A nurse-midwife takes readers behind the exam room door of her rural West Virginia clinic in this “utterly true and lyrical” memoir (Jacquelyn Mitchard, author of The Deep End of the Ocean)
As a nurse-midwife and the manager of a women’s health clinic in West Virginia, Patricia “Patsy” Harman bears witness to the struggles and triumphs of every woman who walks through her exam room door. She sees Heather, a teenager pregnant with twins, through the loss of both babies and their father. She cares for Nila—a longtime patient who must try to make a new life without her abusive husband—and helps Kaz transition into a new body. The only thing more varied than these women’s backgrounds are their stories, which they share with Patsy inside her small clinic, covered only by a blue cotton gown.
In her memoir, Patsy juxtaposes these heartbreaking and uplifting tales with her own story of keeping a small medical practice solvent. She recounts conversations with her patients over the course of a year and a quarter—a time when her own life seems on the brink of collapse due to financial troubles, malpractice threats, serious medical problems, and marital strife. Honest, compassionate, and wise, The Blue Cotton Gown is an unforgettable memoir that shines a light on the varied experiences of women everywhere.
“In her sweetly perceptive memoir, Harman reveals how her exam room becomes a confessional . . . she reminds [women] that they’re not alone.”
A nurse midwife struggling to keep solvent the women's health clinic in Torrington, W.Va., that she ran with her surgeon husband shares poignant stories about her patients over the course of a year. A self-described former hippie who lived on a commune with her three sons, Harman later went to nursing school and became a midwife while her husband, Tom, attended medical school. Although their practice took off, they were strapped with debt, back taxes, growing bills for malpractice insurance, constant threats of lawsuits and the discovery, over the year, of Harman's freak ailments a gangrenous gallbladder and uterine cancer requiring an immediate hysterectomy. Harman conveys the hope inspired by her patients' stories, such as the seven-time mother who never tried birth control and couldn't decide which husband to stay with, and the lesbian horticulture professor who wanted to become a man. Wearying of the financial pressures and tensions with Tom, Harman tells in this heartfelt memoir that she dreamed of leaving the practice, though a genuine love for helping women, and her great faith both in God and her spouse, sustained her.
Depressing. Lacking real substance. Ends abruptly. Not worth my $9.99.