Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain

Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain

For any woman who has experienced illness, chronic pain, or endometriosis comes an inspiring memoir advocating for recognition of women's health issuesIn the fall of 2010, Abby Norman's strong dancer's body dropped forty pounds and gray hairs began to sprout from her temples. She was repeatedly hospitalized in excruciating pain, but the doctors insisted it was a urinary tr...

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Title:Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain
Author:Abby Norman
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Ask Me About My Uterus: A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women's Pain Reviews

  • Janday

    I'd accuse Abby Norman of plagiarizing me if I didn't wholeheartedly, bone-achingly, gut-wrenchingly, atom-pulsingly believe her. Even though this is a book about endometriosis, everyone should read this book. Norman recounts her own experience with endometriosis and the (seemingly innumerable) complexities related to endometriosis (spoiler: it is not a "menstrual" disease, it

    I'd accuse Abby Norman of plagiarizing me if I didn't wholeheartedly, bone-achingly, gut-wrenchingly, atom-pulsingly believe her. Even though this is a book about endometriosis, everyone should read this book. Norman recounts her own experience with endometriosis and the (seemingly innumerable) complexities related to endometriosis (spoiler: it is not a "menstrual" disease, it is not a "female" disease). Just as pain from endometriosis can lead to pain in other systems, disbelief and dismissal of women's pain leads to a lifetime of silent suffering...even when we're screaming.

  • Rhiannon Johnson

    **In this post I review ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS and PERIODS GONE PUBLIC. Publishers have provided complementary copies to me in exchange for honest reviews** .

    .

    Let's talk about...uteruses/uteri! Yes, those are both acceptable plural forms of 'uterus'. Half the human population has one but *wow* are they controversial! However, regardless of where you stand on hot button issues like birth control and abortion, you probably agree that periods, albeit annoying, aren't very revolutionary. But you are

    **In this post I review ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS and PERIODS GONE PUBLIC. Publishers have provided complementary copies to me in exchange for honest reviews** .

    .

    Let's talk about...uteruses/uteri! Yes, those are both acceptable plural forms of 'uterus'. Half the human population has one but *wow* are they controversial! However, regardless of where you stand on hot button issues like birth control and abortion, you probably agree that periods, albeit annoying, aren't very revolutionary. But you are also probably (like me) reading this post from somewhere in the United States, you've likely had ready access to feminine hygiene products, and you have hopefully never experienced a medical problem such as endometriosis. In PERIODS GONE PUBLIC: TAKING A STAND FOR MENSTRUAL EQUALITY by Jennifer Weiss-Wolf I discovered that "a new, high-profile movement has emerged—one dedicated to bold activism, creative product innovation, and smart policy advocacy—to address the centrality of menstruation in relation to core issues of gender equality and equity." In dancer Abby Norman's memoir ASK ME ABOUT MY UTERUS: A QUEST TO MAKE DOCTORS BELIEVE WOMEN'S PAIN, Norman describes having her pain dismissed repeatedly by medical professionals and "shows that women's bodies have long been the battleground of a never-ending war for power, control, medical knowledge, and truth. It's time to refute the belief that being a woman is a preexisting condition."

    I would recommend these releases to everyone and anyone...you need not have a uterus to learn something from these releases. As a matter of fact, more of the non-uterus owning half of the population should read these!

  • Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    Abby Norman tells her often harrowing story with grace in Ask Me About My Uterus. She’s had to make her way through life in pain, and mostly alone. I’m in awe of her courage and fortitude!

    Norman spent her childhood with an absent father, and a functionally absent mother who was too sick with her own disease to care for her children. In case that wasn’t hard enough, her abusive grandmother stepped in to care for Abby. Somehow, she survives this and has the unimaginable presence of mind to request

    Abby Norman tells her often harrowing story with grace in Ask Me About My Uterus. She’s had to make her way through life in pain, and mostly alone. I’m in awe of her courage and fortitude!

    Norman spent her childhood with an absent father, and a functionally absent mother who was too sick with her own disease to care for her children. In case that wasn’t hard enough, her abusive grandmother stepped in to care for Abby. Somehow, she survives this and has the unimaginable presence of mind to request emancipation at age sixteen.

    As she tells this part of the story, I cheered for her while I was marveling at her teenage grit. Norman moved forward with life, got herself help, and thank goodness, had people who were equipped to offer her safe and healthy shelter.

    Amazing as it is, this is only one small segment of Abby Norman’s story. She actually explains her childhood as an adjunct to the excruciating abdominal pain she began experiencing at nineteen. As with many people who experience chronic pain, Norman searches for an explanation. Is it a result of her difficult childhood? Was the neglect an emotional or physical catalyst?

    Doctors don’t take her seriously. So finding an explanation isn’t simple cause and effect. Norman begins to do medical and scientific research about endometriosis. Turns out there isn’t much information available, which leads her to examine why women’s pain isn’t addressed effectively or often.

    It’s these components—her story and her research—that make up Ask Me About My Uterus. Norman deconstructs each topic with eloquence and care. She acknowledges that each endo patient has a different story, including those from the LGBTQIA+ community. And yet, many pieces of her story are clearly universal to endo and other chronic pain patients.

    My conclusions:

    As a woman living with chronic pain, I wanted to first bump Norman every page or so. I’m also an adult woman who survived an untraditional upbringing, especially as it related to medical care. More fist bumps for her story and survival.

    Abby makes the world of living with invisible illness visible. She puts her uterus, her sex life, her heart and soul on display. And it’s obvious her intention is to help women with endo and other types of chronic pain. She’s a fighter who tells a damn interesting story.

    I never felt that Norman was a drama queen looking for sympathy. Instead, her approach was matter of fact and easy to read. She’s solution-oriented and a captivating writer. I’d like to give this book to my doctors. There are also a few doctors in Norman’s story that I’d like to give a piece of my mind. The mom in me wants to charge in and fight for justice. But thankfully, Abby Norman is doing a great job of that in her life and in this book.

    Acknowledgements:

    Thanks to NetGalley, Abby Norman, and Perseus Books, PublicAffairs, and Nation Books for the digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Erin

    Ironically as I write this review, Nelly Furtado's version of

    is playing. A song that I feel my fellow Canuck turned into a powerful anthem for women.

    In this non fiction/memoir Abby Norman launches the microscope and

    takes look at women's health and the author's own personal struggle with endometriosis, Abby Norman explores just ho

    Ironically as I write this review, Nelly Furtado's version of

    is playing. A song that I feel my fellow Canuck turned into a powerful anthem for women.

    In this non fiction/memoir Abby Norman launches the microscope and

    takes look at women's health and the author's own personal struggle with endometriosis, Abby Norman explores just how difficult it still remains to have doctors listen to the intuition women possess when it comes to their own bodies.

    I do take a star away because there were a few times that my mind wandered during Abby's extensive family problems that sometimes were a bit repetitive in nature. Overall, I appreciated the message and do believe that this is a must read book for March!

  • Heather

    I was really looking forward to reading this, and now that I'm done with it,

    I very much enjoyed certain aspects of it, but also experienced feelings of indifference to it.

    At certain times, my attention strayed. I would read several paragraphs before realizing I was not absorbing any of what I had just read. It was quite tedious and repetitive at times, but I believe, in a way, that is a small testament to how the author must have felt (and probabl

    I was really looking forward to reading this, and now that I'm done with it,

    I very much enjoyed certain aspects of it, but also experienced feelings of indifference to it.

    At certain times, my attention strayed. I would read several paragraphs before realizing I was not absorbing any of what I had just read. It was quite tedious and repetitive at times, but I believe, in a way, that is a small testament to how the author must have felt (and probably still feels) when she repeatedly told her doctors there was a problem, only to be met with disbelieving exasperation.

    Aside from that, I found this book to be a mix of memoir

    non-fiction, both that [obviously] pertained to the synopsis. It was more of a memoir than I had originally anticipated, but I believe all of the back story was very necessary to convey her message. It helped me understand and empathize with the author.

    This book taught me a lot not just about endometriosis, but self-advocating for physical and mental health symptoms and treatments. The medical jargon was a tad confusing at times, but also very informative.

    , especially things I know nothing about. This book definitely did that, and that is the largest reason why I appreciate it so much.

    The writing style was very easy to read and made me feel like the author was having a laid back conversation with me, face-to-face. It felt personal, inviting and informative.

    Over all,

    , if only for the simple fact that I think it's important to know how and when to pay extra attention to the signs your body and mind are giving you, but also how to take a stand against ignorance. To know that when you need help, or simply information, from doctors who don't advocate for you, you need to learn how to advocate for yourself, because no one knows how you feel inside better than you do.

  • April

    A cross between a blunt but heart-felt memoir and a medical mystery; Abby delves into life with chronic pain and a medical system which refuses to believe it. I appreciated that she early (and more than once) noted that despite the title; women are not defined by their ownership of a uterus. More than that; as a woman who has had her own medical woes, I recognized and can certainly empathize with the many familiar ways in which Abby has navigated a health care system which has always been Men Fi

    A cross between a blunt but heart-felt memoir and a medical mystery; Abby delves into life with chronic pain and a medical system which refuses to believe it. I appreciated that she early (and more than once) noted that despite the title; women are not defined by their ownership of a uterus. More than that; as a woman who has had her own medical woes, I recognized and can certainly empathize with the many familiar ways in which Abby has navigated a health care system which has always been Men First and Women Last (if ever). Her narrative was at times a bit rambling but overall this was a fascinating and compelling mix of medical history, scientific research, and self-inspection which I didn't want to put down.

    Highly recommend.

  • Vanessa

    There's this quote in the book about how

    This was one of the parts - among many others - that really hit me because it took me almost a decade to realise that there might be something wrong with my body because ever since I was a child I heard that it's normal for periods to be painful to the

    There's this quote in the book about how

    This was one of the parts - among many others - that really hit me because it took me almost a decade to realise that there might be something wrong with my body because ever since I was a child I heard that it's normal for periods to be painful to the point where I just assumed being afraid to leave the house because I might pass out if my painkillers fail to work once again was something I just had to deal with. I still don't know what exactly is wrong with me but there were so many parts of the book I could relate to, even if my experiences were by far not as bad as the author's, and at times I just wanted to put the book down and never pick it up because it was surprisingly triggering for me.

    I do have to say that I don't really understand why the book was structured the way it is since the all of the chapters seem to be shifting between various topics that mostly aren't related at all only for them to be picked up again several chapters later. Not that I would want the book to be completely chronological but it would have been nice if all these topics had been summed up in individual chapters instead of blending everything together to a point where a lot of the structural choices seemed random.

  • Canadian Reader

    Rating: 2.5

    At the beginning of her second year of college at Sarah Lawrence, Abby Norman experienced excruciating knife-sharp abdominal pain, which eventually took her to the hospital, caused her to withdraw from university, and led to surgery to remove a “chocolate cyst”, a type of ovarian cyst that forms when endometrial tissue (the membrane that lines the uterus) grows inside the ovary. Norman’s battle with endometriosis—with debilitating abdominal and pelvic pain, and eventually, with inexpl

    Rating: 2.5

    At the beginning of her second year of college at Sarah Lawrence, Abby Norman experienced excruciating knife-sharp abdominal pain, which eventually took her to the hospital, caused her to withdraw from university, and led to surgery to remove a “chocolate cyst”, a type of ovarian cyst that forms when endometrial tissue (the membrane that lines the uterus) grows inside the ovary. Norman’s battle with endometriosis—with debilitating abdominal and pelvic pain, and eventually, with inexplicable neurological deficits—was far from over. Her condition did not allow her to return to Sarah Lawrence, but Norman did gain a job as a medical records clerk. This gave her an education of another sort: a medical one. She determinedly read medical texts and journals to understand what was going on in her body. Her research led to a successful surgery to remove a problematic appendix and to the discovery that part of her large intestine was not where it ought to be. Nevertheless, the excessive bleeding and abdominal pain continued. They were life-altering. At the conclusion of the book, Norman finds herself battling other strange symptoms, which at least one medical professional tells her (yet again) are “all in her head”.

    Women’s pain, particularly that pain associated with the reproductive organs, is (as Norman repeatedly tells us in this book) all too often regarded as the manifestation of a psychiatric illness. A very significant portion of Norman’s hybrid nonfiction/memoir is dedicated to relating key details of a traumatic and unusual childhood at the hands of a mentally ill, severely eating-disordered mother, who regularly withheld food from her daughter—to the point of near starvation. Norman feels she has reason to deliberate over the link between trauma and physical illness, but ultimately recognizes that, for far too long, real anatomical and physiological bases for women’s pain have been categorically dismissed or left uninvestigated.

    While Norman should be lauded for her perseverance and determination in her struggle to understand her condition, seek a cure, and bring attention to a disease that likely plagues more than one in ten women, I do wish her book had received the editorial oversight it needed. Norman has a lively, colloquial style, but she is prone to prolixity. She regularly goes off on unnecessary tangents; she rambles and repeats herself. Her diction is often imprecise—for example: the word “edification” is used when “education” is meant; “particulate” is chosen over the correct “particle”. I grew more and more frustrated as I read, finding the last quarter of the book a particular slog. The organization of the material is also less than optimal.

    While I believe there is value in Norman’s book, I cannot recommend it wholeheartedly. I found the medical science the author addressed to be interesting; I only wish there had been more of it.

  • Paula Dennan

    Ask Me About My Uterus is a a searingly honest account of Abby Norman’s struggle to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. Considering it takes on average 7.5 years for women to receive that diagnosis, Norman is far from alone which is where the subtitle of the book comes in; A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain. Woven between the narrative of her own pain is a history of how women and the pain they suffer is treated, mistreated and continuously dismissed by the male dominated fields of me

    Ask Me About My Uterus is a a searingly honest account of Abby Norman’s struggle to get a diagnosis of endometriosis. Considering it takes on average 7.5 years for women to receive that diagnosis, Norman is far from alone which is where the subtitle of the book comes in; A Quest to Make Doctors Believe in Women’s Pain. Woven between the narrative of her own pain is a history of how women and the pain they suffer is treated, mistreated and continuously dismissed by the male dominated fields of medicine and research.

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