An unsparing, clinically graphic narrative/journal of a brief marriage to a life-loving woman doomed by cancer to premature...

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ONE DARK MILE: A Widower's Story

An unsparing, clinically graphic narrative/journal of a brief marriage to a life-loving woman doomed by cancer to premature death. Robinson insisted on marrying ex-journalist Joan even though she had already lost a breast to cancer, had undergone a colostomy, and had just learned that her uterine cancer had metastasized. Although sex soon became impossible, he was enchanted by his wife's ""intellectual verve"" and ""genius at friendship."" For the transplanted Britisher, she was ""my refuge in a foreign land and my interpreter of alien ways."" Soon, however, a ureterostomy operation, septicemia, phlebitis (caused by a tumor mass pressing on a leg vein), and removal of a large section of intestine had Joan alternating between hospital and home, between bouts of unbearable pain and periods when she was her life-loving self. In addition to housework and teaching at the Univ. of Massachusetts, Robinson had to handle daily irrigations of her colostomy and rectum plus changing her ureterostomy bag, procedures he describes in detail. He also had to cope with America's chaotic healthcare system: neglectful nurses, a recalcitrant insurance company, the costs and difficulties of obtaining home nursing care. And through it all, a TV crew was shooting the documentary, Joan Robinson: One Woman's Story. Joan at last fell into a final three-day coma attended by a procession of friends paying homage and caressing her. It was, says Robinson, ""a monarch's death."" Not for the squeamish, but one of the most honest and eloquent accounts yet written of terminal illness and death. (Another powerful account of death and dying is Noll's In the Face of Death, reviewed above.)

Pub Date: Dec. 1, 1989

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Univ. of Massachusetts Press

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 1989