HEARTACHES AND MIRACLES is a recount of Greta Burroughs’s journey with ITP. It begins with her initial diagnoses of ITP and takes the reader through each of her remissions, each of her treatments and each of her surgeries. This is not your typical ITP story.
Many of you are probably already familiar with Greta Burroughs. She is the founder of ITP…IN OUR WORDS, a blog for ITP patients. This book is her story. It’s honest and personal, it’s also punctuated with interviews and quotes from other ITP patients which make for a refreshing change of pace between the chapters.
There is a welcome comradery in HEARTACHES AND MIRACLES that I have not often experienced having a rare disease. I felt like I had actually found somewhere I belonged.
The book gets off to a slow start, beginning with a dedication, a foreward, an introduction and then acknowledgments. By this time, I was keen to get into the action and wondered if these might not have been better placed at the end of the book.
Burroughs’s first warning sign that she was ill was prolonged vaginal bleeding. Her diagnosis contains a lot of specific information. Having been through this journey, I had a completely different experience. Dale sums it up perfectly, ‘We are all so different even while we are the same.’
It’s also very country specific in terms of medical advice. I was not sure what help this book could offer me on the other side of the world, involved in a different medical system. But this is not an ITP users guide. It is a memoir.
It’s at just this moment that the story opens up into a wider dialogue in which Burroughs calls not just for more training and awareness with ITP patients but with all autoimmune disorders. This book includes links and passages from wider ITP communities including interviews with the PDSA and AARDA.
At the beginning of each chapter, through quotes from other patients, the reader is reminded that having ITP helps you appreciate the small things. That seems to be the overarching message of the book; having ITP is what you make it. It was also refreshing to hear from Caroline who did not need any treatment for her ITP. I was amazed. It was a version of ITP I hadn’t heard of.
Throughout the book, Burroughs goes through an enormous change in attitude and perspective. In the beginning, Burroughs arrives as a passive patient who ‘believed it was my doctor’s job to fix it’. Slowly Burroughs takes control by looking at alternative medicines and self-healing. I particularly liked reading about Burroughs’s experience with Reiki.
By the end of the book Burrough’s is positive and looking forward to the future, ‘I am in remission. For how long, who knows, but I am glad to be here to tell you my story’.
Stress is a common motif throughout the story. Many of the patients who contributed to the book mention stress as a contributing factor in ITP problems. Burroughs mentions stress as playing a big part in her life in the lead up to being diagnosed with ITP. And all of this seemed to echo my own experience. I could certainly relate to the stress being a huge factor in ITP.
The tone of HEARTACHES AND MIRACLES is casual, conversational and easy to read. At 100 pages, you could finish it in an afternoon. People who are newly diagnosed with ITP will get the most out of this book. It is a book I would also recommend to friends and family and is a wonderful read for any parent who is struggling to understand their ITP child.