Cover image for Blindsided : lifting a life above illness : a reluctant memoir
Title:
Blindsided : lifting a life above illness : a reluctant memoir
Author:
Cohen, Richard M.
Personal Author:
Edition:
[Large print edition].
Publication Information:
Waterville, ME : Thorndike Press, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
264 pages ; 23 cm
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780786266548
Format :
Book

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Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In his mid-twenties, Cohen was an up-and-coming television journalist. He had been covering the Nixon presidency and was working on a documentary series hosted by Robert MacNeil andim Lehrer. Then he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, an affliction his father had been battling for decades, and he has spent the last 30 years discovering all sorts of interesting and frightening things about himself. Blindness came as something of a shock, waking up one morning and no longer being able to see out of his right eye (although the impaired vision didn't stop him from reporting on fighting in Beirut and El Salvador in the early '80s). Then there were the operations, the cancer diagnoses, the progressive physical deterioration. But, despite all this, Cohen's story is an uplifting one, primarily because he has such a realistic take on his own life. In the latter part of the book, he writes with great joy about his wife (television host Meredith Viera) and his children; ultimately, his is a story of overcoming adversity and not being beaten by it--a traditional-enough theme for a book, perhaps, but still an important one, if told in the right way. It is here. --David Pitt Copyright 2004 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

In 1972, when he was 25, Cohen, an up-and-coming television journalist, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease for which there is no cure. In this wrenching memoir, he tells how he has for the past 30 years succeeded in his determination to "cope and to hope." For a long time, he hid his condition from friends and co-workers, taking on dangerous assignments for CBS in Poland, Lebanon and El Salvador even though his mobility and vision were impaired. He became a senior producer at CBS, and although he eventually quit the station in 1987 because he felt it was pandering to commercial and political pressures, he worked as a producer for PBS, CNN and Fox until he left TV in the late 1990s to become a writer and teacher. In spite of his illness, he also married and had three children. He nearly lost his courage in 1999 when he learned that he had colon cancer, but after two operations and the realization that despair and anger would drive his family away, he come to grips with this, too. In painful detail, he chronicles the progress of multiple sclerosis-the increasing numbness in his hands and legs and the resultant falls, loss of vision to the point where he is now legally blind and, lately, mental confusion. Nevertheless, he writes: "These pages are not about suffering.... This book is about surviving and flourishing, rising above fear and self-doubt and, of course, anger." His wife, Meredith Vieira, a well-known television personality, has been portrayed in popular magazines as a martyr who bears a terrible burden. Cohen proves that nothing could be further from the truth. First serial rights to People magazine. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

An accomplished journalist and self-described "recovering network and television news producer" with three Emmys to his credit, Cohen has been fighting multiple sclerosis (MS) for decades and, on top of that, has had two bouts with colon cancer. "How much can one guy take?" one might ask. Cohen, married to View cohost Meredith Vieira and with three children, has wondered himself but here chose to focus on "surviving and flourishing, rising above fear and self-doubt and, of course, anger." Throughout, he shows a humorous side that is vulnerable, without self-indulgence and with acceptance and recognition of the inevitability of a progressive disease. As a result, Cohen has managed to put into words what many MS sufferers either can't or won't. A powerful and agonizingly frank description of a life with which many chronically ill people and their families will identify, this is highly recommended for all collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/03.]-Mary Nickum, Ivinss UT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Blindsided Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir Chapter One A Dream and a Diagnosis Perhaps I should have seen the ambush coming while I was in college. Warnings came in the darkness of restless nights. There was a foreboding, the uneasy feeling that followed a recurring dream that always unsettled me. Those late-night movies would follow me wherever I traveled and laid my head for the night. They were still playing long after the diploma was in my hand and I had hit the road. In these dramas, I would be vying fiercely on a basketball court or football field, playing a high-pressure, exquisitely rough game. Always, there was a clock loudly ticking. The action would provide amusement for a while, but as the score got closer and time grew shorter, the pressure became intense. Even in my sleep, I began to sweat. The contest took on a fierceness that was threatening. My legs became rubbery. Losing strength, they began to buckle. In the final minutes, with the crowd on its feet and the screaming deafening, I would fall to the floor, ball in hand, no longer able to stand, let alone engage in athletic combat. The team would lose by a single point. The dream was unnerving, and even as it recurred, I did not know what meaning to attach. More upsetting was the same theme played out in a more threatening, intense arena with my life at stake. This dream was staged on the field of battle, and it came all too frequently. I would be running hard, sweating and breathing wildly. Again, my legs gave out and folded beneath me, leaving me powerless to protect myself from an enemy about to strike a lethal blow. I hyperventilated my way through battle, uncertain that I would survive and always in that fevered state of panic. Considerable time was spent mulling over these dreams. America was fighting in Vietnam, and I assumed the two dreams reflected my fears of that war. But introspection was not my specialty in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Politics was, and soon journalism would be my calling. I had chosen Simpson College, a progressive school outside Des Moines, Iowa, as my venue for an education. Simpson was far from home. I needed distance. I was a rebellious middleclass kid from West Hartford, a Connecticut Yankee celebrating the culture of my time and courting all the political conflict a person could handle. My training as a troublemaker had begun in high school. By graduation, I could have taught the course. I had my early indication that I was temperamentally suited for the future work I would do. In the summer of my junior year in high school, my friends and I broke into the recently abandoned Connecticut State Prison, a medieval fortress at Wethersfield, and stole the ancient electric chair. I thought it was a moment of high meaning. My father saw it as a stupid prank that could not be tolerated. The chair was returned the next day. I have yet to forgive him. I had been thrown off athletic teams and suspended from school. Getting ejected from class was as routine as eating lunch. Other parents were quietly telling their teenage children to stay away from me. I was such an outcast, a ne'er-do-well on my way to forging a feisty, anti-everything identity, that a career in journalism seemed a logical choice. I certainly did not see myself in the olive uniform that was fast becoming the dress of the day. The anti-Vietnam War movement consumed me early in college, and I joined the famous "kiddy-crusade," that vast squadron of activists campaigning in 1968 to nominate Senator Eugene McCarthy as the Democratic presidential candidate. Along with my peers, I went "Clean for Gene," my hair respectably cut and beard gone as we sought to dump Lyndon Johnson. I spent the summer in the Southwest and at the riotous Democratic National Convention in Chicago. A lot of us learned at a tender age important lessons about power and politics and the workings of the world that year. I was twenty, and what I took away was the value of perseverance and how to become resourceful, qualities that would rescue me from invisible enemies for the rest of my life. Formative years do write a teaching plan for living. Mine included a toughness that has served me well ever since. I had been included in the first selective service lottery to determine who would be forced to go to war in Southeast Asia. I watched the dreaded drawing on my ancient black-and-white television. That game of televised roulette was a defining moment for every man in my generation. The lottery was over for me before it ever really started. I trembled as I heard February 14, my birthday, read out and repeated, over and over. It was number 4. That low number guaranteed me a free uniform and at least a one-way ticket to the faraway fight. I considered going to jail or even to Canada to avoid a war I deeply opposed. Instead I took the easy way out. I escaped the draft and military service with middle-class privilege and a friendly physician's exaggerated diagnosis of a serious neurological condition. The deception pained me. Presumably, someone drew a higher lottery number and a ticket to terror in Asia instead of me. I did what I thought I had to. I was struggling to survive. We all were, but I was not proud. I stayed in school and kept working to spread dissent. In 1969, I crossed paths with Peter Jennings, who was then reporting on antiwar activities for ABC radio. I and some of my friends glued ourselves to him for a few days, eating and drinking and talking about politics. Peter had covered the conflict in Vietnam and was willing to talk openly about his life as long as we left the marijuana home. He was passionate about journalism, and I began to rethink my future. That is what I want to do, I thought ... Blindsided Lifting a Life Above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir . Copyright © by Richard Cohen. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Blindsided: Lifting a Life above Illness: A Reluctant Memoir by Richard M. Cohen All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.