Monday, December 26, 2011

A book review...

I know this isn't really to do with catriking per se. I haven't written much because I haven't really done much catriking. With there now being at least some snow on the ground, x-c ski season may actually start up soon(ish).
I started a new MS medication this past October. Unlike the weekly injection of Avonex, the new medication I'm taking, Gilenya, is a capsule I take once a day. Like Avonex, Gilenya suppresses the immune system so that I don't get nearly as many relapses nor are they likely to be quite so awful.
However, Gilenya really suppresses the immune system and with this being flu season, I decided to sequester myself for the first few months until we had a better idea of how I would adapt to the new medicine. So far so good.
I have also had some time to do some reading and that is the focus of this blog entry. If I can't get out and trike or ski, I might as well read.
The book in question is called "How to Be Sick" and it was written by Toni Bernhard. The details aren't so important but that the book is an absolutely fantastic read. It outlines the Buddhist approach to living with chronic illness. As a practicing Buddhist with a chronic illness, one of my friends loaned me this book and bade me read it over the holidays. I'm a little better than half-way through the book and I cannot put it down for long. Bernhard's experiences living with a chronic illness so completely speak to me and the confusing miasma of feelings and experiences that I felt she had written this book for my eyes only.
After a well deserved vacation to Paris with her husband, Bernhard contracted some weird illness that just did not go away. The disease, as yet to be diagnosed though that's not to say no one tried, has left her perpetually exhausted to the point where she can hardly get out bed some days. Even on a good day, it's anyone's guess how much she can do. A former law professor who had to quit her job because she was just too sick to go on even at a reduced pace, Bernhard's book aptly describes the struggles she faced when dealing with the (US) health care system, health insurance providers and her own suffering as her sense of who she was became systematically chipped away. The book goes into much more detail and I won't elaborate here. Suffice it to say that I cannot adequately express how this book is such a tremendous help for me. If anyone who may read this ever gets the chance to read the book, I would strongly encourage one to do so. The lessons in there are as useful for anyone who has, lives with, takes care of or even knows someone with a chronic illness.
I still make the best of each day, even if the side-effects of Gilenya (weakness and general fatigue) don't always cooperate but it sure is nice to know I am not alone.
Thank you, Ms. Bernhard