About This Book Discussion Guide
Group members are encouraged to use the following information to discuss the memoir Life Continues, an unconventional account of dealing with multiple sclerosis for two decades and reaching middle age.
About This Book
Carmen Ambrosio was 17 when she transferred from the University of the Virgin Islands to attend Michigan State University. In 1991, at age 31, her beloved father died and she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Ambrosio recounts the oftentimes scary roller coaster ride that ensues and her attempts to keep an unusual sense of humor intact.
1. Ambrosio describes interactions with her father and her Granny Elsa. How do you think their values and personalities influenced the author's ability to confront her own illness and other difficulties?
2. Some of the chapters of Life Continues feature Bod Mail™ conversations, essays, verse, news briefs, and lists. How did you react to Ambrosio's changing writing styles?
3. Ambrosio finds humor in many aspects of having multiple sclerosis--from taking numerous prescription drugs to experiencing bladder dysfunction in public. She also warns readers in the preface that portions of her book may be "tough to read". What chapter did you find most memorable? Why?
4. The depth and core of Ambrosio's spiritual beliefs evolved over time. Do you think being ill would strengthen or weaken your faith? Why?
5. In "Bod Mail", Ambrosio champions self-awareness. The chapter "Healers and Dealers" advocates empowering people who are ill and their caregivers with information, dialogue, and choices. How do the author's strategies coincide with, or differ from, your own?
6. Ambrosio forms a loose support group, questions one-size-fits-all therapeutic regimens, and resists using tools that proclaim her disability status. Do you think her journey from denial to acceptance is over? If you answered yes, when does that shift seem to occur? If you answered no, why do you believe she is stuck?
7. What have you--as a person who does or doesn't have multiple sclerosis, a caregiver, a friend, or a co-worker--learned after reading Life Continues?
8. Ambrosio lists pregnancy, menopause, and other terms that were included in "our invisible Family Tome of Forbidden Words and Phrases" as a child. What terms were taboo in your household as grew up? What lasting effects did your inability to discuss those words and phrases have on you as an adult?
9. Sam, the "wonderfully weird" and "lovable mutt", is hailed as a teacher. What animal has unexpectedly acted as a life coach to you?
10. Which unique words and phrases Ambrosio included in Life Continues have you used in conversations with others? (For example: Bod Mail™, Significant Somebody, etc.)
11. Ambrosio repeatedly praises her husband's patience and understanding. How crucial do you think a supportive spouse plays in the ability of the partner who is ill to cope with physical and emotional challenges? In the relationship dynamic, is the onus shared somewhat evenly or does responsibility rest primarily on the person who is sick?
Copyright Carmen Ambrosio, 2012
Causes Carmen Ambrosio Supports
Mid-Ohio Food Bank
Buffalo Neuroimaging Analysis Center (CCSVI MS research)