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Over one-third of the United States population--nearly one hundred million Americans--is currently living with chronic pain, while another 133 million Americans live with some form of chronic illness. Half of the United States population suffers from these invisible illnesses where their symptoms are not always obvious to the casual observer. Among them is Karen Duffy, New Over one-third of the United States population--nearly one hundred million Americans--is currently living with chronic pain, while another 133 million Americans live with some form of chronic illness. Half of the United States population suffers from these invisible illnesses where their symptoms are not always obvious to the casual observer. Among them is Karen Duffy, New York Times-bestselling author, former MTV DJ, Revlon model, and actress: she suffers from sarcoidosis, a disorder that causes the growth of inflammatory cells on different organs of the body. In her case, her sarcoidosis is located in her brain, causing her unimaginable pain. For two decades, Duffy has managed to live a full life, despite living in a state of constant pain. In Backbone, a powerful, inspirational, funny, and important manual for surviving pain, Duffy draws on her experience as a patient advocate, trained recreational therapist, and hospice chaplain to illuminate gratifying methods people can use to cope with chronic pain. Backbone is for the massive population of sufferers who are eager to be understood and helped and sends the message that despite the pain, there is a way to seek a good life.


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Over one-third of the United States population--nearly one hundred million Americans--is currently living with chronic pain, while another 133 million Americans live with some form of chronic illness. Half of the United States population suffers from these invisible illnesses where their symptoms are not always obvious to the casual observer. Among them is Karen Duffy, New Over one-third of the United States population--nearly one hundred million Americans--is currently living with chronic pain, while another 133 million Americans live with some form of chronic illness. Half of the United States population suffers from these invisible illnesses where their symptoms are not always obvious to the casual observer. Among them is Karen Duffy, New York Times-bestselling author, former MTV DJ, Revlon model, and actress: she suffers from sarcoidosis, a disorder that causes the growth of inflammatory cells on different organs of the body. In her case, her sarcoidosis is located in her brain, causing her unimaginable pain. For two decades, Duffy has managed to live a full life, despite living in a state of constant pain. In Backbone, a powerful, inspirational, funny, and important manual for surviving pain, Duffy draws on her experience as a patient advocate, trained recreational therapist, and hospice chaplain to illuminate gratifying methods people can use to cope with chronic pain. Backbone is for the massive population of sufferers who are eager to be understood and helped and sends the message that despite the pain, there is a way to seek a good life.

30 review for Backbone: A Memoir

  1. 4 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 Whenever I see a book about chronic pain I tend to grab it, hoping for some new information or novel insights. I can't say there was anything really new here except I definitely admired the author. Chronic pain can be wearing, especially if you have a condition, as I have, where you don't necessarily look sick. Duffys life and the way she manages her pain is inspirational in that she has found things that work for her. She does reiterate the importance of getting up and moving, walking to the 3.5 Whenever I see a book about chronic pain I tend to grab it, hoping for some new information or novel insights. I can't say there was anything really new here except I definitely admired the author. Chronic pain can be wearing, especially if you have a condition, as I have, where you don't necessarily look sick. Duffys life and the way she manages her pain is inspirational in that she has found things that work for her. She does reiterate the importance of getting up and moving, walking to the best of your ability, daily if at all possible, three times a week if you can't do daily. Walking has additional benefits, on retaining memory, relieving stress and other healthful benefits. Watching her son play hockey and she thinks to herself that if her son, as a goalie, can handle the pain he endures, she can handle hers. She quotes philosophers she admires, and uses as inspiration, daily saying to keep her motivated. There is much in this book, quite a bit of it common sense, though sometimes when in pain it is hard to put things into practice. Misdirection works, actually works best for me, reading to get my mind off myself, is my drug of choice. Of course, there are drugs to help and in worse case scenarios these are put into use. I did enjoy reading about her life, how she has managed and the things she goes through daily, just to make it through. I admire her will and perseverance. ARC from edelweiss

  2. 4 out of 5

    Schizanthus Nerd

    “Pain is intensified from trying to control the uncontrollable. Acceptance and resilience have made me stronger.” This is a quote from Backbone: A Memoir but these two sentences alone epitomise my own experience with chronic pain. Karen Duffy’s book is part memoir, part how-to guide for living with chronic pain, part lesson in philosophy and etymology, part ‘do you know this quote or cool fact?’, and part funny anecdote. I wound up loving the etymology and the information about philosophy in Kar “Pain is intensified from trying to control the uncontrollable. Acceptance and resilience have made me stronger.” This is a quote from Backbone: A Memoir but these two sentences alone epitomise my own experience with chronic pain. Karen Duffy’s book is part memoir, part how-to guide for living with chronic pain, part lesson in philosophy and etymology, part ‘do you know this quote or cool fact?’, and part funny anecdote. I wound up loving the etymology and the information about philosophy in Karen’s book. I’m always on the prowl for new areas of interest to learn about and I can now add Stoicism to my list. Having lived in chronic pain world myself for 7.5 years, I’ve read the books, become an expert at timetabling my medication regime, done the breathing techniques and the mindfulness, and honed my patience while waiting for specialists at the hospital. My social interactions mostly consist of doctor’s appointments, and all of the receptionists and pharmacists know me by name. I was the woman that upon stepping into my first pain management appointment and being told the name of the book their treatment plan was solely based on responded by listing what I’d implemented in my life as a result of my reading said book and gave a critique of what was unhelpful. While I don’t have the same condition as Karen, haven’t lived with chronic pain for even half of the time that she has and doubt I understand the level of pain she lives with, I do know chronic pain. Because I have read the books, medical journals and news articles, Karen’s prescription for pain management wasn’t revolutionary. She covered a lot of the usual techniques - exercise, self care, medication, trips to the doctor and hospital, managing your symptoms, managing your friendships. What Karen adds that was refreshing is an authority that I find lacking from even the most respected works on chronic pain. Because she’s lived it you can’t very well dismiss what she’s saying with a “Sure, that’s the theory but would you be asking that of me if you understood the pain I face every day?” or “How can I apply that to my life?” because she’s been there, done that, and has the practical examples of how she’s applied it right there in black and white. I don’t know about you but I find it much easier to hear someone who has lived what they’re describing. Karen also understands too well the isolation and uncertainty that come with chronic illness, something textbooks don’t deal with well, if at all. Karen’s writing style is engaging and I felt like I was chatting with a friend, albeit one who couldn’t hear my responses. I initially found the lack of fluidity between chapters somewhat off-putting and the plethora of quotes distracting but I got used to both. While there were some things said in humour that I didn’t find funny, there was a lot that I related to and found really funny. The quirkier the story, the more I appreciated it. The descriptions of the fun medically based gifts she’s given her neurologist were priceless and I can only imagine that her doctors love having her as a patient, with her optimism and ‘will find a way around the problem’ attitude. While I admire Karen’s resilience, optimism and penchant for making the best out of a truly awful situation, I equally respected that she is authentic in giving her readers a peek inside what bad days look like as well. What I got from this book above everything else was acceptance, hope and encouragement. One of the hardest things initially about living with chronic pain is the chronic part. While it may fluctuate in severity (even within the same day), chances are you may have it for the rest of your life, and that is an extremely difficult concept for you, your family and friends to accept. What Karen gave me while reading is encouragement to do the best I can each day. Her attitude of focusing on what she has instead of what she hasn’t and her gratitude is a gentle nudge in the direction I’m trying to keep steering towards. Above all, the “me, too” moments reminded me that although I don’t see many people because I spend most of my time inside the house, I’m not alone and the comfort of that knowledge is everything when you’re surrounded by people who, as a specialist (not mine) told me last week, run rings around you. I expect this book will be helpful to different people at different stages of their life with chronic pain. Some will read this book soon after their diagnosis and learn vital tools to help them manage their new normal. Had I read this book early on its overall positivity would’ve made me want to hurl it across the room. However, 7.5 years later I read it with appreciation for Karen’s experience and how well she deals with it. I found I was able to reflect on how I used to deal with my pain (hint: not well at all) and realise that I’ve come further than I realised. I fought against chronic pain for years, pushing myself so hard to try to maintain the life I had before that eventually it all came crashing down around me and I wound up in the worst shape I’ve ever been in in my life. Once I finally learned to accept it for what it is, the pain didn’t magically fade away, but it became so much easier to coexist with. I’ve been living with the ‘do your best at any given moment’ motto for a few years now but I was encouraged to continue doing that and to look for ways I can help others and to be a better advocate for my health. I am inspired by all of the ways that Karen finds opportunities to be a giver in life. I adored the idea of your primary doctor being your ‘team captain’. My whole medical team are unbelievably caring, compassionate and resourceful, and go above and beyond all the time for me. I don’t know what I’d do without any of them. It took 1.5 years to find the right team captain for me but they are absolutely incredible and because that’s just who they are, I don’t even know if they realise how extraordinary they are. I had already been mentally writing letters of thanks to my superhero medical support team but Karen’s example has given me the courage to decide to finally put pen to paper. My favourite sentence in this book is “My Kindle is my electronic opiate.” My second favourite sentence in this book is “Researchers at the University of Liverpool have noted that reading has similar effects to the brain as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.” I could’ve told them that if only they’d asked me but knowing the benefits of reading in relation to chronic pain is being studied makes my book nerd heart sing. I look forward to adding reading to my list of pain management techniques I rattle off to doctors when asked and citing this study if queried. I received a copy of this book from NetGalley (thank you so much to NetGalley and Skyhorse Publishing’s imprint Arcade Publishing for the opportunity) in exchange for honest feedback. Please note that quotes are taken from the ARC and may have been changed prior to publication.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Valerity (Val)

    This was a funny, upbeat book by Karen Duffy about living with chronic illness and chronic pain without becoming one. It's filled with information about what Karen has gone through but also much beyond that as far as ways to cope, places to look for help, ideas, inspiration, etc. It's all down to earth and sincere and shared with the best intentions, and you can certainly tell that she's long been going through the battle herself from the things she writes. A very moving book written by a fellow This was a funny, upbeat book by Karen Duffy about living with chronic illness and chronic pain without becoming one. It's filled with information about what Karen has gone through but also much beyond that as far as ways to cope, places to look for help, ideas, inspiration, etc. It's all down to earth and sincere and shared with the best intentions, and you can certainly tell that she's long been going through the battle herself from the things she writes. A very moving book written by a fellow pain sufferer who knows her stuff. This is worth a read if you suffer from chronic illness or pain of any sort for the humor alone, (or love/live with someone who does) the great attitude to get through whatever you have is a bonus, as are the wonderful stories she shares of friends and family members. It left me with a positive feeling. It also has lots of great ideas and tips on coping, distracting yourself, and things to do and say to people with chronic illness, and also things not to say. You'd be amazed at how insensitive people are, let alone how often downright rude at times, even those who should know better. An ARC was provided by NetGalley and the publisher for an unbiased review. Thanks for reading.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Barbara (The Bibliophage)

    Karen Duffy’s second book, Backbone: Living with Chronic Pain Without Turning into One, is meant to be a funny and motivational read. Duffy has certainly lived through more days of illness and pain than not. And she has some celebrity cred which adds a bit to the story, but doesn’t overwhelm her perspective. Duffy lives with chronic sarcoidosis, a rare disease of the central nervous system. It sounds incredibly painful and debilitating. Despite that, she’s a hockey mom and volunteer, among other Karen Duffy’s second book, Backbone: Living with Chronic Pain Without Turning into One, is meant to be a funny and motivational read. Duffy has certainly lived through more days of illness and pain than not. And she has some celebrity cred which adds a bit to the story, but doesn’t overwhelm her perspective. Duffy lives with chronic sarcoidosis, a rare disease of the central nervous system. It sounds incredibly painful and debilitating. Despite that, she’s a hockey mom and volunteer, among other things. I heartily commend her for giving back to the world in any way she can. Duffy takes her faith and its maxims seriously. But she makes jokes about nearly everything else, including some wildly cringe-worthy moments as a hospital chaplain in the making. Unfortunately, I just didn’t care for Duffy’s writing style. It’s just not as funny as she thinks it is. Plus, there are times when she’s incredibly tone deaf. And yet, she means well as she talks about giving back to the world. Long story short, Backbone was a mixed bag for me. It would have benefitted from a better structural framework. I struggled to feel the flow from chapter to chapter. For example Duffy heads right from a brief Teddy Roosevelt bio into a chapter of style and fashion advice for the chronically ill woman. Wow, what? I have to admit that by the third chapter, I was already frustrated at how often Duffy quotes other people in Backbone. And it never stops. This book of one woman’s wisdom is overfilled with OPW (other people’s wisdom). Ultimately, it made the book feel amateurish and like she was padding the content to reach a page count. Duffy is one tough woman. She’s figured out the upside of things that most people hope to avoid until their last few decades (or later). When she wants something, she figures out a way. And on the flip side, Duffy knows that some days simply reading a great book will be her best accomplishment. It’s all about balance when living with chronic illness and pain. If you’re looking for a quick book with a unique perspective on living well with chronic illness, this is a decent choice. Amazing it is not. Thanks to NetGalley, Skyhorse Publishing, and Arcade Publishing for the opportunity to read the digital ARC in exchange for this honest review. More reviews at TheBibliophage.com.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    Karen Duffy's memoir explains her method of dealing with the chronic pain caused by sarcoidosis. I deal with chronic pain every day myself. One difficulty of it is that you outwardly look fine, so it can be difficult to deal with a bad pain day at work or in public - you look fine, so you should be fine, right? Karen understands all this and has some useful ideas to help you through it. There's nothing monumental or shockingly new here but there are reminders: a bad day does not equal a bad life; Karen Duffy's memoir explains her method of dealing with the chronic pain caused by sarcoidosis. I deal with chronic pain every day myself. One difficulty of it is that you outwardly look fine, so it can be difficult to deal with a bad pain day at work or in public - you look fine, so you should be fine, right? Karen understands all this and has some useful ideas to help you through it. There's nothing monumental or shockingly new here but there are reminders: a bad day does not equal a bad life; you can be resilient without having to actively suffer; you can't control the pain but you can control (at least in part) your focus on it; you can't always be upbeat so don't kick yourself if you wallow sometimes. She uses reading, as do I, to pull myself away from thinking of how bad I hurt. Definitely cheaper and less worrisome than meds though just as addictive!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pamela

    FULL REVIEW TO COME - With Sincerest Intentions. Until then, know this, if you suffer from chronic pain and/or a debilitating chronic illness, Karen Duffy's memoir offers a bright disposition and encouragement from the dark (and sometimes most unlovely) recesses of neuropathic, chronic pain - of which I soooooo totally relate. Sometimes simply knowing that we who suffer invisible illnesses do not suffer alone is enough; enough to get us through the next moment, next hour, next flare-up day, so a FULL REVIEW TO COME - With Sincerest Intentions. Until then, know this, if you suffer from chronic pain and/or a debilitating chronic illness, Karen Duffy's memoir offers a bright disposition and encouragement from the dark (and sometimes most unlovely) recesses of neuropathic, chronic pain - of which I soooooo totally relate. Sometimes simply knowing that we who suffer invisible illnesses do not suffer alone is enough; enough to get us through the next moment, next hour, next flare-up day, so as to live life to the fullest of our capabilities. FOUR **** Positive and Reaffirming Encouragement from one who TOTALLY GETS the total life-altering upheaval of never-ending Chronic Pain / Memoirs Worth Reading **** STARS

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bryony Nelson

    Both myself and my mum suffer from chronic pain so finding a book from a former model and actress that's actually funny and deals with the aftermath of chronic pain, it needed to be read. I had heard of Karen Duffy before but I had never seen her movies but I wish I had because she's actually hilarious! She shows that no matter the fact that you live with chronic pain, you can still live a full life. I also appreciate how this book humanizes celebrities and I'm proud of how open she is about her Both myself and my mum suffer from chronic pain so finding a book from a former model and actress that's actually funny and deals with the aftermath of chronic pain, it needed to be read. I had heard of Karen Duffy before but I had never seen her movies but I wish I had because she's actually hilarious! She shows that no matter the fact that you live with chronic pain, you can still live a full life. I also appreciate how this book humanizes celebrities and I'm proud of how open she is about her illness! All in all, whether you suffer from chronic pain or not, Duffy's memoir is definitely a fun but eye opening read. I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, provided by the author and/or the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As someone recently diagnosed with a chronic illness, I've been reading a lot of books on the subject, and while they've mostly been informative and helpful, none has cheered me up as much as Karen Duffy's. I really enjoyed her "no nonsense" delivery of painful, tough truths, combined with her sassy and comedic writing style and her funny anecdotes. There were a few times when the book wo Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC, provided by the author and/or the publisher in exchange for an honest review. As someone recently diagnosed with a chronic illness, I've been reading a lot of books on the subject, and while they've mostly been informative and helpful, none has cheered me up as much as Karen Duffy's. I really enjoyed her "no nonsense" delivery of painful, tough truths, combined with her sassy and comedic writing style and her funny anecdotes. There were a few times when the book would go off on a tangent and I couldn't really figure out how it was related to the subject of living with a chronic illness, and after a while all of the quotations took some wind out of the sails (pausing her conversational style to read "in the words of so-and-so" or "famous person once wrote that" made for a bit of an uneven tone). But overall, I think this book is one that people with chronic illnesses - and those who care about them - should definitely read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Judi Easley

    My Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way. ~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review What it’s about… This is the story of Karen Duffy and how she lives with sarcoidosis (chronic pain) and stays positive and caring about others throughout it all. This is her philosophy of how to keep moving forward when you deal with chronic pain and hidden illness. How to step My Disclaimer: I was provided a complimentary copy of this book. I am voluntarily providing an honest review in which all opinions are fully my own. I am not being compensated in any way. ~ Judi E. Easley for Blue Cat Review What it’s about… This is the story of Karen Duffy and how she lives with sarcoidosis (chronic pain) and stays positive and caring about others throughout it all. This is her philosophy of how to keep moving forward when you deal with chronic pain and hidden illness. How to step outside of yourself and help someone else with your positive attitude, because being a grouch helps no one, not even you. Technical Tidbits… The cover is eye-catching and will sell, I’m sure. It makes me think of a playing card. The storyline isn’t good or bad, it’s what was and is. Karen Duffy was a Revlon model and an actress before she was diagnosed with sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis causes the growth of inflammatory cells, in her case, on her brain, and is incredibly painful. Yet, she is often reaching out to help other people. The character is certainly well-developed. Karen spares herself nothing, even going into her bad days when she can’t force herself out of bed because of the pain. Writing quality is excellent throughout the book. Ms. Duffy presents her stories not as sad little vignettes, but as comedies almost. Her sense of humor seems to carry the day for her and anyone around her. The good, the bad, and the ugly…and how much it lit up my life… ✰✰✰✰✰ “Be the best person you can be because that is what transforms a sufferer into an endurer.” Ms. Duffy says this very early on in her book and it sets the tone for the rest of what she has to say. And anyone who suffers from chronic pain or a hidden illness understands that your best changes from day to day. Most people who don’t have an intimate experience with chronic pain or a hidden illness simply don’t understand why you can look like that but you can’t go shopping at the mall all day or all morning or even raise your arms to put on your coat to go to the car. They don’t get it that today your best is getting out of bed and getting dressed in an attractive outfit and doing your hair nicely so you can sit on the couch and read. She talks about service animals, some of the various types people have. Some are highly trained to do things and some are for comfort. She also talks about stages. Like the stages of facing a terminal disease, you have denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. Well, there are the stages of living in a diminished state, too. There’s sniveling, wallowing, finger-pointing, whining and finally wondering how sick you have to get to be able to get one of those helping hands monkeys. Just think, on a bad day you could just lie in bed and the monkey could bring you another glass of water, reach the box of tissues, pick up your bookmark. All you have to do is lie there and try not to whimper. Ms. Duffy talks about the terms we use in reference to our illnesses. She thinks we should update it a bit. We tend to talk about lumps and bumps the size of an egg or a grapefruit. Why food? It’s certainly not appetizing. She has suggestions, of course, for new terms. She thought we should use body parts to refer to the size of tumors and such. I don’t think I’ll go into specifics. Let’s just say, she was hilarious! Something she has found helpful to herself and she recommends highly to others with these conditions is to give. Whenever your own condition allows it, help people, be useful. It will give back to you in such a way that it will feed your soul as nothing else can. And reading as a distraction. Karen is extremely well-read. She quotes from a lot of stoicism texts towards the end of the book. She’s a great believer in stoicism. And she spoke of Viktor Frankl and his meaning of life… “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing,” Frankl wrote in Man’s Search for Meaning, “the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” She also refers to Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Reading itself, she strongly suggested as the best distraction for pain. Whatever you read, just read. It will take you out of yourself and you will be at a distance from your pain. This should be required reading for anyone who suffers from chronic pain or any one of the many hidden conditions. Highly recommended.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Janet

    I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher - Over one-third of the United States population--nearly one hundred million Americans--is currently living with chronic pain, while another 133 million Americans live with some form of chronic illness. Half of the United States population suffers from these invisible illnesses where their symptoms are not always obvious to the casual observer. Among them is Karen Duffy, New York Ti I received an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the publisher - Over one-third of the United States population--nearly one hundred million Americans--is currently living with chronic pain, while another 133 million Americans live with some form of chronic illness. Half of the United States population suffers from these invisible illnesses where their symptoms are not always obvious to the casual observer. Among them is Karen Duffy, New York Times-bestselling author, former MTV DJ, Revlon model, and actress: she suffers from sarcoidosis, a disorder that causes the growth of inflammatory cells on different organs of the body. In her case, her sarcoidosis is located in her brain, causing her unimaginable pain. For two decades, Duffy has managed to live a full life, despite living in a state of constant pain. In Backbone, a powerful, inspirational, funny, and important manual for surviving pain, Duffy draws on her experience as a patient advocate, trained recreational therapist, and hospice chaplain to illuminate gratifying methods people can use to cope with chronic pain. Backbone is for the massive population of sufferers who are eager to be understood and helped and sends the message that despite the pain, there is a way to seek a good life. I went into this book with a prejudice --- 99% of the people that I deal with that are in chronic pain are substance abusers- mostly weed but all the way up to needing methadone. I suffered for decades from endometriosis and its horrifying pain but I decided it wasn't going to run my life --- I WAS. Without pills. I WANTED A GOOD LIFE, JUST LIKE KAREN DUFFY DID!!! And it worked for me, although and I had to stop going to support groups as I was sick of people not even willing to even think about different avenues for stopping their pain. Working in social services I tend to see the problem as drug addiction, not pain problems. Duffy's book is an interesting read as it has given me some ideas for my clients to stop the circles of hell and to live a good life. Thank you, Karen Duffy, for having the balls to say it as it is.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Michelle Kidwell

    Backbone Living with Chronic Pain without Turning into One by Karen Duffy Skyhorse Publishing Arcade Publishing Biographies & Memoirs , Health, Mind & Body Pub Date 07 Nov 2017 I am reviewing a copy of Backbone through Skyhorse Publishing/Arcade Publishing and Netgalley: In this Karen Duffy a former MTV VJ, Revlon Model and actress lives a fulfilling and active life despite dealing with Chronic pain for the past twenty years. In this book Karen Duffy talks about the pain that hurts you and the pain that Backbone Living with Chronic Pain without Turning into One by Karen Duffy Skyhorse Publishing Arcade Publishing Biographies & Memoirs , Health, Mind & Body Pub Date 07 Nov 2017 I am reviewing a copy of Backbone through Skyhorse Publishing/Arcade Publishing and Netgalley: In this Karen Duffy a former MTV VJ, Revlon Model and actress lives a fulfilling and active life despite dealing with Chronic pain for the past twenty years. In this book Karen Duffy talks about the pain that hurts you and the pain that changes you. Acute pain is generally caused by tissue damage, and the pain will usually go away in a three month period. When the pain progresses from acute to Chronic the pain becomes permanent. She goes on to describe physical pain as isolating Karen Duffy likens living with a degenerative disease to living next door to the bully, because you never know when he might come over to hurt you. She goes on too to talk about the stages of grief after learning our pain is Chronic. She goes on too to talk about the difference between therapy animals and helper animals. With humor and heart Karen Duffy talks of life living with Chronic Pain. She goes on to remind those with Chronic Illness, or Chronic Pain that you should dress in a way that is comfortable, but not always dress down. She reminds readers that making an effort to look your best on the days you feel the worst is well worth it. In this book she goes on to remind us that what works for one person dealing with Chronic Illness may not for the other so respect their choices. I give Backbone five out of five stars! Happy Reading!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan Bazzett-Griffith

    I remember Karen Duffy from her time on MTV, and I had heard that she was battling an autoimmune disease, but I didn't know much else about her life in recent, post-MTV era. It actually seems to be a pretty normal life, one that reminds me largely of my own. Battling chronic pain changes a person, but if you let it change you too much, or let it change your whole life too much, you miss out on so much more than just your previous pain-free lifestyle. Duff gets that, and I very much could relate I remember Karen Duffy from her time on MTV, and I had heard that she was battling an autoimmune disease, but I didn't know much else about her life in recent, post-MTV era. It actually seems to be a pretty normal life, one that reminds me largely of my own. Battling chronic pain changes a person, but if you let it change you too much, or let it change your whole life too much, you miss out on so much more than just your previous pain-free lifestyle. Duff gets that, and I very much could relate to her day to day striving to be a decent mom, even with energy and physical limitations, to contribute to the world on her good days, to not let herself wallow for too long or too low on the bad ones, to be honest about the side effects of medications and the drudgery of being overly familiar with medical institutions, the mourning/sorrow we feel when our friends don't make it through THEIR illnesses, and the various strategies be they medical or psychological to keep our minds from going too dark when the pain gets bad. Living with chronic illness is not easy and sometimes it REALLY sucks, but it's better than the alternative of NOT living. I liked that outlook. The realism. The having finally accepted that this is what we get and we can choose how to live with our lot. I'm finally in a similar place in dealing with my illness, so--I liked this book. I didn't love the random researched factoids in some chapters, and I don't know if I'd necessarily recommend this book, but I, personally, liked it. I may pick up her other one sometime in the future. 3 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Amie's Book Reviews

    In her introduction, author Karen Duffy states; "When I first got sick, I thought the doctors would figure it out and I'd go back to my life the way it was before. It didn't turn out that way...I never imagined that the pain was going to last this long, that it would be endless, and that I'd have to figure out how to deal with it for the rest of my life." I can completely relate to her and to this statement, it is exactly how I feel. Our diseases may be different, but chronic pain is something t In her introduction, author Karen Duffy states; "When I first got sick, I thought the doctors would figure it out and I'd go back to my life the way it was before. It didn't turn out that way...I never imagined that the pain was going to last this long, that it would be endless, and that I'd have to figure out how to deal with it for the rest of my life." I can completely relate to her and to this statement, it is exactly how I feel. Our diseases may be different, but chronic pain is something that we share. I felt EXACTLY the same way Karen did when I was diagnosed. We are very spoiled as a society. When a person gets sick or is injured, they go to the doctor or hospital where tests are completed, a diagnosis is made, a treatment plan and/or presciption is handed out, and the person gets better. With chronic pain there is no cure, and treatment consists of little more than prescriptions for pain medication which may help with the symptoms, but does absolutely nothing to fix the underlying condition. This book is more memoir (laced with humor,) than a self-help book. Readers will discover it helps to feel that there are people out there who understand their daily struggles are.  Karen offers up advice in a non-standard way. She does not claim to be an expert on chronic pain. Rather, her writing comes across more like a series of conversations with a friend over a glass of wine. This is why her tips seem so genuine. They are things that have worked for her. Her writing comes from her heart. She offers anecdotes from her own life as well as offering up quotes from experts in various fields. I have read several books on chronic pain and I can honestly say that this book was the easiest to read and tje most realistic. Karen Duffy does NOT promise to know how to cure chronic pain, she simply informs readers of what has worked and suggests that what has helped her may also help others.      I recommend this book to anyone suffering from chronic pain as well as to their family members and caregivers. I rate this memoir as 5 out of 5 Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟  **Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.**   To read my full review go to http://bit.ly/chronicpainbook To follow me on my blog go to http://AmiesBookReviews.wordpress.com Follow me on INSTAGRAM @Amiesbookreviews

  14. 5 out of 5

    Dianna

    I've never watched MTV in my life, but that didn't stop me from reading former host Karen Duffy's memoir on dealing with chronic pain. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and although I'm lucky enough that it doesn't bother me most of the time, the threat is always there, and this is a topic I felt I should know more about. Duffy is witty and positive throughout the book. Each chapter is an essay of its own, and it seems like nothing but entertainment—but then at the end of a chapter, you realize you've I've never watched MTV in my life, but that didn't stop me from reading former host Karen Duffy's memoir on dealing with chronic pain. I have rheumatoid arthritis, and although I'm lucky enough that it doesn't bother me most of the time, the threat is always there, and this is a topic I felt I should know more about. Duffy is witty and positive throughout the book. Each chapter is an essay of its own, and it seems like nothing but entertainment—but then at the end of a chapter, you realize you've learned something about pain management—or even better, just dealing with life when it's hard. I didn't think it would be possible to write about chronic pain and make it funny and engaging, but Duffy has done it. I would certainly recommend this book to people who suffer from chronic pain (or any chronic or terminal illness), but I also think it contains some good coping skills that anyone could benefit from reading.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nara

    I have been Going Through Some Shit and wanted to read more about radical acceptance & stoicism. Someone said this was a funny and thoughtful memoir about living with chronic pain, so I read it - or, well, listened to it. It felt more like a relentless pep talk from someone with a naturally sunny, can-do philosophy. Man, I love positive, driven people but their advice is not really applicable to my life, you know? I had to skip the fucking chapters about exercise and “love the chub” or I was goi I have been Going Through Some Shit and wanted to read more about radical acceptance & stoicism. Someone said this was a funny and thoughtful memoir about living with chronic pain, so I read it - or, well, listened to it. It felt more like a relentless pep talk from someone with a naturally sunny, can-do philosophy. Man, I love positive, driven people but their advice is not really applicable to my life, you know? I had to skip the fucking chapters about exercise and “love the chub” or I was going to reach through my Audible app and strangle the narrator. Also very clearly a set of separately published essays strung together as a book.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Harry Doble

    Karen Duffy's Backbone is a personalized account of dealing with chronic illness. There are a lot of quotes and a lot of facts and a lot of humour. I wasn't crazy about the jokes but I feel they will appeal to a certain type of older mildly reformed non-PC liberal. She discusses techniques drawn from her experiences with family and friendship, gallows humour, bibliotherapy, body acceptance, letter writing, volunteering, and Stoicism. If I were to sum up the whole book it would be accept what you Karen Duffy's Backbone is a personalized account of dealing with chronic illness. There are a lot of quotes and a lot of facts and a lot of humour. I wasn't crazy about the jokes but I feel they will appeal to a certain type of older mildly reformed non-PC liberal. She discusses techniques drawn from her experiences with family and friendship, gallows humour, bibliotherapy, body acceptance, letter writing, volunteering, and Stoicism. If I were to sum up the whole book it would be accept what you cannot change, be grateful for each extra day you get above ground, and do your best to negotiate with suffering. My only issue is when she talks about things like philanthropy and dressing your best and building a personal relationship with your neurosurgeon which are all lovely thoughts but I can only think of the growing American poor who can't afford these. Other than that Backbone is a good read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sally taylor

    I LOVED this book. If you are in Chronic Pain, like me, or know someone in Pain READ this book. It is so funny. Read for Beatles Challenge: “I’ve Just Seen a Face” - Read a book with a body part in the title

  18. 4 out of 5

    Carey’s Reviews

    4 Stars! This is such an inspirational memoir! Chronic pain sucks & this book has helped me from feeling like I'm alone in my pain! It may be selfish of me but I feel better knowing that I'm not the only person suffering from chronic nerve pain! Karen Duffy is an excellent writer. Her book is funny at times while still letting the reader know how serious, painful & life changing nerve pain can be. I really enjoyed reading this book & love that non-pain sufferers will get a little glimpse at the 4 Stars! This is such an inspirational memoir! Chronic pain sucks & this book has helped me from feeling like I'm alone in my pain! It may be selfish of me but I feel better knowing that I'm not the only person suffering from chronic nerve pain! Karen Duffy is an excellent writer. Her book is funny at times while still letting the reader know how serious, painful & life changing nerve pain can be. I really enjoyed reading this book & love that non-pain sufferers will get a little glimpse at the life of a pain sufferer. I felt that the book would sometimes get a bit too 'preachy' for my tastes. The book also tends to veer off topic every now and than but I enjoyed reading it nonetheless! I got a lot of great ideas, tips & interesting info from reading this book & I now plan on changing a few things around in my daily life! This is a great read for people with chronic pain/illness & for those who know someone who suffers from chronic pain/illness! Hopefully after reading this book, people will realize that you never know what a person has to deal with or suffer through on a daily basis & hopefully people who read this book will see that & we will all be a bit kinder to one another. *I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!*

  19. 5 out of 5

    Cristie Underwood

    I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I remember watching Karen Duffy on MTV back in the day, so was really excited to read this book. The author's personality comes through in this book as she details living a life in chronic pain. It was not a woe is me book, as one would expect based on the topic. Instead Ms. Duffy's personality came through and made me empathize with her and feel her pain, while enjoying good moments with her. I highly recommend this I received a copy of this book via netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I remember watching Karen Duffy on MTV back in the day, so was really excited to read this book. The author's personality comes through in this book as she details living a life in chronic pain. It was not a woe is me book, as one would expect based on the topic. Instead Ms. Duffy's personality came through and made me empathize with her and feel her pain, while enjoying good moments with her. I highly recommend this book!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lorena

    Like the author, I’ve been living with autoimmune conditions and chronic pain for many years, so I hoped that I would relate to her story and find some helpful tips in her “manual for surviving pain.” And I did relate occasionally, and there are some helpful tips, although anyone who has been living with pain and illness for a while will probably already have discovered most of these tips on their own. My biggest disappointment with this book is that the presentation felt incoherent. There is no Like the author, I’ve been living with autoimmune conditions and chronic pain for many years, so I hoped that I would relate to her story and find some helpful tips in her “manual for surviving pain.” And I did relate occasionally, and there are some helpful tips, although anyone who has been living with pain and illness for a while will probably already have discovered most of these tips on their own. My biggest disappointment with this book is that the presentation felt incoherent. There is no story arc; instead, the book offers chapters in no discernible order with random anecdotes, factoids, and humorous illustrations. I found this more than a little confusing and off-putting. Once I adjusted to the style, I did find some useful material, but I felt like I was on a scavenger hunt, trying to find the useful bits scattered among the detritus. Also, for me, the author’s humor mostly missed the mark, and I couldn’t relate to her stories about hobnobbing with celebrities. It often felt like she was engaging in pointless name-dropping instead of focusing on content that would actually be helpful to the reader. In the end, I would say this might be a worthwhile read, particularly for someone newly diagnosed with a chronic illness or still in the early stages of adjusting to chronic pain, or for those who enjoy reading memoirs. However, for most people dealing with chronic pain, I think there were too many irrelevant stories and too little detail about how to actually deal with chronic pain. And for those looking for a memoir, the lack of a coherent story will likely be frustrating, though some of the vignettes are interesting. I volunteered to review an advanced reader copy of this book provided to me by the publisher and NetGalley. Because I have not seen the published version, I cannot comment on the final editing and formatting.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kelly B.

    I absolutely loved this book & will be recommending it to friends & family! I also have a chronic illness &, while I also share Karen's positive outlook (most of the time!), I found this book to be so inspiring. I also had my family read parts of it, as I love how she explained things that most people that aren't suffering from an illness just can't/don't understand. I also love & admire how, in spite of her extreme suffering, she always looks outside of herself, both in gratitude for everything I absolutely loved this book & will be recommending it to friends & family! I also have a chronic illness &, while I also share Karen's positive outlook (most of the time!), I found this book to be so inspiring. I also had my family read parts of it, as I love how she explained things that most people that aren't suffering from an illness just can't/don't understand. I also love & admire how, in spite of her extreme suffering, she always looks outside of herself, both in gratitude for everything & for opportunities to serve others. She truly makes the world a better place & I hope everyday that I am doing the same!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nancy (essayist)

    I read Duffy's previous book, "Model Patient: My Life as an Incurable Wise-Ass" years ago and loved her irreverent contribution to the illness memoir genre. At the time of that earlier book, Duffy was a successful young celebrity: she'd worked as an MTV Video Jockey, done some modeling and acting, and dated famous men including George Clooney and Richard Gere. But she was also an Irish Catholic girl from New York who'd been taught to give back; she'd trained and worked as a recreational therapis I read Duffy's previous book, "Model Patient: My Life as an Incurable Wise-Ass" years ago and loved her irreverent contribution to the illness memoir genre. At the time of that earlier book, Duffy was a successful young celebrity: she'd worked as an MTV Video Jockey, done some modeling and acting, and dated famous men including George Clooney and Richard Gere. But she was also an Irish Catholic girl from New York who'd been taught to give back; she'd trained and worked as a recreational therapist for the elderly and seemed as comfortable in a nursing home as she did on a red carpet. But Duffy suddenly found herself incapacitated by pain and was eventually diagnosed with sarcoidosis. This second book focuses on the life she's lead since that diagnosis. She's now a wife, mother, and chronic pain-sufferer. "Backbone" is meant as a how-to for others who live with chronic physical pain. Given that Duffy can no longer function without round-the-clock pain meds and is losing more and more of her ability to function independently, this is an extraordinarily hopeful and affirming book. There's a softness that maybe wasn't there in the earlier book and I had the sense that her desire to help others cope with pain was a way of helping Duffy herself cope with the progression of her illness. I'd recommend both of her books to anyone who wants a fresh take on navigating the world of chronic illness.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Donald Robertson

    Karen Duffy, or “Duff”, was kind enough to send me a review copy of her new book Backbone: Living With Chronic Pain Without Turning Into One (2017) because it contains a chapter on Stoicism. It’s a book about developing a backbone, and a sense of humour, and not allowing chronic pain or illness to get you down. Her style is witty banter and yet there’s a profound message of hope in there as well as the wisdom of experience. I postponed reading Backbone for about eight months because I was “too b Karen Duffy, or “Duff”, was kind enough to send me a review copy of her new book Backbone: Living With Chronic Pain Without Turning Into One (2017) because it contains a chapter on Stoicism. It’s a book about developing a backbone, and a sense of humour, and not allowing chronic pain or illness to get you down. Her style is witty banter and yet there’s a profound message of hope in there as well as the wisdom of experience. I postponed reading Backbone for about eight months because I was “too busy”. When I finally got round to it, I read it in a single evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. Duff says that what matters isn’t that you live, or survive another day, but rather it’s how you live. The Stoics would say that the goal isn’t just to live but to live well, i.e., wisely. I think her book will probably help a lot of people who are suffering to live through it a bit more wisely. Her voice really comes through loud and clear. It’s easy to write books that everyone sort of likes because they’re bland and inoffensive. This book’s a lot more in your face, and that’s a good thing.

  24. 5 out of 5

    BMR, LCSW

    One of the best "chronic illness" memoirs I've read. 'Finding the upside in having your life turned upside down' is pretty much her life motto. Luckily, I don't have chronic pain. I do have several friends whose baseline is debilitating pain 24/7. I understand spoon theory, because I have Major Depressive Disorder (so every time I successfully get out of bed is a gold star for me...). Duff's memoir is lighthearted without treating the subject matter lightly. It explains how she manages to get thro One of the best "chronic illness" memoirs I've read. 'Finding the upside in having your life turned upside down' is pretty much her life motto. Luckily, I don't have chronic pain. I do have several friends whose baseline is debilitating pain 24/7. I understand spoon theory, because I have Major Depressive Disorder (so every time I successfully get out of bed is a gold star for me...). Duff's memoir is lighthearted without treating the subject matter lightly. It explains how she manages to get through the day, and just as often how she can't get through the day. I loved learning more about her life pre-MTV, though it's not terribly dishy (as that's not the point of this book). She had a whole career working with elderly nursing home residents before accidentally landing a VJ gig. Duff tells her stories with humor and humility. She really gets the "laugh to keep from crying" side of life. Recommended for anyone with any chronic illness, who often runs out of spoons...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Robyn Markow

    I remember Karen Duffy from her ads for Revlon as well as her playing a villain in "Dumb & Dumber" and knew that she had health issues but didn't know much about her condition . Duffy has Sarcoidosis ,which causes the growth of inflammatory cells called granulomas on her spinal cord which causes excruciating pain. However,this book is far from a a Pity Party as Duffy ,with sardonic humor and smarts describes living day-to-day with a debilitating illness. I have Scoliosis & a shoulder that disloc I remember Karen Duffy from her ads for Revlon as well as her playing a villain in "Dumb & Dumber" and knew that she had health issues but didn't know much about her condition . Duffy has Sarcoidosis ,which causes the growth of inflammatory cells called granulomas on her spinal cord which causes excruciating pain. However,this book is far from a a Pity Party as Duffy ,with sardonic humor and smarts describes living day-to-day with a debilitating illness. I have Scoliosis & a shoulder that dislocates but I would hardly describe my discomfort as being "Stabbed with a bunch of sharp knives" which helped me put my own pain in perspective. Loaded with advice & quotes from Aristotle to Groucho Marx( though at times the quotes are bit too much & I'd rather read more of Duffy's own words instead ) a quick,inspiring read whether you have your own pain issues or know someone who does.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Glennie

    A very positive book from a person living with chronic pain. I was afraid at first that it was going to be too sweet, but it's not like that at all. Karen Duffy quotes Greek philosophers and former presidents. I have dog-eared pages and underlined my favorite quotes, such as: "our invisible illnesses are more real than your imaginary medical degrees." If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that my invisible illness was not real, I'd be rich. And Goodreads members will be pleased to know A very positive book from a person living with chronic pain. I was afraid at first that it was going to be too sweet, but it's not like that at all. Karen Duffy quotes Greek philosophers and former presidents. I have dog-eared pages and underlined my favorite quotes, such as: "our invisible illnesses are more real than your imaginary medical degrees." If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that my invisible illness was not real, I'd be rich. And Goodreads members will be pleased to know: "My primary complementary therapy for pain is reading. I use books to distract myself from pain flares."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    Karen Duffy has been one of my heroes since Model Patient. She is a no-nonsense woman about pretty much everything but most of all about living with really bad chronic pain. I often remind myself (in so many situations) of a quote from MP- "you become the thing you think about most" and (paraphrasing here) I didn't want to become about my pain. This second memoir is so timely and should be so valuable for those who suffer from pain. It's wonderfully written and so inspirational- not in a goopy w Karen Duffy has been one of my heroes since Model Patient. She is a no-nonsense woman about pretty much everything but most of all about living with really bad chronic pain. I often remind myself (in so many situations) of a quote from MP- "you become the thing you think about most" and (paraphrasing here) I didn't want to become about my pain. This second memoir is so timely and should be so valuable for those who suffer from pain. It's wonderfully written and so inspirational- not in a goopy way but in a strong, terrific way. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. This is a winner.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jaime Oakeson

    Great read, I felt like Duff (I feel like I can call her that after reading this book) sent a net in to the past and present worlds to gather all kinds of thoughts regarding life, pain and living life with pain. There was some repetition within the book, I think that is so that it can be a pick and choose a chapter at a time and not a cover to cover read. Every time I see that cover I am upset she is wearing a necklace! I hope that wasn't something a publicist made her do, or that it was an old Great read, I felt like Duff (I feel like I can call her that after reading this book) sent a net in to the past and present worlds to gather all kinds of thoughts regarding life, pain and living life with pain. There was some repetition within the book, I think that is so that it can be a pick and choose a chapter at a time and not a cover to cover read. Every time I see that cover I am upset she is wearing a necklace! I hope that wasn't something a publicist made her do, or that it was an old picture when things like that didn't hurt.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Gail Dudlicek

    I cannot say enough great things about the book and the author! Karen Duffy takes us through her life living with chronic excruciating pain with raw truth and great humor. She is real and not apologetic. I think anyone living with chronic pain needs to read it. She puts life in perspective. Her positive mindset keeps her moving forward instead in a downward spiral. Read. This. Book. If you have a friend living with chronic pain, read this first and then give it to your friend. Eye opening for su I cannot say enough great things about the book and the author! Karen Duffy takes us through her life living with chronic excruciating pain with raw truth and great humor. She is real and not apologetic. I think anyone living with chronic pain needs to read it. She puts life in perspective. Her positive mindset keeps her moving forward instead in a downward spiral. Read. This. Book. If you have a friend living with chronic pain, read this first and then give it to your friend. Eye opening for sure.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Brad DeMaagd

    My everyday as explained by Karen Duffy Like Karen, I live with Neurosarcoidsis, the moments, tales, & snarky remarks mirror changes in my own life. I am at the reinventing stage, and her book has given me new ideas on how to look at things and even organizations I was unaware of. If you deal with Chronic Illness or Pain, this book is relatable & quick paced read, so it may help you stave away the brain fog. My everyday as explained by Karen Duffy Like Karen, I live with Neurosarcoidsis, the moments, tales, & snarky remarks mirror changes in my own life. I am at the reinventing stage, and her book has given me new ideas on how to look at things and even organizations I was unaware of. If you deal with Chronic Illness or Pain, this book is relatable & quick paced read, so it may help you stave away the brain fog.

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