Searching for hope with grace


I am always on the look-out for new books on Lyme disease. Most are scientifically-based and might offer a glimmer of hope through new treatment options within the medical world.
The most recent find in my search is not anything like the other books in my library. There may be nothing of new medical interest within its pages, but the author, an Ohio native, offers a fascinating account of his journey through the depths of despair in battling Lyme disease.
This book is going to be given to my son as a Christmas gift and I believe it will give him hope in battling the disease he has fought since the summer of 1998.
Harsh reality. West of Jesus opens with the harsh reality of what Lyme disease can do. Kotler was a successful writer with a great apartment, a beautiful girlfriend, and life was good. Until, that is, he was leveled by Lyme.
There were days he could not get out of bed. There were other days that he would manage to get out of bed, “but my brain – owing to the neurological assault that distinguishes Lyme – would forget how to make coffee and I would stand with the pot in one hand and the tap running, not sure of what to do next; or I would remember and start making coffee, but owing to the effect the disease had on my vision, I would suddenly find myself unable to see the coffeepot, the running water, the floor I stood upon, and would have to grope around and go slow or risk pouring water into another toaster,” Kotler writes early in his book.
He lost both the girlfriend and the apartment during the time that he kept a notebook beside his computer instructing him on such simple things as how to turn on the computer, reminders to himself to wear socks and to feed the dog.
Necessary. “A number of these entries were absolutely necessary for daily living,” he writes. “I was committed to being ill with some grace and I was attempting to hold my relationships together with hat pins and twine – and failing miserably on both counts.”
Lyme disease robs a person of so much and few books nail that on the head as this one does.
The title refers to the Judeo-Christian way of Western thinking and the sub-title is “Surfing, Science and the Origins of Belief.” It is funny and rigorous and unorthodox in its course. He fears that he must be crazy to think surfing could help influence the negative impacts of Lyme disease, but he does it anyway.
Education. This author holds degrees from the University of Wisconsin and Johns Hopkins University, so as the book is filled with myth and science, it is also filled with spirituality. And hope.
I am always on the search for hope. This book provides it with grace and humor.


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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, and three grandchildren.