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Patient: The True Story of a Rare Illness
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Patient: The True Story of a Rare Illness

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  248 ratings  ·  36 reviews
In the summer of 1992, on the eve of an American tour, Ben Watt, one half of the Billboard-topping pop duo Everything But The Girl, was taken to a London hospital complaining of chest pain. He didn’t leave for two and a half months. Watt had developed a rare life-threatening disease that initially baffled doctors. By the time he was allowed home, his ravaged body was forty ...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published August 10th 1998 by Grove Press (first published 1996)
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Not the easiest of subjects to read about, but Ben's writing is so clear, lucid and embracing that you get swept along in his story.

Who would think that a story about a life threatening condition could be so heart warming, funny, frustrating and thoughtful at the same time - well this book is all of these things and more.

It also shows what a wonderful institution the NHS in the UK is, and the hard work that all of the nurses, doctors, surgeons, cleaners, volunteers etc do in hospitals everywhere
Just re-read this book for the first time in years, and was reminded of how good it is: intensely personal but effortlessly accessible; reflective, often lyrical, but (despite the subject) never somber; an understated but strikingly insightful view into the world and counter-life of serious illness, ultimately woven back into the fabric of healthy life.

Curiously, I first became a devotee of Everything But the Girl at the very time that Watt was in hospital, over the summer of 1992. My first summ
Vicky Allen
I have read this book so many times since the day I bought it. It was the book I was reading when my grandad died, it was the book I was reading in the midst of a prolonged period of illness, it is the book I return to when I need to find a way of stilling myself and reminding myself who I am and where I am. It's beautifully written, in spare but evocative language that captures the rawness and strange detachment of serious illness. I love this book, both for what it is and for what it has come ...more
Sep 25, 2014 Fiona rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2014
A very moving account of the experience of serious illness and how it is to be a patient in hospital. It is particularly good on the internal mental processes of illness, the way that it can affect your sense of yourself and your relationships with others. I had such a strong sense of how the writer's horizons shrank and his world became limited to his own pain when he was at his worst. Even when he was relatively well, his life ended at the doors of the ward. He drew a poignant contrast between ...more
David Glenn Dixon
Washington City Paper
Arts & Entertainment : Book Review

Gut Symmetries
By Glenn Dixon • June 20, 1997

It's impossible to watch "Cocksucker Blues," Robert Frank's unreleased chronicle of the Rolling Stones' 1972 tour, without thinking that the real reason the band suppressed it was not to shield the public from all the fucking and nodding, but to hush up persuasive evidence of a fundamental truth: Few things are as uncharismatic as rock stars when they're not actually doing their jobs.

That was a
Julie Barrett
Eh, it was ok. I got this memoir from the library primarily because it is by Ben Watt, who is part of the duo called Everything But the Girl. Dang, I love their songwriting. I'm currently on a memoir kick and this seemed like an interesting premise; sort of like a House episode on tv. Why is Ben having these symptoms? What could it be? etc.

Turns out that reading about a person's illness is pretty dang boring - not like a tv show at all. The part that held the most fascination for me was reading
I've come to the conclusion that I must be a nasty individual, because I actually enjoyed reading about someone's pain and suffering! I could sympathise but not empathise with Ben Watt - it's such a rare disease that there can't be many others around that CAN empathise! I'm glad I read it though. Brave man! One thing puzzled me - did he keep a diary? To remember every thought etc. over a space of some 30 years makes it seem likely. Mmmm!
An amazing view of what it's like to be at death's door with an undiagnosed illness. What struck me most is the way Watt kept turning inside himself; the outside world was completely irrelevant to him. At one point, he's standing in the hospital's shop, looking at the things for sale, and he stares at the sandwiches and snacks on display like they're "arresting" museum exhibits. He hasn't eaten by mouth in a very long time at this point, so food is a curiosity to him. I also found it sweet how h ...more
Jen Squire
It didn't take long to read this, and (after a reasonable interval) I'll be reading his memoir Romany and Tom.

I was concerned about a singer I liked in the 80s/90s writing a book - I've written about why that was unnecessary and what I loved about this book.
Jan 13, 2008 Paul rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: faves
Admittedly, a book about an obscure 80's British pop star's journey through an extremely rare and nearly fatal encounter with an extremely rare immune system disorder might be a bit of a hard sell for some but this is truly an amazing and - yes - inspiring book. Told with a songwriter's ear for detail and an almost unbelievable honest and wit, considering the circumstances he was facing, this is a riveting account of what it is like to go from the "normal" world where one is in control to "patie ...more
Erm. Well it was an unputdownable read, but I found him quite unlikeable. I didn't feel sympathetic for him at all.
I noticed that some reviewers on this site found this book boring. Boy, that was NOT my reaction. I found Watt's writing style to be delightful and there were passages that moved me and passages that made me laugh out loud. This book succeeds on so many levels. It's a very accurate description of what it feels like to be seriously ill in a hospital; it's also a wonderful memoir about life in England in the 1980s and early 1990s. (Postscript: an interview with Ben Watt and Tracey Thorn from 2010. ...more
I expect nothing less from the man who brought us NORTH MARINE DRIVE.
An otherwise healthy young man suddenly develops an autoimmune disease that results in him losing much of his large intestine, with a long hospital stay, and huge changes in his life. He's British, and tells his story in a clear, understated way. He does a great job of conveying how disconcerting it is to be suddenly no longer able bodied. He's half of the British pop duo Everything but the Girl. I listened to some of their songs on the web, which weren't to my taste, but I liked his book.
Becky Rose
Borrowed from Laura. This book reminded me a lot of when I was sick and had emergency surgery several years ago - the descriptions of his mindspace were very accurate and familiar to my own experience and took me back to that time in a way that was both unpleasant (who wants to think about being sick and scared) and reassuring (oh yeah, that sucked, but now I'm so healthy, and wow, someone else felt the same way in similar but way, way worse situation).
This book deeply resonated with me, especially since I've spent the past five years coping with my husband's illness. The author really captures the experience of serious, sudden illness and hospitalization, of pain, frustration and alienation. It is beautifully written, heartfelt and deeply moving, and the author's voice is strong and distinct from the very first sentence. I look forward to reading his next work.
D. B.
A gut-wrenching first-person account of a gut-wrenching disease that has Ben Watt's (the weirder-looking half of Brit pop duo Everything But The Girl) guts literally rotting away from the inside out. Watt, while no literary artiste, is close enuf to his own dilemma to analyze it, and yet detached sufficiently to keep his life-and-near-death struggle from descending into sappy sentimentality.

Stay healthy!
Aug 30, 2008 Maureen rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of EBTG / anyone who can handle gory descriptions LOL
Though I had to pause reading it because of the descriptions of what he had to face getting treated for his disease - this was a wonderfully written book. It was very honest and vulnerable and lovely. I'm a big EBTG fan, which was the initial intrigue, but am now a fan of him as a person who faced death, faced himself, and faced the world in this heartwrenching story. Some nice dry English humour as well. ;)
This is the story of one man's life threatening rare illness. I read this book in a span of 4 hours. It was compelling and very urgently told. Despite the story being depressing, his writing didn't allow you to feel pity but to walk you through the fear and the pain he felt. Nothing romantic about it- just a normal man trying to deal with the cards dealt to him. It was a very inspiring story.
I loved this book. As well as being a very well written, compelling and moving account of a terrible illness it is also a testament to the brilliance of the NHS.
I wasn't sure I could finish this book. Really tedious reading. I respect Ben Watt and I'm glad he wrote the book. How difficult it would be to be near death sick and deal with the doctors not know what's wrong with you. But it really wasn't an easy book for me to get through. It does give a very honest insight of him and his relationships.
This is well-written autobiographical account of Ben Watt's battle with a near-fatal disease (Churg-Strauss Syndrome). Ben is part of the musical duo called Everything But the Girl. His story goes into detail of his horrifying experience, his slow and painful recovery, and his will and determination despite the nightmare he goes through.
Eileen Holmes-ievers
Being an EBTG fan, started with the Marine Girls and listened and saw Ben and Tracey live in solo projects was interested when I read about this book. I found it beautifully written, not a 'woe is me' book, but an honest and thought-provoking diary of a rare and debilitating illness.
William Alberque
A heart-rendingly simple and stunningly well-told journey through a man's horrible illness and wonderful recovery. Warts and all, is the usual cliche, but crikes, he's so honest, so direct. Missing, indeed.
I read this because I'm a huge EBTG fan. I remember seeing Ben wasting away on album covers. The story was told with unflinching honesty, dry English wit and ultimately hope.
I'm a big Everything But The Girl fan. I couldn't put this book down. Some of Ben and Tracey's songs seem different after you know the whole story of Ben's illness.
This is a heart warming story about a quite horrible, life threatening illness and about the hospital life that follows. This is not a story for the squeamish.
This was an incredibly gripping read. It was a love story as much as it was about Ben's experience with a rare and life threatening illness.
Mark Slee
Gripping and beautifully honest. Ben's narration of his struggle is both incredibly moving and grounding. Tremendously enjoyed this read.
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