Monday, July 15, 2019

Movie Monday: The Widows

Last weekend, my husband and I were too worn out to go out to the theater, so we grabbed a DVD from Redbox to watch at home. We finally had a chance to see Widows, a 2018 award-winning movie that is sort of like a darker, grittier, more realistic Ocean's 8, about a group of widows who take on their criminal husbands' last job to pay off debts.

Veronica, played by Viola Davis, is married to criminal Harry, played by Liam Neeson, but she chooses not to confront where their money and luxurious way of living come from. When Harry and his entire crew are killed by the police (and their vehicle blown up and destroyed) in a robbery gone wrong, Veronica is bereft and shocked. Those emotions turn to terror when she is visited by Jamal Manning, played by Brian Tyree Henry, the head of a Chicago crime ring who says that Harry owes him millions from this botched job, and that Veronica has just a few days to pay off that debt. Veronica finds notes left by Harry that describe his next job in detail, and she decides to pull together the other widows from the crew since they are all in danger and have no money. Linda, played by Michelle Rodriguez, has two kids and lost her dress shop when her husband was killed. Alice, played by Elizabeth Debicki, isn't too upset about the loss of her abusive boyfriend but has to turn to working for an escort service to support herself. Finally, they add Belle, played by Cynthia Erivo, to their group. The four of them prepare for this intricate and dangerous robbery that Harry had planned. Meanwhile, there is a corrupt political battle going on that is inextricably tangled up in the criminal world and their husbands' past lives.

As you can probably tell, it's a complex story but that just makes it all the more compelling, as you root for these formerly helpless women to come out on top. This action-packed and suspenseful crime thriller has lots of unexpected twists as the plot moves forward. I compared Widows in my opening with Ocean's 8, but it's only the plot - a group of women pulling off a complicated caper - that is similar. The tone is entirely different. These women are not having fun; they are fighting for their lives, their families, and their livelihoods. The setting in Chicago is gritty and dark. It's exciting to watch these women step up to the challenge and become strong, kick-ass heroines of their own stories. The ensemble cast is superb - both the women and the supporting men, who include Robert Duvall and Colin Farrell as father-son politicians - with strong performances all around. Of course, Viola Davis has a chance to employ her ugly crying - no one does it like her! All in all, we both enjoyed this dark, gripping drama about women taking their futures into their own hands.

Widows (2018) is available for streaming on Amazon. It is also available on DVD, and we rented it through Redbox.


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Excellent New ME/CFS Article for Sharing with Doctors

The well-respected Dr. Anthony Komaroff of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston has just published an excellent article on ME/CFS in the very prestigious and high-profile Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) that will hopefully help to educate doctors around the world and bring some much-needed attention to our neglected disease. You can read and print the article here (it is short).

Komaroff provides a succinct, science-based summary of our disease, referencing the latest research and the recent NIH Conference. He covers the latest findings in the nervous system, immune system, and metabolics of ME/CFS patients in a brief but powerful summary and wraps it up with some theories of overall illness models. 
He does get one thing wrong, which is a bit irritating. He says that ME/CFS was first described in the 1980's, but that's the U.S.'s Center for Disease Control's revisionist history, as they renamed the disease (with that much-loved moniker CFS) in the 1980's. But, historically, cluster outbreaks (where many people in a small geographical area suddenly become ill with ME/CFS) were described and recorded as early as the 1930’s in Europe and the U.S. A British outbreak at the Royal Free Hospital in 1955 led to the name ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis). However, that's my only quibble - the rest of the article is stellar and will be very useful.
In fact, this brief summary is perfect for sharing with doubting doctors! 
I am definitely printing it to share with two new medical professionals we are seeing who "don't get" ME/CFS and also with our wonderful primary care physician who was the first to accurately diagnose me 17+ years ago, just as an update. The author's excellent reputation, the status of the hospital where he works, and the very high prestige of the journal make this a (hopefully) very impactful article.

Print and share with your doctors at your next appointments!

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

TV Tuesday: Imposters

Last year, my husband and I discovered the first season of the Bravo show Imposters on Netflix, and we loved it! We have been anxiously awaiting season 2, which is now on Netflix. I love this show so much that I am doling out its episodes slowly, not wanting it to end! It's a twisty, funny, original show with a great premise.

In the first episode of season one, a kind man named Ezra Bloom, played by Rob Heaps, discovers that his new wife, played by Inbar Lavi, has left him, cleaned out all his money, and threatened blackmail against his family if he goes to the police. Poof, she's gone. Ezra is understandably devastated...and confused. Then, a guy named Richard Evans, played by Parker Young, shows up at his door and explains that the same woman pulled the same con on him, pretending to be someone else and looking different. They compare stories and photos, and sure enough, that's her. They decide to track her down to get their money back (and perhaps some of their dignity, too) and follow her out to the West Coast, where they discover a woman named Jules, played by Marianne Rendón...who was also married to this same woman and conned in the same way. Now, the three of them team up to bring her down. They find her currently working on yet another victim and come up with a convoluted scheme (involving them pretending to be other people) to get revenge and reimbursement.

That's all I will say about the plot because half the fun of this darkly comic show is its unexpected surprises around every corner. With everyone pretending to be someone else, the opportunities for  humor and suspense abound. There is real emotion here and real warmth - Ezra, Richie, and Jules were all seriously hurt and bond over that - but most of all, this show is just pure fun! All of the acting is excellent, from the lesser-known main characters (and especially Inbar Lavi in the lead as so many different characters) and also from some seasoned veterans in supporting roles, including Brian Benben (whom we saw most recently as Dr. Sheldon Wallace on Private Practice), Katherine LaNasa, who you will recognize from a bunch of shows and movies through the decades, and even Uma Thurman, as a scary enforcer. All in all, Imposters is one of our favorite TV shows. It has everything - suspense, lots of twists and turns to keep it fresh, dark humor, and heart.

The first two seasons of Imposters are now available on Netflix. I just realized we have just one more episode left of the 10-episode second season - oh, no! Even worse, I see that Bravo has cancelled the show and has no plans for a third season. I hope that some other network will recognize how great this show is and pick it up. In the meantime, enjoy the first two seasons - you won't regret it - it's so much fun!

Sunday, July 07, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Grace, Solitude, and Limits

My husband and I are both feeling exhausted and burned out (and maybe a bit depressed). We are embodying the term "sandwich generation," and lately, stretched thin between caring for - and worrying about - both his dad (who is 94), who was recently hospitalized, and our oldest son, whose ME/CFS and tick infections, plus new problems, have been out of control and much worse the past six months. It's a lot of stress, and while my own illness is normally fairly well-controlled with treatments, lately I am back to waking up still worn out and lacking in energy all day.

I am definitely in need of some inspiration, and this morning, paging through my Quote Journal, I was reminded of how much brilliance, thoughtfulness, and inspiration are crammed into the brief classic, Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh (yes, she was married to Charles). A good friend from high school gave me this book decades ago, shortly after we both graduated from college, and I enjoyed it back then. When I re-read it last fall, though, in the midst of a severe relapse, Lindbergh's insightful words really resonated with me, as I think is natural given that when she wrote it, she was a wife and mother and writer like me, balancing multiple roles. I think she has something for everyone, though.

The basis for her book of essays is that she took a break from her busy life to write. She traveled to a remote spot on Captiva Island in Florida, stayed in a small cottage, and spent some time completely alone on the beach (my dream!). The contrast to her usually crammed-full life inspired thoughtful and powerful essays about the meaning of life. The amazing part is that she wrote this book in the early 50's (it was first published in 1955), but her words are startlingly relevant to our lives today, even with technology she never could have dreamed of! I wrote here once before about her book and one particular quote about solitude in Weekly Inspiration: Stillness and How to Be Alone, but today I'd like to share more of her insightful quotes with you...and of course, I highly recommend you read the book! It's a brief but powerful one. My own copy is filled with dog-eared pages that translated to a dozen pages in my Quote Journal. Here are some of my favorites:
"But I want first of all - in fact, as an end to these other desires - to be at peace with myself. I want a singleness of eye, a purity of intention, a central core to my life that will enable me to carry out these obligations and activities as well as I can. I want, in fact - to borrow from the language of the saints - to live "in grace" as much of the time as possible. ...By grace, I mean an inner harmony, essentially spiritual, which can be translated into outward harmony. I am seeking perhaps what Socrates asked for in the prayer from the Phaedus when he said, "May the outward and inward man be at one."

This passage is beautifully written and expresses a universal desire. Isn't this what everyone wants out of life? Grace, harmony, and for our inner and outer worlds to be in sync. That sounds like a very peaceful way to live, doesn't it? I think I have somewhat attained this goal, though I am often feeling pulled in too many different directions.  Certainly, chronic illness encourages you to live outwardly according to your inner core because it just takes too much energy to put up a false front!

Here's another of my favorites that resonates with me now very strongly:
"If one is out of touch with oneself, then one cannot touch others... Only when one is connected to one's own core is one connected to others, I am beginning to discover. And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be refound through solitude."

For me, this applies not only to my immediate situation, as I try to take care of family members, but also to my life more generally. Chronic illness for me has led to a life connecting to and trying to help others, through the local support group I run and the online groups I both run and participate in. Being able to reach out and help others is for me the silver lining in a life of chronic illness, so her words feel like a gentle warning that if I don't take care of myself, then I can't reach out to others...including my own family members. And that last line feels like my personal credo this days. I desire and yearn for solitude lately. My husband and son went golfing Friday while my other son was away, and it was such a thrill to have a few hours to myself! I wrote recently, in an article for ProHealth, about my need for solitude and the question, Has Chronic Illness Turned Me Into an Introvert? But reading this quote, I think it's more than that. I think Lindbergh was right, and solitude is necessary for recharging, for harmony, and for staying connected to my core.
"My life in Connecticut, I begin to realize, lacks this quality of significance and therefore of beauty, because there is so little empty space. The space is scribbled on; the time has been filled. There are so few empty pages in my engagement pad, or empty hours in the day, or empty rooms in my life in which to stand alone and find myself. Too many activities, and people, and things. Too many worthy activities, valuable things, and interesting people. For it is not merely the trivial which clutters our lives but the important as well."

Yes! This is my life and probably that of everyone else in today's world, too. Everything feels filled up, with no empty space, and it all feels too important to let anything drop. The ironic thing today is that even if you are housebound or bedridden, it is likely that this passage is still relevant to you because there is just so much stuff in our world today to fill our time, things that Lindbergh never dreamed of. It is easy, even if you never leave your house, to still fill every minute - with TV and movies and music and podcasts and books and social media and ...just so much content and so little time! I certainly feel that way and tend to not only fill every minute but double-fill it, listening to a podcast or audio book while I do laundry or take a walk. Empty space is seriously lacking in my life.

Finally, Lindbergh writes about how this lack of empty space plays out in the realm of relationships. This is one of many passages in the book where it's amazing that she is talking about the 1950's. Just think how much more full our lives are today, how many more inputs, resources, and information are coming at us so much faster.
"We are asked today to feel compassionately for everyone in the world; to digest intellectually all the information spread out in public print, and to implement in action every ethical impulse aroused by our hearts and minds. The inter-relatedness of the world links us constantly with more people than our hearts can hold. Or rather - for I believe the heart is infinite - modern communication loads us with more problems than the human frame can carry. It is good, I think, for our hearts, our minds, our imaginations to be stretched; but body, nerve, endurance, and life-span are not as elastic. My life cannot implement in action the demands of all the people to whom my heart responds."

I should write that last line on my forehead! This passage so perfectly captures what is probably the #1 problem in my life. I want to help everyone, but my body doesn't have that capacity. I think this also applies to what is going on in the wider world. Even if we rarely leave our homes, we are inundated with horrifying news stories about suffering children, the destructive effects of climate change, increasingly hostile politics, and more. It's almost heartening to read these words from Lindbergh - a perfectly healthy woman in the 1950's, many decades before the internet - and to understand that she, too, was limited. So, if she couldn't do everything, how on earth could I possibly, with the limitations of my illness and the expansion of our digital lives? And yet, that is exactly what I try every single week - to do everything, to help everyone. I need to give some serious thought to this idea that it is impossible, and I am only making myself feel inadequate and stretched too thin by continuing to try.

Lots to think about in this week's post - I think I wrote it as much for myself as I did for readers of my blog! Now, if only I could somehow finangle a couple of weeks alone at the beach...

But I would love to hear YOUR thoughts. Which of these quotes (or some other from another source) resonates most with you? What are your feelings about grace, solitude, and our limits? Please share your comments below.

A 50th anniversary edition of Gift from the Sea is available from Amazon, and you can listen to a sample of the audio, which features a fascinating introduction by the author's daughter.


Or you can order Gift From the Sea from Book Depository, with free shipping worldwide.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Movie Monday: Yesterday

After laughing through the trailers on TV the past few weeks, my husband and I went out to see Yesterday this weekend, as soon as it hit theaters, and it lived up to our expectations. This warm, funny, musical movie was fun and uplifting.

Jack Malik, played by Himesh Patel, is a struggling musician...really struggling. He plays small venues where his friends make up most of the audience and writes his own songs, but after years of working, he hasn't seemed to make any progress. His manager and old friend, Ellie, played by Lily James, keeps encouraging him, but one night, after yet another performance with almost no audience, he decides to quit. Riding his bicycle home, there is a sudden black-out, all over the world, and Jack gets hit by a bus. When he wakes up in the hospital - battered and bruised and missing his front teeth - Ellie is by his side. Over the next few days, he begins to notice that his friends don't understand his references to Beatle's songs, and when he sings Yesterday for them on the new guitar Ellie gave him, they are stunned by the song and thinks he wrote it. Many trips to Google confirm that he is now living in a world where no one - except him - has ever heard of the Beatles or knows any of their songs. He begins playing the songs and quickly gains attention, including from Ed Sheeran, playing himself. Bringing his friend Rocky, played by Joel Fry, along as his roadie, Jack quickly rises and gains fame. A Hollywood agent named Debra, played hilariously over-the-top by Kate McKinnon, takes him under his wing and quickly makes him famous, but Jack has doubts - about lying about writing the songs and about the role that Ellie plays in his life.

We thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this unique movie that combines a musical with a romcom and adds a dash of sci fi. It's just plain fun, from beginning to end, and the very definition of a feel-good movie. Of course, the music is great, and it's fun to watch Jack to try remember all the lyrics to all the songs. It is also very, very funny, with plenty of laughs packed in from all the characters, including Jack's parents who really don't understand his newfound fame. Patel, a British actor who I'd never heard of before, is excellent in the lead role, juggling drama, awkward romance, humor, and music adeptly. I have noticed that many (most?) movie critics have been less-than-impressed with this movie and been - well, critical, but all of the regular people (i.e. my friends!) who have seen it have enjoyed it as much as we have. So, to the critics, I say...relax! Just chill out, sit back, and go along for the ride. I think this is the perfect summer movie - poignant, very funny, great music, and with a clever premise. We walked out of the theater smiling and singing (and spent the next few days trying to remember all the Beatles' lyrics!). In fact, I'd like to watch it again just to experience that pure entertainment joy.

Check out the trailer to see for yourself:

Yesterday is currently in theaters. You can purchase tickets (including for recliner theaters, like we did!) through Fandango:

Find tickets and showtimes on Fandango.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Dealing with STRESS

Once again, I apologize for the absence of regular posts here on the blog (though I do try to keep up on Twitter and my Facebook page). Hard as it is to believe, we had yet another new crisis here this week (following our son's health hitting a new low, having to rush to buy a car that we really can't afford, and losing internet last week). This week, it was my 94-year-old father-in-law (who is fine now). He came down with a respiratory virus last weekend that really knocked him out. We had to call an ambulance to take him to the ER Monday morning because he was too weak to stand. They ran thousands of dollars of unnecessary tests and finally concluded 4 days's a cold! It was frustrating in the hospital, but it was probably where he needed to be, as they gave him some treatments to keep his lungs clear. We finally got him discharged Thursday afternoon, and he was thrilled to be back in his own apartment in his comfy recliner!

So, my husband and I were both exhausted and completely burned out yesterday, with piles and piles of stuff to do around the house that had been ignored all week (month?). We enjoyed a much-needed quiet evening out together last night, with dinner and a movie (watch for a review here soon - we loved Yesterday!) and are feeling better today, but we still have loads of to-do's to catch up on and are still focused on trying to improve our son's health (upcoming post on that, too). So, today's post (sorry it'll have to be brief) is on STRESS!

Dealing with Crises
I wrote an article last year for ProHealth called Roll with the Punches, after another crisis (maybe we should just skip summers...) hit us. It's all about how life with chronic illnesses has "trained" us for dealing with the crises that occur in every life. It's a good reminder for me right now. We've been following this model the past two months...but enough is enough! Too many crises in a row has still left us feeling frazzled, even with good coping skills.

Taking Time Out
Which leads to what we did last night - just taking a time-out and giving ourselves a break to recover after the urgency has passed. We didn't have the energy for social interaction last night, so an evening out with just the two of us was just what we needed. A recent Weekly Inspiration post called Laugh! provides some ideas and inspiration for using laughter to relieve stress and feel better (the movie we saw last night was lots of fun, light, uplifting, and included lots of laughs).

A few weeks ago, in between crises, we took a day off to celebrate an early Father's Day with a hike with our sons and a nice picnic-style dinner at home with our father-in-law, too. It had been ages since we were all together, and my husband and I took the day off from trying to "get stuff done," and we all enjoyed the brief respite from our too-busy lives. Another Weekly Inspiration post, You Deserve a Break Today! has more ideas for taking time out to relax and recover after a crisis passes.

OK, quiet time on the porch is over for me! I need to go call my brother-in-law to fill him in on my father-in-law's scare this week and then refill the weekly medicine boxes for my son and I. I feel refreshed after our evening out last night and a quiet Sunday morning.

How do YOU cope when crises hit?

Monday, June 17, 2019

Movie Monday: Murder Mystery

My older son was home last night, and we were both pretty worn out, looking for a light, fun escapist movie, so we watched the new Netflix original, Murder Mystery, which fit the bill perfectly.

Jennifer Aniston plays Audrey, a hairdresser who loves to read mystery novels, and Adam Sandler plays her husband, Nick, a NY cop who's failed the detective exam three times. They've been married for 15 years and have never been on a honeymoon, so they take a long-dreamed-of trip to Europe. On the flight over, Nick falls asleep and when Audrey wanders up to first class, she meets Charles Cavendish, a very wealthy man played by Luke Evans. After chatting on the flight, he invites Audrey and Nick to come on his yacht and sail around the Mediterranean. The two New Yorkers are treated to luxury like they've never seen before, with other guests on the yacht including a beautiful movie star and a famous race car driver. It turns out that the purpose of the voyage is the wedding of Charles' elderly uncle to a beautiful young woman. The uncle surprises the small group of family and close friends by announcing that he is writing them all out of his will and instead leaving everything to his fiance. Soon, the uncle is dead. At the next port, Inspector de la Croix (sounding very much like Inspector Clousseau) boards the ship and begins to question its guests. Nick and Audrey find themselves the prime suspects in a murder, and as they race across the region to try to clear their names, the body count continues to grow.

This playful film takes a classic whodunit (and a closed-room mystery, since there was only a small group on the yacht) and turns it into a fast-paced farce. All of the characters are exaggerated stereotypes, in a classic mystery style (some reviewers have said it reminds them of Clue). Audrey's experience reading mystery novels is used in humorous ways, as is Nick's police experience (and lack of detective status). The settings are gorgeous, as are most of the people. As is often the case on TV and movies, it's sometimes hard to imagine how Nick ended up with beautiful and poised Audrey, but hey, we went along for the ride. That's what this movie is - a fast ride through the water and streets of Europe, as Audrey and Nick try to solve the mystery. There are car chases (in amazing cars), gunshots, and other typical mystery tropes, as well as lots of dead bodies to keep the amateur detectives busy. Parts of the movie feel a bit predictable but the mystery itself kept surprising us. It's not a great movie but a fun little romp when you feel like some mindless escape...which was exactly what we needed last night.

Murder Mystery  is a Netflix original so is available exclusively on Netflix.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Laugh!

Nothing is more joyful than a great, big, uncontrollable belly laugh, the kind that leaves you breathless. Laughter not only brings joy but also a host of actual physical and emotional health benefits. Laughter:
  • Reduces levels of stress hormones (something that those with ME/CFS have a lot of trouble with)
  • Triggers the release of endorphins, which cause a cascade of positive physical effects in the body and brain
  • Reduces your blood pressure, if it's high
  • Improves the immune system and boosts T-cells (something we definitely need!)
  • Improves mood and acts as a natural anti-depressant
  • Improves cardiac health and works your abs! (now there's a work-out we can do)
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Improves breathing
In short, laughter not only feels good; it is also good for us.

This laughter-filled TED Talk by Sophie Scott, Why We Laugh, explores the underpinnings of laughter - why we do it, different types of laughs, responses in our brains, and how laughter is contagious:

I think she is right about laughing more and harder when you're with others because some of my biggest and best bouts of laughter come when I am with my family and we are telling a story we've all heard 100 times - we will all get laughing so hard that tears are streaming down our faces!

My son and I have often used "laughter therapy" throughout the long years of our chronic illnesses. When he was younger and home from school for weeks (or months) at a time, we'd watch old TV shows on TV Land. Many of them made us laugh, but our favorite was I Love Lucy - it could get us belly laughing on our worst days! This was one of our all-time favorite scenes, from an episode when Ricky thinks he's losing his hair, so Lucy gives him a series of "treatments":

ha ha ha - gets me every time! Old scenes from the Carol Burnett show - especially those featuring Tim Conway - have the same effect on me. Look up the dentist skit or Carol Burnett Show bloopers, which are mostly the cast members cracking each other up - Sophie Scott is right - laughter is contagious! Oh, never mind - I have to include one more clip:

For more funny (and more current) TV shows, check out my list of TV Reviews and scroll down to comedies.

With movies, our go-to for our worst days is Planes, Trains and Automobiles, starring John Candy and Steve Martin. We can pretty much quote the entire movie from start to finish but it still keeps us laughing out loud, sometimes so that we can hardly catch our breath! Every scene in this movie makes us laugh, but this one is a favorite:

We quote that scene to each other all the time between the four of us! For more funny movies, check out my list of Movie Reviews and scroll down to comedies.

I also love books that make me laugh, even if they are also sad in parts. Some of my favorite laugh-out-loud novels include (reviews - with no spoilers! - at the links):
And, of course, as Sophie Scott points out in her TED talk above, nothing beats a good laugh fest with friends or family!

What makes YOU laugh? What are your favorite go-to sources for laughter when you need a pick-me-up?


Thursday, June 13, 2019

Trying CBD to Ease Symptoms in ME/CFS and Lyme

(photo courtesy of Delicious Living magazine)
I've been a bit absent from the blog lately, dealing with some serious crises with our son, who is 24 with ME/CFS, Lyme, bartonella, and babesia. While we are digging into the underlying causes and looking for solutions, we have found a treatment to ease many of his worst symptoms - CBD or cannabidiol, a component of hemp with none of the psychotropic properties of marijuana. I'll share our experiences and what we've learned so far.

He returned home temporarily after living on his own for a while, and we discovered he had some new and devastating symptoms. He's been suffering from anxiety, plus crippling stomach pains (we knew there was nausea and vomiting from a recent switch in Lyme treatment but didn't know about the pain). He's lost 40 POUNDS since January and could barely eat when he got home. We are already waiting for results of a comprehensive 3-day stool test plus a slew of blood tests, so we are still waiting on those to shed some light on cause of the stomach pains. We are suspecting ulcers now, based on his description of the symptoms (burning pain inside his stomach). We got him started with a psychologist recommended by a good friend, and are taking care of him at home and reassuring him that his only responsibility right now is to get well, and, of course, trying to feed him good stuff

We discovered CBD this weekend, and it is making a HUGE difference for him, so I wanted to share that plus see if others have any more info on brands, types, methods, etc. His anxiety is definitely easing since he came home, but we were away visiting family this weekend, and he woke up Saturday morning with severe stomach pains, unable to eat, plus bad joint pain from his Lyme. We had talked about trying CBD, so he found a dispensary two miles from his Grandma's house (we were in New York state) and asked if he could try it. My husband took him there while I was napping and got him a vape pen loaded with CBD. Within 5 MINUTES of the first dose, he felt great! Stomach pain gone, joint pain gone - it was absolutely miraculous. I got up from my nap and he was smiling and had eaten lunch - total 180-degree turn-around. He felt good and fully enjoyed the rest of the weekend and was able to eat.

Although I knew that many other patients - including many of the kids/teens/young adults represented in our Parents' group - have used CBD with success, I hadn't paid much attention to it before. My education on CBD began a few weeks ago when I read this article in Delicious Living magazine, ironically unaware at the time of our son's new symptoms. The article begins by explaining what CBD is:
"CBD (cannabidiol) is a component of hemp—a plant that looks a whole lot like marijuana. In fact, they’re both Cannabis sativa plants. The key difference? Hemp is grown to have a legal limit of less than 0.3 percent THC.

When people think of getting high on marijuana, it’s the THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) they’re thinking of: Marijuana typically has THC percentages in the teens.

In other words, nobody is getting stoned on CBD—it’s the clean cousin of marijuana’s THC.
While CBD and THC are very different, they are both plant chemicals known as cannabinoids. There are about 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant (researchers are still counting)."

I recommend reading the rest of the article, as it was quite enlightening to me and refers to some of the research that's been done so far, as well as anecdotal evidence of the many uses of CBD.

Today, almost a week later, his disposable vape pen had run out, and he had some stomach pains this morning, so I ran to our local natural foods store and was happy to see they had a nice selection of CBD products AND someone on staff who was knowledgeable about them. I chose this Plus CBD Oil Spray in the lowest concentration (the one shown at the link) and brought it home to him. He tried it right away, and it worked immediately, as the vape pen had, and eased his stomach pain enough that he could eat lunch with me! Only problem is that I got him the unflavored, and he says it tastes pretty bad, so tomorrow, we'll take it back and exchange it for one of the flavors (peppermint or cafe mocha) - our local store has a money-back guarantee and said we could bring it back if there was any problem! 

A local friend suggested we go through the official Delaware dispensaries, so we will check with our doctor when we see her next week, but in the meantime, this seems to be working well. It's so important for him to be able to hold food down, both to gain some weight back and to get the nutrition in him (not to mention being able to take his meds!). Next week at our appointment, we will also get back all the results of the many tests and hopefully get to the bottom of what's causing his stomach pain, but in the meantime, this easing of symptoms is very important.

We are relieved and thrilled that the CBD is working so well, and we are seeing our son come back to life and seem like his old self, but I also have so many questions! Who else has used CBD, for which symptoms, and for how long? Is the vape pen or oil the best option? What other methods have you tried? Our son read that the vape pen is the fastest-acting but doesn't last long and that edibles will last longer (and obviously go right into the stomach). One problem with edibles is that many of them are filled with sugar (gummies, brownies, etc), and he is on a sugar-free diet due to chronic yeast overgrowth. The guy in the store said that the gel capsules wouldn't be as effective as the vape or oil/mouth spray. Would love to hear more from all of you brilliant people!

Please share your own experiences and/or questions in the comments. As we learn more, I will post it here on the blog.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

TV Tuesday: Weeds

My husband's not a huge fan of comedies, but we usually have at least one comedy show in progress that we watch together, when we don't have time for a full hour-long drama. This winter we finished up House of Lies starring Don Cheadle (which is very raunchy and funny!) and decided to try another Showtime comedy, Weeds. We just started season 3 and are enjoying its edgy comedy and mild suspense very much.

Nancy Botwin, played by Mary-Louise Parker, recently lost her beloved husband to a sudden heart attack and is struggling to support her two sons, Silas and Shane, on her own. She lives in Agrestic, an upper class California suburb with cookie-cutter McMansions (and seemingly cookie-cutter lives for its residents). Nancy knows that many of her outwardly straight-laced neighbors and fellow parents indulge in smoking pot, so she decides to make some money on the side to help her maintain the lifestyle they are used to. She asks her friend Conrad, played by Romany Malco, to introduce her to his aunt, Heylia (played by Tonye Patano), who is a dealer. Nancy's brother-in-law, Andy, played by Justin Kirk, moves in ostensibly to help her with the boys, though he's actually broke and quite a pothead himself and very much like having a third kid around! Kevin Nealon plays Doug, Nancy's accountant, who also likes to get high and helps Nancy set up her business. Elizabeth Perkins stars as Celia, a haughty and self-absorbed neighbor (and sometime-friend) who ends up running an anti-drug campaign in their neighborhood, with no idea that Nancy is dealing.

Just the set-up is funny: as the opener to the show (accompanied by the song "Little Boxes") indicates, Agrestic is filled with identical houses and almost-identical families living seemingly perfect lives. Just below that perfect surface, though, are marriages falling apart, affairs with fellow residents, and lots and lots of people getting stoned to get through their lives. Mary-Louise Parker is wonderful in the lead role, with an excellent and entertaining supporting cast. The plot reminds us a bit of Breaking Bad, in that Nancy gets started in the drug business to support her family but ends up getting pulled further and further into the criminal world, until she is in over her head. It's one of those shows where just when you thought things couldn't get any worse...they do. But it's less dark and more funny than poor Walter's story. There are, of course, some silly stoner scenes, especially when Andy and Doug hang out together, but most of the plot centers on Nancy (who doesn't usually get high) and her efforts to run a business without getting pulled into the dark side of the drug scene. She is fearless (sometimes stupidly so!), and there are plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in every episode, plus some suspense as to whether she can manage to get out of whatever current crisis she is mired in. We are thoroughly enjoying it, and it makes a nice change from the one-hour drama shows we mostly watch - a fun palate cleanser.

There are 8 seasons in total, and we are currently on season 3 (though it's hard to imagine how much worse things could get for Nancy!). Weeds is a Showtime original, so it is available on their streaming service and also on Netflix. It is also available on Amazon for $1.99 an episode or $9.99 for the first season of 10 episodes, and it is available on DVD.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

TV Tuesday: Dead To Me

I watched the first episode of the new Netflix series Dead To Me on my own at lunchtime and immediately thought, "Oh, my husband will like this one, too!" So he watched the first episode and agreed, and we've been watching it together ever since. It's very hard to review this suspenseful, warm, funny TV show because there are surprising plot twists right from the very first episode, so I'll tread carefully here to avoid spoilers...

Christina Applegate (of Married with Children fame) stars as Jen, a grieving widow and mother of two sons. Her husband was recently killed - suddenly and violently - in a hit-and-run, and it's clear from the opening scene that Jen isn't coping well, when she says horrible things to a kind friend who brings a casserole over and then slams the door (check out the trailer below). Jen finally drags herself to a grief group counseling session and meets Judy, a bubbly, effervescent woman played by Linda Cardellini (who starred in Freaks and Geeks, ER, and Scooby Doo). Judy lost her fiance, and the two women soon bond over sleepless nights and shared grief. They are opposites in some ways, with Jen very sarcastic and tightly wound and Judy a sunny free spirit, but they share a dark sense of humor and help to support each other. Before long, Jen invites Judy to move into her guest house, as their relationship continues to grow.

That's about all I can say about the plot (and about all you will see in the trailer), but there are some surprises in store in this twisty, strange, dark comedy about friendship and grief. The two stars are both outstanding in this show - warm, funny, and emotional (in their own ways). Suspense builds as secrets are slowly revealed. We are both loving this show! The darkly comic tone, suspense, and the theme of female friendship remind us somewhat of A Simple Favor, the movie we saw last year (definitely check it out). This wonderfully innovative TV show will make you laugh and keep you guessing.

There are ten episodes in this Netflix original show. We have watched eight of them so far, and can't wait to see what happens next!

Have you tried Dead to Me yet?

Monday, June 03, 2019

Movie Monday: Like Father

Last weekend, a bit bored with the same old TV shows we've been following all fall/winter/spring and with a long weekend ahead of us, my husband and I enjoyed some movies, including Like Father, a Netflix movie starring Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer that I've been wanting to see since its release last year. It was a fun, warm, delightful film that we both enjoyed.

Kristen Bell plays Rachel, a high-powered ad executive who is such a workaholic that she is late to her own wedding because she was outside talking to a client on the phone. When her phone falls out of her bouquet at the altar, her husband-to-be gives up and calls it quits. As Rachel runs out, she notices her estranged father trying to quietly leave the wedding. Her father, Harry, played by Kelsey Grammer, left when Rachel was just five years old, and she has no idea why he suddenly showed up on her wedding day. The two end up getting drunk - really drunk - together that night, and they wake up the next morning out at sea on the cruise ship that was supposed to be Rachel's honeymoon with her new husband. Instead, she is stuck on the boat with her father, who she barely knows.

As you can imagine, there is lots of humor from the situation, with the father-daughter pair trapped in the honeymoon suite among other happy couples celebrating. But this movie is also poignant and heart-warming, as the two begin to get to know each other and reconnect. There's even a bit of a mystery as to why Harry stayed away for so long and why he showed up now. The supporting cast are all good, including Seth Rogen as a chill teacher from Canada who Rachel picks up, but Kristen Bell and Kelsey Grammer are at the center of the story, and both are excellent in their roles. They are both favorites of ours, so watching them made the movie even better. The whole thing is warm, funny, and uplifting (and the climactic karaoke scene lots of fun!). It's a very entertaining movie that also leaves you feeling good.

This is a Netflix original movie, so it is available exclusively on Netflix.

Sunday, June 02, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Ways to Enjoy Summer

It's not yet the official start of summer, but it's now June, it's hot outside (and we have the a/c on inside), my son is home from college, and we ate local strawberries this week, so it does feel like summer now!

I was trying to decide on a topic for today's Weekly Inspiration and realized there are actually a bunch of relevant topics for summer, all focused on ways to enjoy our summers more, even with chronic illness.

Easy Living?Summer is considered the season of easy living for most people, but living with chronic illness brings it own challenges (as in every season!), from the heat to the kids being home from school to the special challenges of travel. Check out my article, Summertime...and the Livin' Is Easy (Or Is It?), that was published on the ProHealth website for tips on dealing with summer's challenges, as well as ideas for actually enjoying the season.

Hit the Road
That ProHealth article includes a few travel tips, but traveling can seem insurmountable for many with ME/CFS and related illnesses. Especially in summer, though, you may need or want to travel to enjoy a vacation with your family or to visit far-flung friends or extended family. This blog post, Traveling with ME/CFS, includes a lot more detail on how to manage travel, including all the accoutrements I travel with to make my travel life more comfortable and do-able and my tips for managing both air travel and road trips. Be sure to read the comments at the end of that post, too, (and add your own!) because some of my readers added some great tips I hadn't thought of.

Get Out!
Many of us spend most of our time indoors, due to our limitations, but there are huge benefits to getting outdoors and enjoying nature, even briefly. Lying down on a chair on your deck absolutely counts! And research shows both emotional and physical benefits even from looking out a window or looking at pictures of nature and the outdoors! The research is really pretty amazing. You can read about that, plus my tips for enjoying the outdoors with a chronic illness at my post, Get Out! Nature Improves Health (a previous Weekly Inspiration post), which includes a link to another post on Camping and Enjoying the Outdoors with ME/CFS, as well as the full text of an article I wrote for ProHeath on The Restorative Power of Nature. It really is both beneficial and enjoyable to get outdoors, even just for a few minutes a day.

Enjoy a Book
Summer is a great season for reading (you may have noticed the proliferation of articles on "beach reads" lately!), and it's something we can fully participate in, even from bed or the couch! I have always loved reading, since I was a little girl, but since becoming ill 17 years ago, I have really embraced my love of reading - books bring me so much pleasure, even on my worst days. In fact, about the time I started this blog (13 years ago!), I also started a book blog, Book By Book.

If, like many with ME/CFS, you struggle to read because of brain fog, I can help you with that. This post on The Joy of Reading (another article I wrote for ProHealth) provides tips and ideas for those who can no longer read like they used to, including audio books and books written for kids and teens, plus LOTS of great suggestions of some books I have loved in several different categories. To add extra fun to your summer reading, consider joining my annual Big Book Summer Reading Challenge. You only need to read 1 book of 400 or more pages between now and September (though you can read more) to participate, and it's a lot of fun interacting with other readers. All the details are at that link.

How do YOU enjoy summer? Do you do anything different to make the season special? Do you have any tips to share on managing the challenges?

Time for me to make some welcome home pancakes for our son, using those fresh, local strawberries!

Monday, May 27, 2019

Movie Monday: Fracture

We are getting a little bit bored with all the TV shows we are keeping up with at this point in the season (especially since we've been watching some of them for 3-4 seasons and are on the 15th or 20th episode of the season now!), so we decided to watch some movies this weekend. Last night, we found a thriller from 2007 on Netflix that sounded good, Fracture, and it lived up to our expectations with plenty of suspense and creeping tension!

Anthony Hopkins stars as Ted Crawford, a wealthy and brilliant man who investigates plane crashes and spends his spare time creating beautiful and intricate marble runs and perpetual motion machines. In the early scenes of the movie, he witnesses his wife and her lover together at a hotel, goes home to wait for her, and coldly shoots her in the head. He is calm and meticulous as he waits for the police, gun in hand. Lieutenant Ron Nunally, played by Billy Burke, shows up with a SWAT team and falls to the floor in shock when he sees the bleeding woman, who is - you guessed it - his lover. Over in the Los Angeles D.A.'s office, Willy Beachum, played by Ryan Gosling, is a quiet and unassuming young man from Oklahoma who has a 97% conviction rate. Although he is being hired by a ritzy corporate firm, he is assigned this one last case, Crawford's, because the police say it is a slam-dunk with the weapon and a signed confession. Willy is schmoozed and distracted by his new firm and especially his new beautiful boss, Nicki, played by Rosamund Pike. He is completely stunned to go to court, expecting a quick guilty plea from the old white-haired man, to find a sly, clever defendant who insists on representing himself, pleads not guilty, and requests that the case go directly to trial without the preliminaries. Soon enough, every single piece of police evidence falls apart, bit by bit, and Willy finds himself struggling to figure out how to convict this man who he knows is guilty.

Anthony Hopkins is at his most Hopkins-esque in this tense thriller, playing with his opponent as only Hopkins can, like a suited, gentlemanly Hannibal Lector. As Crawford, he is intelligent, arrogant, and certain that no one can touch him, further frustrating Willy. The tone is dark, as befits a thriller, but with a subtle sly humor, thanks to Crawford's refusal to take the proceedings seriously. We joked before the movie started that Gosling usually plays a brooding, mostly silent character in his films, and there is some of that here, but at the beginning, you also see Willy as a smiling, happy, upwardly mobile guy with everything looking perfect for his future. Of course, Crawford pulls that easy confidence from him, little by little. As the audience, you watch Crawford shoot his wife in the opening scenes, so you know he did it, but the real mystery here is how can he get away with it? It's a captivating question that kept us rapt and guessing right up until the very last scene.

Fracture is currently playing on Netflix and it is available for rent streaming on Amazon, starting at $3.99.
We love thrillers and mystery/suspense movies, but it seems to us like there aren't as many of them (and certainly not as many good ones) today as there were 10 or 20 years ago.

What movies do you recommend in the thriller/suspense/mystery genres? We also enjoyed A Simple Favor (dark, suspenseful, and funny) and Taking Lives (though it is from 2004 - see what I mean?) recently.

Check out this trailer - you'll be hooked!

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Chronic Illness Bloggers

Today, I thought I'd share some inspiration from around the web from other chronic illness bloggers. These wonderful blogs are not all specifically about ME/CFS, but they each have some great tips to share with their fellow chronic illness sufferers. And several of today's picks are about traveling while chronically ill, just in time for vacation season!

Check out:

What To Do When a Doctor Isn't Listening To You from Kate the (Almost) Great, who blogs about her journey with arthritis. My answer to that question would normally be, "Get out of there and never go back!" but Kate has some really great tips to help you get the most out of any doctor's appointment.

Boost Your Belief and Maximise Your Motivation from the ME/CFS Self-Help Guru. Julie is a great writer, with a strong focus on improving your life with chronic illness and finding joy. She was my editor at ProHealth for many years, so I can attest to both her writing abilities and her deep well of inspiring topics. This post is about a FREE 5-day challenge Julie runs that begins Monday, May 27 (tomorrow!). She's gotten some great feedback from this challenge in the past, which you can read about at the link.

Did Your Chronic Illness Insist That You Spend Your Vacation In Bed? from The Disabled Diva. Cynthia lives with multiple chronic illnesses, and this post includes some great travel tips for those with chronic illness to encourage you to go ahead and take that trip you want to go on but to be prepared to take care of your needs on the road. And if you are planning a trip, you can also check out my own guide for Traveling with ME/CFS, with all of the tips that help me to be able to travel.

How To Plan a Wheelchair Accessible Trip from Travel Breathe Repeat, where Sarah, who has a chronic illness, writes about her travels with her husband. This post has some great tips for traveling when you use a wheelchair.

Hope these great blogs and posts provide some inspiration for the new week for you! If you've seen other inspiring blog posts recently (or written one yourself!) please share the link in the comments below.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

ME/CFS Community Update

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, 'What! You too? I thought I was the only one.' ” C.S. Lewis
I am still trying to catch up from my many travels the past two months. I finally cleared my e-mail inbox, but the list of things I want to cover here on my blog just keeps getting longer! I'm going to split the news I want to share with you into Community Updates and Research Updates.

Today's focus is on patients, with lots of exciting news from the worlds of patient communities and advocacy:

Our Own Local Support Group
The local support group I started nine years ago has grown to about 40 families in our region, with a variety of related conditions including ME/CFS, Lyme, EDS, POTS, and more - some with sick adults and some with sick kids, teens, or young adults. We had one of our local gatherings yesterday, meeting for lunch at a restaurant, with ten from our group able to attend. About half were mothers of sick teens/young adults and the other half were sick themselves, and two people were fairly new to our local group and had never met anyone else before. As always, the experience of meeting others with the same illnesses and experiences was reaffirming and helpful to us all. We talked for almost three hours (then I went home for a 90-minute nap!) about effective treatments, the best doctors in the area, our experiences, and more. It is always a very positive, supportive, and uplifting experience, even for someone like me who's been in the group since the beginning and sick for 17 years. As always, I highly recommend that YOU try to find others in your local community - it is life-changing. This article I wrote, Birds of a Feather - The Joys of Community, tells how our group started and provides tips for finding others in your area.

ME/CFS International Awareness Day and #MillionsMissing
This summary and photos from #MEAction of protests and activities held both publicly and online on ME/CFS International Awareness Day all over the world is truly inspiring. Take a moment to read through all the amazing events held on May 12 and to peruse the many photos of patients speaking up, in public and from their beds. Given how isolated and alone most of us were when we started on our illness journeys, it is stunning to see this evidence of patients coming together all over the world to be seen and heard. It gives me even more hope for a better future for all of us. If you didn't have a chance to take part in Awareness Day activities, in person or online, this year, maybe this moving sum-up will inspire you to get involved next year, if even from your couch or bed. After decades of isolation and ignorance, our voices are finally being heard, and it's a powerful thing to see.

Exciting News from Patient Advocate & Community Leader Jen Brea
It's been all over the internet this week - Jen Brea, co-founder of #MEAction and the filmmaker who created the ME/CFS documentary Unrest, is officially in remission. This blog post describes in her own words what happened and how she got to this point, and it's a remarkable story, given how severely disabled Jen was at various times and how well she is now (though still working hard at recovery and rehab). In her case, the underlying cause of her ME/CFS was several mechanical factors in her spine and neck that were corrected with multiple surgeries, something she and her doctors discovered entirely by accident. Although obviously, this will not be the case for every (or even many) ME/CFS patients, I do know others like her and it is likely behind some percentage of ME/CFS cases and so provides clues as to the wide variety of causes and factors in our very complex condition. In that post, Jen describes her elation at her remission, yes, but also her grief, trauma, guilt, and hope. Even if Jen's case is entirely different from your own, we should still be able to share in her triumph and learn from her experiences. There is still so much we have to learn about the various causes and factors behind ME/CFS for the millions of people suffering around the world - many of whom Jen has helped with her film, her advocacy, her activism, and her honest reaching out to others.

Jen Brea and her husband

Other ME/CFS Blogs
Finally, if you're looking to connect with others with ME/CFS online, Liz of the Despite Pain blog, put together a wonderful list of ME/CFS bloggers. Liz doesn't have ME/CFS herself, but she compiled this list for ME/CFS Awareness Day, in honor of her fellow chronic illness patients who do have ME/CFS and to help build awareness for our cause, which I think is a remarkable way to reach out. Check out her list (including this blog!) and go discover some new-to-you bloggers and other ME/CFS patients. It's a great way to begin building YOUR community!

Do you have any news to share from your local or online community? Leave a comment below to help spread the word and connect to other patients.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Weekly Inspiration: Thoughts on Illness from Being Mortal

Last fall, one of my book groups read Being Mortal by Atul Gawande, a nonfiction book by a medical doctor who writes about illness, death, and end-of-life issues from both personal and professional experience. The book is well-researched in its facts, and he is open and honest about his emotional experiences, with his father's illness and death and with his patients' various experiences. It is a moving and very powerful book, and we had a huge turnout for book group, and an excellent and in-depth discussion about it. You can read my full review of the book at my book blog. He covers the state of the medical profession today with respect to these topics and also some (far more hopeful) examples of new approaches, as well as what he learned personally through his difficult experiences.

While everyone should read this important book because we will all deal with sick and dying family members - and eventually, ourselves - one day, I also found that I related to many passages as someone not dying but living with chronic illness. Here are a few of the quotes that really struck me, with respect to my own life.
""No one pitied him as he wished to be pitied," writes Tolstoy. "At certain moments after prolonged suffering he wished most of all (though he would have been ashamed to confess it) for someone to pity him as a sick child is pitied. He longed to be petted and comforted.""
          - Quoted in Being Mortal from a novel, The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Tolstoy.

I don't like the word "pitied" in this passage, but I can wholeheartedly relate to the sentiment - maybe swap out "pitied" with "understood" or "accepted." Certainly, especially in my early days of illness and anytime I crash/relapse badly, I crave to have someone treat me as my mother did when I was a sick child - to comfort me and take care of me. But Ivan Ilyich's experience with his terminal illness in this novel is much like the typical experience of people with chronic illness - it makes others uncomfortable and scares them, so no one will just admit what is happening and treat you honestly. I completely understand that (and I'm now interested in reading this Tolstoy novel!).

Here, in a later passage, Gawande refers back to the Tolstoy novel and explains it this way:
"Tolstoy saw the chasm of perspective between those who have to contend with life's fragility and those who don't. He grasped the particular anguish of having to bear such knowledge alone."
          - from Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Ah, yes - he explains that far better than I could! That's the crux of it, isn't it? Life's fragility. It's what scares people so much, with chronic illness, as well as terminal illness or death. No one wants to accept the truth of your situation because of that underlying, unspoken fear that if it happened to you, it could happen to them. I think this is behind much of the denial we experience as those with chronic illnesses encountering healthy people, even (or especially) our closest family members.

Regarding the medical profession and being a doctor:
"If your problem is fixable, we know just what to do. But if it's not? The fact that we have no adequate answers to this question is troubling and has caused callousness, inhumanity, and extraordinary suffering."
          - from Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

So many patients with ME/CFS (or undiagnosed tick infections) have experienced exactly this response from the medical community. One rheumatologist I saw during my first, mysterious year of illness gave me a cursory exam (clearly looking for the tender points of fibro, which I didn't have), wouldn't let me talk, and then dismissed me with "I have no idea what's wrong with you. Good luck," and walked out of the room. I was left sitting on the exam table in my paper gown, gutted by his lack of compassion, and I burst into tears. Thank goodness he was the exception for me and at the end of that year, I found a new primary care doctor who not only immediately recognized my illness as ME/CFS but also knew enough to offer me some treatments. But I know I was one of the lucky ones, that many patients never find a doctor like mine, and treatment from medical professionals like Gawande describes is far more common.

"Whatever the limits and travails we face, we want to retain the autonomy - the freedom - to be the authors of our lives. This is the very marrow of being human."
          - from Being Mortal by Atul Gawande

Here, he has realized what is at the center of end-of-life issues: the need to be in control. He finally recognized the very dehumanizing feeling of having no say in what happens to you. Again, this applies equally well to those with chronic illness, and is why I often express here on the blog the importance of being your own advocate, learning as much as you can about your illness, and asking your doctor for specific treatments. The old model of the all-knowing doctor simply doesn't work for us (and according to Gawande, it rarely does in any circumstance!). We need to be partners in our own care. Check out my page on Effective Treatments for ME/CFS for a roadmap on how to get started in this critical part of our illness journey.

As you can see, I got a lot out of this very important and powerful book. While it brought back memories of my own dad's death from melanoma a few years ago and thoughts about the wishes of my 94-year old father-in-law, much of the book also felt relevant to my own life with chronic illness. I highly recommend this book.

Have you read Being Mortal yet? I would love to hear your thoughts - about the book or these quotes I have excerpted here - in the comments below.

I read Being Mortal in print:

It is also available as an audio book - at the link, you can listen to a sample, which is about the passage from the Tolstoy book: