Diabetes, referred to as an epidemic for more than a decade, remains one of our most significant health issues in the twenty-first century. Because self-management is an important component of living with the disease, the biomedical concept of patient agency has long stressed notions of individual responsibility and autonomy. However, dramatic shifts in both health care and cultural practices call for a reassessment of traditional definitions of patient agency.
Lora Arduser’s Living Chronic: Agency and Expertise in the Rhetoric of Diabetes answers this call with a unique rhetorical examination of one of the most critical issues in contemporary health: how we live and work with being chronic. Through her perceptive analysis of the discourse of both people with diabetes and health care providers, Arduser presents a new model for patient agency—one that advocates for a relational, fluid concept of agency that blurs the boundaries between medical experts and patients. Her thought-provoking use of bodily and rhetorical plasticity crafts a multidimensional picture of patient agency that profoundly affects how rhetorical scholars, people living with chronic illness, and health care providers can forge patient-centered discourse and practices.
In early March of 2020, Americans watched with uncertain terror as the “novel coronavirus” pandemic unfolded in the coastal cities of Seattle and Boston as well as around the world. No one in the heartland state of Ohio had been infected—as far as we knew, given the scarcity of tests. One week later, Ohio announced its first confirmed cases. Just one year later, the state had over a million cases and 18,000 Ohioans had died. What happened in the course of that first pandemic year is not only a story of a public health disaster, but also a story of social disparities and moral dilemmas, of lives and livelihoods turned upside down, and of institutions and safety nets stretched to their limits.
This volume tells the human story of COVID in Ohio, America’s “bellwether” state. Scholars and practitioners examine the pandemic response from multiple angles, and contributors from numerous walks of life offer moving first-person reflections. Two themes emerge again and again: how the pandemic revealed a deep tension between individual autonomy and the collective good, and how it exacerbated social inequalities. When COVID hit Ohio, it found a state divided along social, economic, and political lines. State leaders and health care institutions struggled to react to the growing emergency without much help from the federal government. Meanwhile, individuals and families were put under enormous stress. Many already marginalized and underserved communities were left behind.
Chapters address such varied topics as mask mandates, ableism, prisons, food insecurity, access to reproductive health care, and the need for more Black doctors. The book concludes with an interview with Dr. Amy Acton, the state’s top public health official at the time COVID hit Ohio. Collectively, the volume captures the devastating impact of the pandemic, both in the public discord it has unearthed and in the unfair burdens it has placed on the groups least equipped to bear them.