I happened upon this book when visiting the Narcolepsy Network one day recently. I’ve long been a fan of memoirs (especially health-related), and year...moreI happened upon this book when visiting the Narcolepsy Network one day recently. I’ve long been a fan of memoirs (especially health-related), and years ago I searched far and wide for a book about narcolepsy. After a long and arduous search, I was finally diagnosed with narcolepsy with cataplexy in May of 2011. Oh, how I wish there had been a book like this back before I was diagnosed!
I have so many feelings for Wide Awake and Dreaming that it’s hard to put them into words. Let me try to sum up why you should read this book, no matter who you are. This might be a bit verbose. I apologize.
As a person with narcolepsy (with or without cataplexy)… This book will be a welcome friend. As Julie described her initial symptoms – cataplexy while laughing – I could easily relate. (That is how my symptoms began, too!) In reading this book, I experienced Julie’s struggles with cataplexy, overwhelming sleepiness, sleep paralysis, and nightmares — all while she was fiercely working her way through law school. Reading about someone else’s experiences and being able to relate to them so much was a really great experience. Having an illness like narcolepsy, which most people don’t know much about, can make you feel pretty isolated. Being able to share these experiences with another person reminds you that you’re not alone, and there are other people out there who know what you’re going through.
As a person struggling with undiagnosed sleep issues… This book will be a guiding light. When I was struggling with my sleep symptoms, I went to several doctors who tested me for many possible diagnoses. While one neurologist suspected nerve and muscle issues, my mind kept going back to sleep issues. I researched like you wouldn’t believe, and I searched and searched for a book about narcolepsy — just so I could see if I related to the symptoms. If only this book had been available back then! But at the time, Julie was still searching for her own diagnosis. Despite all of the fatigue, unsympathetic friends, and frustration, Julie persevered. Not only did she finish law school, but she found a doctor who would help her, and she got herself back up on two feet. Even if narcolepsy is not what you have, just reading about someone else’s experiences with similar struggles is comforting, encouraging, and inspiring.
As a person who knows/loves someone with narcolepsy (or other sleep issues)… This book will be a gentle reminder. While reading Julie’s story, I was continually frustrated with her boyfriend, who seemed to have zero empathy and did not really care what she was going through (even if he did carry her to bed when she had cataplexy!). I was, however, very happy to learn that her father was so supportive. It was nice to see that even though he was her mentor and encouragement to finish law school, he didn’t let that cloud his judgement. He always listened to her, supported her, and helped her through each ugly moment. One of my favorite parts of this book was when her dad and stepmother accompanied her to the Narcolepsy Network Conference. Because then, his eyes were opened. Then, he more fully understood her struggles, and the gravity of narcolepsy. Let him be an example of how to treat your loved one who has narcolepsy.
As a person unfamiliar with sleep issues or people who have them… This book will be a learning experience. I’ve always enjoyed reading memoirs because you get to experience another person’s life and memories at a very close perspective. Reading about the struggles someone has gone through not only teaches you about new things, but it lets you develop your empathy muscles! Aside from all that, this book was a flat-out interesting and inspiring read. It starts out as a mystery, and by the end of it you’ll be cheering Julie on!
So, should you read this book? I say, undoubtedly, yes.(less)
This book, which seems to be the most complete and comprehensive text on narcolepsy, was difficult to pin down. I had to order it from an online selle...moreThis book, which seems to be the most complete and comprehensive text on narcolepsy, was difficult to pin down. I had to order it from an online seller, and after the first one canceled on me, I had to order from a second online seller! This book turned out to be a lot smaller and shorter than I was expecting it to be, but overall I was pretty satisfied with its contents. It is indeed the most thorough and comprehensive text on narcolepsy that I have been able to find anywhere. It not only describes the symptoms, but explains them, and gives personal accounts of experience with each of them. I found it to be easy to read and very helpful in my quest for understanding this disorder. After reading it, do I still feel as though I could have narcolepsy? Yes, I do. Although, not to the extent that Utley has it (which I am happy about).(less)
This one, thank goodness, I was able to find in the bookstore. Oliver Sacks seems to be a popular one, as I keep seeing his books all over the place a...moreThis one, thank goodness, I was able to find in the bookstore. Oliver Sacks seems to be a popular one, as I keep seeing his books all over the place as well as being mentioned in other books I am reading!). I have always enjoyed reading medical case studies, and learning about the peculiarities of the mind. This book happily engaged my curiosity. Each story was about a person Sacks encountered in his practice as a neurologist, and their strange neurological conditions. The man whose story became the title of the book was a great lead-in to the rest of these mysterious and intriguing tales. A man who can no longer recognize anything or anyone visually, but only by their “music”? A woman whose epileptic seizures made her hear music from her (long forgotten) childhood in Ireland? People who don’t understand words, but only their MEANING when spoken, and vice versa? Fascinating! I don’t think I can ever get enough of the mysteries of being human.(less)
It took me about three weeks to finish reading this book, because I would read it bit by bit every night before bed. In the end, I'm really happy that...moreIt took me about three weeks to finish reading this book, because I would read it bit by bit every night before bed. In the end, I'm really happy that I read it this way, because it really felt like I was going through this journey with Rose and Ruby. Every night was like a new journal entry, a new day in their lives, and I couldn't wait to see what they would say to me each time.
This book was inspiring and so full of heart. I really fell in love with those girls (and to be honest with you, I didn't really want the book to end). Lansens did an amazing job portraying the minds and hearts of two very different girls and the way they viewed their lives. Read this book.(less)
**spoiler alert** I had to order this book online because it’s apparently not available in-store anywhere. I wanted to read it so that I could learn a...more**spoiler alert** I had to order this book online because it’s apparently not available in-store anywhere. I wanted to read it so that I could learn about the struggles Kamen went through to cure her headache. Though her experience isn’t the same thing that I have been going through, I thought it could lend some guidance, or at least some insight into the realms of headaches. Starting off, I was pretty astonished to find that my experience with the neurologist seemed to mirror Kamen’s pretty significantly. We had been treated very similarly, and put on several the same drugs in the beginning (and her story started almost 20 years ago). What this made me realize more than anything was that my neurologist seemed to very much be focusing on my intermittent head pain instead of my symptoms at large. It was a disappointing, although not really very surprising, revelation. As I read further into this book, I really began to feel frustrated for and with Kamen, as her problems never seemed to get better, and her quest for resolve never seemed to end. In the end, I am left feeling two things: slightly disheartened that my chronic problems may never be solved, and grateful that I am not suffering what poor Paula Kamen has been dealing with for close to 20 years.(less)