“How One Man Overcame a Fear of Things Medical and Learned to Navigate His Way Around Hospital”
Haematemesis’ tagline (above) may be longer than most but it’s an accurate summary of the book. It is the true story of the author’s experiences of dealing with Leukemia, both the symptoms of the disease and the tribulations around the treatment. Focusing on the chemotherapy he received during his second bout of illness, this has the potential to be a dark story dealing, as it does, with subjects that many find uncomfortable – human mortality being the top of that list.
Whilst touching at times, it is to Henry G. Sheppard’s enormous credit that this is not a sad read. The only thing depressing about it is the accurate description of modern healthcare. This is a jolly read, punctuated throughout by the author’s humour.
It is quite a challenge to take on such a difficult subject yet Sheppard manages it with a deft touch. His humour is provocative, self-deprecating and, most importantly, honest. He is aware of how ludicrous his situation was and how ridiculous anyone’s actions can be when under such pressure and the writing doesn’t shy away from this. He takes deserved swipes at the healthcare professionals he encountered, some of his fellow patients, and frequently himself.
I think that mostly people can relate to the situations that Sheppard finds himself in, whether personally or through friends and relatives, and this is a refreshingly honest look at the situation. Sheppard wastes no time on self-pity, rather portraying each event as an opportunity for greater insight into the processes that one must go through once inside the medical machine. It would have been easy for the author to portray the events in a tragic light, evoking an emotional response of sympathy for his plight. While I’m not trying to tarnish those that follow such a path, I’m glad that this isn’t one of those books. Sheppard has a wicked sense of humour and it’s a delight to see it shine with such dark source material.
I can’t do much more than recommend this book. It’s not earth-shatteringly good and it won’t change your life, but if you let it then Haematemesis will both amuse and entertain you.
Reviewed by PD Richmond
You can buy Haematemesis on Amazon
I’m delighted to say that Henry G. Sheppard will be the star of our Featured Friday interview this week! Check back on Friday to find out more about this author.