of support/belief from healthcare professionals whenever Abby went to the doctor. Sometimes the only way they would take her seriously would be when her boyfriend was there to vouch for her. There is also a huge lack of research related to endometriosis (and other diseases related to women’s health), and as a result Abby had to do her own extensive research and advocate for herself. I have so many thoughts about this book, and I hope you checkout our upcoming episode for more! Definitely read this if you or someone you know has endometriosis, or if you want to learn more about chronic illnesses from someone who experiences it first hand.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Molly T

    Thank you to Nation Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have been looking forward to this book for months and am thrilled by its place in the revolution we are currently witnessing: women, especially young women, taking a stand against a patriarchal and hierarchical healthcare system that has failed us for centuries. Thankfully, my excitement was not misplaced. Ask Me About My Uterus is part memoir and part social commentary, with Norman’s perso Thank you to Nation Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I have been looking forward to this book for months and am thrilled by its place in the revolution we are currently witnessing: women, especially young women, taking a stand against a patriarchal and hierarchical healthcare system that has failed us for centuries. Thankfully, my excitement was not misplaced. Ask Me About My Uterus is part memoir and part social commentary, with Norman’s personal story occupying the majority of the narrative. The narrative begins with Norman becoming ill during her first semester at Sarah Lawrence and then oscillates between her youth and adulthood, covering first her diagnosis of endometriosis, then rewinding to her traumatic childhood and teenage years (for which I would give a content warning for disordered eating and neglect, which some readers may find upsetting), and finally fast-forwarding to her experience of worsening health but increasing advocacy work in her 20s. Though at times chaotic, the structure of this narrative feels important: it makes Norman’s story not just about her physical illness and pain, but about her. The strongest section of the book is its closing chapters, when the story returns to Norman’s worsening health and her encounters with the healthcare system. I had a hard time putting the book aside as her medical problems became more complex and mysterious (not unlike an episode of House M.D.) and she fought to, literally, save her own life. Her accounts of having her physical symptoms dismissed by medical professionals over and over again are heartbreaking and infuriating, but represent reality for so many women. As a young woman with chronic pain, I have deep admiration for the willpower and strength Norman’s story illustrates. I think any woman who has ever felt dismissed or devalued by the medical system will find solace and encouragement in this debut memoir, and I hope others (especially healthcare professionals) will find it as a source of knowledge and understanding.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kristy Miller

    I can’t begin to describe how difficult this book was to read. I knew it would be emotional read but I underestimated how emotional, how painful it would be to get through this. I thought it would be comforting to read about others struggling with the same things I have struggled with for 22 years, but it was just unrelenting. The book itself is good. Abby lays out her struggle with endometriosis and other physical, mental, and emotional struggles of her life. Along with this she tells the infuri I can’t begin to describe how difficult this book was to read. I knew it would be emotional read but I underestimated how emotional, how painful it would be to get through this. I thought it would be comforting to read about others struggling with the same things I have struggled with for 22 years, but it was just unrelenting. The book itself is good. Abby lays out her struggle with endometriosis and other physical, mental, and emotional struggles of her life. Along with this she tells the infuriating history of women and healthcare. How women have been dismissed, used, ignored, and misdiagnosed since time immemorial. The writing is pretty good, but not great. It is the subject matter that both kept me going and made me want to quit. The anger and pain were physical at times, and there were many, many tears. So while it is not the best written book of the year I cannot be impartial about it. While reading this I endured the unique pain that is a uterine biopsy and was tested for cancer for the 4th time since I was 17. I was finally scheduled for the hysterectomy that I have begged for for 9 years. This will be my 4th abdominal surgery. I had 3 between the ages of 17 and 27, for ovarian cysts and scar tissue removal. I have been in pain since I was 14. I don’t know if it will help, but it can’t be worse. Since I was 17 my chronic pain has caused depression, weight gain that impacted other areas of health, damaged and ended relationships, and inspired a bottomless well of anxiety, self doubt, and self worth issues. So many passages in this book spoke to me on an incredibly personal level; it felt like I had written them. If you know a woman who has dealt with chronic pain and invisible illness, and you do, then you need to read this book.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I have one question after reading this book: WHERE WAS THE EDITOR? Somebody really needed to go through this book and cut cut cut cut a lot of it. It's a shame, because I actually really enjoy the author's writing style and I am here for more books about women's experiences with endometriosis. The whole thing ends up being a jumbled health crisis memoir/ troubled family upbringing memoir/ history of women's health-lite, and it just doesn't work. About the author's upbringing- I get that some bac I have one question after reading this book: WHERE WAS THE EDITOR? Somebody really needed to go through this book and cut cut cut cut a lot of it. It's a shame, because I actually really enjoy the author's writing style and I am here for more books about women's experiences with endometriosis. The whole thing ends up being a jumbled health crisis memoir/ troubled family upbringing memoir/ history of women's health-lite, and it just doesn't work. About the author's upbringing- I get that some background information was needed for context when she was discussing her health struggles. But the level of detail in this book about her relationship with her family, etc. went way beyond what was needed for this particular book. My opinion of this book is also influenced by the fact that I read Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick right before I read this, which talks about similar issues but takes an approach that I personally prefer.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    The first half of this book was a lot of academic research and history about women's gynelogical health and endometriosis in particular, and while good, I think the scope and sequence of that information was better written in Doing Harm, another book on a similar topic that I read last year. The second half of the book is much more memoir-y and I enjoyed it. I think women need to read about people who've lived our experiences, and those of us with messy, problematic reproductive systems are ofte The first half of this book was a lot of academic research and history about women's gynelogical health and endometriosis in particular, and while good, I think the scope and sequence of that information was better written in Doing Harm, another book on a similar topic that I read last year. The second half of the book is much more memoir-y and I enjoyed it. I think women need to read about people who've lived our experiences, and those of us with messy, problematic reproductive systems are often too embarrassed to share our stories- Abby Norman is not embarrassed and she talks frankly of waking up covered in blood, soaking through clothes, etc. As someone who had a hysterectomy a few years ago after nearly 20 years of terrible problems.... I felt seen reading this book, even if our issues were different. Additionally, Norman's experience in trying to get a diagnosis for herself is one that many middle aged women can relate to, as I'm getting to the point where I don't know very many women whose doctors even seem interested in helping them figure out what is wrong with us once our bodies start breaking down in middle age. That said, I appreciated her advice on how to research and advocate and help ourselves. In this day and age of no more than 15 minute scheduled appointments with our primary care doctors, and grotesquely expensive testing and treatments, needing medical help is becoming something that is only really accessible to those with money or who are ok with debt forever (Norman also talks quite frankly about being ass deep in medical debt- aren't we all in America? sigh), and its depressing. Overall, the book was an interesting read, and worth the time, especially for readers who are looking to understand the state of healthcare for women in our country. While I would recommend Doing Harm over this book in terms of writing and research, I suspect this book will appeal particularly to those with endometriosis and who are still looking for help coming to terms with their own medical diagnoses. 3 stars.

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