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Bodybuilder Faces the Toughest Battle of His Life – ME/CFS

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In 2010, Jamison Hill suddenly found himself horribly sick during a routine workout at the gym. This was a strange occurrence: like many who fall prey to a cruel disease like ME/CFS or Lyme Disease, Jamison was an overachiever. As an aspiring bodybuilder, Jamison spent his days flipping tires, lifting heavy weights, and regularly engaging in physically punishing workouts mere mortals would never attempt. This was in addition to being a college student, posing for fitness publications, and working two jobs.

By 2015, Jamison found himself severely sick. “I lost my ability to speak, eat, walk, and I had to rely on other people to keep me alive,” he notes. By this point, he had already started writing, documenting his experiences of dealing with more moderate health problems following a tragic car crash. The escalation of his health issues came as a shock, and shifted his goals dramatically.

“I wanted to be a professional bodybuilder; I wanted to write for magazines and start my own fitness company. When I got severely sick there was only one goal I could still aim for: writing for magazines. So that’s what I went with.”

After years of publishing his work on chronic illness in outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, and his personal blog, Jamison Writes, Jamison has compiled a memoir, When Force Meets Fate.

“It is a transcendent story of my transformation from a bodybuilder to a bedbound patient with ME/CFS,” Jamison writes. “I take the reader on a decade-long journey that starts with me as a healthy person and ultimately ends with me trying to recover from the illness that has taken my ability to walk, talk, and eat solid food. It is, foremost, a story about the strength it takes to survive life’s toughest obstacles. It focuses on the human condition, and the amount of punishment a person can withstand without giving up.”

He chose the title, When Force Meets Fate, to reflect “how unexpected fate can be, how fragile and easily altered it is, but also how surprisingly rigid it is when met with the full force of someone wishing to control it.” Life with chronic illness is a daily struggle of trying to manage something totally unpredictable: “As much [as] I want to believe that I control my fate, no matter how much force I use to try to control it, at a certain point I have to surrender to it being out of my hands.”

His book reflects this shift, of realizing his fate was beyond his control, as he comes to terms with all these unexpected changes. “The memoir is about holding on to my identity, and discovering new parts of myself, amidst circumstances that would be the demise of many people,” Jamison writes. “In doing so, I learned how to define myself in entirely new terms. But most of all, I learned how to keep going and how to carry on against all odds.”

Jamison has managed to write this, despite fatigue, brain fog, and orthostatic intolerance, some of the hallmark symptoms of ME/CFS. His writing process involves keeping a journal, and also building on audio recordings of interactions with doctors. He was able to write much of the book before the onset of his most severe symptoms. Still, he experiences these cognitive challenges; “When I do write with brain fog, it’s definitely a struggle. Often I look back and wonder how I wrote at all.”

When Force Meets Fate presents such a unique opportunity for those inside as well as outside the ME/CFS world to understand from a first-person perspective the toll this illness takes, both mentally and physically. Jamison details the struggle to find ME/CFS treatments and eventually regain some of the basic, daily activities stripped away by severe ME/CFS and Lyme Disease.

When Force Meets Fate’s publishing is contingent on pre-orders, either for e-books or print copies. By placing a pre-order, you can ensure the publication of this incredible memoir. You can place your pre-order here: When Force Meets Fate.


Rachel Horton is a freelance writer and researcher based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She was diagnosed in 2008 with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, and now saves her energy for sailing and dinner parties. She graduated with a degree in Economics from Indiana University, and now applies her analytical skills to finding new treatments and experiments, which she chronicles at https://chronicfatiguesanity.wordpress.com/. Follow her on Twitter @cfsanity.

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