The Life of Illness tells the story of one woman's courageous struggle with kidney failure, illness, and death. It is, however, a book about life, hope, faith, and the transformative power of caring for one another.
Carol Olson writes "from the heart of experience," having shared a life of illness with two brothers and three sisters, whom she now survives. Her own life has been precariously maintained by kidney dialysis for more than twenty years.
Inspired by the works of philosophers, literary authors, and poets, Olson turns to hermeneutical phenomenology to explore the meaning of the experience of illness. In response to the question, "How can we live with illness?" the author engages in reflective conversations. As patient, she dialogues with literary works of art dealing with illness, developing relationships between texts and others who experience illness from various points of view: the chaplain, the doctor, the nurse, and the parent. Olson makes us aware of the significance of others in their various caring relations with the person of illness. The clarity and deeply compelling nature of her writing makes this book accessible to all whose lives have been touched by these experiences.
The experience of illness and death we all face impels us to wonder with her about the nature of wholeness and health. Ultimately we ask: "What is life?"
Carol T. Olson holds a doctorate in education, and has taught elementary school and university level education in Canada.
"Olson's work is a lesson. It shows to health care professionals and others who are involved in lives of illness that a health care theology, although a hidden paradigm, is a reality. In the midst of a health care system that is primarily dedicated to economics, technology, politics, and industry, Olson gives voice to the hidden paradigm and reminds us that we need to recapture a synthesis between the health care culture and faith." — Qualitative Health Research
"This book has a power and beauty to it because the issues are living ones for the author. Through her eyes, the reader is brought in a profound way into the issues confronting a person with a debilitating illness. This book fundamentally poses a challenge to rethink the effects and consequences of technology and health care practice for human life." — Howard Eilberg-Schwartz, Stanford University
"The author's intimate involvement with technology while she is facing death allows her to capture the finitude of life in many insightful and provocative ways. It is in fact difficult to express the beauty and power contained in this book. The topic is important for those who are in any way involved with health care, nursing, and the healing experience." — Maggie Neal, University of Maryland at Baltimore, School of Nursing