If you have Lyme disease, reading this graphic novel may be a little like flipping through the pages of your life.
Of course, all chronic illness stories are different, but like author, Phil Gerigscott, many of Lyme patients were sick for a long time with unusual symptoms and had a great deal of difficulty getting a diagnosis.
Phil has written his Lyme memoir in comic-form compiled into a graphic novel. It's his story about contracting Lyme, finding a diagnosis (in New Zealand), and beginning treatment. For Phil, these things happen to coincide with marrying his wife, Emma, and starting a life together, which you can imagine makes for some interesting moments.
I've read a lot of personal Lyme stories and publish many stories on this blog, but there's something different about seeing in in pictures.
There are many things in this book a Lyme patient will find relatable. At one point, Phil is diagnosed with tendinitis, goes to physical therapy, and buys a bunch of expensive equipment only to still have severe knee pain. After that he begins to spend money on any supplement or treatment that might help.
Of course, he also goes through his WebMD phase and believes it could be any number of diagnoses.
Phil wrote this book in real time, so there is a genuineness to his frustration, which may have been lost had he already known his diagnosis. As I learned in the interview I did with Phil, writing this graphic novel was his creative outlet during a time of confusion and struggle.
This is a quick and fun read. I was anxious to get to the punch line: How does he finally figure it out? And I kept turning the pages to get there.
Phil's artwork is clever and quirky. He manages to find the humor in a very difficult time in his life. It's not an easy thing to do, but it's necessary.
What I learned from this book:
1. Be lighthearted whenever possible.
2. When facing challenges, find a creative outlet. It could be writing, drawing, singing, or even day dreaming. Find some way to channel the pain into something meaningful.
3. Cherish the people who come along for the whole ride, not just the good parts.
"Every time you are able to find humor in a difficult situation, you win." - Avinash Wandre