This shockingly frank and irreverent memoir of a young woman’s life with a heart transplant “will inspire and choke you up with tears and laughter” (Larry King).
At twenty-four, Amy Silverstein was your typical type-A law student: smart, driven, and highly competitive. With a full course load and a budding romance, it seemed nothing could slow her down. Until her heart began to fail. With a grace and force reminiscent of Lucy Grealy’s Autobiography of a Face or Susanna Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, Amy chronicles her medical saga from the first misdiagnosis to her astonishing and ongoing recovery. Her memoir is made all the more dramatic by the deliriously romantic bedside courtship with her future husband, and her uncompromising desire to become a mother.
Distrustful of her doctors and insistent in her refusal to be the “grateful heart patient” she is expected to be, Amy presents a patient’s perspective that is truly eye-opening and even controversial. Amy’s shocking honesty and irreverent humor allow the reader to live her nightmare from the inside—an unforgettable experience that is both painfully disturbing and utterly compelling.
Silverstein's memoir offers a rare glimpse at life as an organ-transplant recipient. She was a young law student when the first signs of a deadly virus in her heart appeared. When her doctor said she merely needed to keep her stress in check and add salt to her diet, she happily complied. At 25, after several months of terrifying symptoms and misdiagnoses, she received a heart transplant. Like all organ recipients, to prevent her body from rejecting her new heart, she depends on high doses of immunosuppressants bitter "poison" that leaves her nauseous, trembling, aching, and highly vulnerable to infection for the rest of her life, which was only expected to last another 10 years. To better her chances, she heeded her doctors' advice, sacrificing everything from coffee to alcohol to pregnancy. Still, it seemed that the best she could hope for was the illusion of a normal life, so she kept her body's punishing blows from her friends, her adopted son and at times even from her loving husband, her "ever-confident coach" through years of devastating illness. "o make myself 'normal' again would be the most extraordinary feat that I would never quite accomplish," she writes. Now, more than 17 years after her transplant, Silverstein reflects on the often misunderstood journey through "the torments of being saved" in a stirring story of survival and unyielding love.