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The Story Behind Otherwise Healthy

What drove me to write a health planner?

I was lying on the examination table crying to my gynecologist during a routine checkup because that very morning my six-year-old daughter, whom he had delivered, was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a serious and non-curable chronic inflammatory bowel disease. His sympathetic face clouded over as he examined my breast: “Lynda, this is not your day. You have a lump.” So began, on that terrible day, our journey into a medical nightmare land of second opinions, diagnostic tests, surgeries and treatment plans.

Lynda ShragerThankfully, I had a medical background. As a licensed registered occupational therapist and a licensed master’s level social worker, I had practiced in the field of geriatric rehabilitation for over twenty-nine years, the last twenty-one in my own private practice. Having served as a chief researcher on a study of geriatric rehabilitation, I was well versed in medical chart review and able to negotiate my way around large medical centers. But all the medical knowledge in the world does not prepare you for the overwhelming shock of learning that both you and your daughter have serious potentially life-threatening diseases.

What made the difference for me were my penchant for organization (even my lists have lists) and my two degrees. Occupational therapists practice the art of taking seemingly overwhelming tasks and breaking them down into smaller, more manageable sub-tasks. Social workers practice the art of empowering people to call on their inner strengths to overcome adversity.

Four years after my daughter’s and my diagnoses, when my mother was found to have an extremely aggressive cancer, I found the impetus to start writing. Once again there was so much to keep straight at a time when it was virtually impossible to focus. Together, we designed “to do” lists that soon evolved into fill-in-the-blank worksheets . These worksheets helped patients manage their lives and their medical care and became the key to the book I was writing; Otherwise Healthy® – A Planner to Focus Your Thoughts on Organizing Life after Being Diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

Now some 20 years later, Otherwise Healthy is out of print but I am gratified knowing that it helped hundreds of patients through the breast cancer process.  Now, nearly 26 years post our diagnoses, both my daughter and I are doing well.

That allowed me to refocus my energies back on the geriatric population that has been my life’s work, and resulted in the creation of my second book: Age in Place – A Guide to Modifying, Organizing and Decluttering Mom and Dad’s Home (Keep Them Safe – Keep YOU Sane).

Click on the Age in Place to learn more about this resource to help you or your loved ones safely and successfully remain in your homes as you age or deal with disabilities.

Learn more about Lynda Shrager.