Reviewed by Voy Stelmaszynski, past President of SOAR
“Grace, luck, accident, serendipity, mystery, or the random workings of the universe.”
I have plucked this sentence from the middle of Genevieve Chornenki’s delightful little memoir, Don’t Lose Sight, because it captures the content, essence and mood of her very personal journey through Ontario’s healthcare system, including a look into the workings of the regulatory sector of health professionals. It’s a sharply written intrigue, a story of birth, love, pain, perseverance and (maybe) justice.
Grace, because the volume is written with precision, humour and elegance. Chornenki is an acute observer of the visible and invisible. She’s funny, profound and good with a turn of phrase.
Luck, because the book describes a lucky break Genevieve encountered on her way to an ophthalmologist appointment, a casual conversation with a colleague who quickly and accurately identified the problem with Genevieve’s eye. As luck would have it, the colleague’s assessment was bang on, later confirmed and corrected by the retinal surgeon who restored her vision.
Accident, because an accident of fate (read: a less than ideal optometrist) produced a misdiagnosis that ultimately led to the writing of this precious little book.
Mystery, because Genevieve is a sleuth par excellence in tracking down the issue with her deteriorating eyesight. She does her own investigating, long before internet searches were at her fingertips, then later, aided by Dr. Google, to pinpoint the problem, target the culprit and aim for a resolution “in the public interest.”
The random workings of the universe, because the book describes Genevieve’s path from undergraduate sciences, to law school, to alternative dispute resolution. And how she professionally combines this background to navigate the world of regulatory law once she has determined that there might have been a flawed diagnosis that almost cost her her sight.
As someone whose professional career was devoted to finding solutions for people with problems, Chornenki becomes her own client when she files a complaint with the College of Optometrists. The College’s procedures surprise her but, as she astutely observes when pursuing her remedy, “a patient complaint is not a personality clash.” It’s not just about me, she muses: Chornenki has her day in court, but the win extends well beyond her own recovered eyesight. And we all stand to win by reading this charming chronicle.