A frank, valuable introduction to a little-known medical condition.

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PELVIC ORGAN PROLAPSE

THE SILENT EPIDEMIC

In this third edition of her debut work, Palm illuminates a “common, cryptic health concern” with an account of her own experience and scientifically sound advice.

The author founded the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, in 2010 to try to combat the social stigma of vaginal problems. When she started having symptoms of POP following her hysterectomy at age 40—including a lack of vaginal muscle strength and difficulty urinating—she’d never heard of the disorder even though an estimated 3.3 million women in the United States currently suffer from it. The condition is life-altering rather than life-threatening and most often a result of childbirth, surgery, menopause, or chronic constipation. Although total prevention may not be possible, Palm details strategies in this book that may help, such as doing pelvic-floor exercises, controlling one’s weight, and assuming good posture while lifting. There are five types of POP, based on which organ is bulging abnormally: the uterus, vagina, bladder, rectum, or small intestine. One in five women, Palm notes, will ultimately require surgical intervention. Helpful chapters describe POP’s symptoms and the process of seeing a doctor for evaluation. Bullet points, clear headings, frequently asked questions, and useful lists—such as suggested questions for a surgeon—ensure that the material is always reader-friendly. Palm’s account of her own gynecological history may strike some as overly detailed, but its lighthearted approach will keep fellow sufferers from taking themselves too seriously. Indeed, the book is consistently upbeat and proactive, with specific, practical advice; for instance, the author recommends making an ice pack out of a diaper and warns that one must “be prepared for a completely black and blue crotch.” She’s also enthusiastic about how her 2009 surgery changed her life. The transcript of a speech that Palm gave to a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel in 2011 seems unnecessary, though, and there are occasional word-choice issues, such as “viable” instead of “variable,” but these don’t mar the work’s overall quality.

A frank, valuable introduction to a little-known medical condition.

Pub Date: May 27, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-60693-965-9

Page Count: 167

Publisher: POP Publishing and Distribution

Review Posted Online: Aug. 16, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2017

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

WHY WE SWIM

A study of swimming as sport, survival method, basis for community, and route to physical and mental well-being.

For Bay Area writer Tsui (American Chinatown: A People's History of Five Neighborhoods, 2009), swimming is in her blood. As she recounts, her parents met in a Hong Kong swimming pool, and she often visited the beach as a child and competed on a swim team in high school. Midway through the engaging narrative, the author explains how she rejoined the team at age 40, just as her 6-year-old was signing up for the first time. Chronicling her interviews with scientists and swimmers alike, Tsui notes the many health benefits of swimming, some of which are mental. Swimmers often achieve the “flow” state and get their best ideas while in the water. Her travels took her from the California coast, where she dove for abalone and swam from Alcatraz back to San Francisco, to Tokyo, where she heard about the “samurai swimming” martial arts tradition. In Iceland, she met Guðlaugur Friðþórsson, a local celebrity who, in 1984, survived six hours in a winter sea after his fishing vessel capsized, earning him the nickname “the human seal.” Although humans are generally adapted to life on land, the author discovered that some have extra advantages in the water. The Bajau people of Indonesia, for instance, can do 10-minute free dives while hunting because their spleens are 50% larger than average. For most, though, it’s simply a matter of practice. Tsui discussed swimming with Dara Torres, who became the oldest Olympic swimmer at age 41, and swam with Kim Chambers, one of the few people to complete the daunting Oceans Seven marathon swim challenge. Drawing on personal experience, history, biology, and social science, the author conveys the appeal of “an unflinching giving-over to an element” and makes a convincing case for broader access to swimming education (372,000 people still drown annually).

An absorbing, wide-ranging story of humans’ relationship with the water.

Pub Date: April 14, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-61620-786-1

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Algonquin

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2020

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