The Widening Circle: A Lyme Disease Pioneer Tells Her Story

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9780312140687: The Widening Circle: A Lyme Disease Pioneer Tells Her Story
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The first person to focus attention on Lyme disease, Polly Murray tells the harrowing story of her early efforts to identify what was making her family so sick-- and their battle with the illness over a twenty-year period.

In Lyme, Connecticut, in 1965, Polly Murray, her husband, and their four children led an almost picture-perfect life. But Polly began to be plagued by mysterious ailments, and as the rest of her family started to experience similar symptoms, she knew something was terribly wrong. When doctor after doctor failed to explain what was happening to them, Polly was forced to confront disbelief, lack of caring, and, eventually, apathy on the part of the medical establishment, all the while suffering herself. Her personal investigation into the cause of her family's illness, which became as passionate as a detective's, eventually initiated a medical investigation that led to the 1982 discovery by Dr. Willy Burgdorfer of the dangerous bacteria that causes Lyme disease. Polly tells her tale from the viewpoint of a patient who was a pioneer in the medical recognition of Lyme disease. Lyme disease remains a poorly diagnosed, controversial illness. Lyme victims and their families can take hope from Polly's courageous and inspiring story.

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About the Author:

Polly Murray, an artist, has four grown-up children and lives in Lyme, Connecticut.

From Kirkus Reviews:

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. -- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Polly Murray
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