|by Jack L. Kennedy
Books, like the authors who pen them, can have both good and bad moments. This is certainly true of A Twist of Lyme, by Andrea H. Caesar and edited by Nancy Grossman (Archway)
Subtitled “Battling a Disease that ‘doesn’t exist’," it is a study in contrasts, both beneficial but unfortunately somewhat grossly overdone. Granted, on its best merits it is a plea for help and a rough road map through Lyme disease. The neurological and psychological pain of the disease often is ignored by the medical establishment, Caesar says, as she describes her ordeal in graphic detail.
Caesar was once an active, gregarious girl of 10, growing up in Barrington, Rhode Island. But her destiny changed when she began to have trouble catching her breath or controlling her muscles. Pain often came with no warning, play was no longer fun and the medics to whom she was sent with no clear answers misdiagnosed or dismissed her condition until she reached the age of 36.
Despite poor treatment, being a fighter, Caesar ultimately earned an international relations degree from American University in Washington, D.C. and an MA in teaching from the School for International Training in Vermont, learned to speak Swedish and Spanish and traveled the world extensively for romantic and business reasons. Currently she lives in New Hampshire, still coping with her disease.
The book begins as an often compelling tale of pain and persistence, the search for answers, frustration and rebounding. There appears to be some balance, early, when the reader discovers a foreword by a Dr. Joseph Jemsek. He uses his knowledge of infectious diseases to lend some professional credibility to the claim that Lyme sufferers are often ignored by doctors who are unaided by sufficient research.
The blend of medical authority and a personal tale seems promising reading and a compendium of helpful advice. But the tale, given little editing for length, soon turns into a recitation of symptoms long after the original point is made. Repetition and redundancy take over where sympathy and sense leave off. Sanity soon becomes excessive self-pity.
Then salesmanship takes over the story of Caesar’s courage and determination. The diary-like short chapters often turn into reports of her frequent visits to a clinic, run by the very same doctor who introduces the book.
Fighting through emotional or physical pain is not easy, and Caesar does show that it can be done. This is of value to those readers faced with insurmountable odds who need reassurance that they can survive pain or find answers to what causes it. The author has succeeded in her profession, faced fears and doubts and knows that despite the hurdles, self-reliance can be built.
On its best pages, Lyme disease is shown as an often-misunderstood disease. However, tougher writing and editing would have given the book much more impact.
Knowledge of Lyme disease and its ramifications have come a long way. For information from the Centers for Disease Control go here.
Paperback: 364 pages/847 KB
Publisher: Archway Publishing; First Edition edition (November 1, 2013)
Cost: $28.55, hard cover; $16.67, paperback; $7.69, Kindle on Amazon.com