The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey || Nonfiction Book Review

✨A memoir • a saga • a mission to help✨

It’s been a month since I read The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness, but I’m still exhausted remembering Sarah Ramey’s story. You see, Sarah is a WOMI — a woman with a mysterious illness. No, that’s not the start of a Dateline episode in which a crack team of doctors work round the clock, develop a magical cure and share inspirational messages as the credits roll. Sarah is a WOMI, she’s not alone, and there is no cure to find.

Not only does this memoir recount Sarah’s excruciating timeline of misdiagnoses, trial and error procedures, and life with debilitating chronic illness. It also follows Sarah’s hunt for answers not only for herself but for the millions of people like her. She knows what it’s like to be dismissed and only offered an antidepressant. She knows what it’s like to be ignored by doctors who cry hypochondriac. So she offers this story as a lifeline – a sign of solidarity with the masses like her.

More than once did I think I was listening to her rock bottom before something even worse happened. I felt her frustration like it was mine. But it’s not a story without hope either. No, she’s not “cured.” That’s not how chronic illness works. But through everything, the author found reason to keep going in a way that was infectious.

I’ll admit the book started to lose me personally when it sways into the prescriptive, when Ramey offers advice/answers for various WOMI problems. I do know why she went that route, considering how few answers standard medicine offers for people desperate for help. But it does rub me the wrong way to offer help without guarantees. Saying that comes from a place of great privilege of course, me being a WOMI Level 1 on most days, and only a Level 3 on bad. I haven’t been pushed to my absolute limits trying to find something that will make life livable. It’s not my place to judge anyone’s personal health decisions, I just hope they take any advice with just as many grains of salt as I do.

Maybe one day we’ll actually get legitimate research funding/attention for these afflictions so it’s less of a guessing game. 🔥

Rating: 4 out of 5.
The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness by Sarah Ramey
Listened on audio with narrator Eileen Stevens and the author 
Received the eARC via Netgalley but primarily read on audio, self-provided

Do you approach health-related books with as much skepticism as I do?

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