Saturday 3 September 2011

Levy, Andrew "A Brain Wider Than The Sky"

Levy, Andrew "A Brain Wider Than The Sky: A Migraine Diary" - 2009

As a heavy migraine sufferer, I am always curious as to what others have to say about their problems with this disease. Fellow sufferers usually recognize each other instantly. This is a big one. Andrew Levy certainly has enough on his plate, it's amazing how he can describe his disability so precisely. I could say “Yes, exactly” to almost every sentence this guy wrote. He starts his book with a warning, “my experiences are not meant to compete with professional diagnosis.” Certainly not, however, often it's the little things that help you more than all the medication and treatments your doctors come up with. Not that they cure it, but neither do the doctor's efforts, at least not in my case and that of many others I know.

Having a constant migraine means your life is only worth half. You can hardly make plans, and if you do, don't get too excited, that might lead to another migraine and/or you will be sorely disappointed if, no when you can't go. It means you have to put a lot of your life on hold, your work, your family, your hobbies, anything that has been worth so much for you before. If you can keep your work and your family, you belong to the lucky ones.

Anyway, Andrew Levy gives a wonderful account of his own sufferings and what others have found. He mentions not only health specialists in this field but also a lot of famous names we know but didn't know they were fellow sufferers. Again, very interesting.

If you feel that reading about migraine gives you a migraine, this book is not for you. But if you like to read about it because you have the hope that one day you might find a solution, read this book. If you have a loved one who suffers from this and you don't understand what they are going through, this is also the book for you. You might understand your partner better and be able to help more.

From the back cover:

"With more than one in ten Americans - and more than one in five families - affected, the phenomenon of migraine is widely prevalent yet often ignored or misdiagnosed. For Andrew Levy, his migraines were occasional reminders of a persistent illness that he’d wrestled with half his life. Then in 2006 Levy was struck almost daily by a series of debilitating migraines that kept him essentially bedridden for months, imprisoned by pain and nausea that retreated only briefly in gentler afternoon light. When possible, he kept careful track of what triggered an onset and in luminous prose recounts his struggle to live with migraines, his meticulous attempts at calibrating his lifestyle to combat and avoid them, and most tellingly, the personal relationship a migraineur develops - an almost Stockholm syndrome–like attachment - with the indescribable pain, delirium, and hallucinations. Levy researched how personalities and artists throughout history - Alexander Pope, Freud, Virginia Woolf, even Elvis - dealt with their migraines and candidly describes his rehabilitation with the aid of prescription drugs and his eventual reemergence into the world, back to work and writing.

An enthralling blend of memoir and provocative analysis,
A Brain Wider Than the Sky offers rich insights into an illness whose effects are too often discounted and whose sufferers are too often overlooked."

Interview: "A Memoir and Cultural History of Migraines" by Andrew Levy

See also my list of "Migraine Books

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