Patient: The Story of a Rare Illness

Patient: The Story of a Rare Illness by Ben Watt is the author’s account of his battle with Churg-Strauss Syndrome, which is an illness so rare that there had been less than fifty documented cases in the twenty-five years previous to his developing it. Watt chronicles his anguish—both physical and psychological—with surprising humor and insight while providing miniature character snapshots of those he spent time with on the ward in the hospital. The reality of modern medicine is terrifying to see as the treatment often turned out to be largely trial and error which meant multiple procedures and surgeries to see if something would be effective in curbing symptoms. This had the potential to descend into a narrative of “woe is me,” but with unadorned prose and wistful memories of better times pre-hospital, the author manages to capture the frighteningly human condition of helplessness in the wake of being betrayed and attacked by one’s own body. A slim and engaging read.

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