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When 44 year-old Ann Pietrangelo is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, all previous assumptions about health, work, and her new romance are up for grabs.
How do you plan for life’s second half with a body you’ve never met before? One precarious step at a time. From the impersonal diagnosis by email to a wedding presided over by a funeral director, this is no tragic tale of woe. Like relapsing/remitting MS itself, the book alternates between the serious (“When I turn toward him, there’s a big hole where his right cheek should be.”) and the silly (“The bocce balls don't get out much.”).
This poignant and often humorous story of acceptance and change relies on a basic truth – good health and life are fleeting, but love and humor trump all. Every second matters, a point driven home by yet another life-altering diagnosis.
Bio: Currently a regular contributing writer for Care2 Healthy & Green Living, Care2 Causes, Natural Choice Directory, and Family Health Guide U.K., Ann is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and The Author’s Guild. Her writing covers a wide range of issues, including multiple sclerosis patient information, her Living with Triple-Negative Breast Cancer series, and general health news. Ann and her husband, Jim, make their home in virginia and are partners in WebCamp One LLC, a full-service website development company.
“Your test results are all normal. At this point I would consider the three treatment options we spoke of. There is no hurry in making this decision, but would like to hear back from you in the next couple of weeks. If you have any questions or concerns please call me. Thanks.”
When I was a kid, doctor shows were all the rage on television. I’d seen the pronouncement of diagnosis hundreds of times. The kindly old doctor touches the patient’s hand and looks into his eyes as he breaks the news. He might put an arm around the patient’s shoulder, or comfort the worried spouse. The camera would then zoom in on the patient’s face so we can see the emotional impact up close and personal.
But it seems we’re not going to get our Marcus Welby moment … or anything that even vaguely resembles one.
The email that changes everything lands in my inbox on January 28, 2004, at 2:19 p.m. Just another email mixed with a batch of well-worn jokes and plenty of spam.
The test results are all normal. It is one of those good news/bad news situations. In this case, however, normal does not translate into a clean bill of health. It is in this instant, through this most impersonal exchange, that normal takes on a whole new meaning for me.
Interview Questions with Ann Pietrangelo
What will readers like about your book?
From the feedback I've gotten so far, people with MS or other chronic illnesses appreciate the frankness of my words. Others have told me that it provides valuable insight for those who want to understand what it's like to have a chronic illness. But at its heart, it's very much a love story – romantic love, love of family, love of life. It's a story about change and growth and perseverance. You definitely don't need MS to relate.
Why did you self publish?
"No More Secs!" has a niche topic, so I figured I'd take advantage of this new era of self-publishing to see where it leads.
What is your writing process?
I don't have a definite process. I tend to just take off, letting my fingers fly across the keyboard with whatever thoughts happen to tumble out. I don't always know where I'm going. The real work is in the second draft. And the third...
How long does it take you to write your first draft?
The first draft of "No More Secs!" took me about a year. Then I spent another year on edits and improvements.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
My experiences with MS and cancer are certainly not unique, and they've been addressed by celebrity authors countless times. I'm an ordinary woman with an ordinary life, and I believe readers will relate to my story because I'm not so different from them. Early feedback tells me I'm right about that.
So often our public faces mask the real truth. We put on our positive personas for all the world to see and keep our intimate struggles to ourselves. That's not always a good thing.
In "No More Secs!" I invite the reader into the private thoughts of a person undergoing enormous physical and emotional upheaval. Vulnerability and strength, pessimism and optimism, realism and flights of fancy, all have a place in my life and in my story. So does humor, and my book certainly has its share of laughs. So often people feel alone in these things, and it's nice to learn that you're not.