Memoirs by friends are some of my favorite books. Over the years, I have been offered several books written by people with MS to read. Some of the books I absolutely loved, some not so much. And a few of them are still waiting to be enjoyed.
During the past week, I reserved a few evenings to read a soon-to-be-released memoir by fellow MS blogger and advocate, Trevis Gleason, who now splits his time between homes in Seattle, Washington, and County Kerry, Ireland. I tossed a throw over my pajamas, curled up with a mug of cocoa, and delved into Chef Interrupted: Discovering Life’s Second Course in Ireland with Multiple Sclerosis (Coffeetown Press, 2015).
Trevis is a former US Coast Guard Navigator and culinary chef who witnessed his life unravel with the loss of his job, his marriage, and his sense of self following a diagnosis of MS in 2001. Deciding to do soem of the things he’d always wanted to do while he still could, Trevis chose to fulfill a dream of his childhood…visiting his ancestral homeland.
Trading the Emerald City for the Emerald Isle, he rents a rustic cottage for three months in "The Town" which becomes the setting for a memorable winter. In Chef Interrupted, Trevis invites us to join him on a lively adventure, replete with well-drawn Guinness, traffic-immune sheep, a steady stream of visitors, rainbows and vistas, recipes, and a sweet pup named Sadie.
While the book focuses less on the details of living with MS and more on unwinding a good story, Chef Interrupted teaches us that multiple sclerosis doesn’t change who we are fundamentally but it does alter our path in life. The book also gives us a sense of what it is like to adapt to a life that is new and foreign, but not entirely unfamiliar. Tweed caps, walking sticks, and all.
"Multiple sclerosis doesn’t steal away our futures; it steals what we thought and expected to await us in our futures," says Gleason. "The responsibility for what happens next experiences, loves, the impact on others around me those are things that are still in my control. Like ‘my’ wall, which is nothing like I had created [in my mind] yet everything I actually needed, the task a winter in Ireland had set for me was in finding the beauty in the things for which I had not planned and the importance in having a plan in the first place."
"Hope without a plan is just a dream," says Gleason. "My childhood dream had been to one day visit a land my ancestors had left longer ago than the history I studied in Mrs. Magee’s class. That dream had become a hope that I might be able to visit that dream before multiple sclerosis robbed me of the ability to travel and enjoy the people and places of this magical island. Only with the help of doctors and nurses and researchers, friends, family, and the love of the dear one who had first given me a taste of this ‘home’ had I been able to create a plan to make them all come true."
Chef Interrupted, a book about living your dreams despite MS, is currently available for pre-order on Amazon.com and arrives just in time for MS Awareness Month in the US. After March 1st, Chef Interrupted will be for sale at select bookstores and online at the foreign Amazons and BN.com. The eBook will be available in multiple formats at all the major online retailers, including Overdrive.
See More Helpful Articles:
- Preparing for Your Doctor’s Visit
- Books and Memoirs for MS: Question of the Week
- My Pets Help Me Battle MS
- Acceptance: A Tough Lesson to Learn
- Maintaining a Strong Relationship Despite MS
Lisa Emrich is a patient advocate, accomplished speaker, author of the award-winning blog Brass and Ivory: Life with MS and RA, and founder of the Carnival of MS Bloggers. Lisa uses her experience to educate patients, raise disease awareness, encourage self-advocacy, and support patient-centered research. Lisa frequently works with non-profit organizations and has brought the patient voice to health care conferences and meetings worldwide. Follow Lisa on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.