A diagnosis can change your life and perspective in an instant. Some require an operation while others treatments, medications and procedures that will hopefully restore your health. A diagnosis that your illness is terminal and that there is little anyone can do is devastating. There are so many illness or diseases that attack a person out of nowhere. Many would fold and hide within the confines of their mind, their homes and never fight their way out. Others like Barbara Fleming decided to share her story take a more direct approach and find a way to take the hand that was now dealt to her and turn it into one winning one. Cars have repairmen who diagnose their problems, find the parts needed and repair it with skill and limited pain to the car. Doctors do not have that luxury nor can they in most cases get the spare parts, replace every organ or find a cure to restore a person’s former good health. Appreciating Life As It Is: A powerful title that really says a lot. When the author was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, the thoughts that she shares that went through her mind and body will definitely help readers understand more than just the gravity of this illness. Speaking directly to the reader, explaining her thought processes and how she deals with the pain, the tingling, the slurring of words and more plus the emotional pain is quite remarkable.
Every book has its own voice and every author presents his/her story in his or her own way. The voice that you hear is that of Barbara Fleming the story that she shares is her real life journey living with Multiple Sclerosis. Part two explains how she learned about it. A diagnosis such as this impacts your life in many ways. Learning more about the illness, finding out it is not terminal and realizing that she has many options and different paths that she can take to definitely helped. She shares the many symptoms and the tests that she endured. But, the information about the physical therapy programs is invaluable. Finding the right therapist and both physical and occupational is paramount and she did. The exercises that she does and the medial team helped to include activities such as swimming in adaptive programs, yoga, stretching and much more to improve her range of motion. But, for anyone who wants to really understand this illness Chapter Four focuses on the various definitions, the four types and how she went about finding more data to clarify what she was experiencing. Page 41 will enlighten readers to the many non-invasive therapies that helped to support her progress and explained how they impacted on her both mentally and physically. Chapter 5 is crucial to your understanding of this illness as the author shares her own story including her symptoms, her mindset after receiving as she states the cheery news and her reaction. Her symptoms included fatigue, heat sensitivity, speech problems, visual disturbance, drop foot, balance issues and walking. Each symptom is described as it pertains to the author followed by personal choices chapter 6 where she continues with sharing how she found the right neurologist and the researching questions that came to mind.
You will now hear in Chapter 7 her voice, her experience and how the illness affected her in a narrative that will surprise readers as she realized the potential to encourage herself to reevaluate her life and live it with a different perspective. Her reasons for seeking help migraine headaches and some physical problems with walking and balance. Getting the diagnosis and what she experiences the reader needs to find out for themselves in order to understand the gravity of this illness, her courage to seek help and never give up and what exactly she went through and is still going through today. Chapter 8 includes how her life changed, pictures of the author, the real physical effects, unrecognizable symptoms of her own MS and other changes she experienced. The pictures on page 88, 95, and 103 tell their own story.
The remainder of this outstanding book, resource and personal journey includes how she handles life with this illness, her insights, and the part her faith in Buddhism played as you will learn in the chapters titled View, Meditation, Action followed by Contemplation where she includes exercises in Breathing, Yoga, Study, Well Wishing, Chanting, Nature, Music and explanations for each one.
The chapters that I found most compelling and really interesting were the ones titled Four Truths and Four Reflections. The four Noble truths according to HH the Dalai Lama:
The truth of suffering
The truth of the cause of suffering
The truth of the cessation of suffering
The truth of the path to the cessation of suffering.
The author goes on to explain that life is difficult and unpredictable. She includes that her journey is hard and the struggles she has with even the simplest things some trivial and some that are crucial to life and death. She includes her feelings, her dissatisfactions and much more that reveals her inner most thoughts about living with MS, how she began with four basic principles and much more. Within this enlightening chapter she elaborates and explains each of the four truths. The four reflections that she shares are on page 210 and you will have to find that out for yourself.
In conclusion let me quote the author: Telling my story is an attempt to intertwine the internal journey with the physical one. She elaborates further on pages 211- 215. She describes the preciousness of life, impermanence and uncertainty and law of cause and effect. The rest you need to read for yourself including the interesting epilogue titled Personal Meditation, which says it all in one page.
Included is a detailed glossary of terms, her timeline of when she found out about the illness until the present and important resources. Barbara Fleming takes readers on her own personal journey, inside her heart, mind and body to share her knowledge, her experiences and her positive outlook on life and dealing with MS and “Appreciating Life As It Is! She is focused, positive, energized and definitely I hope going to write more books for this reviewer to read and review.
This is an excellent resource for anyone who wants to understand MS, for doctors to give to patients to let them know that the sky is definitely not going to fall down on them and there is hope, student nurses and nurses in working in Assisted Living Care Facilities can learn a lot from reading this informative and well researched book.
Fran Lewis: reviewer
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