Carmen grew up in the Virgin Islands, but moved to the northern United States to attend college. Statistics say that moving to a northern latitude before the age of 16 can increase an individual's possibility of developing MS. Whether that is due to the sudden lessening of natural vitamin D via sunlight, or due to other environmental toxins, is not yet known, and is not addressed in her story. Why she developed MS is not a question she spends a lot of time asking; how to go on and live her life as best she can is more her focus.
Ambrosio's book includes moment of humor and moments of pathos; her father's death of cancer is a sobering moment in her life. She had a wonderful relationship with him, and treasures what she learned from him. Her independence and self sufficiency are traits that she attributes to that relationship. She also had a warm and valued kinship with her grandmother, who lived her life in the Islands simply, making herbal remedies for her fellow islanders and sharing generously her wisdom, faith and food. What Carmen brought forth from this relationship is her own sense of generosity and the ability to self-sustain with the help of those who love and care for her.
Carmen views doctors as people who are capable of helping and capable of making mistakes. She does not remain in a doctor's negative or callous presence, but moves on as quickly as needed to find a better doctor. Her description of the right doctor is one who listens and responds to the person seeking help, and she has found two such doctors in her new home state of Ohio.
Carmen Ambrosio's sense of humor shines through in her story; her understanding of "bod-mail" identifies her own knowledge of how important listening for messages from her body. She describes a morning ritual similar to a roll call, checking in with each portion of her body to assess the day's potential and needs. She has learned the hard way that ignoring messages of early discomfort or building weakness can cause much greater difficulty later. Her methodology of printing these bod-mails as inbox messages and her own responses drives this important message home without resorting to a preaching style.
Life Continues is an informative, entertaining and comforting read for people trying to find themselves in the person suddenly diagnosed and labeled with the term multiple sclerosis. It certainly can stay on a bedside table and be picked up for those few moments of clear eyesight and the need for a quick uplifting read. It's a valued book in my collection!