Item description for Laughing Sickness: A Medical Mystery by Anne Black Gray...
Twenty-five-year-old Jessica Shephard always knows how to get a laugh. She's enjoying good health, friends and family when, without warning, she's struck by paralytic episodes. Doctors can't discover what's wrong, but laughter is mysteriously entangled in her illness. As relationships with friends, family and coworkers deteriorate and her life becomes threatened, she struggles to keep her job and independence.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6.1" Height: 1.1" Weight: 1.4 lbs.
Release Date Oct 15, 2007
Publisher Bridgeway Books
ISBN 1933538937 ISBN13 9781933538938
Reviews - What do customers think about Laughing Sickness: A Medical Mystery?
Very Well Written! Interesting! Jan 4, 2008
I believe that many of us at different times have weird things going on in our bodies that we don't understand. Thankfully, these usually pass, and we go about our merry way. But what happens when they don't? What happens when the doctors that we turn to for help, don't give it? I can only imagine the panic and fear that must occur in such a situation. In this outstanding novel by author, Anne Black Gray, we meet Jessica. She is a young hard working woman who loves to bring laughter into life; she didn't know this was her downfall; when without warning she falls prey to a mysterious illness that literally depletes her life force. Scary. We travel with Jessica as she battles to find an answer to what is happening to her, and hits one stone wall after another. But she is determined, and although her independent spirit pushes many away when she needed their help the most, it is the factor that finally leads her to uncovering what is going on in her body, and why. I found this book to be a grabber from the beginning to the end. Although fiction, truth was there, and the author brought to light many problems faced by people who have illnesses not of the norm; and all the trials and tribulations, pain and suffering they go through seeking their answers. I truly recommend this read, great story, informative, and inspirational as well. Well worth your time.
New on the Mystery Shelf Nov 22, 2007
It's practically impossible to find a novel that offers an insider's view of a relatively untouched subject, via fictional characters who are as admirable as they are likable. Anne Black Gray did just that in "Laughing Sickness: A Medical Mystery." I allowed myself a flip-through read to see what Gray had done with this latest addition to the mystery shelf. Once started, I couldn't stop. I had to see how young, smart, healthy Jessica, benched by an undiagnosable disease, plows her way through the laughably (if it's not you) bungling medical system to a diagnosis she can live with. Good for Gray. Harriet Rochlin
Another World Nov 3, 2007
"... another world where gravity was stronger and the atmosphere more viscous." Author: Anne Black Gray
This image, for me, is strikingly vivid and evocative of Jessica Shephard's struggles with a disease that mysteriously and intermittently drags from her the energy to speak, swallow, breathe and remain upright. A disease whose diagnosis so persistently eludes discovery that in some opinions may not exist except as a construct of Jessica's psyche. The author carefully chronicles the progression of Jessica's symptoms, the frustrations and disappointments attending her interactions with the medical and nonmedical communities, the eventual "aha" that rewards the research efforts of Jessica and family, pins the diagnosis and also, significantly, Jessica's relentless efforts to maintain her independence and gift of laughter.
As an RN, I sometimes bristled at the author's broad-brush, black-hat approach to the medical community, but I suspect the incidents, though presented as fiction, were actually experienced by someone, therefore inarguable. One wish I do have is that Jessica's gift for making others laugh, an attribute she equates with power, would have more explicitly developed. The reader is frequently reminded of Jessica's gift, but in retrospect, I remember only one laugh out loud. In Chapter 1 where Jessica, having collapsed, lies there watching shoes while their owners discuss her, and she finally calls out, "Hey, how about listening to me... I have the floor here." There I laughed.
Of all the relationships realistically drawn, I especially appreciated the author's depiction of the relationship between mother and daughter--sometimes contentious, distant, loving, always poignant. The garage scene is unforgettable. Ms. Black Gray shows us that the loved ones of the afflicted also have much to bear.
This work, admirably, shows the authorial intent to foster awareness of "orphan" diseases, the need for improved medical research and development of therapeutic approaches and a greater respect and understanding of those with disabilities. This novel is more than the sum of its parts.
If you love the show "House"... Oct 15, 2007
As an avid fan of the medical genre, I found Laughing Sickness fascinating. If you enjoy the diagnositic series "House" - you will love this book because it is medically precise without the over-your-head-writing of a medical textbook. The facts of this strange case don't have to be stuffed into a one hour show, but extend over a hellish two years where the experts turn helpless as the patient collapses with no one in her life to keep picking her up off the floor. She is almost alone in her torture as she alienates everyone who tries to help her because of her unrelenting desire to remain independent.
Who knows, we all react differently to discomfort and pain, but this book allows you to imagine things that seem impossible: like being incapable of communicating, losing the ability to walk, and having no answers to why you are slowly losing everything valuable in life. It unravels at a fast pace and gives a side story of the main character's faltering career in the engineering environment (where the author also tackles high-brow issues with ease). It's a teaching story and it would be rewarding to medical show voyeurs, or people in the medical profession like myself.
A Medical Mystery Oct 14, 2007
Laughing Sickness is a fiction-based story of medical hope based on actual events. It is about a young woman who suddenly at the age of 25, after receiving a tetanus shot, becomes ill with a disease that causes episodes of paralysis and the appearance of unconsciousness. The debilitating condition is especially brought on by her own laughter. From her point-of-view we experience the alarming frustrations of dealing with a life-threatening disease and the response of ignorant doctors, baffled specialists, and a majority of the outside world who view the handicapped as invisible, invaluable, or just pitiable.
Laughing Sickness contains veins of social consciousness. Ms. Gray's insistent message is a patient wants and needs financial security, social dignity, employment and the best health care possible. The author wants to eradicate the assumption that lack of evidence of a physical problem is evidence for lack of a physical problem. You may bristle, accept, or defend Ms. Gray's cynical attitude toward doctors as demonstrated in an article written for an alumni magazine by her characater.
"If there is a God, I hate to think he only laughs at my cries for help. But I've evidence he's never touched by my pleas to watch over me in doctor's offices. Doctors with failings they can't face, who malign my sanity to save their pride."
The story's ending satisfies the mystery and the morals converge with an uplifting feeling that sometimes answers can be found if your determination doesn't weaken.