Book Review: ‘Memory of Health’ by Edie Summers

book review_memory of health

I have been given this product as part of a product review through the Chronic Illness Bloggers network. Although the product was a gift, all opinions in this review remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.

I was recently given the opportunity to review a new book by Edie Summers called Memory of Health. Edie Summers is both a wellness coach and chronic illness patient expert, with 20 years of experience in the alternative health field.

 

If I had to sum up Memory of Health in a sentence, I would say that it is essentially a manual of self-care for people living with chronic illness. The approach that Edie Summers takes to health and healing is truly holistic, which I think is perfectly summed up by a quote she includes: “Health, wholeness and holiness … all three share the same root word and all three share the same state of harmony or disharmony (Deepak Chopra).”

So what can you expect to find in this book? First, Summers shares her personal journey living with chronic illness, including how she recovered. She emphasizes the power of storytelling for well-being. Many of us with chronic illness can feel very alone in our experiences living with these conditions. Connecting with each other over our shared experiences is empowering. From making us feel less isolated in our experiences, to learning from each other, storytelling is very impactful. And there is much to learn from Summers’ story. One thing that really resonated with me was her relentless detective work to find what helped her to heal. The other was how Summers identified mental, physical and spiritual causes that contributed to her illness, and then made changes to effect her recovery.

Secondly, this book covers a wide range of factors that may contribute to chronic illness, and how to address each in turn, including:

  • identifying and removing environmental toxins that may exacerbate your condition
  • causes of chronic fatigue, including changes to the thyroid, anemia, microbiome, immune health, inflammation, depression, etc.
  • improving nutrition, restorative movement, relaxation, mindfulness, improving sleep etc.

In covering all these topics, Edie Summers keeps her focus on the systems that keep the body in balance. In her own words: “This is why I’m fascinated with systems biology which notices patterns, watches for the surfacing of self-organizing models, and observes healing from a holistic point of view. The thing is, nature is a dynamic system, which learns, evolves, and grows (p.120).”

In the final sections of Memory of Health, Summers provides a roadmap to self-care in order to help readers improve their well-being. The book includes detailed summaries of tips to improve physical health including diet modifications, supplements, super foods, relaxation, de-stressing, sleep support, yoga and many other important topics.

I think the most powerful section of the book is dedicated to mental, emotional and spiritual healing. Summers writes “The problem is, you cannot heal if you are not present in your body. This is your first step: get back into your body and stay there. It bears repeating: health resides in your body (p. 336).” Summers believes the road to greater presence is founded in self-love. Finally, she emphasizes connection– to loved ones, to activities that give us joy and to a sense of purpose.

Ultimately Summers sees all these different threads of wellbeing being woven together to effect synergy. She explains: “Synergy, then, is how health occurs, when the total is greater than the sum of “its” parts. A great example of synergy is the experience of listening to a symphony orchestra vs. hearing each individual instrument played on its own (p.280).”

At times I found reading this book challenging because the way it is written is very dense. Some sections interweave scientific explanations, personal observations and spiritual reflections in a way I sometimes found hard to digest all at once. I think the best way to read this book is to focus in on the sections you think are most applicable to your situation, rather than trying to read the entire thing in one go. There is a very detailed Table of Contents to help you identify the sections that you feel are most relevant to you, which is very helpful.

The other caveat is that all of these suggestions are based on Edie Summers’ personal experiences and should not be taken as medical advice. Make sure you consult with a healthcare practitioner before trying to implement any of these tips.

So, ultimately, who is this book for? I think it is ideally suited to anyone living with a chronic illness who feels like they have tried everything and nothing has worked. Memory of Health opens up many new avenues to pursue and can provide hope to people who feel stuck. It is also an inspirational read. If you are feeling in need of guidance on how to live with more purpose, joy or connection, even if you have a chronic illness, then I think this is the book for you.

Click here to see more reviews on Amazon

Click here for a 40% discount on Memory of Health from Lulu.com

Click here to visit Edie Summers’ website

Advertisements

Real Life with Chronic Illness: Inspirational Blog Posts from Spring 2017

Real Life with Chronic Illness: Inspirational Blog Posts from Spring 2017

How reading chronic illness blogs helps me navigate life with chronic illness

Living with a chronic illness can feel isolating. How many people do you know who even have a chronic illness? Our daily challenges are unique, and it can be difficult to find someone who really understands.. Even when it comes to positive changes, I find that friends and family can have a difficult time relating to the treatments or lifestyle changes that I’ve made in order to improve my health and well-being. For example, starting a meditation practice or taking supplements was considered equivalent to fraudulent ‘snake-oil treatments’  by some of my more skeptical relatives. Even more broadly, living with chronic illness changes your perspective on life and your priorities. While you might see working towards acceptance as part of healing, other people around you might see it as ‘giving up’ on getting better. For all of these reasons, it can be difficult to find your way through the realities of life with a chronic illness

This is where the community of chronic illness bloggers comes in. Reading about shared experiences can help reduce that sense of isolation –– knowing other people out there can relate to what you are going through. Chronic illness blogs can help to suggest treatments or self-care strategies, which is important given the lack of research, medical treatments or adequate pain management supports out there. Most importantly, chronic illness blogs can inspire their readers with the wisdom of experience and the power of insight.

Here, I wanted to share a few of the inspiring posts I read this spring about navigating real life with chronic illness:

Inspiring blog posts from Spring, 2017

 

You are miracle.
You are harmony.
You are 90 trillion cells weaving new tapestry.
Each one testifies to the mystery
That even on the worst day
Even at your worst
You are still your best
You are miracle

  • The Beauty of the Story Your Life Is Telling by Stacey from Chronically Whole An inspiring take on the narrative of being a person living with chronic illness. My favourite lines: “Some may say it’s telling a story of failing by not getting better faster [but]… Let your life keep telling the story of adapting, overcoming, loving in spite of loss, being unafraid  to face the uncertain future head on…”

 

  • What can fairy tales teach us about living with chronic illness? That we have to be our own heroes, for one.  Rhiann, from My Brain Lesion and Me, writes:  “My experience of living with a permanent neurological condition has also taught me that we all have the power to rescue ourselves from our own battles in whatever form that they take.” Read more at Life is Anything But a Fairy Tale. 

 

Real Life Round-up: Bloggers Share What It’s Really Like to Live with a Chronic Condition

REAL LIFE ROUND-UP: BLOGGERS SHARE WHAT IT'S REALLY LIKE TO LIVE WITH A CHRONIC CONDITIONLife with a chronic condition is a kind of quiet extreme. Often, you’ll find us resting at home, surrounded by blankets, pillows, heating pads, tea cups, pill bottles, furry friends and a tablet or tv. It may seem like a quiet kind of life, but it’s actually a constant breath-taking roller-coaster. Internally, physical symptoms of pain, fatigue, and zillion other things are in a constant state of flux. Emotionally, we react to the confusion in our bodies and the dramatic changes to our lives. An incredible strength is forged by waking up each day and trying again to not only survive, but live.

This past week, my endometriosis pain continued to worsen, with weeks yet to go on my post-laparoscopy consult. My back spasmed. I had a few dark 3 am moments of wondering if I will ever find answers or solutions. At the same time, I had a really freeing realization about my internal critic. I’m always after myself to be more productive, equating self-worth to overachieving. I listened to a meditation about radical self-acceptance. What if your internal critic became your chief encourager? I’m trying to be much more mindful of those internal criticisms- and challenging my internal critic to be kinder and more encouraging. It feels like a load off my back. Every time I grow as person because of my chronic illness experiences, it feels like a silver lining to all the difficulties.

Here is a round-up of fantastic blog posts about real life with chronic conditions – the unfiltered truth about the challenges of this life and the ways that these bloggers have found to live better despite the obstacles!

REAL LIFE ROUND-UP: BLOGGERS SHARE WHAT IT'S REALLY LIKE TO LIVE WITH A CHRONIC CONDITION

Brainless Blogger Understanding and Being There is all about the misconceptions normal folks have about chronic pain but also encourages #spoonies to be patient with their family/friends as long as they try to be there for us & to understand our reality.

Color me lyme Words for the Chronically Ill Patience. Never Give Up! Believe. This post talks about how these affirming words can help on the illness journey. “This doesn’t mean we should corral our drive or initiative…[but] there are times when we have no choice but to let PATIENCE – and faith – take the lead.   (Easier said than done, right?!)”

Damsel in a dress. Why I talk openly about being sick. A powerful and humorous advocacy piece on challenging the stigma of invisible illness. “I sat back and realized that my illness has taken a lot from me, but there is one thing it has given me: a voice. I knew I had to unapologetically talk about my illness because being sick isn’t something I should have to apologize for.”

Invisible Warrior Minding the Pain A thoughtful post on using meditation to manage pain, especially if the pain is always with you. In order to break the pain cycle, we need to learn how to understand and work with the pain and our reactions to it. I really like the list of guided meditations at the end, using the awesome Insight Timer app

Let’s Feel Better The Determined Weeper A funny take on the emotional and physical side-effects of changing medications. I completely relate to being in a “chemical stew” as you come off a medication in order to try to get pregnant.

Being Lydia Is it all in my head Ever wished a test result would be positive? Then you probably have a chronic illness that constantly tests negative…over and over and over in your search for answers.