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My Leaky Body: Tales from the Gurney [Paperback]

Julie Devaney
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 21 2012

Her weakest moment spawned a crusade for change. Julie Devaney takes on a journey through the health care system as she is diagnosed and treated for ulcerative colitis. In and out of emergency rooms in Vancouver and Toronto, she's poked, prodded, and abandoned to a closet at one point, bearing the helplessness and indignities of a system that seems hell-bent on victimizing the sick.

Raw, harrowing, and darkly funny, My Leaky Body argues convincingly for fixes to the system and better training for all medical personnel. As she recovers, she sets out to do just that: setting up a gurney on stage at workshops and conferences across the country to teach Bedside Manners 101 and to advocate for repairs to the system.

Part memoir, part love story, part revolutionary manifesto, My Leaky Body is politicially astute, gooey like cake batter, and raw like ulcerated bowels. Devaney writes the book that will heal her aching heart and relax her strictured rectum as she weaves stories from professional and public interactions with tales from her gurney.

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My Leaky Body: Tales from the Gurney + Ethics and Issues in Contemporary Nursing
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"Part memoir, part manifesto, Julie Devaney's profoundly honest new book should be required reading for anyone who may ever have to visit a hospital — which mean, in effect, everyone. . . . moving and genuinely inspirational." — Shawn Syms, Quill & Quire

"She has written a rare, profoundly honest and comforting book recommended for anyone enduring the demoralizing maze that is the health-care system. . . . we understand the rage induced by a consistent lack of empathy, and struggle in solidarity as she attempts to reclaim her body and her life. . . . In giving us her rage, humour and fallibility, Devaney has perfectly highlighted our cultural fear of frankly discussing the reality of illness. She knows that we often live in a state of paranoia, attempting to hide from the inevitability of our own decay. We should be grateful she has done us the service of delivering every ugly detail of what she has endured, opening up a comforting conversation, giving her harrowing experience meaning, and utilizing it to empower others." — Stacey May Fowles, The National Post

"A complicated story told in a compelling way. . . . with aching prose and wry humour, she shares the intimacies of her life and offers a glimpse into her rage and determination. . . . It is a must-read for each of us who thinks there are definite answers to medical problems. It is a must-read for those who think that chronic illness must surely get easier to bear. And, yes, it is a must-read for medical professionals. . . . There are exquisite pieces of wisdom in this book." — Adelia Neufeld Wiens, Winnipeg Free Press

"My Leaky Body . . . lays bare the deficiencies in health care, creating somewhat of a road map for others who want to/must transform the system. This is a brave, daring, tell-all book filled with raw courage." — Owen Sound Sun Times

"Devaney's vision is of a world where health care is fully funded, and where med students are taught good manners, where sick people are comforted, not warehoused. . . . This dream should not only come true in theatres and books — but all across Canada." — Catholic Register

"If literature is the artist vulnerable, then writer Julie Devaney has created art out of the unlikeliest of mediums: ulcerative colitis. . . . This is a unique work, utterly original; raw, authentic and hungry." — Amy Anderson, Scene

"My Leaky Body is self-aware without being self-pitying. It is empowering without being condescending and it is a strong, new young woman's voice in Canadian non-fiction. This book will resonate whether you're reading it on a stretcher in the closet of a hospital too full to house you, or curled up in bed or in a café." — Tara-Michelle Ziniuk, Herizons

"This book is one that anyone treating chronic disease should read, as a patient viewpoint reminder and a frank, honest, angry, and often funny demonstration of how our policies, actions, and discussions aren't always received by patients in the way we hope. It is extremely well written in a candid and un-self-conscious style, but I was most impressed by what Julie Devaney has herself taken on in her real life. She has used her story and her experiences in courageous and innovative performances to improve the lot of other patients to come." — Cynthia Verchere, BC Medical Journal

"My Leaky Body is many things at once: it is a critical investigation of healthcare culture, an activist's handbook, a real-life horror story, and a provoking confessional memoir." — Aimee Ouellette, subTerrain


"Devaney's writing talent turns emergency-room neglect into poetry . . . She is one of the few individuals brave enough to complain without blaming. Her courage is raw." — Heather Mallick

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Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must read" for all Canadians Dec 24 2012
By Destry
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Canadians like to believe that we have the best health care system in the world....especially compared with out neighbour to the south. Read Julie Devaney's account of what she went through coping with a chronic illness. I would insist that it be manadory reading for students in medical school. Doctor/patient communication is discussed a lot. I have experienced some of the same insults to my body and psyche. Devaney is a very brave young woman. She exposed horrible institutional behaviour on the part of UBC as well as crises in the ER. You will not be able to put this book down. I was sorry when it ended. But Devaney turned lemons into lemon-aid. I'm so happy that she is now teaching medical professionals (doctors and nurses, in particular) what it feels like to be in the hospital bed, dependent and scared. Some docs need an attitude adjustment - big time. This book will help you deal with the medical world on your own terms.
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I think this is a book that all people should read --- not only individuals currently living with a chronic medical condition, but also medical professionals and any individual who has to ever make use of a medical system.

We often assume (or fool ourselves to believe) that the medical system is a well-oiled and properly-functioning machine, but what people often don't realize is that the system and its workers are subject to the same cultural factors that are present in all other social spaces/work environments. These include stereotypes, assumptions, emotions, desires, rejections, attractions, and egos/personalities.

Julie's book does a tremendous job at highlighting many of these factors in her detailed, interactive accounts of her medical visits, and we get a glimpse at precisely how different (and, more specifically: how traumatic, painful, and utterly dehumanizing) these visits can be.

As a person with IBS who has had to undergo many many colonoscopies: I give this five thumbs up!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars All medical personel should read this book. Oct. 28 2012
By V. Mait
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This young woman went through hell, not just because of her medical condition. She was abused by our medical system, and the people that "said" they were there to help her. She survived, recovered, and persevered to be an amazing force in the reform of the Canadian Health Care System. I hope she makes it!
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