About a month ago I ordered the book Awkward Bitch: My life with MS by Marlo Donato. This was back when we thought I had MS and I had decided to take a few steps to understand it better and to embrace that this could be my life and I thought that the perfect first step for me would be to read a funny book about someone else who has it instead of reading a depressing book or a strictly medical book and being terrified. I definitely made the right choice! From the first page I was hooked and no longer wanted to socialize until I was finished reading the book. I cradled it in my arms like it was a newborn baby and I highlighted the parts that I wanted my friends or family to read to better understand me. There were times throughout the book that I would find myself thinking DID I WRITE THIS BOOK? THIS EXACT THING HAPPENED TO ME. SHE KNOWS EXACTLY WHAT I AM FEELING AND SHE FOUND A FUNNY WAY TO WRITE IT DOWN. WHO TOLD HER I WAS FEELING THOSE FEELINGS? OH MY GOD I WANT HER TO WRITE A TRILLION BOOKS.
I seriously couldn’t get over the fact that Marlo had not only experienced many of the same symptoms as me but that she found a way to articulate them, because if there is one thing about neurological symptoms you will discover it is that holy shit it can be hard to explain to someone else what you are experiencing. I don’t know how many times I have tried to explain nerve pain to my friends or family and have been met with a look of confusion. Yes, mom, my arm feels like it’s on fire. No, mom, my arm isn’t actually on fire.
Boyfriend was glad that I found something that I could relate to. I was over the moon that I found someone I could relate to. One evening it was time for us to go to supper which meant I had to put the book down for a few hours. I found it so hard. I looked up at Boyfriend and said “But, but, I need to find out if she makes it out of the mall!” I was 1000% invested in her story and I was rooting for her so much that I wanted to make a Team Marlo t-shirt to wear while reading the book. With multiple sclerosis you are told a hundred times that no one “MSer” (as they are referred to as) experiences the same disease route, but this was certainly as close as it could get, I thought. And I was so thankful to have that connection.
I experienced so many emotions while reading Awkward Bitch. I laughed. A lot. I cried even more. There were times when I was doing both at once and it was a little weird.
I did, however, find myself particularly upset when it got to the parts of the book where Marlo began receiving treatment for Multiple Sclerosis. I was so relieved that she finally had answers and could begin her road to recovery of sorts, but at the same time I became pretty depressed that I couldn’t write about that chapter in my life yet. I had a couple “woah is me” and “why me” moments while reading those chapters which I found to be a confusing reaction. When you read about someone being really sick from treatment and having to stand up next to a heater to keep warm and ease some pain while simultaneously leaning over and resting her head on a bed because it was the only way she could sleep you normally shouldn’t render up a feeling of jealousy. Yet there I was, huffing and puffing and full of jealousy.
I questioned my sanity a little. I wondered if I was okay at being a human being if that was my response to reading that. I still wonder if anyone else would have a similar response if they were in a similar situation as me?
But I moved on, I packed up that jealousy and replaced it with feelings of thankfulness that someone else suffering from these problems has found a treatment path that works for her and that she can move on with other parts of her life now. I went back to happily highlighting even more things. I texted all of my friends that they have to read this book if they love me.
If you have been diagnosed with MS or maybe you are like me and you think maybe you might have it but you aren’t sure yet because doctors can be lame and brains are confusing, or even if there is no connection to a neurological disease in your life but you just like a good memoir, then you have to read Awkward Bitch. It will make you feel all of the feels. I give it eleventy-two stars out of five.
Here is the link to the book on Amazon:
Go forth and buy the crap out of it.