Abby Norman tells her often harrowing story with grace in Ask Me About My Uterus. She’s had to make her way through life in pain, and mostly alone. I’m in awe of her courage and fortitude!
Norman spent her childhood with an absent father, and a functionally absent mother who was too sick with her own disease to care for her children. In case that wasn’t hard enough, her abusive grandmother stepped in to care for Abby. Somehow, she survives this and has the unimaginable presence of mind to request emancipation at age sixteen.
As she tells this part of the story, I cheered for her while I was marveling at her teenage grit. Norman moved forward with life, got herself help, and thank goodness, had people who were equipped to offer her safe and healthy shelter.
Amazing as it is, this is only one small segment of Abby Norman’s story. She actually explains her childhood as an adjunct to the excruciating abdominal pain she began experiencing at nineteen. As with many people who experience chronic pain, Norman searches for an explanation. Is it a result of her difficult childhood? Was the neglect an emotional or physical catalyst?
Doctors don’t take her seriously. So finding an explanation isn’t simple cause and effect. Norman begins to do medical and scientific research about endometriosis. Turns out there isn’t much information available, which leads her to examine why women’s pain isn’t addressed effectively or often.
It’s these components—her story and her research—that make up Ask Me About My Uterus. Norman deconstructs each topic with eloquence and care. She acknowledges that each endo patient has a different story, including those from the LGBTQIA+ community. And yet, many pieces of her story are clearly universal to endo and other chronic pain patients.
As a woman living with chronic pain, I wanted to first bump Norman every page or so. I’m also an adult woman who survived an untraditional upbringing, especially as it related to medical care. More fist bumps for her story and survival.
Abby makes the world of living with invisible illness visible. She puts her uterus, her sex life, her heart and soul on display. And it’s obvious her intention is to help women with endo and other types of chronic pain. She’s a fighter who tells a damn interesting story.
I never felt that Norman was a drama queen looking for sympathy. Instead, her approach was matter of fact and easy to read. She’s solution-oriented and a captivating writer. I’d like to give this book to my doctors. There are also a few doctors in Norman’s story that I’d like to give a piece of my mind. The mom in me wants to charge in and fight for justice. But thankfully, Abby Norman is doing a great job of that in her life and in this book.
Thanks to NetGalley, Abby Norman, and Perseus Books, PublicAffairs, and Nation Books for the digital ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.