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A Wilder Life: Journey of an Adventuring Doctor


Joan Louwrens


DR JOAN LOUWRENS has always been drawn to wild places, which are balm to her soul. When her husband died, leaving her alone with two small daughters to raise, she threw herself wholeheartedly into ‘adventure medicine’, seeking out the world’s most remote corners – on land and at sea – to practise healing, both her own and others’.

Working in wild places from the Kruger Park to the Australian Outback, the Atlantic Ocean islands, and both the Arctic and Antarctic, ‘Doctor Joan’ has dealt with a vast range of medical challenges, from rabies to deep-vein thrombosis, childbirth to wisdom-tooth extraction, catatonia to depression.

Showing an eagerness to learn and a humility that aren’t always a given in her profession, and with a wry eye and a sympathetic outlook, Joan Louwrens has written a memoir that’s a poignant and often funny story of a life lived to the full.

‘Louwrens begins her globe-trotting memoir in 1980 in Swaziland, delivering a graphic description of an ambulance ride with a sugarcane worker who’d been run over by a tractor. “The stagnant air trapped in the back of the ambulance reeks of past calamities,” she writes evocatively. From that introduction, the narrative gallops along, taking readers to the author’s many medical posts in remote areas across the planet. Among other experiences, she writes about her time aboard an icebreaker heading toward Antarctica, a stint in the Australian Outback, and her work as a doctor during a 10,500-kilometer biking expedition that ran from Istanbul to Beijing along the Silk Route. At each post, she offers compassionate, memorable stories of her patients and their injuries and ailments: crushed fingers, uncontrolled bleeding, rabies, suicidal ideation, and even dental work, with which she had little experience. The photos and maps are welcome bonuses to the page-turning narrative, which is sure to delight armchair adventurers and medical enthusiasts alike.

Boisterous, exciting true tales of a fearless doctor traversing the seas to help people all around the world.’ - KIRKUS REVIEWS

Joan Louwrens is a South African medical doctor with additional qualifications in family medicine, anaesthetics, and tropical medicine. Initially a general practitioner with a special interest in palliative care, she swerved onto an unconventional medical path that saw her working on all seven continents and some oceans in between, sometimes with her two daughters in tow. Home is a wild piece of land near Knysna.

Category:  Biography & Memoirs
ISBN:  9781776190607
Publisher:  Jonathan Ball Publishers
On sale:  October 2020
List price:  R270 
Format:  Paperback
eBook ISBN  9781776190614 
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