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Blindsided - Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir
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Blindsided - Lifting a Life Above Illness
A Reluctant Memoir
Richard M. Cohen
HarperCollins Publishers, 2004
ISBN: 0060014091, 256 Pages
Price: $23.95
Posted: 03/15/2004

Editorial Review
  by Florence Edelman, Ph.D.

At the age of 25 Richard Cohen heard the words," you have MS."   Thus begins a journey of one man"s determination to fend off acknowledging this   diagnosis and the physical limitations that accompany a degenerative neurologic   process. People respond to illness in very individual ways; there are differences   in personality, culture, religion and family dynamics that influence the uniqueness   of responses. Multiple Sclerosis reveals itself in many forms and no two people   exhibit the same scope of impairment. For Richard Cohen loss of vision in his   right eye, soon after his diagnosis, was the first disruption in his life as   a high profile television news producer and foreign correspondent. He did not   readily share his diagnosis with colleagues or network executives. As Cohen   stated, "candor and career were rivals".
 
  Cohen eloquently describes the gradual loss of sensation and motor function   on the right side of his body and the loss of vision leading to legal blindness   13 years after the initial diagnosis. Two bouts with colon cancer added to the   stresses within his family and contributed to retirement from formal employment.  
 
  Throughout this "reluctant memoir" his strong determination to deny the encroaching   physical limitations and overcome the struggle with his body leaves the reader   with a sense of admiration and frustration. Cohen equates physical weakness   and dependence with emotional weakness. He views silence regarding physical   difficulties as strength. His denial mechanism initially kept his three children   uninformed about his condition although they were witness to his stumbles and   falls. Accepting the use of a cane appears to be the sole concession for physical   assistance.
 
  Cohen almost convinces the reader that he can no longer deceive himself about   the need to accommodate to his changing physical status, denial and reality   are at odds he writes. Yet he and his family move out of NYC to the suburbs   into a two-story house when negotiating stairs is both visually and motorically   difficult. Cohen acknowledges that heat is the enemy of MS, and recounts an   episode of leaving the train station one hot summer day, climbing up steep hills   to his home dragging his feet and exhausted by the trek. He did not call a taxi   or arrange for someone to pick him up. His determination is admirable but it   does not allow him to fully accept or incorporate much needed physical modifications   into his daily life.
 
  This is a very compelling story of a man who refuses to define his life by illness.  
 
 
  About the Author:
 
  Richard M. Cohen Richard M. Cohen is a former senior producer   for CBS News and CNN, a three-time Emmy Award winner, and the recipient of numerous   honors in journalism. He is a contributor to the "Health and Fitness"   section of the New York Times and lives with his family outside New York City.


  About the Reviewer:
 
  Florence EdelmanFlorence Edelman, Ph.D.
  Dr. Florence Edelman"s professional career spans almost 5 decades. She joined   the Communication Sciences Program"s faculty at HunterCollege, of the City   University of New York, in 1976 and served as the Director of the Program"s   Center for Communication Disorders from 1985 until retirement in 2003. During   this period she was responsible for supervising all diagnostic and therapeutic   services provided by the Center"s clinical faculty and graduate students.
 
  Dr. Edelman"s teaching duties included Craniofacial Speech Disorders, Post-Operative   Laryngectomy and Glossectomy Speech & Voice Rehabilitation and Neurogenic Speech   Disorders. In 1998 she received the President"s Award for Excellence in Service   to the College and in the same year was the recipient of the New York City Speech-Language-Hearing   Association"s Public Service Award.
 
  Dr. Edelman holds Certification from ASHA in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology.  

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