Infectious Diseases

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Building Resistance

Building Resistance

Children, Tuberculosis, and the Toronto Sanatorium
also available: eBook Hardcover
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Demon in My Blood

Demon in My Blood

My Fight with Hep C—and a Miracle Cure (Hepatitis C)
also available: eBook
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Diagnosis and Management
also available: Hardcover
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Rain on a Distant Roof

Rain on a Distant Roof

A Personal Journey Through Lyme Disease in Canada
also available: Paperback
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I'm wheeled from the emergency room in the middle of the night and placed in a room alongside a morbidly obese patient who sleeps twenty hours a day and snores loud enough to trigger earthquakes two continents away.

Someone arrives to wake me up at regular intervals.

This really isn't necessary. The non-stop snoring ensures I won't be sleeping anytime soon.

Snort. Snort. Bluster. Snort. It's like lying next to a chainsaw with a faulty motor.

It occurs to me that this is what hospital administrators do to patients who can't take a hint. If a patient keeps coming back to the hospital after doctors have repeatedly dismissed her then they have no choice but to torture her in an effort to make sure that she will never, ever feel the need to come back again.

I feel like a character in a Stephen King novel.

The setting contributes to this feeling. The walls are painted a color that can best be described as drab and the window blinds -- which are inexplicably embedded between two panes of glass -- are broken, preventing them from being moved from their present position, which is partially raised yet slightly askew. The bed is a ramshackle disaster of technology that I can easily imagine being a cast-off from another, better hospital when it updated its furnishings forty years ago. And just to complete the horror-story effect, the hospital's power goes out several times one day, forcing the back-up generators to kick in and noisily expel stale air from the vents.

Again and again and again.

I half-expect a machete-wielding lunatic to burst into my room. I'm only vaguely surprised when this doesn't happen.

Or maybe it does; it's not like I would remember.

I'm in the hospital for more than a week, but my memory of that time is fragmentary, disjointed, as though someone loaded a random set of slides into a projector and is flashing them on a screen inside my brain without providing any narrative glue.

Slide 1.

Someone is speaking to me -- a nurse, I think -- but I can't understand what she's saying.

"Source black round fluid next."

"Are you talking to me?"

"Koi freak leaven irritate deer."

"I'm sorry, I don't understand what you're saying."

"Winter serif all?"

"Still not getting it."

"Lewis late episode are ego ant alter window?"

"Look, whatever it is, can you just pretend I gave you the answer you're looking for?"

"Rifle did jelly art kudo?"


"Jungle dime?"

"All right then, no."

"Timeless dark swallow sit table juror dad."

"Screw it. You've got a brain. Whatever it is, just figure it out for yourself."

"Swat whiskey fur."


Slide 2.

A doctor is standing at the foot of my bed, flipping through pages in a chart that's resting on the rolling table where the trays of untouched food usually reside. He's telling me that I could be in the early stages of multiple sclerosis.

Possibly lupus.

Maybe rheumatoid arthritis.

Somehow I get the impression that the choice is mine and I try to consider the pros and cons of each disease, but quickly discover that I don't know enough about any of them to feel confident that I'll choose the one that will be the least destructive in the long run.

The conversation veers in another direction.

I fail to veer with it.

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A Gut Reaction

A Gut Reaction

A True Story About a Mother's Struggle to Save her Son's Life and his Amazing Recovery from Crohn's Disease
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