What Doesn’t Kill You by Tessa Miller

Have you ever read a book and asked yourself, “Where has this been my whole life?”

Thank you Henry Holt and Co for my gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.

Synopsis: Tessa Miller was an ambitious twenty-something writer in New York City when, on a random fall day, her stomach began to seize up. At first, she toughed it out through searing pain, taking sick days from work, unable to leave the bathroom or her bed. But when it became undeniable that something was seriously wrong, Miller gave in to family pressure and went to the hospital—beginning a years-long nightmare of procedures, misdiagnoses, and life-threatening infections. Once she was finally correctly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, Miller faced another battle: accepting that she will never get better. Today, an astonishing three in five adults in the United States suffer from a chronic disease—a percentage expected to rise post-Covid. Whether the illness is arthritis, asthma, Crohn’s, diabetes, endometriosis, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, or any other incurable illness, and whether the sufferer is a colleague, a loved one, or you, these diseases have an impact on just about every one of us. Yet there remains an air of shame and isolation about the topic of chronic sickness. Millions must endure these disorders not only physically but also emotionally, balancing the stress of relationships and work amid the ever-present threat of health complications. Miller segues seamlessly from her dramatic personal experiences into a frank look at the cultural realities (medical, occupational, social) inherent in receiving a lifetime diagnosis. She offers hard-earned wisdom, solidarity, and an ultimately surprising promise of joy for those trying to make sense of it all.

Did you enjoy reading “Brain on Fire” by Susannah Cahalan? (If you have not read that book, you need to go read it now!) This reads a lot like it! I loved diving into the world of Tessa’s diagnosis because she wrote it so beautifully (it was so real and raw) for those who have never experienced a huge health crisis. There were so many times where I was saying “wow, I couldn’t have said it better myself!” As someone who struggles with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, and Endometriosis, this book was spot on. This book was like a new best friend for someone who has just been diagnosed with a chronic illness (hello COVID long-haulers). Like I hinted at before, I wish I had this book 12 years ago when I was fumbling through getting diagnosed and struggling to understand what was going on with my body physically and emotionally. I will cherish this book forever.

5/5 Stars

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