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The Moonlight Sonata at the Mayo Clinic Hardcover – May 21, 2013
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“Phenomenal. . . . May be the best book about real faith that I will ever read.” —Sue Halpern, author of A Dog Walks into a Nursing Home
“Part medical mystery, part critique of the American health-care system, and part commentary on modern faith.” —The Washington Post
“Gallagher’s memoir is about many things: illness, mortality, faith and doubt, work, busyness, navigating through the crazy quilt that is the American health-care system, and, ultimately, about regaining one’s health and one’s place in the universe.” —Booklist
“A poetic tale of a personal medical crisis. . . . The author navigates the complex American health care system, the fear and mystery surrounding her search for medical answers and healing, and her renewed appreciation for the necessity of vision: to read, to write, and to view the world. . . . A deeply introspective journey.” —Kirkus Reviews
"Poignant. . . . Gallagher does not dole out easy answers in this somber, reflective work. But she finds the humble, bracing imperative to live in the present.” —Publishers Weekly
“[Gallagher] learned how illness can strip away not only the illusion of control, but also one’s faith, hope, and very identity. . . . She radically redefines what faith means to her.” —The Christian Century --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
It was a journey she didn't enter willingly. A blurriness in her sight signaled the beginning of her metamorphosis into a "patient," one of those spectral inhabitants of a world the rest of us (who one might as well call "healthies") barely register as we go about our lives blessed with the illusion that our destiny is controllable and controlled by our will, at least until a calamity forces us to acknowledge our desperate vulnerability.
Gallagher was forced to rely on medical "specialists" and the supposedly powerful machinery of modern medicine, which often causes more confusion than it allays. As she shuttles among guides who turn out to be reliable and unreliable by turns, her anxieties and fears test and break open her understanding of the stories we tell ourselves and jointly construct about faith, god, and our communities of belief. It's a testimony to the grace and tact with which she ultimately re-imagines those stories that her conclusions, won at so difficult a price, feel genuine and convincing, albeit fittingly tentative.
This is not a book of easy consolations, of tips on finding sure and easy answers to the hardest of life's hard problems - how to deal with its unbearable trials and uncertainties and its one final certainty, mortality. It clearly took an uncommon honesty to write it. The reader with the courage to bring a similar honesty to it will see a world fraught yet potentially a place of resolution. Nora Gallagher is a deeply humane guide to the dark woods through which we all must some day pass.
I was struck by the title because I am about to drive to Rochester, Minnesota's famed Mayo Clinic for the third time in as many months. My husband is in his own "Oz" --a a place I, by necessity, must visit. I have been there myself, and like Nora Gallager, my own Oz was about possible blindness. But my husband has been suffering for nearly a year with a strange set of still-undiagnosed symptoms. Our journey has been wrenching.
I, like Gallager, spent time in the sunshine-drenched atrium of Mayo's "Gonda Building" listening to beautifully-played music by someone dressed in green scrubs sitting at a grand piano. I described Mayo recently, before reading the book, as the most pristine place I have ever been, an "almost holy place" and "much like Disneyland." Thus, I laughed out loud to read the author's description of Mayo as a cross between Magic Mountain (a California amusement park) and Lourdes.
I bought this book to help the two of us cope with the emotional whirlpool we have been and are experiencing. We were immediately immersed into Gallager's eerily familiar world, a world of frustration and fear, of medical practicioners who are sometimes amazing and sometimes just amazingly wrong.
Gallager captures the sense most of us have experienced after a life-changing event, that surreal awareness that we were living in a world of make-believe where we tell ourselves that we, and those we love, will always be with us, unchanged. When everything shifts, in ways we never imagined, we are in another world altogether. Giving this alternate, but perhaps ultimately more real, place a name was a stroke of genius.Read more ›
The crisp, concise descriptions posed by Nora regarding ALL her doctors was honestly refreshing. It is so easy to relate to her descriptions. We have all been to those doctors; we have encountered their nurses, their reception areas, their varied personalities. We walk out of those doctors' offices feeling loved, or dismissed, or....more often, confused as to what just happened. Nora describes them all in this book: the good, the bad, the confusing. She made me feel that I was right there with her, on every step of the journey.
And intertwined throughout the book is the spiritual component that is so often ignored when writing about health and experiences in dealing with the medical aspects of one's life: the role of faith, of friends, of strangers, of kindnesses received and given, and the clarity that comes in a moment of grace. Nora caused me to rethink my own journey in ways I might not have done, had I not read this book. I am grateful for the experiences given to me in reading this book. I could not easily put it down. And when it was over, I wanted more.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved this book. There was smooch in this book that really resonated with me. In fact, I had checked it out from the library and loved it so much that I ordered it from Amazon... Read morePublished 5 months ago by M Coffin
It was just what everyone needs to read when going through a diagnosis to treatment scenario. Much appreciated her insite into OZ.Published 5 months ago by Nancy B. Harger
The book is a welcome break-through describing what I called a "parallel universe" that I lived in for 2 years during a critical illness that was difficult to diagnose.Published 14 months ago by Minabird
I love Nora Gallagher's books and this one is included. Fascinating read on her mysterious disease and its diagnosis. Read morePublished 15 months ago by poppy
Nora Gallagher has a refreshing talent for the blending of her medical odyssey with an expression of her spirituality, without proselytizing. Read morePublished 21 months ago by L. D. Hulett, Jr.
Moving, painfully honest, worthy successor to previous books, and as always beautiful writing.Published 21 months ago by Clarence W. Howl II
I checked this book out from the library twice, then I realized I needed to buy it. The only way to read a book this stitched with wisdom, this beautiful, is to read with ink in... Read morePublished 24 months ago by barbara mahany
This book is well written and shows deep personal insight into her personal and spiritual life-- both of which she struggled mightily with. Gave a copy of it to my ophthalmologist. Read morePublished on June 21, 2014 by George L.