Review: Patient 71

Patient 71
Patient 71 by Julie Randall

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There is no doubt that health and emergency services workers see and hear much pain and suffering, but few would ever see the whole picture. This book provides the missing warmth, colour, and life, bringing this insidious, indiscriminate illness into a human focus.

It’s an easy read that wastes no time getting to the point: the day Julie Randall; fit, happy, and well; has a seizure. From a brain bleed. From cancer.

Nor does it bog down in medical descriptions or self-pity. Perhaps that’s due in part to Randall’s illness: an increased perception of time and priorities makes for a tightly focused book.

I did feel like a lab rat at the end of it, but that’s what I signed up for. This was research. It wasn’t all about me. I was just a number…Patient 71.

I loved the ‘monsters’ in Randall’s head. At first I thought they were the voices that most people have – a voice of reason, a voice of panic, a voice of denial – but after a while I wondered if they weren’t changes in personality caused by the pressure of her tumours.

All this lends to a compelling story, difficult to put down. Until the flight to America. Flights are flights, and this one, not remarkable enough for 15 pages, was placed right at the critical point, where reaction was changing to action (even Randall admits to becoming jaded shortly after).

Occasionally, Randall plays the victim card (although I can’t say I blame her, and how would I know how I’d react?), and even though money is an issue, there are less fortunate people out there who would think Randall is super rich – she could afford an international phone call to ask for directions to a restaurant, a two-and-a-half-month stay at the Marriott, and an America-to-Australia flight for mother’s day, all during expensive treatment – but none of this changes her story or the reality of what I can’t begin to imagine she’s going through.

Randall still sees herself as lucky despite everything, and this is raw and intrinsic throughout. It wouldn’t have been an easy job for her editors, either. Imagine having to ask ‘is this really true?’ when Randall says she played touch football in the middle of her cancer treatment!

And as for Brian the Brain Surgeon and Biology Bill – two of my favourite characters! The world could do with more Biology Bills, with his wholistic view on the human body. It’s a much more productive view than the divisive modern medicine -vs- ancient healing plants argument.

This is an emotional and private journey. One that I’m grateful to Randall for sharing with the world. I wish her and every other health-challenged person my absolute best wishes.

I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review

View all my reviews

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