New York Times bestselling author and memoirist Andrea J. Buchanan was kind enough to read an advance copy of my book, Uncomfortably Numb, and to share her thoughts about it.
Given that Buchanan struggled for over a year with the devastating impact of a tear in the membrane protecting her brain and spinal cord — as detailed in her memoir, The Beginning of Everything: The Year I Lost My Mind and Found Myself — her words about my MS-centric book mean a great deal:
Meredith O’Brien writes deftly and gracefully about the shock of becoming an unreliable narrator as she navigates both disbelieving doctors and the challenges of her own changing brain in the process of searching for answers to the concerning symptoms she experiences. A journalist by training and a writer by nature, she fearlessly investigates, contemplates, and confronts her diagnosis of multiple sclerosis as she learns to adapt to her body’s new way of being in the world. Her frank look at what this process is like for both herself and her family will be heartening to anyone who has lived with the uncertainty of chronic illness.
Uncomfortably Numb: a memoir, goes on sale March 3.
Image credit: Amazon.
In less than a month.
My memoir will be available for sale.
At the beginning of Multiple Sclerosis awareness month.
This is more than slightly terrifying. My memoir, Uncomfortably Numb, is the most personal work I’ve written to date. Hopefully folks will embrace its vulnerability and dark humor. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed. Tightly.
Meanwhile, it gives me a shot of confidence that Sarai Walker, the author of the much-praised Dietland (yes, the book that was made into a TV show), has kind words for Uncomfortably Numb. In fact, my publisher put an excerpt of Walker’s blurb on the cover.
Here’s Walker’s full blurb:
In Uncomfortably Numb, Meredith O’Brien writes unflinchingly about her life before and after her MS diagnosis. Detailing her treatment, her struggles to be taken seriously by doctors, and the effects of it all on her family, career and sense of self, she writes in a clear-eyed and courageous voice, bringing the reader along with her as she navigates this profound, life-altering experience.
Thank you Sarai!
Image credits: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing and Amazon.
I’ve written two new pieces about multiple sclerosis and chronic illness for your reading pleasure:
HealthCentral: Diagnosis story
How and why did it take two years from the initial onset of symptoms for the medical community to diagnose me with multiple sclerosis? This essay details my journey to learn something that would change the course of my life.
Chronic illness lit: Finding solace between two covers
Over on the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s MS Connection blog, I paid homage to writers who’ve shared their stories of strength and struggle while living with chronic illnesses. When you’re feeling down, reading about the experiences of others can provide an existential balm.
Sometimes I just need to relate.
I need to see my experiences, my struggles confirmed instead of negated and misunderstood. I need to remind myself that I am not alone in my fatigue, in bouts of cognitive fuzziness, in my hair-pulling frustration.
I have been reading books written by those who are living with multiple sclerosis and other chronic illnesses. I’ve been quite voracious about it, collecting these tales as a way to see myself reflected, helping me feel seen and heard.
Works I noted as being inspirational include: the collection of stories Bodies of Truth: Personal Narratives on Illness, Disability, and Medicine; Sonya Huber’s Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, and Other Essays from a Nervous System, and Andrea J. Buchanan’s The Beginning of Everything: The Year I Lost My Mind and Found Myself. (My praise for Nicola Griffith’s So Lucky — a novel about a character with MS who solves a murder mystery — got edited out of the final piece.)
Read the rest of the essay here.
Image credits: HealthCentral and MS Connection.
The memoir in which I chronicle the diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, the death of my mother from a fast-moving cancer, and the changes that accompany those two things is now available for pre-order.
The memoir on which I’ve been working for several years, Uncomfortably Numb, is being published by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing in the spring of 2020.
While chronicling the onset of symptoms that ultimately led to a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Uncomfortably Numb tells the story of not only finding an uneasy peace with the permanent uncertainty of living with a chronic illness, but also of coping with the premature death of one’s mother and the ensuing collateral emotional damage.
Here’s the Publishers Marketplace announcement of the deal:
Image credits: Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing and Publishers Marketplace.
For the past two years, an increasing number of my university students have been asking me whether what they’re seeing transpire between White House officials and members of the national news media is, for lack of a better word, “normal.”
They often refer to the death threats journalists like White House reporter April Ryan has received after being singled out by the president for verbal attacks. They talk about how the commander-in-chief routinely labels news reporters as the “enemy of the people” (a phrase applied by dictators like Stalin, as NPR’s Scott Simon said “to vilify their opponents … who were often murdered.”). They are aghast that the president once joked about killing journalists and routinely calls those who practice journalism as “fake.” During the presidential campaign, a Trump supporter wore a T-shirt to a Trump campaign rally suggesting that journalists be lynched.
I wrote a piece for the Inside Higher Ed website exploring my struggles with teaching students how to be savvy news consumers when things like basic facts are under assault.
You can read the full piece here.
Image credit: Inside Higher Ed.
The National Multiple Sclerosis Society has published my latest piece, “Black Holes” on its MS Connection blog.
The essay was inspired by the historic image taken of a black hole in April. Here’s an excerpt:
It looked like a glow-in-the-dark doughnut.
When the first image of a black hole 55 light-years away from Earth was made public by astronomers this spring, it was heralded across the globe. Astronomers, the New York Times reported, had “captured an image of the unobservable: a black hole, a cosmic abyss so deep and dense that not even light can escape it.” The writer described the image as “a smoke ring framing a one-way portal to eternity.”
The very idea of “a one-way portal to eternity” is terrifying in an end-of-the-world, Game of Thrones kind of way.
The very idea of a black hole becomes intimately and individually terrifying when you learn that you are carrying one around inside your brain. This is a real possibility for those with MS.
Read the full piece here.
Image credit: MS Connection.