A Canadian faces a midlife health crisis in this debut memoir.
For athletes, there can be no greater loss than their physical abilities. This is what happened to Sutherland, a healthy, fit amateur runner who, at 48 and after completing his fifth marathon, suddenly took ill. His first diagnosis—multiple sclerosis—was shocking enough, but that was just the beginning in a sequence of perplexing medical complications that, for years, defied a single label. With rare honesty and eloquence, Sutherland (Quebec City Restaurant Guide 2017, 2016) chronicles his experiences, recounting in personal and intimate detail the impact his chronic, debilitating condition had on himself and his family. At one point, Sutherland admitted to wanting to end his life; on the verge of doing so, however, he had an epiphany. He realized that, as difficult as his situation was, he must not lose his “mental toughness.” Sutherland literally had a conversation with himself: “You’ll get through this like you’ve gotten through adversity your whole life. You’ll muscle through it one day at a time, one hour at a time…and if you have to, one agonizing minute at a time. You will do what it takes!” While this is the turning point in Sutherland’s story, it is really just a telling example of the multitude of remarkable challenges the author faced. Along the way, he learned much about the things that really mattered in his life—mostly friends and family—and he also realized how much was out of his control. There is no storybook ending—Sutherland finally received a more accurate diagnosis but was never cured, and yet he demonstrated his courage, fortitude, and, ultimately, his positive attitude in valiantly continuing on and making the best of the situation. Clearly, this emotionally charged book is cathartic for Sutherland, but it should also prove highly instructive and motivational for anyone who faces a serious illness, disability, or other life-altering event. As the author concludes, his story is about “perseverance. Once I had accepted my new reality, I saw the value of experiencing again all that life has to offer—its good and its bad.”
A heart-wrenching and at times shattering tale of an ailing athlete that turns uplifting in the end.