'Til Health Do Us Part: One Woman's Extraordinary Story of Healing
Julie Rooney was forty-eight years old in the summer of 2010, and to anyone looking in from the outside, she appeared to be living the dream. She and her husband owned houses in Silicon Valley and Hawaii, flew first class and stayed in five-star hotels. Their four children were all in college.
But Julie was on her last legs. She suffered from Addison's disease, Crohn's colitis, diabetes and hypothyroidism, and after years of synthetic steroids she weighed almost 200 pounds. She had blood drawn more often than most women had their nails done. The bones in her feet were as brittle as glass, and the team of doctors who had cared for her for years had run out of ideas.
"If your illnesses don't kill you," her endocrinologist told her, as gently as she could, "the drugs will."
And then, when Julie had nearly given up hope, a scrap of paper with a hastily scrawled name and a phone number changed her life. Eighteen harrowing months later, against all odds, she had weaned herself off all her medications and her labs had come back normal for the first time in more than ten years.
The lessons she learned during her extraordinary journey of healing will resonate with all those who have struggled to regain their health, and more importantly, to understand their own role in the process.
"We can heal ourselves and each other with our thoughts, our actions and our stories, and in so doing we can heal the world." - Julie Rooney
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About the Author
"In this well-crafted memoir, debut author Rooney chronicles her journey toward holistic wellness as she healed from a host of debilitating diseases and years of "emotional malnutrition."
At age 49, Rooney "was being treated for a laundry list of auto-immune diseases," and her family was falling apart. As she paints this bleak picture, she introduces readers to her past through flashbacks--physical and sexual abuse as a child, her joyful marriage disintegrating as her husband's career progressed, and dozens of doctors piling on diagnoses and medications. In 2010, Rooney's life took a life-altering turn when she moved to Hawaii and met Xavier, a shrewd, composed Eastern healer who guided her toward health. With his help, she separated herself from the "toxic environment" of her family, established a healthy diet, and learned to nurture herself. But the biggest hurdle was weaning herself from the heavy medications she had become dependent on for years (prescribed "by licensed drug dealers," as Xavier puts it). As she made monumental strides to improve physically, she also engaged in the grueling emotional work of overcoming the "pattern of self-destruction rooted in an inability to love [herself]." Rooney's writing style is genuine and engaging; short chapters keep the pace lively. She casts herself as a skeptic of Xavier's suggestions and highly stubborn in implementing them, which adds some levity: "Do I really have to love myself unconditionally to get well?" she asks. "Can't we just double up on the acupuncture and...sing a rousing rendition of Kumbaya?" It also makes her a particularly effective advocate of alternative medicine for critics who hold the same views she once held. Lastly, she captures Xavier's advice in memorable stories and phrases, like his observation that in healing, "there's a point...where you stop swimming away from something and begin to swim toward something."
An astonishing yet plausible story of recovery told with authenticity and a healthy dose of humor." -- Kirkus Reviews
"Til Health Do Us Part: One Woman's Extraordinary Story of Healing addresses the problems of over-medication and drug interactions and follows author Julie Rooney's downward spiral from a series of debilitating diseases, charting the even more debilitating side effects caused by the many medications she was prescribed.
Given modern concerns about drug interactions and impacts, the timing of this story could not be better. An increasing number of patients are finding that the side effects of supposedly-benign treatments cause major problems. The question then becomes one of what to do, and Rooney maintains that patients can actually be empowered to take back their lives (albeit, not haphazardly).
Her process of investigation, information, and recovery will serve as a blueprint for others facing similar issues, even if their diagnoses are different. Hers is not a generalized discussion, however. Chapters pinpoint specific drugs prescribed for specific problems even as she notes that "...long before my list of medications lengthened, the drugs I was taking had begun to cause problems of their own. But that's the great thing about Western medicine. There's always something else to take for that."
From her step back from steroids even in the face of a medical emergency to the confusion resulting from trying to decide what to do ("My body's telling me one thing, while each of the many voices in my head is telling me another. And they're all squawking like mynah birds trying to make themselves heard. So which voice am I supposed to listen to? Which voice am I supposed to believe?")," -- Midwest Book Review