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Denise Fassett and M R Gallagher, Australia, Allen & Unwin, 1998, 148 pages, £12.99
“I was no longer an academic, a runner, a skier or a traveller. Essentially I became just a head. My body was gone: I was no longer a physical being.” This is how M R Gallagher, previously a diabetes researcher and triathlete from Tasmania, begins this account of her five-year experience of illness, cowritten with friend and nursing lecturer Denise Fassett. After an asthma attack and ten days in intensive care she found she was unable to move her arms and legs, had difficulty swallowing and continuing problems breathing. Tests did not reveal a cause and as she becomes more and more disabled, M R finds herself in the “medical wilderness of the psychosomatic”. There is no cure. Five years later she remains in a nursing home, wheelchair-bound, with poor vision and generalised pain. She is surrounded by and attached …