Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Rice Crackers and Sunshine

There was a great opinion piece in Sunday's LA Times. Titled "You know what makes me sick?" by Massachusetts writer Heather Abel, it details the years of misdiagnosis and mistreatment she experienced before getting the right diagnosis for her (celiac disease). She concludes with the bottom line:
I am relieved that treatment for celiac is as low-tech as rice crackers. But I wonder whether, if my disease did have a pharmaceutical remedy, doctors would have diagnosed it earlier. 'Here,' they would have said, 'free samples! Take four.'
Heather Abel's mother, Emily Abel, is credited as contributing to this essay. Emily Abel (a professor at UCLA) has been writing about the history of public and private health issues for years; her Hearts of Wisdom (Harvard UP 2000) is my favorite go-to text on family caregiving in US history, rich in detail and variety. Her latest book, Suffering in the Land of Sunshine (Rutgers UP 2006) is about tuberculosis as a public health issue, a cultural phenomenon, and a personal experience in early 20c. Los Angeles. (Haven't checked it out yet, but it's on my list.)

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