THE WIDENING CIRCLE: One Mother's Story of Battling Lyme Disease and Becoming a Medical Pioneer by Polly Murray

THE WIDENING CIRCLE: One Mother's Story of Battling Lyme Disease and Becoming a Medical Pioneer

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A detail-rich narrative of how one remarkably persistent woman prodded an apathetic, arrogant medical establishment into solving the mystery of Lyme disease. When Murray and her family in Lyme, Conn., were plagued by a range of baffling and debilitating symptoms in the 1960s and early '70s, the doctors they consulted--and there were many--were mostly unhelpful, often uninterested. Murray kept amazingly extensive medical records, and these, plus other personal records, scrapbooks of media coverage, and family memories form the basis for this book. Inspired by The Sun Is My Enemy, Henrietta Aladjem's account of her own long struggle to get help for a mysterious illness, Murray persevered for years in her frustrating search for answers. What she frequently encountered was narrow-minded specialists who couldn't see the whole picture or who dismissed her as a hypochondriac. Armed with dozens of case histories of other sufferers, which she had been compiling to convince the state of Connecticut that something serious was happening in Lyme, she was finally able, in 1975, to interest a Yale researcher into studying what was by then called Lyme arthritis. In 1979, doctors at Yale identified the tick that transmits the disease, and in 1982 they found the spirochete that causes what is now called Lyme disease. Murray works on, promoting public awareness of Lyme disease and support groups for patients, raising questions about the disease, and arguing for better diagnosis and treatment. Getting through her almost daily log of family medical problems can be wearisome, but it is the accumulation of painful detail that gives the book its impact. More than a chronicle of one woman's valiant campaign to end her family's suffering, this is a strong indictment of doctors who pay more attention to diagnostic tests than to their patients' words. Required reading for medical students.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1996
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: St. Martin's