A Few Minor Adjustments
Changing you life and longing to travel across the world to a different continent was more than a life changing experience for Cherie Kephart. Wanting to help the people in remote villages in Central Africa she would soon experience the same unsanitary conditions, lack of pure and clean water, no bathrooms but having to build and create latrines, no place to bathe privately and the food was often plagued with bugs and her world was filled with mosquitoes that carried disease, flies that buzzed and may have even bitten plus living conditions that most would not be able to endure. Wanting to join the Peace Corps was her goal but when he arrived the things she went through, the bouts with many different illnesses and contracting malaria was nothing compared to what she face before she left. The medical facilities were poorly staffed and equipped. The skills of even the doctors were limited although they tried their best each time her stomach ached, her head pounded and the blood dripped out of her wondering just what was the cause. Tests negative or inconclusive while working with a young child named Fewdays who attached himself to her while others stood by and watched them toil each day. As you read part one you will feel the despair, undergo the hardships and wonder what she was suffering from and why no one could figure it out. Near death so many times the author shares her exact words, you can hear the screams of pain and the reader will feel the heat, the bites and the torturous experiences that are vividly and graphically described by the author. Near death so many times and even wishing for it Cherie was blessed in a sense by some minor miracles and the love and help of Delia her nurse and Kyle. The descriptions of the many villages, the people that did not contribute to helping themselves, the will of the author to continue on in Zambia even when the Peace Corps said no. Disease free for a year she was still not allowed to come back as we move from 1994 to 2004 ten years later when she cannot move, her neck is stiff and she can barely stand up and the friend Alex comes to her rescue. Sad but true if you have ever experienced a night in the ER and the doctor after waiting hours says he has no solution nor will he be willing to find any because he’s not sure what you have and the ER is for trauma patients only. Since when? I guess in this ER it is.
Ten years later she is living in San Diego after spending time in New Zealand and realized that getting an education in anthropology was her passion but jobs were scarce so she had to make adjustments one of many. Meeting Joe who was addicted to alcohol and drugs was a sobering experience for her in more ways than one but when things start going downhill will Cherie is able to take more downward roads? Challenges, obstacles and an illness that no one seemed to be able to diagnose and staying strong and staying the course was not easy. How do you live each day unsure of your fate and in pain? How do you not give up and realize that at the end of the marred road there might be a straight path to hope and success?
Dealing with a doctor whose main method of treatment was giving her many different meds because she was diagnosed as ADHD and had trouble focusing and yet had an excess of energy making sure that everything and every project she did was done perfectly to completion. But, medication can do strange things to people and often make you feel worse than the condition as you hear her fighting for her life, not wanting to give up praying for those who lost their’s and then realizing no more: ENOUGH!
Brenda her therapist finally gave her the chance to tell several back stories that the reader would not have known had she not gained her confidence to tell of an ordeal that would shatter just about anyone. Waiting for someone to take her home and leaving the bar before Alistair could bring the car round, someone attacks he walking and the end result changed her both inside and out. Dealing with the police and finally getting angry with herself and the person who attacked her both emotionally and physically took a create deal of courage to share and yet it’s important for readers to understand this obstacle and situation learning from her experiences might help others that have the same thing happen to them.
Finding herself having to work as a waitress is one step to making ends meet but when hoping to attend a college to get her doctorate why did they want her to repeat courses she had already taken? Lives change, stumbling blocks get in your way but its up to you to decide whether to trip over them or walk around them and find a different path.
Dealing with many different doctors whose perspectives were singular to their personalities and who at times seemed detached and impersonal while others like Dr. Genius, the names she gives them are priceless tended to be more diligent, careful and hoped that his plan of action would work. But, the long road before came with ambivalence, healers, massages, medication, friends like Bruce, Sandy, her mother, Paloma and her closest supporter her boyfriend, Alex whose warmth, understanding and kindness is a gift to her and their friendship cherished. But, Cherie is strong, defiant and yet at times drawn to hate her life, tears, but never self-pity and never ever giving up. Heart surgery, gallbladder, heart problems, Lyme disease diagnosed and then misdiagnosed, as well as other serious heart problems. But it would all stem back to Africa and something that no one realized happened to her there.
Loyalties are tested and within this memoir you learn just how kindhearted, wonderfully caring and supportive Cherie was to her friend Bruce who would leave the world too soon. Sick, head pain, aches and much more did not deter her from seeing him before he passed and speaking at the service letting the world know how lucky she was to work with him and be his friend. Insurance companies take forever to confirm that you can have tests. Some deny even without looking into the code or diagnosis others just plain say no. It took the fortitude, energies and caring of some doctors who would not give up on her and although she saw so many miracles do happen but they take time to unfold.
The hidden solution comes to light in chapter 31 titled fading as the culprit or criminal is revealed, the sentence for the disease is passed and the verdict will Cherie will survive but in time.
PTSD was another thing she would have to deal with as well as Alex dealing with it too. But, after months of physical, neurological and emotional therapy she prevailed. So, take the journey along with Cherie and meet Dr. Jovial, Dr. Nervous, Dr. Pricey, Dr. Psychic, Dr. Rescue and the rest of this unusual group and hear their voices, listen to their verdicts as if they are judges passing sentences in a courtroom without listening and carefully reading and understanding the evidence and know that life is tough, life is hard but never giving up and having faith in herself and the people around her Cherie leaves us with this message: Death is everywhere: BUT SO IS LIFE! Vividly depicted, heartfelt accounts and one woman that is an inspiration to everyone especially me.
As they said in the play Fiddler on the Roof: TO LIFE! TO LIFE lechayim,
A story that is told in the first person and yet you feel you are there from start to finish from the past to the present and back again this is one inspirational memoir that will give everyone hope, understanding and with the right mindset you will SURVIVE! with A Few Minor Adjustments
Fran Lewis: Just reviews/MJ magazine