4 out of 4 stars
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The complications of living with a chronic condition are numerous, from pain and co-morbidities to difficult lifestyle changes. It is even worse when you suffer from hypermobile Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (hEDS), a disease that has a shortage of specialists and is difficult to diagnose. Nonetheless, as Christie Cox puts it in the first chapter, "we must always strive to be better." Her book, Holding It All Together When You're Hypermobile, presents a guide to living your best life as a patient. Christie Cox channels her own experiences with this condition and extracts the lessons she has learned over the years, not just as a patient but also as a mentor and advocate, to help fellow "Zebras" (the EDS mascot) on their journey.
The first thing to note is that patients who suffer from hEDS experience it differently, as there are different forms of the condition and numerous co-morbidities. However, it is the hope that the author inspires through this book that is the first thing I like about it. As a "Zebra," Christie Cox acknowledges the difficulties that hEDS and other chronically ill patients suffer. In most cases, these patients are in pain and feel distraught, and considering that they may never be healed, it can be demoralizing. Therefore, a key feature of this book is to encourage readers early on and alter their mindset completely, from a defeatist attitude to a positive attitude.
The author's passion for wanting to help people who have suffered as she has is very evident in the information she provides in the book. I was quite surprised at how accurate and informative the book was, especially when it came to pain management and the actions and drugs required in the process, from the "four Rs" action plan (recognize, respond, recruit, and revise) to topical and narcotic pain relievers and cannabis. Even as a health professional, I picked up a few interesting things that I will explore, which is a testament to the painstaking effort the author has put into the research for this guide. She also includes methods and advice from trusted professional sources, like Dr. Eric Singman, Anna Hennings, a mental performance coach, Dr. Brad Tinkle, Gwenn Herman of the US Pain Foundation, "Harvard Health" research articles, and more.
While the author includes numerous information from these sources and advises patients to constantly consult a professional, the book is littered with several methods readers can easily apply by themselves to improve their quality of life. Mostly, self-help acronyms were used to simplify and aid in remembering these methods easily, including RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) for pain and GIFTS (growth, inspiration, friends/family, tranquility, and surprise) for identifying and expressing gratitude on your healing journey. I think this aspect of the book is highly significant because it reminds readers that a lot of the power over their lives remains with them despite their condition.
Furthermore, Holding It All Together When You're Hypermobile is a comprehensive read. The author even goes the extra mile to include possible questions readers may have while reading, and she provides the relevant answers personally or through interviews with doctors. The book also seems professionally edited, as I found very few errors throughout the text. I did not find any aspect of the book I did not like. Therefore, I rate this guide four out of four stars.
I implore everyone experiencing any form of chronic illness, even if it isn't EDS, to pick up a copy of this book. I believe it will be a life-changing experience for you. The book will help you manage the fear, uncertainty, pain, and exhaustion that come with chronic conditions and firmly put you on the path to the most comfortable and empowering life you can live.
Holding It All Together When You're Hypermobile
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