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Body Signs
by Joan Liebmann-Smith & Jacqueline Nardi Egan

Release Date: 7th Feb 2008
Publisher: Michael Joseph
ISBN: 978 0 7181 5303 8
RRP: £12.99

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How to be your own diagnostic detective

It is difficult to utilise self-restraint when one is potentially faced with diagnosing a life-threatening illness, and those with a certain death-lust (or hypochondria; a seriously debilitating complaint often underestimated by practitioners) will positively lap this up.

There do appear to be ever more of these self-help, self-diagnostic, self-traumatising books around and I suppose that cannot be blamed on anyone other than the narcissistic consumer, desperate to understand their own bodily functions and save themselves from misdiagnosis, which is an altogether too regular feature in our modern lives. And it would be hypocritical of me to suggest here that I was any less urgent and desperate to discover if any of the weird and wonderful (and occasionally embarrassing) bodily manifestations and functions I experience on a frightening regular basis actually have a terrible label to pin on them. Alas, for my part – there was nothing concrete, although I could have just as easily had ovarian cancer as an under-active thyroid (do worms have a thyroid – well, I do. Write to me if you’ve heard otherwise...). But jesting aside, Body Signs does not feign to definitively diagnose and always refers you back you a fully qualified practitioner before drawing up your will and announcing your imminent death to friends and family (a will is a good idea at any time though – if something terminal doesn’t mow you down in your prime, a double decker bus just might). Alright, I am still joshing with you...

Seriously, what Body Signs does do is share those vital and potentially life-saving mini symptoms that can often be over looked as they are not always recognised as being part of a whole. And it is not just full of bad news either – indeed, it was reassuring to note that mismatched breasts are not unusual, nor are they a typically a symptom of anything sinister. Good. I’m sure all affected females feel a huge sense of relief.

Body Signs is an informative, educational read written in an accessible and informal style that will appeal to many people put off by jargon-filled books on a similar vein. The authors do not skirt around embarrassing ailments, such as shooting rabbits (farts), which is to their credit. They are thorough, objective and above all treat each topic with a great deal of humanity. A good handbook for those who have nagging doubts, ever-questioning offspring or just natural curiosity – if this doesn’t encourage you to get out there and see your GP for that check up you’ve been putting off, nothing will.


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