I recently wrote a post for the website Healthline about the things I wish were common knowledge about multiple sclerosis.
Here’s an excerpt:
In late July 2014, my life felt like it imploded after I was diagnosed with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.
Since then, I’ve had to not only adjust the way I move through the world, but have found myself educating others about what this incurable autoimmune disease is actually like.
It would make life a whole lot easier if a few things about multiple sclerosis (MS) became common knowledge. To that end, here’s what I wish everyone understood about MS.
Read the whole piece here.
Image credit: Healthline.
Here are the first few lines:
There’s something weird going on with my leg.
I’m interviewing a middle school band director for a book I’m working on, but something doesn’t feel right on my leg and I can’t stop thinking about it. I brush my left calf across my right shin to compare the sensations. The right leg is positively brimming with feeling by comparison.
Yeah, that’s not right.
After the interview is over, I walk to my car. Now that I’m alone, I can fully focus on how odd the skin on my left shin feels — how the hem of my linen capri pants feels, as though it’s rubbing evenly across my right shin and calf, but not so with my left. I close my eyes and focus on my legs.
Does it feel different on my left? Does it really? Is this just something strange that will go away?
Read the full excerpt here.
Image credit: HealthCentral.
Three wonderful writers — memoirists and a novelist — generously agreed to read early copies of Uncomfortably Numb: A Memoir and to share with me their thoughts about it. And their words, dear reader, were very kind.
Uncomfortably Numb is a journalist’s investigation to uncover the mysterious illness that plagues her, combined with a mother’s touch to understand how it will impact her family, her career, and the rest of her life. A triumphant story of determination and resiliency.
A riveting memoir … O’Brien’s honesty, humility and humor will have you flying through the pages, rooting for her every step of the way.
Finally, writer Lisa Romeo — who was one of my MFA professors when I was working on Uncomfortably Numb — author of memoir, Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss, was the perfect person to review the memoir because, in addition to its chronicling of my MS diagnosis, it also details my mother’s sudden illness and death at age 65. I was diagnosed with MS four months after she passed.
Uncomfortably Numb pulls readers into the reality of an unexpected and life-altering diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, with forthright clarity, detail, heart, and insight. O’Brien’s memoir is not only a gift to adults dealing with MS, but also for people grappling with any other sudden onset diseases and similarly “invisible” conditions — and for the people who love them.
This story offers the full view of how MS invades a life, from fear, loss, and complications, to adjustments and small victories. The author’s story of the first few years of disease progression — overlapping with raising teenagers, continuing a career, grief, and midlife losses — takes readers through challenges, triumphs, and disappointments of all sizes, on the road to acceptance.
At turns unsettled and dispirited, O’Brien is also an appealing narrator you’ll root for as she advocates for herself (and by extension, for other women whose undiagnosed symptoms are often dismissed). Along the way, she comes to understand her disease and herself more thoroughly as she creates her new reality. An engaging, thought-provoking, informative story, and a narrator you’ll want to know and follow.
Thank you, thank you, thank you Marisa, Joan, and Lisa.
Image credits from Amazon, Joan Dempsey, and Lisa Romeo.
I was pleased to learn that the Library Journal this month released a review of my forthcoming memoir, Uncomfortably Numb saying it “will resonate with those living with the unpredictability of chronic conditions, along with their friends, family, and various support systems.”
Thank you to reviewer Marcia G. Welsh.
Image credit:Library Journal.