Saturday, November 20, 2010

Not Quite Chronic

In its November 12, 2010, edition, The Wall Street Journal briefly profiles author Laura Hillenbrand while discussing her new biography Unbroken. Excerpt:
The 43-year-old Ms. Hillenbrand contracted chronic fatigue syndrome during her sophomore year at Kenyon College. The bewildering disease, thought to originate from a virus, can be enfeebling and is incurable. Ms. Hillenbrand is today essentially a prisoner in her own home. She is so consistently weak and dizzy (vertigo is a side effect) that she recently installed a chair lift to get to the second floor of her house, where she lives with her husband, G. Borden Flanagan, an assistant professor of political philosophy at American University. What to others might seem simple matters are to her subjects of grave consideration. "I skipped my shower today," she says, "in order to have the strength to do this interview. My illness is excruciating and difficult to cope with. It takes over your entire life and causes more suffering than I can describe."

Ms. Hillenbrand's research was complicated by her disease. But as she likes to remind people, she came down with chronic fatigue syndrome before starting her writing career, and she has learned to work around it.
Read the whole thing. This passage hit me with all the directness of a medieval morality play. My writing output has suffered somewhat since the arrival of the little Tottering Tornado. (Seriously, how does someone who can barely walk upend a room in thirty seconds flat?) I suspect I'm not the only one who occasionally feels as though gathering both the time and energy to write is a preternatural undertaking. But compared to chronic fatigue syndrome? Yeah, it's a walk in the proverbial park. Need I make it explicit to myself or anyone else that if Hillenbrand can pen two excruciatingly researched books (she also wrote Seabiscuit) then our capacity for writing can survive a whole host of lesser strains?

(Picture: CC 2008 by


pattinase (abbott) said...

We watch my grandson six hours a week and need a day to recover.

Loren Eaton said...

We've been dealing with overlapping illnesses for nearly six weeks. Yesterday, the kid woke up with a fever, a full-body rash and a nose running like a faucet.

On those days, doing any writing is Herculean.

Ben Mann said...


Michelle D. Argyle said...

I own Seabiscuit and LOVE it. I had no idea the author dealt with such a life-altering thing. Wow. I suddenly respect her even more!

Loren Eaton said...


Yeah, I know you know what I'm talking about.

Loren Eaton said...


Pretty impressive, isn't it? The article discusses how she manages to interview tons of people without ever leaving her house.