An inspiring debut memoir about one woman’s years of illness, during which she forged a rich life full of achievements.
Cramer-Miller was diagnosed with kidney disease soon after her college graduation, and she saw her promising career in marketing and public relations painfully grind to a halt. Forced to leave her beloved Seattle and her vibrant circle of friends, she reluctantly returned to her native Minnesota for years of treatments, transplants, procedures and medications. Instead of submitting passively to the relentless disease, however, Cramer-Miller developed a personal philosophy centered on gratitude and positivity that helped her build a “normal” life. Her joyful persistence came about, in large part, due to the unflagging support of her family—especially her mother, who acted as Cramer-Miller’s health advocate (or “Avocado,” as they cheerfully nicknamed the role). Decades later, the author looks back at her journey with great clarity, remembering not only the medical experiences themselves, but also her emotional and psychological responses to them. When she describes her dangerous levels of fluid retention, for instance, she poignantly notes the numbers’ intangible impact: “For every upward notch on the scale, I lost my desire to be in the world. Each additional pound of water retention felt like a visible measurement of disease.” The author engagingly articulates these complex emotions in simple language, without self-pity, which may give some readers hope. Incredibly, the narrative never gets bogged down in obscure or unpleasant medical detail, and the occasional somber tone is balanced by the author’s sense of humor and attention to happier subjects, such as dating, career ambition, friendship and building a family. The short, readable, well-paced chapters allow the book to cover decades of memories evenly and naturally.
A remarkably upbeat memoir, ideal for readers seeking to understand and support loved ones with serious illnesses.