Uncomfortably Numb: A Memoir

Wyatt-MacKenzie. Mar. 2020. 266p. ISBN 9781948018708. pap. $16. HEALTH
O’Brien was 43 when she felt a strange, compelling numbness in her left leg. It eventually went away, but she saw her doctor, and after two years of tests, consultations with specialists, and more occasional numbness, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. With three young children at the time, a demanding job as an adjunct professor, and in the middle of writing her first book (Mr. Clark’s Big Band), the author was not prepared for the frustratingly unpredictable lack of control over her daily life brought on by what turned out to be remitting-relapsing multiple sclerosis. With this memoir, O’Brien’s goal is to help those without chronic illness understand the impact of incurable diseases and to impart tips to those living with illness to have “something that pulls you forward, motivates you to get out of bed in the morning, regardless of how you’re feeling.” O’Brien achieves her aim, showing how writing can be a therapeutic outlet.
VERDICT O’Brien’s words will resonate with those living with the unpredictability of chronic conditions, along with their friends, family, and various support systems.
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