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A young girl is perched on the cold chrome of yet another doctors examining table, missing yet another day of school. Just twelve, shes tall, skinny, and weak. Its four oclock, and she hasnt been allowed to eat anything all day. Her mother, on the other hand, seems curiously excited. She's about to suggest open-heart surgery on her child to "get to the bottom of this." She checks her teeth for lipstick and, as the doctor enters, shoots the girl a warning glance. This child will not ruin her plans.
From early childhood, Julie Gregory was continually X-rayed, medicated, and operated onin the vain pursuit of an illness that was created in her mothers mind. Munchausen by proxy (MBP) is the worlds most hidden and dangerous form of child abuse, in which the caretakeralmost always the motherinvents or induces symptoms in her child because she craves the attention of medical professionals. Many MBP children die, but Julie Gregory not only survived, she escaped the powerful orbit of her mother's madness and rebuilt her identity as a vibrant, healthy young woman.
Sickened is a remarkable memoir that speaks in an original and distinctive Midwestern voice, rising to indelible scenes in prose of scathing beauty and fierce humor. Punctuated with Julie's actual medical records, it re-creates the bizarre cocoon of her family's isolated double-wide trailer, their wild shopping sprees and gun-waving confrontations, the astonishing navet of medical professionals and social workers. It also exposes the twisted bonds of terror and love that roped Julie's family togetherincluding the love that made a child willing to sacrifice herself to win her mother's happiness.
The realization that the sickness lay in her mother, not in herself, would not come to Julie until adulthood. But when it did, it would strike like lightning. Through her painful metamorphosis, she discovered the courage to save her own lifeand, ultimately, the life of the girl her mother had found to replace her. Sickened takes us to new places in the human heart and spirit. It is an unforgettable story, unforgettably told.
From the Hardcover edition.