Summary and book reviews of Sick by Porochista Khakpour

Sick

A Memoir

by Porochista Khakpour

Sick by Porochista Khakpour X
Sick by Porochista Khakpour
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  • Published:
    Jun 2018, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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About this Book

Book Summary

A powerful, beautifully rendered memoir of chronic illness, misdiagnosis, addiction, and the myth of full recovery.

For as long as author Porochista Khakpour can remember, she has been sick. For most of that time, she didn't know why. Several drug addictions, some major hospitalizations, and over $100,000 later, she finally had a diagnosis: late-stage Lyme disease. 

Sick is Khakpour's grueling, emotional journey - as a woman, an Iranian-American, a writer, and a lifelong sufferer of undiagnosed health problems - in which she examines her subsequent struggles with mental illness and her addiction to doctor prescribed benzodiazepines, that both aided and eroded her ever-deteriorating physical health. Divided by settings, Khakpour guides the reader through her illness by way of the locations that changed her course - New York, LA, Santa Fe, and a college town in Germany - as she meditates on the physiological and psychological impacts of uncertainty, and the eventual challenge of accepting the diagnosis she had searched for over the course of her adult life. 

A story of survival, pain, and transformation, Sick candidly examines the colossal impact of illness on one woman's life by not just highlighting the failures of a broken medical system but by also boldly challenging our concept of illness narratives.

Paperback Original

ON THE WRONG BODY

I have never been comfortable in my own body. Rather, I've felt my whole life that I was born in the wrong body. A slight woman, femme in appearance, olive skin that has varied from dark to light, thick black curly hair, large eyes, hands and feet too big, of somewhat more than average height and somewhat less than average weight—I've tried my whole life to understand what it is that seems off to me. It's deeper than gender and sexuality, more complicated than just surface appearances. Sometimes the dysmorphia I experience in my body feels purely psychological and other times it feels like something weirder. As a child, I thought of myself as a ghost, an essence at best who'd entered some incorrect form. As I grew older, I accepted it as "otherness," a feature of Americanness even. But every room I walk into I still quickly assign myself to outsider status, though it seems not everyone can see this. Many have in fact called my looks ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Khakpour's story is a powerful one of being mired in sickness and not getting the necessary help from medical professionals. Doctors insisted her problems were psychological; one even recommended that she check into a psych ward. It's also clear just how time-consuming and expensive being a chronic patient can be. There is, unfortunately, some inherent repetition in a book of this nature. At times it feels like an endless cycle of doctors, appointments, and treatment strategies ranging from a paleo diet and alternative medicines to benzodiazepines, drugs used to treat anxiety. The details of her many jobs and relationships can blend into one. However, the overall arc of struggling with one's body and coming to terms with limitations will resonate widely.   (Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Full Review Members Only (803 words).

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Khakpour writes honestly about her psychological struggle...enduring a disease for which she's treated, but for which there's no cure. Her remarkable story is one of perseverance, survival, and hope.

Library Journal
A sometimes challenging memoir of feeling out of place, both inside and outside of one's own body; yet Khakpour brings a fresh perspective on how women live and cope with mental and chronic illness.

Kirkus Reviews
A courageously intimate memoir about living within a body that has 'never felt at ease.'

Author Blurb Cheryl Strayed, New York Times bestselling author of Wild
Porochista Khakpour's powerful memoir, Sick, reads like a mystery and a reckoning with a love song at its core.

Author Blurb Patricia Lockwood, author of Priestdaddy, named one of the 10 best books of 2017 by the New York Times
Survival, she reminds us at the end of Sick, can be an act of the imagination: it is the courage to insist on seeing yourself decades in the future, climbing a mountain, squinting into the sun, sitting down at the desk to write what happened.

Author Blurb Kiese Laymon author of Heavy
Somehow, Khakpour manages to craft the minutiae of the moments spent keeping herself alive while obliterating what could have easily been written as spectacular melodrama. I'm most amazed at how time itself, and point of view, are 'sick' and 'sickening' in this wonderful memoir. Khakpour has done more than something I've never seen before in this phenomenal book; she's done something I never imagined possible.

Author Blurb Susannah Cahalan, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of Brain on Fire
I'm so excited for the world (you!) to read Porochista Khakpour's Sick because now you'll understand. Understand what it's like to navigate a broken medical system; understand what chronic illness does to the self; understand the damage that doubt and ignorance can wreck; understand how living and self-destructing, writing and working, loving and sex doesn't just stop when you're ill...Thank you, thank you, thank you, Porochista for giving so much of yourself in this miraculous memoir.

Author Blurb Kathleen Hanna
Thank you, Porochista Khakpour, for writing an unflinchingly honest, complicated memoir about living life with Lyme. Sick should be required reading at every medical school!

Author Blurb Laura van den Berg, author of The Third Hotel
Sick is a riveting plunge into the most profound mysteries of mind and body - the haunted labyrinths of addiction; a chronic illness that mightily resists answers...Miraculously, Sick emerges as a force of life.

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Beyond the Book

Chronic Lyme Disease

Porochista Khakpour's Sick is a memoir of living with chronic Lyme disease. Lyme disease is caused by a bacterial infection, specifically a bite from a tick bearing the Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium. B. burgdorferi is one of just a few spirochetes, or 'spiral-shaped' bacteria, to be identified to date. (The pathogen that causes syphilis is another.) In the USA, the hot spots are the Northeast (from Maine to Virginia), the West coast, and Wisconsin and Minnesota. In these areas, hiking, gardening, and walking a dog through tall grass are considered particularly risky activities. Lyme disease also occurs in Europe and Asia.

The telltale bulls-eye rash that might foretell Lyme Tick bites often result in a noticeable bull's-eye rash, but not always. The rash is not necessarily ...

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