The author was the first blind physician to be licensed in Canada. Her autobiography is also an autopathography.

From her anger over developing severe diabetes as a teenager, through her relentless pursuit of a scientific degree and medical school, through a brief failed marriage – followed by the tragedy of completely losing her sight while still in training, to a rewarding and responsible career as a palliative care physician and educator.

Sustained by her religious faith and by loyal family members and friends, Poulson explains choices, compromises and supports that allowed her to continue studying and working in Montreal and later in Toronto.

Her complications from diabetes were numerous, and included heart disease for which she required surgery. Then she developed breast cancer, which eventually metastasized. In closing her narrative, she knows it will likely take her life.


Jane Poulson died of breast cancer in 2001 at age 49. An obituary appeared in the CMAJ. 

This remarkable, inspiring autobiography contains many unique elements useful to medical trainees: the privileged description of what she “saw” as her sight slowly vanished; the exceptional determination and justified pride in her accomplishments; the pithy advice about how people can be cruel in clumsy attempts to be kind; and the insights of physician as patient.

Incidentally, one of her medical school friendships was with Ross Pennie, now a physician-novelist whose work is also annotated in this database.

The Introduction, written by her friends and literary executors, John Fraser and Elizabeth MacCallum, is intriguing because the personality that they describe seems crustier and more blunt than the one that emerges from the author’s own words.


Novalis, St. Paul's University

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