acceptance, back pain, chronic illness, chronic pain, invisible disability
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I am Not the Reliable One — Also, a Book Review: “Kicking Sick” by Amy Kurtz

I am not the reliable one.

I recently made friends with a guy who has stage 4 colon cancer. By chance, we were sitting next to each other while waiting for a flight back to Boston from Atlanta. The flight was delayed by two hours, and his soul spoke to mine. We became friends in less than 20 minutes. Just one of those things, I guess.

When his phone rang, it said, “God’s gift to women, pick up!” It was his mom, an older lady with a glorious halo of gray hair. She was delightful. She knows my name, knows all about me now. His whole family knows who I am.

He wants to talk more often than I talk to most people. More than I talk to my family, even. I’m not used to it. And the thing is, he might literally die before I get the chance to speak to him again. He slipped into a coma and came out of it while I was in a pain flare, and I had no idea because I was so wrapped up in my own bullshit. When I finally called, he made the coma sound like not a big deal — but it was a big deal. It was a very big deal.

I’m not used to carrying a relationship. I’m used to everyone being okay with me being the flaky one. When someone’s worse off than me, it’s incredibly difficult to handle.

Which brings me to my next point — I received this book to review, Kicking Sick, by Amy Kurtz, months ago. Between treatments, flares, and feeling generally terrible, it sat on the shelf, unread, until very recently. I picked it up when we were reorganizing the bookshelves and sat down, intending to read a few pages.

I didn’t move for a few hours. I felt like I was reading my own life’s story. When I called my mother later that day, I babbled on and on about the book, not listening to her say, “Uh huh… uhhhh huh…” not comprehending why it was so important to me.

You don’t understand, I thought, almost angry. She gets it



Boys and girls, this book is great. I have no fewer than 12 sections dog-eared for reference already because it resonated so hard. She might not have the exact same illnesses or pain, but by God, she fights the same way. Her writing is approachable, her explanations are clear, and she can laugh at herself. What more could you want?

She was the unreliable one, and then she kicked it. She kicked the sick. That is all I want to do at this point, and that is what I have been personally working on. The book offers so many ways to do that.

Amy is a wellness expert and a certified health coach on top of her personal experience with chronic illness, so she knows her stuff. She provides health routines, food tips, and other recommendations that are backed up with evidence. She’s been sick since her teens, and her incredibly supportive parents helped her figure out what was wrong: first back pain, and then a firestorm of issues after a trip abroad. She has been reaching out and collecting wellness professionals, whom she calls her “A-Team of Experts” and “Glow Warriors,” and they provide wonderful vignettes. It’s a smorgasbord of self-care, all packed into one explosion of a book.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

“Worry keeps us in our sick mode.”

“If you have to be at the doctor’s often, don’t make it your life. Instead, bring your life to the doctor’s office.”

“Self-care is always being there for ourselves, treating ourselves like we would someone we love, and making choices that increase our long-term emotional and physical health and sense of well-being.” 

“Seek out doctors who see you as an individual, rather than a case file, and see your condition as something to truly manage and heal, rather than as a diagnosis to medicate.”

“You should leave from any wellness treatment feeling more balanced, stronger, peaceful, and more centered than you did before you came in.”

— Amy Kurtz

The book just made me happy. I felt happier after reading it. I felt understood. It’s always nice when someone gets it. And I always feel a personal sense of “Bravo, lady,” when a member of the Chronic Condition Club (as she puts it) does so well in the real world.

So — bravo, lady. You made it!

I guess my point to this overall post is to keep at it, even if it takes you a long time to get there. I am doing my best to be reliable. I am doing what is within my power at this moment. And if I keep at it, I’ll get to where I want and need to go — eventually. Just like Amy did.



  1. Thanks Jen! I’m going to get this book. It sounds great. I hope you get a chance to say goodbye to your friend.


  2. This sounds like a book that I need to read.

    I especially loved the quote on bringing your life to the doctors!

    I also agree with her that healing can come.


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