The Healing Hour
A book about a contemporary heroine
All too many books today are about victims. But there are no victims in The Healing Hour. This book follows the narrator through a tough childhood with no advantages (except her wits, love for her mother, and a faithful beagle) to a woman who owns her own business and has a lively and committed relationship. Once she has achieved all this, she now is felled by a very difficult illness, lupus. She suffers terrible symptoms, misdiagnoses, and possible blindness with this disease. All of this she goes through with intrepidness and strong-spiritedness and a desire to do right by her clients and her lover while going through endless insensitive doctor’s appointments and physical debilitation. Finally, it all becomes too much and she is sent to a psychiatrist by her GP. Reluctantly, our narrator goes, only to be surprised at how comfortable and trusting she feels with Dr. Alex. With this psychiatrist, the narrator gets her health slowly back. But then, the psychiatrist, with whom she has built friendship and trust, becomes diagnosed with a terminal disease herself. The second half of the book follows how the narrator stays generously present and loving to Dr. Alex, as the disease saps the psychiatrist’s strength. Dr. Alex, too, shows dignity as her health suffers; she, too, has led a full life. These two people manage to let each other know how each matters to the other, while staying within the bounds of the patient/doctor relationship.
What is moving about the book is how the narrator chooses, at whatever cost to her – be it pain or inconvenience – to care and manifest that caring. If love is action, the narrator lives that love. She is fully present to her live-in partner even while ill, fully present and willing to suffer with her psychiatrist, even as this new relationship is destined for heartbreak. The narrator is fearless in exploring her truths, but mostly fearless in living a life fully lived. This energy infuses The Healing Hour, along with many moments where the reader will laugh out loud, at the narrator’s continual zest for life. The book is a lesson about the healing power of love and a story that shows it is better to love and lose than to suffer the smallness of a life of indifference. It is also a lesson that, even when life deals you bad cards (and our narrator likes women, fast cars, and gambling), the joy in life is still playing your hand with everything you’ve got.
Dr. Barbara Lavi
Often in literature or movies therapists are portrayed in unbecoming ways that misrepresent the profession. When I began reading, I was afraid that it might be another one of those kinds of portrayals. Instead, The Healing Hour succeeded in giving an insightful look at the powerful impact that a therapist and a therapeutic relationship can have. I cried and laughed and was moved by the honest portrayal of how two lives were touched by their struggles with life threatening illnesses. V. C. openly shared her struggles with Lupus, the fear of losing her sight, and the accompanying depression. It was moving and can be inspirational to anyone dealing with a chronic illness. Her dry humor, as she told of her struggles to find physicians she could trust, revealed the kinds of dilemmas people struggling with chronic diseases have in this age of managed care. Ironically, V. C. found a psychiatrist who was fully present and supportive of her through her ordeal, only to learn that her therapist was fighting cancer. As a psychologist, I identified with the therapist’s dilemma to maintain a professional relationship while dealing with her own battle with cancer. She obviously loved being a psychiatrist and tried to do what was in her clients’ best interests. The memoir reflects how powerful and wonderful therapy can be, even when it is terminated in such an untimely fashion. Therapists work hard to keep their personal issues out of the room, but their humanity shines through and V. C. captured it. The book is a testimony to the strength of both women and to the power of good therapy. In this painful situation it was clear that both therapist & client were touched by the healing hour. The Healing Hour is inspirational book dealing with a difficult topic, well worth reading.
“The Healing Hour” touched my heart in a way that few books have. For anyone that has ever struggled navigating the cracks in our broken medical system, or felt like they were just simply another nameless, faceless person in a medical revolving door, this is a must read. The story itself is beautiful, with the right touches of humor and compassion. I found myself at times both laughing and crying. The relationship between V and Dr. Alex is both dynamic and real. It makes me think how much we could all be healed if we each found that special connection with someone in the medical community. It’s a story that we can all relate to, for those who have been sick and in danger of losing what is most precious to them, and those of us that we love that are hurt or sick. I highly recommend “The Healing Hour.”
This book really touched my heart. I have been in psychotherapy for many years and it was interesting to read about the friendship of V and Dr. Alex. I wish my shrink was like Dr. Alex! I never wanted to the book to end. I enjoyed following V around NYC and although I have never been to New York, I feel like I have now! I am getting copies for my friends in group I think it’s a good read for anyone seeking help with life issues.
When I started reading “The Healing Hour”, I couldn’t stop reading it. I read the whole thing in five sittings. It’s like getting hooked on a PBS Masterpiece Theater mini-series. One minute your laughing your butt off, and the next you have a lump the size of a watermelon stuck in your throat.
I can only hope, that if someone who reads this book is feeling in desperate need of someone to talk to, whether or not they have a life threatening illness, that it gives them the courage to go out and find their Dr. Alex or Dr. Denise. And who knows, if they do not already have one, they might even find their Carol.I would recommend that if you have a loved one or friend whom you think may be in need of help but just can’t seem to get there, give them this book to read. This is VC Augusts’ first book, and I sincerely hope not the last! After a few chapters, her insightful, warm, witty and compassionate writing style, makes you feel like you’ve actually known her for a while, or at least wish you did. In her story she talks about wanting to do more writing. One of the possible books she mentions is about helping people get through job interviews, if she does I wouldn’t be surprised if the unemployment rate dipped a little.
If you have ever wondered how lives can become intertwined, and how other people can shape our lives- this is a must read book. It shows sides of one person and people that she has dealt with thru some trying times in her life. Sides of her that normally you might never see, as we all keep our secrets and thoughts usually to ourselves. Sure , people see us in public, and even our friends may see us much more deeply, but this book shows the depth of a person-how a business relationship became friendship and trust. I have to admit shedding some tears reading this ( and I have read it twice so far). Spend the money, read the book, and rejoice in the fact that people really can be wonderful. Adversity in our lives doesn’t have to win. It is a story of love, of friendships, of trying to live life. A story well told.
Lupus is a rarely discussed auto-immune disease that does not receive the attention and recognition other illness do. As such it is so wonderful to hear an honest rendition of what lupus really does and who it effects. When a person is diagnosed with lupus it is not simply their struggle but the struggle of all those who care about them. In “The Healing Hour” V.C. shows her journey with lupus and the important personal relationships in everyone’s lives.
A prolonged and painful illness leads the author, V, to one of her most cathartic experiences, where she finds that emotional pain can be just as agonizing as physical pain. V is brilliant, bold and wonderfully bawdy. Her ability to sustain her many personal loving relationships enables her to open her heart to one more. The story is unique and a lesson to those of us who believe that the therapy ends when “time’s up.”
As someone suffering from Lyme Disease, a very misunderstood, under-treated and misdiagnosed autoimmune disease, I can wholeheartedly identify with the anger, hopelessness, and fear (not to mention PAIN) expressed by VC August in her fight against Lupus. Dealing with the medical establishment can be an infuriating, abusive and expensive experience and August realistically captures this dilemma and frustration. Balancing this serious situation is August’s frequent doses of humor thrown in for comic relief. Her anecdotes of various adventures, such as her forays into the “dives” of NYC, especially in Greenwich Village, offers comic diversions amidst very serious situations. The added dimension created by her compassion and concern for her therapist’s own health crisis was uplifting and touching. Most importantly for those of us challenged by health issues, it illustrates and reminds us how loving and caring for another person and taking the focus off one’s self is sometimes the best medicine of all.
Highly recommended reading for those who have challenging health issues or those who love someone facing them.
OMG great story…I was right along with the author on her nyc adventures and her playtime with Snoopy her dog. Fast moving , funny and a very touching story . I can’t imagin what I would do facing such insurmountable odds .WOW !!! VCAugust is a great author.
A truly touching and heartfelt story. The reader really gets taken along with the authors adventures and trials. I was moved deeply by this story and I hope we see more from this author soon.
B. Mason - Poignant and Inspiring
V. August has written a very brave and insightful book about the challenges in her life. The relationship between herself and her doctor reflects a deep bond that only a unique and gifted therapist can create. The book not only brings an awareness of lupus, but also how psychotherapy, with the right doctor, can change one’s life. In reading this book, I was struck by the sensitivity and tenacity of the author to survive and discover how to lead a fulfilling life, despite her illness. She was fortunate to find the right doctor and have a loving partner who is understanding and supportive, but V. August’s valiant effort to not allow lupus deter her from living life to the fullest must be celebrated and admired.
This is a fabulous book! A real page turner. The personalities of the characters really came alive with depth and feeling. It was like spending quality time with people I love at a critical time in their life. I found myself cheering all of them on. VC August has put together a well planned book with creativity, skill and humor to describe the impact one feels when faced with a serious illness. Dr. Alex gives V HOPE and hold her in a space of unconditional LOVE. V does the same for Dr. Alex when V finds out that Dr.Alex is critically ill. It is a story about love with no strings, just love. Thank you V for sharing your journey with us!
Greg Lewin “game lover”
The Healing Hour is one of those rare books that does not fit neatly into any one category. Rather, VC August’s moving memoir is several books in one. It is the story of her relationship with her psychiatrist and the role reversal that occurs when the psychiatrist is diagnosed with a terminal illness, as well as the powerful story of a woman living with lupus. It is also the story of a woman overcoming a childhood of neglect and abuse, and a love story about two people trying to help, protect and support each other in the face of a devastating chronic illness. VC August brilliantly weaves together all these disparate themes, telling her story with her unique voice. Despite the seriousness of these issues, I found much of the book funny and optimistic. I was warmed by VC’s bonds of love and friendship, inspired by her sheer determination to rise above her childhood circumstances, and amazed and saddened by the toll lupus takes on her life every day. This book will have you counting your blessings and holding those you love a little closer. It is a story that needs to be told – and read!
The Healing Hour is a must read for anyone that has ever had to overcome a difficult situation in their life. VC August has had to overcome difficult situations her whole life from her childhood, to taking care of other loved ones (even as a teenager), working in a very male dominated industry, and then living with a very debilitating disease. Through it all she developed a sense of wit and humor as a way to cope. She also took her obstacles and turned them into a positive and growing experience instead of letting adversity pull her down. Difficulty became a source of determination to succeed no matter what life threw at her.
This book touched me in so many ways; Far too many to write in just a paragraph. Again a must read for anyone that enjoys inspirational, true, stories. Thank you so much VC August for sharing with all of us your very personal journey.
As the author of another Lupus-centered book, a novel:hallucination, I was interested to see how a memoir dealing with the same topic would be handled. It is such a painful and tumultuous illness. VC August’s courageous take on her own dire situation was candid, humorous and brutally honest. I loved her descriptions of New York and the paranoia that comes over us every time we are forced to encounter a new specialist. The best part of The Healing Hour is the unexpected twist involving the relationship with V’s psychiatrist and her own failing health. Their meaningful connection was surprising based on the inherent fear and disappointment that most chronically ill people have with doctors. I was also moved by the openness of this particular psychiatrist. The Healing Hour gave me new hope in doctors. This story shows that no matter how grueling Lupus can be, we are survivors. Lupus is no longer a death sentence! And that is the most important message for people who are on this challenging journey. Life goes on. And life is what you make it. hallucination
What an amazing journey through love, loss and life on the other side! V’s love of NY is on every page. Inspiring and Moving!
The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation thanks author and lupus sufferer V.C. August for contributing to the lupus community with her new book. She is sharing not only her personal journey with the disease but also a portion of the proceeds to help fund Foundation programs and innovative research through our scientific arm, the Lupus Research Institute. The book is “about love, hope and healing the heart, soul, and spirit when faced with life-changing struggles.”
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Joy Rose “J. Rose & MAMAPALOOZA”
Whether you loved ‘The Bell Jar’ or the other bell – ‘The Diving Bell and The Butterfly’, books about survival, or lack of survival, compel us to dig deeper in our own lives and ask the profound question, how do I go on living, coping, striving for another day? We all face obstacles. But, a book like ‘The Healing Hour’ is so chock full of humor, and the will to live, even in the face of adversity, that it inspires, even when all is not inspiring. Lupus is a devastating disease. You usually can’t see it on the outside, but the day to day pain survivors face can be debilitating, in such insidious ways that it’s hard not to go insane. V.C. does not go insane. She gets stronger, gains more insight and even gets richer – kinda. To write a story like this, and not sound like a victim is profound. I loved it. And, I love V.C for writing it!
Loved this book. I find the whole psychiatrist patient dynamic incredible. I am new to New York city and loved reading about the city. It was as though I had lived here my whole life even though I have only been here two months. I also have an auto-immune disease that I struggle with. It made me wonder if I was physically healthy enough to come to and live in New York. I had never realized how having a disease can take such an emotional and physical toll on your body. In addition to seeing a doctor for my physical condition, I would now consider seeing a psychiatrist as well. It would be fun to run into V one night!
I don’t think there is nearly enough literature in the Lupus community. This book is a refreshing, albeit sad story of an admirable woman struggling with her disease. The relationship with her therapist seems somewhat atypical but the fact that the two bond over both dealing with illness makes the story inspiring – it gives hope to those also dealing with illness. All & all a good read.
This memoir is unlike anything that is out there. It was a truly touching story about the intense and deep bond between a patient and her doctor. There were twists and turns that had me stunned as I read the book. V.C. August does a great job in walking the line between humor and raw emotion. I would recommend this book to everyone who may be struggling with health issues, or just with the human condition.
Gay J. Walley
There is not much literature about the psychiatric/patient relationship where the psychiatrist gets terminally ill.
Usually the patient is going to the psychiatrist because her or she is dealing with their own issues, and then to lose the person who is helping them with it can be, to say the least, wrenching. V C August takes this subject and brings an immediacy and clear eye to all the emotions that come with this. Her response to the situation is to opt for being there for her psychiatrist, even while battling her own severe health issues. The psychiatrist also continues to see V C while her health diminishes, thereby helping the patient deal with issues of loss. One of the charms of the book is how V C makes sure her own life is full of joy, humour and intrepidness as she faces one challenge after the other. This book will make you feel that you can get through all the shoals life throws at you, and the way to do it is with an open heart, consistency, and a willingness to give of yourself. You will finish reading this book, feeling a better person for it.
Judy Shapiro “Hungry Reader”
When I first heard the title I thought it would chart the journey of someone who, struggling with an ongoing chronic disease, looks for help through a compassionate psychiatrist. But in fact – it is so much more because it charts two journeys – one of the author VC August and one of the psychiatrist. It is a touching, funny and inspiring look at what happens when the patient and the doctor change roles. This touches on a subject that is rarely explored but is vital in understanding how to thrive in the face of adversity. A must read for anyone combating the emotional challenges of illness.
I bought this book because the writer has Lupus, as do I. I wanted to see how this disease had impacted her life as it can vary greatly from individual to individual. The story keeps your attention for the most part but there were parts that seemed to drag on excessively. The writer’s lifestyle was over emphasized to the point where I felt like she was cramming it down the reader’s throat. The story brings in the role of the writer’s psychiatrist. I am a Registered Nurse and I felt like the psychiatrist let her professional obligation go and it becomes a friendship to some confusing degree. My overall opinion is that the story moves along pretty good but there were parts that made me feel down right uncomfortable.
Donnetta Campbell “DCampbell”
VC August has captured the voice of many women that are suffering through the tough journey of chronic illness and the mental devastation/adjustment around it- with humor, compassion and grace. Her journey is refreshing and honest and from her twitter and facebook pages- it looks as if each book sold can help those devastating illnesses with not only a “hopeful” gift of the book itself -but she is a generous soul that is also making a difference in the research efforts of the SLF Foundation and for Lung Cancer also. I enjoyed this book and will use it as a message of hope to anyone I love suffering through a journey like this. It reminded me of the Showtime series The Big C with Laura Linney bravely taking on her disease.
© V.C. August 2012. All Rights Reserved.
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