Medicine takes the shape of a book

Many people find solace in any number of great escapes, some good and some not so good for the body and soul. Me, I would be lost without a good dog and a good book.

Even through some of life’s worst moments, I have turned to a book to ground me – to find a way through, to ease dealing with a painful situation or to answer age-old questions.

But the best enjoyment of a book is not for escape from sorrow, but simply for the joy of a great story, shared by someone who really knows how to spin a tale. There were more than a few times I would even feel compelled to drag a good book along to the barn, sneaking a quick read while milking.

Dad once said, “How can you read and watch the milkers at the same time? I don’t think it can be done.” If only I could have invented a way!

Though I always read vibrant, colorful story books to my children before they were old enough to read on their own, it worried me that neither seemed to be avid readers.

Wonderful medicine. That is, until they became sick. Caroline escaped many painful, sleepless nights with the wonderful “Babysitter Club” books. Unable to go to school, the girls of mythical Stoneybrook became her world.

She would often talk of the fictional characters as though we all should know them. A trip to the bookstore for the newest installment in the series became an incredible highlight for both of us. I felt grateful beyond words to the author, Ann M. Martin.

I found it interesting that Miss Martin suffered a childhood much like Caroline’s after a fall from a tree forced the emergency removal of her spleen, leaving her immune system compromised, causing chronic illness and pain. She once said books had become her coping mechanism as a child after that fateful day. Before the fall from the tree, she had no time for books, and I have wondered if she would have ever become an author if her life hadn’t changed on that day.

We had a great collection of Miss Martin’s writing, as well as a board game that allowed the player to choose which character she wanted to be (sweet Mary Ann today, or sassy Stacey?), a computer game that allowed the player to find her way around Stoneybrook, and even two of the dolls depicting characters in the books. It really was a great escape for my daughter, and I am sure many other children, as well.

Another escape. Cort has escaped his nightmarish days and nights of illness and pain with a different type of mythical world – he has recently embarked on the writings of fantasy created by J.R.R. Tolkien after he finished all four of the Harry Potter books written by J.K. Rowling. Cort tells me the first Tolkien book is a magical delight, an enormous help on the nights he has difficulty sleeping.

Cort has had a few positive days lately in which he seems to really be regaining his sense of humor and his sense of self. There are ups and downs, which is to be expected, but it is so encouraging to see a day here and there in which his stamina seems a bit better and his interest in the world around him is back in full force.

Sleeplessness is still a frustrating problem and feelings of disorientation continue to plague him. Sometimes the disorientation makes reading nearly impossible, as he says it is like being outside of your own body and nothing makes much sense.

We have learned that treatment for Lyme disease often eases joint pain first, and the neurological problems are the last to be turned around.

With a month remaining in the I.V. treatment plan, we are looking forward to seeing much more improvement.

To our Farm and Dairy friends, I want to say thank you for your caring, your cards and letters and good wishes. It is all appreciated very much!

About the Author

Judith Sutherland, born and raised on an Ohio family dairy farm, now lives on a 70-acre farm not far from the area where her father’s family settled in the 1850s. Appreciating the tranquility of rural life, Sutherland enjoys sharing a view of her world through writing. Other interests include teaching, reading, training dogs and raising puppies. She and her husband have two children, a son and a daughter, in college. More Stories by Judith Sutherland

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