c.2012, Greystone Books $16.95 / $21.95 Canada 256 pages
By Terri Schlichenmeyer
The universe gives you only what you can handle.
At least that’s what they say, but it’s hard to remember when you’re knee-deep in crises. One thing goes wrong, you can deal with it. Then another problem lands at your feet, then another and it isn’t long before you feel like your shoulders might break from the strain of holding everything up.
It’s always something, isn’t it? And you have two ways to react: you can whine, or – as you’ll see in the new book “Most of Me: Surviving My Medical Meltdown” by Robyn Michele Levy – you can take what life lobs at you, and throw it back.
Robyn Michele Levy wonders how long her disease had been apparent.
She couldn’t be sure but, for several years before her diagnosis, she was terribly moody and often felt red-faced-shaking-anger at the most insignificant things. She’d rage at her 11-year-old daughter, yell at her husband, scream at coworkers, dissolve into tears for no apparent reason.
She was depressed. She became suicidal.
The moodiness and despondency escalated, joined by clumsiness, “torrents” of tears, and Levy’s left hand froze into a half-fist. She began seeing a therapist for depression, and her symptoms pointed in one direction. A diagnosis of early-onset Parkinson’s disease came quickly afterward.
Sadly, Levy was familiar with the disease: her father had received the same diagnosis shortly before her mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Overly vigilant, Levy went on high-alert for changes in her own body. She never expected, though, that her fingertips would brush against two lumps in her right breast as she was beginning treatment for her Parkinson’s.
With a diagnosis of breast cancer, Levy’s doctors began to work on saving her life while her friends and family worked to save her spirits. In her neighborhood and in her circle of close pals, she found many “breast whisperers” who helped her recover.
But it wasn’t just her health that needed mending. Levy also had to recover her sense of self.
While I found “Most of Me” to be mostly good, I had two issues with it: tears and corn.
Of course, she had ample, abundant reason for them, but Levy admits to tears. Oceans’ worth, in so many instances that they rather lost their impact. And when she wasn’t crying, she was cracking bad jokes; in fact, she acknowledges that she tends to hide anxiety with humor.
Yes, there are good laughs here. But tears and corn? I grew weary of both.
Having said that, I liked this book for one very big reason: readers get to watch as Levy progresses from “what’s-wrong-with-me?” to “I-can-do-this” and the transformation is simply tremendous. The powerful woman we know at the end of this book is not the emotional person we met at the beginning, and that could be a beacon of hope for anyone facing a long-term illness.
So if that’s you, or if you’re facing your ten-thousandth crisis for the week, then you need a book just like this. You may find “Most of Me” to be totally wonderful.
The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books. For more information, visit firstname.lastname@example.org.