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Saturday Book Review: The Pill Book; Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles; The Tao of Fertility

April 19th, 2008

I love doing book reviews, you all know this. But sometimes a few books in a row land on my desk, and I think to myself, “Self, where are you going to go with these ones?” Then later — they turn out to be something I really do need to write about.

First off: “The Pill Book: The Illustrated Guide to the Most-Prescribed Drugs in the United States.” (Thirteenth edition, $7.50, 1,280 glorious pages, Bantam Dell.) Had I not cracked this one open, I never would have known that I am not supposed to take my thyroid replacement hormone at the same time as my antibiotics (this week we’re trying a little something from the sulfa family for the latest bout of bronchitis. Yes, it’s giving me migraines, thanks for asking. Let’s go back to Zithromax next time, ‘k, Doc?).

See? You really can learn something around here! A disclaimer: I am no medical professional. Please go see your doctor or favorite Internet website and do not look for medical opinions here. Thanks, dear readers.

Also, I’m sure this little paperback will be popular with my children once they hit the teen years. (My daughter, earlier today: “I do this because you don’t like me to.” Well, alrighty then.)

“Miscarriage, Medicine & Miracles: Everything You Need to Know About Miscarriage,” by Bruce K. Young, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., and Amy Zavatto (one of his patients, and a writer based in New York City), is a pretty tremendous book. ($25, Bantam Books, 331 pages.)

I wish they hadn’t put the picture of the little baby hand, reaching out for the rubber ducky, on the cover, but that’s just me. I would have gone with a flower or something. For some of us, there will be other types of miracles, but not this particular miracle. And maybe you just don’t want to see that little baby hand, with the baby out of reach.

(Ditto, the well-meaning comments so many of us have heard, “It’s just Mother Nature,” or “A lot of us have miscarried — it’s more common than you think,” “Try again!” etc. Well. Those comments just do not help.)

It will helpful for women (and men) to read this book and find out more about PID; endometriosis; the effect of hypothyroidism on fertility and childbirth (again with the thyroid); the facts about progesterone; diabetes and its impact on pregnancy and the many other topics covered here.

It’s written in a one-on-one manner — conversational and down-to-earth, but the medical details are not glossed over, and the scary stuff isn’t sensationalized. It’s a useful book, and I appreciate the effort that went into it.

Tackle difficulties when they are easy.
Accomplish great things when they are small.
Handle what is going to be rough
when it is still smooth.
Control what has not yet formed its force.
Deal with a dangerous situation while it is safe.
Manage what is hard while it is soft.
Eliminate what is vicious
before it becomes destructive.
This is called
“attending to great things at small beginnings.”

– From The Complete Works of Lao Tzu

Have you ever seen a picture of the Venus of Willendorf? Here she is. Sweet, huh? She’s a little fertility doll, circa 24,000-22,000 BC. In the words of my wise, wise art history teacher, “You know why women carried fertility dolls? Because they worked.”

I feel the same about both Eastern and Western medicine. Does it work because I believe in it? Or do I believe in it because it works? Short of the obvious fixes (a broken bone set, a gash stitched up), the rest can be something of a mystery. Do I get bronchitis and/or pneumonia every fall and spring because I’m stressed? Is it the mold? A virus? Bad luck?

Which is better — the endless prescriptions of antibiotics (and my fear of them one day not working) or the endless herbs and treatments from my acupuncturist and naturopath? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? When it comes to fertility, it’s even worse — then, you’re dragging others into it.

“It’s like playing the lottery,” one of my girlfriends told me, while undergoing fertility treatments (the superstitions, the prayers, the timing, the meds, the treatments). “I want to hit the jackpot.”

“The Tao of Fertility,” by Daoshing Ni, D.O.M., L.Ac., Ph.D. and Dana Herko delves into it all: Your “fertility map,” your autoimmune system, miscarriage, acupuncture, nutrition, your qi gong (chi)… Again, a well-written, thoughtful book that may provide a roadmap and guidance for readers. ($15.95, HarperCollins, 277 pages.)

Reviewed today:

1 Comment

  1. Vixen says

    You know you just brought something to my mind from when I was a youngin’ that might just help you…..It just clicked. Good thing I can’t forget anything! Email me and remind me to tell you in an email, please. I am old and forget things easily. And I have a cold so I am not thinking well in addition. And I am hungry and have to go eat dinner. And I tend to ramble. So yea, email me and say so WHAT?

    April 19th, 2008 | #

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