What We’re Reading: Recommended Resources from our Library

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Making Lesbians Visible in the Substance Use Field
Edited by Elizabeth Ettorre
(Harrington Park Press, 2005)

Lesbians and bisexual women are more likely than heterosexual women to report alcohol and substance abuse,yet existing alcohol and drug services are inadequate to meet the needs of this community. Substance use for these women is often enmeshed in issues relating to sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or making connections with queer people and communities. Lesbian substance users aren’t able to bring forward the whole of their experiences when they are in environments that are non-supportive and where they experience homophobia. They become invisible. This book is a step in helping to create environments in which the hurt of invisibility can begin to be healed. The various papers captured here highlight how a lesbian sensitive perspective on lesbian health and substance use can shed new light on this neglected research area, as well as illuminate important areas of concern for treaters and researchers alike.

Relative Stranger: A Life After Death
By Mary Loudon
(Doubleday Canada, 2006)

Mary Loudon's book is a remembrance of her sister Catherine's life. It is also the documenting of the author's journey to uncover and tell that story. Catherine lived with schizophrenia; an illness that had profound effects on the way she lived her life and on her family. Loudon's memories of growing up with her sister and of trying to maintain a relationship (mostly in vain) are explored after Catherine's death from cancer. She effectively weaves in stories and memories with useful information about what it means to live with schizophrenia. I found this book worked to undo some of the rigid definitions of mental illness and normality and created a story that we could all learn from.

"Our lives are predicated upon basic cultural certainties. Among the most critical of these certainties is that life should be lived within particular parameters and that human beings possess, if you like, a default setting of normality from which any significant deviation may be regarded as a cause for concern or worse. That our ideas of normal behaviour are so firmly established allows many people genuinely to wonder what a life is for if it is lived on the border of sanity. It allows them to uphold the belief that life is only worth living or, more serious still, that you are only worth your life as long as you are reasonably happy, well and rational" (Loudon, 2006, p. 334).

The Birth House
Ami McKay
(Knopf Canada, 2006)

And now for something completely different… our first fiction review! Set in Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, The Birth House tells the story of a midwife, Dora Rare around the First World War. However, change is in the air as a doctor sets up his practice in the area. He promises painless childbirth by using the newest technologies and scientific knowledge. The conflict between traditional knowledge of the midwife and the new and modern medical knowledge weaves it way throughout the whole story.

This is a celebration of women’s ways of knowing and an examination of the role that midwives played in communities at that time. Through Dora, McKay tells us not only the extraordinary life of one woman; she also captures a moment of our social history. Reminding us that the personal is definitely political.

Criminalizing Women: Gender and (In)Justice in Neo-Liberal Times
Edited by Gillian Balfour and Elizabeth Comack
(Fernwood Publishing, 2006)

This recently released edited collection is an exploration of the issues feminist thought brings to the field of criminology. Women and women's relationships to the criminal justice system are often overlooked within the context of the criminology canon. This book demonstrates the broad range of work in this area being done by feminists that considers the conditions of women's lives and analysis of systemic oppression. Criminalizing Women is a book that both provides space for criminalized women's narratives and, with a section on making change, it looks to the future with a toolbox full of feminist strategies to be used to address the issues revealed by these narratives.

Staying Alive: Critical Perspectives on Health, Illness, and Health Care
Edited by Dennis Raphael, Toba Bryan and Marcia Rioux
(Canadian Scholars’ Press Inc., 2006)

The meaning of health can no longer be defined as simply “the absence of disease,” given what we know about the complexity of social relations and the human being. Health studies must now look at the experience and understanding of illness and disability; differential access to both health and health care; the political, economic, and social forces that shape health and health care; and the intersection of social class, gender, and race with all of these issues. Despite these issues, most of the research and professional health care preoccupations remain narrow, focused on the biology of disease, individual risk factors, and identifying and evaluating the efficacy of medical interventions. The contributors of this book address these narrow preoccupations by providing articles that look at the latest conceptual developments and empirical findings concerning the status of health, illness, and health care in Canada.

Family and Friends’ Guide to Domestic Violence: How to Listen, Talk and Take Action When Someone You Care About is Being Abused
Elaine Weiss
(Volcano Press, 2003)

It’s hard to know what to do when a friend or family member is in an abusive relationship – sometimes we feel angry, and oftentimes, we feel pretty powerless to help. But family and friends can make an enormous difference to someone who is trapped in the web of violence. Our involvement may be as simple as a well-thought-out sentence spoken at just the right time, or it may be a longer-term commitment. This book explains the many ways you can help someone you care about, by first teaching about intimate partner violence, so that we can truly understand the complexities of the victim’s life. It then takes time to teach us words and actions that can make a difference as she works to break free. Finally, the author shows us how we can remain involved by providing ongoing support to someone who has escaped from an abuser, either recently or long ago.

Gestational Diabetes: What to Expect: Your Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy and a Happy, Healthy Baby (Fifth Edition)
(American Diabetes Association, 2005)

Gestational diabetes is not something you want to hear about when you’re pregnant. It can leave you feeling quite anxious and overwhelmed. You have plans for your pregnancy and your new baby, and learning you have diabetes may cause you to worry about your baby's health. Luckily, this book, written in clear, plain language, offers all the information you need to help you understand what you need to do to stay healthy and have a healthy baby. The book covers many topics, including: learning about what you need to do to stay well, information on insulin therapy, exercise and pregnancy, nutrition, how to monitor gestational diabetes, and sample meal plans.

The Adventures of Carrie Giver: The Cost of Caring
(TR Rose Associates, Inc., 2006)
Theresa Funiciello, Diane Pagen, Eduordo Savid, Winona Nelson, Rob Hawkins

Just for the record, I am a big comic book geek. I’ll never turn down the chance to review a new comic series, particularly if it stars a super-heroine (preferably in costume). So imagine my delight when I came across this new title, which aims to highlight the costs and burdens of unpaid caregiving on women! Our super heroine, Carrie Giver, and her alter ego, Carrie Miller, battle everyday prejudices and save people from life-altering hazards of chance or circumstance (as well as the occasional boogeyman). This is a very American story, but can still be entertaining, not to mention informative, to Canadian audiences. Using comics as a way to talk about the value of caregiving, to both children and older people, is new, and hopefully, Carrie Giver’s adventures will continue.

The Handbook of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Public Health: A Practitioner’s Guide to Service
Edited by Michael D. Shankle
(Harrington Park Press, 2005)

Lesbians, and bisexual and transgendered women often face many barriers that prevent them from gaining access to adequate healthcare services, including homophobia, heterosexism, healthcare professionals who are not trained in the healthcare needs of these populations, and dis/mis information about the health problems and concerns of these women. These barriers can result in poor health. In order to address these barriers, this publication collects various research lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender research findings in one volume. Readers are given access to practical theories and solutions for overcoming the problems and disparities experienced by this community.

Breastfeeding and Human Lactation (Third Edition)
Jan Riordan
(Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 2004)

This revised and updated textbook, already considered one of the best reference tools for health workers on breastfeeding, brings together the latest clinical techniques and research findings that direct evidence-based clinical practice. It provides quite extensive coverage of breastfeeding basics: what to do, when to do it, and how to properly assist the lactating mother. The book looks at and addresses the many concerns new moms have during the postpartum period following her and baby’s return home. Of special note, the authors also address the special needs of preterm babies and their mothers. A CD-ROM containing digital photos (depicting situations related to breastfeeding) is also included.

Nursing Against the Odds: How Health Care Cost Cutting, Media Stereotypes, and Medical Hubris Undermine Nurses and Patient Care
Suzanne Gordon
(Cornell University Press, 2005)

Nurse give direct, hands-on care and their primary mission is the care of the sick, aging, infirm, vulnerable, and dying patient. Having witnessed two dear friends battle different illnesses in hospital, I’ve observed the conditions that affect these nurses who provide (excellent) direct care. Cost-cutting measures in health care have hit nurses hard. When hospitals look at operating dollars, the large proportion devoted to nursing services always stands out. These services are often cut when nurse leaders cannot produce evidence that defends their nursing resource needs. The author addresses this issue and studies the impact of cost cutting on the delivery of nursing care and the nurses who provide it. She digs even further into the nursing profession and looks at the relationship between nurses and doctors, and how nursing is portrayed in the media, which have significant consequences for the ability to retain and recruit nurses.

Turning Heads: Portraits of Grace, Inspiration, and Possibilities
Jackson Hunsicker
(Press On Regardless, 2006)

When my best friend Deanna’s cancer came back, she wanted to refuse treatment. "I can’t go back to being a bald freak again, Barb," was what she said to me over the phone. I understood her fears. I remembered the stares we used to get when out and about in malls and restaurants. I witnessed it again when a member of the CWHN family underwent chemotherapy. The looks of pity, or worse, fear. For Deanna, it was a constant reminder that she was sick, that her time here on earth was very limited. As the editor of this work says, “In a perfect world, we shouldn’t feel ashamed of the way we look while fighting cancer; we shouldn’t want to hide… How we currently perceive the disease, how we shrink away from it, requires an attitude adjustment – for the patient, for the people who love that patient, and for the rest of us.” By collecting these photographs of women of all ages and walks of life who have lost their hair to cancer treatment, she’s on her way to changing how we look at cancer.

Want to Know More About Midwives?
(Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women’s Health, 2006)

One of the priority areas of work for the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women's Health is focused on sexual and reproductive health, in particular on improving maternity and newborn care services for women. The ACEWH believes that an integral part of improving these services is for women to have access to publicly-funded services of midwives. To this end, they have produced this booklet for the general public that describes what a midwife is, what they do, and why midwifery is important. The booklet also look at midwives as primary health care providers, examines their scope of practice, as well as the contribution midwifery has made to primary health care renewal.

Turning a New Leaf: Women, Tobacco, and the Future
Edited by Lorraine Greaves, Natasha Jategaonkar, and Sara Sanchez
(BC Centre of Excellence for Women's Health and International Network of Women Against Tobacco, 2006)

Currently, 1.1 billion people worldwide are smokers, and this number is expected to increase to 1.6 billion by 2025. Although overall rates of smoking are declining in some countries (including Canada), they are increasing in many developing nations, particularly among women. By 2020, 20 percent of the world’s women will be smokers. Given these escalating rates of cigarette smoking among women, women’s susceptibility to related diseases, and the lack of knowledge about the effects of tobacco policies on girls’ and women’s lives, it is clear that the world is on the verge of an international epidemic of female morbidity and mortality arising from women’s use of tobacco. This report provides a much-needed picture of women’s tobacco use in different social contexts, identifies the health effects of tobacco, and describes women’s role in tobacco production and marketing. It also provides direction on assessing and addressing the gendered issues of tobacco control in policy, programming, and research in order to reduce the devastating effects of tobacco on women.

Gender-based Analysis and Wait Times: New Questions, New Knowledge
Beth E. Jackson, Ann Pederson, and Madeline Boscoe
(Women and Health Care Reform (WHCR), 2006)

Waiting for health care services has been and continues to be a major issue for Canadians. A gender-based analysis of wait times is important because women and men have different experiences of health, illness and treatment, have different health care needs, access health care differently and may experience different outcomes from programs and services. In this paper, the authors demonstrate a gender-based analysis of wait times with respect to hip and knee replacements and recommend that this model be applied to research and policy development in other clinical areas and to the examination of wait times in general.

Also available online at http://www.cewh-cesf.ca/PDF/health_reform/genderWaitTimesEN.pdf