There may exist a graceful and elegant way to begin one’s gynecologic and colorectal memoir, but it never does spring to mind…
Dark, potent, and delightfully clever, Sarah Ramey spirit-guides readers through the greatest depiction of the heroine’s journey we’ve seen in years. I know what you’re thinking. Everyone claims their favorite books are the “greatest.” I’ll admit, we readers are a biased sort of people, and we do in fact have our favorites.
I don’t describe Ramey’s book this way to flatter her or to catch the attention of her publishing house. I don’t even say it because I’m reviewing the dang thing and it’s the polite thing to do. On the contrary, as a reviewer, it’s quite difficult to conjure even a half-decent argument for not reading this book.
I say Ramey’s take on the heroine’s journey is great for one reason:
I mean it.
WOMI: Woman with a Mysterious Illness
Sarah Ramey was/is a WOMI, and she has been fighting for over 14 years to have the peace of mind I have never been without — whole-hearted and unequivocal belief.
The Lady’s Handbook For Her Mysterious Illness (TLHFHMI) describes Ramey’s excruciating experience as a WOMI in all of its physical, emotional, and spiritual glory. It’s a guttural cry into the abyss WOMIs of the world have hidden within, fearing they are the only people in existence who understand what it is to battle the invisible.
I’m sorry to say I had no idea WOMIs existed before reading TLHFHMI. I’ve never walked into a doctor’s appointment wondering whether or not s/he will believe my symptoms. I realize now how lucky I am. What happened to Ramey is, in a word, horrific.
But Ramey’s story? Heroinic.
Despite all that was done to her, readers searching for a memoir filled with cruel, spiteful, hate-filled protest of the American medical system (in which Ramey put her trust in time and time again), will be sorely disappointed. What readers will find is the honest truth of a woman who fell into the darkest of pits and returned to the light.
Ramey’s story is not simple, and it is certainly not always happy, but it matters.
It. Just. Matters.
It is but one in a sea of suffering souls unaware of the company they keep – a light in the darkness. I will not easily forget the words with which Ramey’s tale ends, for they are hopeful and they are strong. They speak over the millions of sick and hurting souls in the midst trials the rest of us can only attempt to comprehend.
They are a both a wish and a command one simply cannot help but aspire to:
“May you be the girl who lived.“
If you liked … Honestly, no matter what you’ve chosen to read in the past, I genuinely believe you will find something to love in this book. I have never read anything like Ramey’s story. It’s clever, yet educational. Scientific, yet spiritual. Funny, and yet so, so tragic.
Content Warnings: Ramey is honest about her journey into/through the darkness. Her tale includes battles against several cruel and invisible enemies such as suicide, depression, and the consequences of both psychological and physical trauma. Read her words with care, as I am confident that this is how she wrote them.
Recommended Age: 16+ due to the graphic descriptions of botched medical procedures and a few (well-placed) f-bombs.
If you know someone (a friend, a fellow W/MOMI, and especially a young reader) embarking on the journey that is TLHFHMI, I encourage you to dive in with them. Learn with and support each other, because…well, because.