Difficult Patient: Sue Currie

Author: Sue Currie
Publication Date: June 2017
Publisher: Affirm Press
ISBN: 9781925584097
Genre: Memoir
Publishers Summary:
Imagine having a life-threatening illness only for doctors to think you’re faking it. Sue Currie suffers from a strain of porphyria so rare that she was only the 18th known case in the world. In 1991, the medicine she needed
had a guaranteed Fed Ex delivery date of four days from Europe. But hers took fifteen years, three months, and twenty-two days. Sue was admitted to hospital, in agony, hundreds of times, but when her disease was assessed as not serious enough to be causing that level of pain, she was labelled as mentally ill and manipulative, a drug addict shopping for painkillers. Though Sue, herself a nurse, knew her pain was real and how it could be treated, the ‘experts’ refused to believe her. She became a difficult patient, forced to stand alone against the entire state medical system. Eventually, after years of fighting and irreversible damage to her body and mind, she found the medical maverick who would save her life.
Difficult Patient is a powerful and timely account of falling through the cracks in the medical system, a compelling story of cover-ups, power plays and, ultimately, redemption.

In this book Sue Currie relates the story of her fight not only against her illness, but against those who obstructed her from receiving the medication which would alleviate her symptoms.

At first, her pain could not be explained, nobody knew what was causing it and the only treatment that helped was ever increasing doses of opioid medication.
Eventually she was given a diagnosis, a treatment was available but only if the outcome criteria for certain laboratory tests were met. This is where Sue met yet another hurdle, her medical team chose to treat her according to the outcomes of a less efficient test. In a nutshell, this meant that she did not qualify for the very treatment that would help.

Sue realised that she must fight the system and she did eventually find another doctor who attempted to help, but this too resulted in a messy medical bureaucratic fight. She had already been labelled as a difficult patient and was unpopular with staff. 
Sue has written a very detailed account of her pain, her hospital admissions and of the humiliations she suffered, and I must say, it does make harrowing reading. Frequently a ray of hope appears only for it to be dashed away, again and again. 

Her family life suffered terribly from the effects of her illness, it changed her and made her unreliable and difficult to live with. Sue writes of those times with ruthless honesty, hiding nothing of herself from the reader. 
The most heart wrenching aspect is, that but for the apparent arrogance of one man, Sue may never have needed to write this book, and that is very sad indeed.
There will always be those who must fight the system in order to receive the care that they both need and deserve, I hope that Sue’s story will inspire them to keep on fighting.

Review copy provided by Affirm Press

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