Book Showcase: A Few Minor Adjustments by Cherie Kephart
Cherie Kephart's title "A Few Minor Adjustments: A Memoir of Healing" came in at number 10 in the Best Indie Books Title of 2017.
Synopsis: Cherie Kephart, a young woman who longed for adventure, traveled the world from the remote villages of Central Africa to the majestic coastlines of New Zealand until a mysterious illness thrust her to the precipice of death. The persistent health challenges led to years of suffering, during which her symptoms time and again were undiagnosed by well-meaning medical doctors and healers who were sometimes competent, sometimes careless, sometimes absurd, and always baffled. The anguish, the uncertainty, and the relentless pain would have caused many people to simply give up and end their lives—and Cherie came close. Told with brutal honesty, astonishing wit, and a haunting vulnerability, A Few Minor Adjustments is an unforgettable memoir that will move you with its fiercely inspirational account of one woman’s incredible journey to find life-saving answers. In the end, she finds much more than a diagnosis.
We were trained to orchestrate water and sanitation/health education projects; to build wells and latrines; and to educate the locals about good health practices to prevent disease. When I arrived, people bathed in, drank out of, urinated, and defecated near and in the same slow moving river that ran through the village. The degree of illness and death from contaminated water sources was alarming. Combined with deaths from malaria, HIV, and other causes, the average life expectancy of Zambians was around thirty-two years. Despite my cautious intentions, illness managed to find me in interesting ways. In addition to changes in diet, such as fried caterpillars that tasted similar to burnt French fries, and newly found bowel functions that all of the volunteers enjoyed, I noticed three red sores, one on the inside of my right arm and two on my behind. At first they looked like pimples, so I ignored them, but after a few weeks, they grew bigger, darker red, and became so piercing it was difficult to sit. The Peace Corps medical staff, a doctor and nurse who were both in Zambia for the first time, brought me into a small unused dorm room on the Peace Corps training campus to investigate the sores. The room smelled musty, had cold concrete floors and one window that was painted shut. “Cherie, lie down on that cot and we’ll take a look at you,” Dr. Enthusiasm said, pointing to a child-sized mattress in the corner. He was a brown-haired Jerry Garcia look-a-like from Alabama. I wondered if he had ever been to a Grateful Dead concert. The nurse, a petite and naturally beautiful dark-haired woman from Alaska, smiled at me. I positioned myself on the bed, lying backside up, and lowered my pants and underwear so they could see the two bright red sores on my butt. The two medical professionals rubbed, poked, and picked at the sores, chatting back and forth while I kept from fidgeting. “We aren’t certain, but we think you’ve contracted a Putzi fly or Tumbu fly infection. This is exciting.” The doctor’s voice cracked. “I’ve never seen it before, but I just read about it. It’s native to Africa. The flies lay eggs in damp clothes hanging outside to dry. Once the clothes come into contact with human skin, the eggs hatch. The larvae burrow into the skin and, if left untreated, morph into adult maggots.” “Whoa. Did you say maggots?” “Yes, maggots.” The muscles in my stomach tightened. “I have maggots in my butt?”