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December 1, 1998
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December 29, 2010
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All of a Piece

A Life with Multiple Sclerosis

Barbara Webster knew something was wrong. The draining fatigue. The weakness and stumbling gait. But as doctor after doctor failed to find a cause, she began to doubt herself. Fourteen years would pass before she learned the reason. She had multiple sclerosis. All of a Piece is Barbara Webster's story. It tells how friends and physicians gradually grew impatient with "imaginary" ailments. They called her neurotic—or just plain lazy. Then came the diagnosis, and with it a sense of relief that would soon give way to a new and different uncertainty. Her uncertainty arose not from the physical aspects of the disease. Those were manageable. But her damaged brain was the center of her self. How could she trust even its most basic perceptions? Her growing awareness of the disease's emotional and psychological consequences began to raise questions. How does chronic disease affect slf-esteem, even identity? What about its impact on relationships?

All of a Piece describes the gradual and never-ending process of accepting life with a chronic, potentially disabling disease. And it reveals why that acceptance is so hard to acheive in America, where public buildings now accomodate the disabled but public attitudes do not. The averted eyes on the commuter bus, the silence of a friend, the polite turning away of passers-by in the street—all serve to separate the disabled from the rest of society by a gap that can't be bridged by wheelchair ramps.

"I can't categorize myself," Barbara Webster writes. "How much harder for those around me." All of a Piece is the story of a woman you may recognize. She happens to have multiple sclerosis. It is a story familiar to those suffering from chronic illness and to their families and friends. It is one the rest of us should know as well.

About the Author

Barbara D. Webster holds a degree in anthropology from George Mason University. She is employed as a paralegal specialist with the federal government and lives in Reston, Virginia. She was first diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis at age 37.


"This incredibly personal book deals with the attempts of a young multiple sclerosis (MS) patient to come to terms with her disease.. If you or someone you know has a chronic disease, wants to know more about the American culture of illness, or is an observer of the American scene, this is a must read book."—American Anthropologist

"People with MS and other chronic, disabling diseases will share [Barbara Webster's] feelings and reations: she has written what many must feel but are unable to express...The book is thought-provoking and probing, and forces the reader to consider critically the lot of a large segment of our population today."—Stephen C. Reingold, National Multiple Sclerosis Society


9780801861628 : all-of-a-piece-webster
Paperback / softback
152 Pages
$36.00 USD
9781421401324 : all-of-a-piece-webster
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152 Pages
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