Monday, 11 December 2017

Believe Me: My Battle with the Invisible Disability of Lyme Disease

Author: Yolanda Hadid (with Michele Bender)
Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir
Type: Hardcover
Pages: 302
Source: Local Public Library
Publisher: St Martin's Press
First Published: Sept 12, 2017
First Line: "Gigi - For a whole year when I was sixteen years old, I watched my Mom struggle to understand the pain, confusion and symptoms she was experiencing, but that no doctors seemed to have answers for."

Book Description from GoodReadsFrom the star of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills comes an emotional and eye opening behind-the-scenes look at her descent into uncovering the mystery of chronic Lyme disease.
In early 2011, Yolanda was struck by mysterious symptoms including brain fog, severe exhaustion, migraines and more. Over the months and years that followed, she went from being an outspoken, multi-tasking, hands-on mother of three, reality TV star, and social butterfly, to a woman who spent most of her time in bed. Yolanda was turned inside out by some of the country’s top hospitals and doctors, but due to the lack of definitive diagnostic testing, she landed in a dark maze of conflicting medical opinions, where many were quick to treat her symptoms but could never provide clear answers to their possible causes.
In this moving, behind the scenes memoir, Yolanda Hadid opens up in a way she has never been able to in the media before. Suffering from late stage Lyme, a disease that is an undeniable epidemic and more debilitating than anyone realizes, Yolanda had to fight with everything she had to hold onto her life. While her struggle was lived publicly, it impacted her privately in every aspect of her existence, affecting her family, friends and professional prospects. Her perfect marriage became strained and led to divorce. It was the strong bond with her children, Gigi, Bella and Anwar, that provided her greatest motivation to fight through the darkest days of her life. Hers is an emotional narrative and all-important read for anyone unseated by an unexpected catastrophe. With candor, authenticity and an unwavering inner strength, Yolanda reveals intimate details of her journey crisscrossing the world to find answers for herself and two of her children who suffer from Lyme and shares her tireless research into eastern and western medicine. Believe Me is an inspiring lesson in the importance of having courage and hope, even in those moments when you think you can’t go on.
My Rating: 3.5 stars
My ReviewThe reason I picked up this book wasn't due to Yolanda's celebrity (I've never seen her TV show, Housewives of Beverly Hills) but because my niece, who is now 17 years old, has suffered from Lyme disease for 4 years. I saw much of my niece's story in Yolanda's -- medical professionals not taking her symptoms seriously, misdiagnosing, various treatments (including both going to the Sponaugle clinic in Florida) and some people thinking it's all in their heads. I'm talking about severe joint and muscle pain, brain fog, sight problems, fevers, losing the ability to walk, debilitating migraines ... It's one thing to be sick, but to add people doubting your daily pain is a whole other level of suffering.
One of Hadid's goals was to raise awareness about Lyme's Disease. Many people have heard of Lyme, may even know someone with it, but still don't have a good understanding about the different symptoms, the severity of the symptoms or treatment options. With this goal in mind, Hadid has done wonders for the Lyme community bursting open the door on this invisible, and often, life-altering illness. She has put a face to the illness and, with the help of her TV show, has shown the devastating, crippling, painful and sadly, long-lasting effects of Lyme disease. Lyme isn't a simple disease and is often accompanied by other ailments which often makes diagnosis difficult.
Throughout the book it was obvious that Hadid is a doting and loving mother who puts her children's lives first. They adore her and she them and that was touching. Her husband David Foster didn't fare so well in her recounting of events and if they are accurate (he didn't share his POV in the book) he should be ashamed of himself.
I give this book high marks for bringing much needed awareness and for Hadid bravely sharing her ups and her low, low, lows with her readers. But where my rating falters is in the length. Much of the book is about the numerous treatment options that Hadid went through - most not financially feasible for regular people without Hollywood bank accounts. Some treatments were sketchy, some were odd, and others helped but with each passing year you could see just how desperate she was to get well. This is where the book was overly long for me, but I can see how people suffering from Lyme may get more out of the many treatment options.
Overall, I applaud Yolanda Hadid for informing the public about the severity of this disease and how it is all-encompassing for those afflicted and their loved ones. My hope is that the medical communities (and insurance companies) will see the necessity to focus on successful diagnosis and better, long-term protocols to beat this invisible epidemic.


fredamans said...

I admire Yolanda, since she was a super model. I also watched real housewives and saw her struggles as they were happening. Would love to read this book to get more details into Lyme disease, since it is so hard to diagnose and treat.

Laurie@The Baking Bookworm said...

I'd like to see how her Lyme was handled on the show. From what I read her fellow housewives weren't supportive of her. I think everyone needs to know the importance of recognizing signs (and that there are many different symptoms too).

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