This story follows and explores the author’s journey to get a proper diagnosis for her chronic and debilitating pain, which began without warning or seeming trigger and got steadily worse while the medical community basically shrugged their shoulders and decided it must be simply in her head. Her husband stood by her and never gave up his determination that something was physically wrong and needed to be taken seriously. Without his efforts, it is unlikely they would have ever gotten to the bottom of it. It also discusses the way physical stress, especially over long periods of time, can negatively impact our physical health. Your story is astonishing and yet quite familiar as well, which is a sad statement on our healthcare system in Canada. It was a compelling and inspirational read.
Your narrative voice is very readable. Even when relaying frustration and incomprehensible pain, there was a lightness and hope in your narrative that kept it from becoming dour or depressing. This allows your readers to join you on what was an incredibly unpleasant journey, and still enjoy the ride. A tricky balance that you managed very well. You also did a good job of combining humor in your retelling of even harrowing events. For example, the Cannabis Catastrophe. Anyone who has ever had or witnessed a “bad trip” can’t help but empathize with the state you found yourself in. And your descriptions and observations of that time were so sharp and clear that even those completely unfamiliar with the situation should be able to put themselves in your shoes, laughing and crying about it at the same time.
Your whole narrative is incredibly relatable. A number of people in my family have gone through similar, though far less extreme, fights for the proper diagnosis of seemingly mysterious medical issues, and the frustration, anger, helplessness, and even emotional hurt that goes along with that struggle is hard to quantify. People I know have described feeling like a freak or “apart from” the rest of society. Like they don’t matter. Like they aren’t worth the time or effort for doctors to actually do their jobs and keep searching until they find the answer.
Your story has the potential to give hope to so many people, reassuring them that answers can be found, with enough perseverance. It should also benefit them by showing that they are not alone, are not freaks, and that the medical profession’s failings should not be taken personally. It is just a very flawed and frustrating system. I appreciated as well that you managed not to vilify any of your doctors, even though they let you down repeatedly. Your frustrations with them are clear, but it never seemed to turn into hatred or litigious rage. Your restraint and maturity were impressive and inspiring.
Your narrative also gives quite a lot of actual information on the various interconnections of nerves and bodily systems that can lead to the sorts of symptoms that often go undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed), perhaps providing others with the key to finding the answers they are searching for with their own medical issues.
I found that the way you explained the connections between our life stresses and our physical wellbeing was particularly interesting and thought provoking. We often talk metaphorically about carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders, but the idea that such a weight could impact our physical bodies never seems to occur to us. Hopefully, your narrative will inspire readers to take another look at their own pasts and see if lingering un-dealt-with emotions could be negatively impacting their present-day lives. Your openness in sharing your experiences growing up in an abusive and fear-inducing home made for powerful reading, creating a strong bond between you and your readers, helping them remain emotionally invested in your story.
I want to thank you again for submitting this thought-provoking and compelling manuscript to us at FriesenPress. It was a pleasure to read and I’m certain it will help a lot of people who are struggling with similar challenges.
Sincerely, Your FriesenPress Editor
FOREWORD CLARION REVIEW Clarion Rating: 3 out of 5 Sherri Antoinette’s assertive memoir No Doctor! You’re Wrong. conveys lost faith in the medical system following repeated misdiagnoses. A sudden onset of a mysterious illness left Sherri Antoinette feeling sapped of her strength, combating excruciating pain that prevented her from performing daily tasks, like showering and getting dressed. The feelings were so intense she could find no position of comfort. Her search for medical relief led to disappointments, though: a number of perplexed doctors discounted her symptoms, time and again. Antoinette and her husband ended up working alone to get her the treatment she needed, spending nights in hospitals and dealing with puzzling periods that gave her no real results. In discussions with each other, their tones remained hopeful, though: they laughed over their misfortunes, and Antoinette comments that ““I kept thinking that if I were dead, I wouldn’t feel this pain.” Antoinette endured a battery of tests, and all are recounted with care. She recalls shuffling “from one examination room to the next” and considers her mounting medical bills. These struggles are repetitive, but hold attention because of their enduring uncertainty. Antoinette was eventually diagnosed with a spinal condition, and sought healing by tracing the underlying causes of her discomfort. The book’s broad sections address Antoinette’s struggle in physical, emotional, and spiritual terms; together, though, they are still straightforward, following the chronology of Antoinette’s medical battles in a clear manner. Their internal sections are topical but focused, also helping to frame Antoinette’s protracted struggles well. The text includes documentation, copies of X-rays and MRIs, and letters from specialists. Such primary sources supplement the story well, grounding Antoinette’s certainty that something was wrong in scientific terms. Its descriptions of suffering are frank, raw, and relentless. Still, Antoinette expresses hope she’ll be able to reach a place of calm and comfort. The book is structured to assure she’ll attain it in the end, and its mission to spread hope to others with unexplained physical ailments is stirring. It builds to an expected, reassuring plea to fellow patients: believe that you can get better, and pursue whatever therapies you think will benefit your health best. No Doctor! You’re Wrong. is a heartfelt memoir about dealing with an obscure disease and with disappointment in the medical system—and about pressing on regardless to find relief.