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{March 8, 2011}   Ask Me Why I Hurt: The Kids Nobody Wants and the Doctor Who Heals Them, by Randy Christensen, M.D.

Crown Publishing Group, in conjunction with Goodreads First Reads, offered this book as a giveaway.  I was lucky enough to win one of the ARCs for review, prior to its release April 12, 2011.  

Synopsis from Goodreads: “The unforgettable inspiring memoir of one extraordinary doctor who is saving lives in a most unconventional way, Ask Me Why I Hurt is the touching and revealing first-person account of the remarkable work of Dr. Randy Christensen. Trained as a pediatrician, he works not in a typical hospital setting but, rather, in a 38-foot Winnebago that has been refitted as a doctor’s office on wheels. His patients are the city’s homeless adolescents and children.  In the shadow of one affluent American city, Dr. Christensen has dedicated his life to caring for society’s throwaway kids—the often-abused, unloved children who live on the streets without access to proper health care, all the while fending off constant threats from thugs, gangs, pimps, and other predators. With the Winnebago as his moveable medical center, Christensen and his team travel around the outskirts of Phoenix, attending to the children and teens who need him most.  With tenderness and humor, Dr. Christensen chronicles everything from the struggles of the van’s early beginnings, to the support system it became for the kids, and the ultimate recognition it has achieved over the years. Along with his immense professional challenges, he also describes the trials and joys he faces while raising a growing family with his wife Amy. By turns poignant, heartbreaking, and charming, Dr. Christensen’s story is a gripping and rich memoir of his work and family, one of those rare books that stays with you long after you’ve turned the last page.”

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Ten years, and 7,000 patients later, Randy Christensen pens his memoir of life helping “the kids nobody wants.”  In 2000, Christensen, along with the help of his colleagues and funding from businesses, started a mobile home clinic in hopes of reaching the homeless children of Phoenix.  Originally under the belief that he could help all his patients better their lives, Christensen shares his experiences, frustrations, heartache, and triumphs as he learns to accept the reality that not all his patients can, or will, be helped.

From the very beginning of the memoir, you will be captivated as Christensen shares the ups and downs of caring for the homeless from the mobile home unit Big Blue.  As patients come and go, Christensen shows the reader the real life atrocities that homeless children live through daily in America.  What is perhaps even more heartbreaking is Christensen’s inability to obtain insurance for most of these children; without birth certificates and identification, Medicaid cannot be obtained.  Since no homeless child has their certificates or identification, the homeless are continually denied insurance, even when their mental and physical health puts them at serious risk of death.  You will rejoice with Christensen as he helps some homeless children achieve their goals in life, and get off the street, and you will cry with him as the system continually overlooks the homeless.  Christensen bares his heart, opening his private life to the reader as well as his professional life; for Christensen, the two go hand in hand. 

This memoir really opened my eyes to the neglect and atrocities taking place in America.  Homelessness is not a comfortable topic for discussion, and all too often these plights are swept under the rug.  After reading this memoir, it is even more apparent that our country is in dire need of health care reforms to protect those who cannot protect themselves. In my opinion, everyone needs to read this memoir.  Christensen is doing amazing work and the world needs to hear about it.  Five stars.

If you are interested in helping the homeless, please visit the websites below:

http://www.phoenixchildrens.com/community/healthcare-outreach/crewsnhealthmobile/

www.childrenshealthfund.org

www.umom.org

www.diabetes.org

 

 

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Amy says:

This sounds like a really good book.



Sandi Stillings says:

This IS a really good book!
I read about it in Readers Digest & purchased it through Amazon weeks ago before it came out…which was today. I have read non-stop!! I have cried many times…wow. Powerful & I love his candor, as well. I will finish within the hour!!
I was never homless…but lead the homelife of some of these kids.
I think doctors like Randy are rare! God Bless him & his staff!!



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