Model Patient by Karen Duffy | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Model Patient: My Life As an Incurable Wise-Ass

Model Patient: My Life As an Incurable Wise-Ass

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by Karen Duffy

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From Revlon spokesmodel to film actress to one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People," Karen Duffy was living the life most of us only dream of. Then her whirlwind life of celebrity parties came to an abrupt, grinding halt when she was stricken with a serious illness in one of its rarest forms: sarcoidosis of the central nervous system.



From Revlon spokesmodel to film actress to one of People magazine's "50 Most Beautiful People," Karen Duffy was living the life most of us only dream of. Then her whirlwind life of celebrity parties came to an abrupt, grinding halt when she was stricken with a serious illness in one of its rarest forms: sarcoidosis of the central nervous system.

Duffy soon realized that the only way for her to survive was not to take the disease too seriously. Instead of hiding from life, she chose to run toward it. She learned to embrace the chaos of a life-threatening disease with a wit and humor that helped her to find the love of her life at a time when things seemed darkest.

Model Patient is a gripping, inspiring, and hilarious memoir that recounts the singular triumphs and tragedies of coping with a chronic, life-threatening disease.

Editorial Reviews
In Model Patient, Karen Duffy recounts how she tackled a debilitating, incurable, and life-threatening disease with the same charisma and wit that catapulted the smart-aleck VJ and "Charlie Girl" model to the top of the A-list in the first place. Far from an it's-so-sad-you-have-to-laugh bid for sympathy, Duffy's story is terrifying, but her approach to her illness is so truly humorous that you will laugh with abandon. After all, it is hard not to root for someone who came to face-to-face with mortality and walked away laughing.
D. Gollin
Fighting against emotional defeat, Duffy has written a darkly funny, vital, and impressive (is at times glib) account of how she's make the best of her situation.
Entertainment Weekly

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.64(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The View from the Penthouse Overlooking Success Street

In 1995, I went to the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles with George Clooney. To nobody's greater surprise than my own, except for my aunt's, who always said I'd wind up living in my parents' basement, I was a mildly warm commodity. I was acting and modeling, and the show I was a correspondent for, TV Nation, had already won an Emmy the night before for best documentary show. But the small-to-medium-size spotlight that shone on me didn't blind me to that fact that an Emmy date with George was a score, not just because he was a real star, but because he was such an enormously entertaining guy.

I'd also been palling around with Dwight Yoakam, and I'd even been spending time with Robert DeNiro. I wasn't exactly dating any of them at the time, and I certainly wasn't serious about any one relationship, but in getting to spend time with three rad dudes like George, Dwight, and Bob, I felt like I'd hit the man trifecta at Celebrity Raceway Park.

George was nominated for Best Actor, and although he didn't win, I threw a big party at the Chateau Marmont afterwards. As far as I knew at that moment, everything was perfect in my life and all I had to do was enjoy it to the fullest extent possible. I was going to do a documentary on kayaking in the Sea of Cortez with Arnold Palmer. I was busy modeling for Revlon, I'd just been in Dumb and Dumber, and I had TV development deals all over the place. I was happier than Jerry Lewis in Paris. Everything was going smoothly.

I had worked hard to achieve some things, but I hadn't had to struggle and, like a lot of people in the samecircumstances, I didn't really appreciate all that I had. Not in the way I do now, that's for damn sure. When I first got a child's-size portion of fame from being a VJ on MTV, People magazine named me one of the "50 Most Beautiful People in the World." (I had a cold sore on the day of the photo shoot and they had to shoot me only in profile.) I told the interviewer that the night before I got the word from People, I'd won an Ernest Borgnine Look-alike Contest, and I was incredibly honored to receive both accolades. I also told him I'd never had a bad day in my life, and that remained true all the way up until I had a really bad day -- the worst of my life.

Though I'd been trying to ignore it, for a couple of weeks I'd had a bad headache, which had gotten steadily worse. By the evening of the Emmy Awards it was like the Devil himself was inside my brain with a hot poker, which he was trying to ram through the top of my skull. Still, I would have gone to the Emmys with George if it meant carrying my head in with me in a hand-tooled leather bag.

The next day the headache was even more intense. I was still trying to ignore the pain, so I decided it was just too much champagne. I called George to see if he had a touch of the Irish flu as well. He said no, he was fine.

As the day went on, the headache didn't get any better. The pain exploded in my head like a can of Coke that had been violently shaken and then popped open. I was trying to have a normal day resting in my room, but when the pain struck I was stopped in my tracks, as if I'd been electrocuted. I'd been miming the aura of good health for for a few weeks, but when I looked around for painkillers and realized I'd downed an entire large bottle of Advil in just two days, I knew I couldn't fake it any more.

I cancelled everything in Los Angeles, hopped a plane to New York, and took a cab straight to my doctor's office. I didn't know it at the time, but when I stepped out of that taxi, my life as a healthy person ended and my life as a sick person began. And I was about to get really, really sick.

Meet the Author

Karen Duffy continues to model for Revlon, tour the country as a women's health advocate, and report for Michael Moore's new show, The Awful Truth. She lives with her husband in New York City.

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Model Patient: My Life As an Incurable Wise-Ass 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have not read yet, but I put this on my wish list. I am curious to find out if she believes that sarcoidosis is actually a stealth bacterial infection. I never gave it much thought until 14 years after being diagnosed, I have one bacterial infection after another, and can no longer work. I have lived in three years of misery, and now live in a state that has the worse health care I have ever encounteted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too much rambling about completely unrelated topics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this book up at the library first, read it while riding my stationary bike. To me a good book is one that makes me NOT want to get off the bike/stop reading and this one definately fit that description. It is unbelievable the things that Duff went thru and still could keep her sense of humor. But it is not a depressing book, quite the opposite. It is inspiring. Made my occasional problems seem SO minimal. I would recommend this book to ANYONE who wants to be inspired. I bought a copy after returning my library version, and will re-read it again in the future. GREAT book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm ready to read this book again, and then again! "Jon from NY" said it all all right on! I never was stricken with this terrible disease and yet feel so blessed to have been exposed to this book. It is uplifting amidst life's worse senarios, and is truly real. Anyone and everyone is better for reading this book. (You will cry though, and then cry from laughter.) This book is not only showing life as the gift that it is, but that Karen's been a real gift to all of us!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an almost compulsive reader of medical 'stuff' written on any level, and as a fellow sarcoidien, I can't say enough about Karen Duffy's book 'Model Patient.' I can't remember laughing as hard as I did while reading this book. Yet, among all the chuckles, Karen manages to give excellent advice for all of us when dealing with illness, any illness. As for sarcoidosis, I hope to God this book becomes compulsory reading for AMA members. Family doctors/primary care physicians NEED to learn to expect and recognize this disease. Too many sarc patients, like myself, crawl from doctor to doctor as they brush off our multitudinous symptoms, missing an important diagnosis as our lungs get trashed from lack of treatment. I think sarcoidosis is a lot more common than anyone thinks. Karen Duffy has gone to bat for all sarc sufferers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is hysterical. Even though Karen Duffy has a rare and extremely painful disease, it hasn't dampened her spirits or stopped her from living life to it's fullest. Even if all she can do is read on the couch, she makes the most of it, rather than moping. I love the way she doesn't ask for pity and has fun with whatever life gives her. I think everyone can learn something from her fresh outloook on life, and everyone will laugh.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have a friend with sarcoidosis, and I bought this book to read before I gave it to her. I was glad I'd read it, and of course I gave it to her as soon as I was done. Not just a book about a celebrity, it's also funny and inspirational and moving. Great job.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is an absolute delight. Rather than a' boo-hoo, poor me' medical memoir Model Patient is a glorious celebration of life. Reading it is like sitting down with your best (and most outrageous) friend,Duff is a masterful storyteller. Her story is funny,sad, terrifying and in the end inspirational....oh by the way did I say that it's FUNNY? This is a book you'll want to share with your family and friends.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Just when you think that your world is on track, life might send you a curved ball. Forget any books on self help. I found Duff's story so funny and insiring that I forgot the seriousness of her sickness. I'd recommend it to anyone in the world who ever has questioned the gift of life. When most of us would be calling for our last rights, Duff is spitting in deaths eye, forgetting the troubles of life and focusing on the more important good things that we have for the short time that we are here. The book had me laughing and crying on the same page and Im recomending it to anyone who has been close to me.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Read two chapters about Duff and call me in the morning to tell me how much you loved it! This book was so well written and inspiring. I loved it and so will you!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Karen and John beautifully express their acquired skill of walking the tightrope between living with a disease and transcending it. Their sentiment reminds me of Dr. Viktor Frankl's, 'Man's Search For Meaning', where he describes how he survived the Nazi deathcamps by separating who he was as a person from his physical body subject to torture and confimement -- their story, and the eloquence with which it is told, is no less inspiring.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Read Model Patient and see for yourself how this 'wise-ass' has a strong will, great looks, and a heart of an angel. I loved it and am telling eveyone to read it, especially my freinds who are doctors and eveyone who has ever been to a doctor!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is such a warm and wonderful book. I just couldn't put it down. You'll find yourself flying through this book. Karen is someone who writes as if she's your friend and sitting at your kitchen table telling you this unbelievable story. You'll wish you had a friend just like her! What a sense of humor and she puts a real human face on sickness. She is so honest and yet you'll find yourself laughing. She's got that real Irish gift of story telling. I'd recommend this book to everyone because lets face it all of us get sick or someone in our family does and Karen gives great advice and humor in dealing with all those levels we eventually have to handle. Buy it for yourself and a friend.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Witha laugh on every page, couldn't put this book down! I just had to run out and order five copies for my friends! This book about Duff is very well written and funnny! You will remember her as she used to be on MTV and cheer her on as she fights this illness. I can't wait for her next book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was marvelous as I myself was just diagnosed with sarcoidosis of the CNS 2 months ago. I could completely relate to the frustration and helplessness one with this rare autoimmune disorder faces. And I only hope it spurs more research and education on the part of the medical profession as so many of them are totally in the dark about this disorder. It seems that patients, such as myself and Duff, know more about this disease than most of the medical profession.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I dare anybody to do what I did--just pick it up and start reading. You won't be able to put it down! If you like books about dealing with illness, or you like to read about famous people, or if you like FUNNY books you will love it! I was sorry when I got to the end. Write more Duff!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a joy to read, finished it in one sittting, it is a laugh-out-loud funny and inspirational story that I highly recommend to everyone!