Click here to read The Boston Globe's Medical Mystery column by Dr. Sushrut Jangi,
One Monday morning, 42-year-old Wendy woke up and found she couldn’t walk
. Wendy and her husband, Bruce, lived in one of those pretty oceanside towns that dot the rocky arc of the North Shore of Massachusetts. They had a wonderful, happy life. Wendy worked downtown, her office high up in the glassy Hancock Tower that gave her an expansive view of Boston. A summertime tennis player, a wintertime skier, and a year-round active mom (she had a 7-year-old son and 3-year-old-daughter) Wendy considered herself lucky, blessed, healthy.
But Bruce had seen something befall Wendy that weekend that had begun to trouble him. At first, she had come down with some kind of flu. “I spent that weekend resting,” Wendy would say later, but Bruce noted that she had barely gotten out of bed at all. It wasn’t like her. He thought it would pass, but by Sunday night, things had only gotten worse. She had developed intermittently high fevers, her forehead was clammy, and Wendy had begun to say things to Bruce that were increasingly nonsensical. He wondered if she was hallucinating. “If you’re not better by tomorrow,” Bruce had said, “we’re taking you to the hospital.”
On Monday, after her legs became paralyzed, Wendy called to her husband, in shock at the inability to coordinate her legs. Devotedly, Bruce helped her to dress. Then, he lifted her out of bed onto his back and carried her downstairs. As he carried his wife out to the driveway, his concern doubled. “Is that a new car?” Wendy asked him, when she laid eyes on the old Buick they had owned for years. He drove her straight away to the hospital downtown.
Wendy was rushed into the emergency room, where physicians inserted a long needle into the space between her lower vertebrae to test the fluid around her spinal cord. They were hunting for the source of her fevers and paralysis, wondering if her brain harbored infection. Soon enough, the laboratory called back with the results. Her spinal fluid was full of white blood cells – markers of inflammation — but in Wendy’s case, the doctors found no bacteria. Nevertheless, they started her on antibiotics. “Which ones?” Wendy mumbled to the doctor, who replied: “All of them.”
Over the next few days, despite the cocktail of antibiotics, Wendy’s condition deteriorated. When her name was called, she woke only briefly, babbling incoherently. Soon, she stopped following instructions altogether. Her lower legs remained immobile. Four days since that Monday morning, she stopped opening her eyes, unable to wake.
As the doctors stood around Wendy’s bed in the intensive care unit, they had reached a standstill: Her diagnosis was in question, treatments had no demonstrated effect, and Wendy’s life hung in the balance...
To read more at The Boston Globe, Click here.
A Kappa Kappa Gamma Publication
Volume 1128, No. 2 Summer 2011
Click here and go to page 22 -- for notice of To Get Back Home
and recent books by other KKG authors
TMA Journal V - Book Review - January 2011
To Get Back Home A Mystery Disease: A Fight for Life
Wendy Chapin Ford
iUniverse, Inc. 2009
I hadn't met Wendy and she wasn't a member of The Transverse Myelitis Association. I am signed up on Google Alerts to receive any 'hits' for transverse myelitis, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, neuromyelitis optica, and optic neuritis. I received an alert that Wendy had written a book about acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. I immediately ordered it. I was amazed and thrilled that someone had written about their experiences with ADEM.
To Get Back Home is Wendy's story about getting ADEM, the challenging circumstances surrounding her diagnosis and decisions about her acute treat-ment and her arduous therapy and difficult recovery. Wendy does a masterful job of chronicling this experience, made even more difficult by the fact that from early in the onset of her disorder until over a month into the acute stage, Wendy was in a coma. She employs the information provided to her by her physicians and other medical professionals, her family members and her many friends to describe and explain this period of time through which she has absolutely no memory.
Wendy does become alert and engaged while she is going through her rehabilitative therapy at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. Wendy's motivation and determination throughout her therapy emanates from her primary goal 'to get back home.' Wendy is paralyzed from the acute attack. Her therapy is focused on regaining her ability to walk. Wendy is driven by the desire to walk out of the hospital with her husband and children.
Wendy's story is a very personal story, and yet her descriptions of events are quite objective and informative. Her story is very emotional and very inspiring. There is so much that happened to Wendy that I am choosing not to describe for you in this article, because I believe you have to read it for yourself to appreciate what a remarkable person she is; and just how incredibly resourceful, adaptive, and resilient human beings can be.
What I will tell you is that I did contact Wendy after reading her book and we have spoken many times since. Getting to know Wendy has only reinforced my sense of what an inspiring and wonderful person she is. ADEM is a really horrible disorder. From my very anecdotal experience, it appears to be particularly horrible for adults who get this disorder.
Wendy's first attack was quite severe; she became paralyzed and she was in a coma. Wendy experienced a subsequent attack years after the first episode. Wendy has been told by her physicians that her first attack was ADEM and with her second attack, she was given an MS diagnosis. Her medical professionals have explained to Wendy that her first attack was ADEM and her second attack was MS. In Volume 9 Issue 1 of the TMA Newsletter, I discussed an article published in 2007 which pro-poses diagnostic criteria for pediatric ADEM and MS. The article does in-clude diagnostic criteria for recurrent ADEM. After Wendy's second attack, her physicians put her on one of the MS drugs.
Recently she was taken off of this drug after going for years with-out another attack. I have no doubt in my mind that if I put Wendy's case in front of a room full of the world's leading neuroimmunologists, I would be entirely entertained for hours by the debate that would ensue about what has happened to Wendy. Does Wendy have MS (both the first and second attack) or does Wendy have recurrent ADEM or did Wendy have an ADEM attack and then a MS attack?
This is not an academic discussion about classification. This is a very real concern, as diagnosis determines treatment, and as we have learned from the NMO case, for a person with ADEM, the MS drugs might not be effective.
Sanford J. Siegel
Transverse Myelitis Association
Author of To Get Back Home to Speak August 26
|8/19/2010 1:44:00 PM
||Email this article • Print this article
The final program of the St. George Literary Series features a true medical thriller, To Get Back Home -- A Mysterious Disease: a Fight for Life. The author, Wendy Chapin Ford, will read and discuss her memoir with Alice Gorman on Thursday, August 26, at 5:20 p.m. at the Ocean View Grange on Route 131 in Martinsville. There will be a reception before the reading at 5 p.m.
Ford was a healthy and active young woman when she was suddenly stricken by a rare neurological disorder, acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis (ADEM). To Get Back Home takes readers on a harrowing journey as doctors are initially confounded by the rare malady, and Ford becomes more ill. She forges her way back from a coma and quadriplegia, desperate to return to her family and young children. Initially she was not expected to live, and then not expected to walk again or to recover her intellectual abilities. Doctors have referred to hers as a miracle case, and the mysteries persist to this day.
"I wrote the book for my children," says Ford, "so that some day they would understand how hard I worked to get back to them and how awful it was to be in the hospital, away from them for so long." She also notes that the book serves as a thank-you to the hospital staffs and countless others who stood by her and her family during her experience with ADEM. To better understand the notes made in her four-inch-thick medical record, Ford met with the doctors, nurses and therapists at both Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Spaulding Rehab, in Boston. "I had the most exquisite care imaginable at those hospitals - delivered with such compassion and intelligence - and I wanted people to know what happens there. This was not just about me. There were many victories in this story. People tried so hard to help get me back."
The St. George Literary Series is a program of the Jackson Memorial Library. For more information, visit www.JacksonMemoriaLibrary.org or call 372-8961.
M University of Michigan Today
An online magazine for alumni and friends of U-M.
- Wendy Chapin Ford
- has just published a book, "TO GET BACK HOME - A Mysterious Disease: A Fight for Life" From the book jacket: "This is a medical thriller of the first order, a true story of triumph of survival over astronomical odds, as an otherwise healthy and active young woman fights for her life after being suddenly stricken by a rare neurological disorder, Acute Demyelinating Encephalomyelitis (ADEM). TO GET BACK HOME takes you on a harrowing journey as Ms. Ford forges her way back from a coma and quadriplegia, desperate to return to her family and young children." In addition to the publisher's "Editor's Choice" and "Reader's Choice" awards, it has been getting some great press -- in one recent review, a chief from Children's Hospital, Boston, wrote, "This survival tale is not designed to be 'self-help,' or 'inspirational,' though in the end, it can't help but be both. Reading such a precious book is, in its own way, a 'natural high.'"
- For more info: www.togetbackhome.com
Author's note: The following is an excerpt from an interview done by the editors at Our Health Co-op News. Taking care of my health is important, and I have found the staff at Our Health Co-op -- at OurHealthCoop.com -- to be always helpful and knowledgeable.
Our Health Co-op News
Wendy Chapin Ford, "Miracle Case" and Co-op Fan
You get to a certain age, and every birthday is cause for celebration. No one knows this better than co-op member Wendy Ford. This week, we wish her a very happy and healthy birthday. As you'll see, Wendy's birthday marks not only the day of her birth, but the day of her re-birth. As near-death experiences go, Wendy's was a doozy!
OHC: Take us back to June 8, 1998. What happened that day?
Wendy: I had just come out of a coma at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston. It was my birthday, and I don't think I've ever received a better present. You see, initially, no one expected me to survive. Even when I came out of the coma, no one expected me to walk again.
OHC: We need to back-track. How did you end up in coma?
Wendy: The cause of my illness remains a mystery to this day. There are three weeks that I absolutely have no memory of. I was 42, married, the mother of two young children. I'd had a bad respiratory infection the week or so before. I woke up exhausted one Saturday morning-- May 16th. That's it. Within days, I was comatose, and I have no memory until my birthday in June.
OHC: What was the diagnosis?
Wendy: Ultimately, it was something called ADEM-- Acute Disseminating Encephalomyelitis, an illness that typically follows a viral infection or immunization. It's fairly rare and, hence, difficult to diagnose. Furthermore, my disease wasn't behaving the way ADEM usually does, which compounded the difficulty for my doctors in diagnosing and treating it.
OHC: So, you woke up from the coma and lived happily ever after?
Wendy: Oh, no. That was just the beginning! My next stop was Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital-- like Beth Israel, another of Boston's Harvard teaching hospitals. Like most people, I had never given much thought to rehab facilities-- until I landed in one. A month out of a coma, I was loopy and flopping about in a wheelchair. I learned later that the initial belief was that I would remain quadriplegic indefinitely. But five weeks and six days later, I walked out with my husband, two young children, and thunderous cheers from the Spaulding staff-- but without a cane. Doctors have referred to it as a miracle case.
OHC: So what do you attribute the miracle to?
Wendy: That's both a hard and easy question to answer. Miracles don't just happen. Without my wonderful doctors, nurses, and therapists-- none of whom ever gave up hope-- I wouldn't be here. They were tenacious. They tried anything and everything. Nothing was ruled out.
I also wouldn't be here without the support of my husband, children and friends, and I do believe in the power of prayer.
But I can tell you unequivocally that those weeks of physical therapy were 1,000 times more difficult than childbirth. My children kept me going. I missed them terribly and wanted more than anything to be a fun, active mom again. I had to get back home.
OHC: Hence the title of your book.
Wendy: Exactly. The book is entitled To Get Back Home, and that was always my goal.
OHC: Folks, you can read more about Wendy's odyssey and order her book at www.togetbackhome.com. I've only scratched the surface here and urge you to read more about her amazing journey. So, Wendy, how are you today, a dozen years later?
Wendy: I'm not 100% healthy and probably never will be, though I consider myself pretty lucky. In many ways, I'll always be in recovery. In the fall of 2000, I had another bad respiratory illness. At that time, I was diagnosed with MS. There is some short-term memory loss and weakness in my legs, though I'm fairly stable.
Between the ADEM and MS, it's important for me to stay healthy. That is how I came to the Co-op. I heard about you from a knowledgeable friend a few years ago. I realized that boosting my nutrition could enhance my health.
OHC: Care to share what co-op products you take?
Wendy: Sure. I take your Liquid Calcium, Heart Plus, Grape Seed Extract, and High Lignan Flaxseed. Acetyl-L-Carnitene, particularly good for brain function, was also recommended for me. To supplement the supplements, I keep active. Rowing, biking, stretching and PT are part of my regimen.
OHC: They say that once you've come close to death, you never view life quite the same again. True?
Wendy: Very true. I have a much greater sense of serenity now. I came away knowing that we're not in control, that all we can do is our best. I never thought I took life for granted before, but I know that I live every day with a heightened sense of gratitude.
Being alive, twelve years later, still feels like a miracle.
Midland Daily News / Accent - Midland, Michigan
'Fight for life' topic of book
Wendy Chapin Ford, a former Bay City resident, is the author of To Get Back Home - A Mysterious Disease: a Fight for Life, a true story of triumph of survival over astronomical odds, as an otherwise healthy and active young woman fights for her life after suddenly stricken by a rare neurological disorder, Acute Demyelinating Encephalomyelitis (ADEM). To Get Back Home takes readers on a harrowing journey as Ford forges her way back from a coma and quadriplegia, desperate to return to her family and young children. Doctors have referred to hers as a miracle case. Ford graduated from the University of Michigan and worked as a corporate financial writer for many years in Boston. She has served on the Board of Overseers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston. She lives in Massachusetts with her family. Visit www.togetbackhome.com
Ihave just published a book which, though not directly related to the AYC, may still be of interest to members. My book is essentially about my late husband, Bruce, (who was a great sailor and a member of the AYC for many years), and his efforts to save me from a rare neurological disorder a few years ago.
From the book jacket:
"To Get Back Home - A Mysterious Disease: A Fight for Life is a medical thriller of the first order, a true story of triumph of survival over astronomical odds, as an otherwise healthy and active young woman fights for her life after being suddenly stricken by a rare neurological disorder, Acute Demyelinating Encephalomyelitis (ADEM).
"To Get Back Home takes you on a harrowing journey as Ms. Ford forges her way back from a coma and quadriplegia, desperate to return to her family and young children.
"Her life seemed perfect until Wendy Ford was stricken and rendered comatose within days, and then, after a tense weeks-long battle for survival, quadriplegic. At one of the most renowned hospitals in the world, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the Harvard teaching hospital known as "Harvard with a heart," her doctors — Harvard Medical School professors all — were helpless to diagnose and treat her, hard as they tried, as the rare malady confounded even them and she slipped further and further away. Initially, she was not expected to live, nor, ultimately, to walk again or recover her prior intellectual abilities. Doctors have referred to hers as a miracle case, and the mysteries persist to this day."
* * *
Overwhelmingly, readers are finding it compelling and inspirational. In addition to the publisher's "Editor's Choice" designation, it has been getting some great local press (check the "Press" section on her website: www.togetbackhome.com). In a recent review in the Newburyport Liberator, a chief at Children's Hospital, Boston, wrote, in part: "This 'survival tale' is not designed to be "self-help" or inspirational, though in the end it can't help but be both...reading such a precious book is, in its own way, a 'natural high.'"
Wendy's book is available at The Book Rack and Jabberwocky, in Newburyport, and on-line at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble.com, and at iUniverse.com.
More information about Bruce and Wendy's story, reviews of her book and much more may be found on her website: www.togetbackhome.com
Bay City Native Wendy Chapin Ford Recaptures
Missing Chapter of Her Life
By Bay City Times staff
— Izzi Bendall | For The Bay City Times
When the staff at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston asked Wendy Chapin Ford in June 1998 what her goal was, the answer was simple.
"It wasn't about getting back to my interesting career, with my beautiful view of Boston from the 54th floor of the Hancock Tower," said Ford, a 1973 Bay City Central High School graduate who now resides on the North Shore of Boston. "It wasn't even about getting back on the tennis court. It was to get back home."
In May 1998, Ford had contracted acute demyelinating encephalomyelitis (ADEM), a neurological disease that attacked her central nervous system. She was comatose for more than two weeks and emerged from the coma to find that she had lost the use of her arms and legs.
While Ford later learned that doctors had been saying they expected her to remain quadriplegic indefinitely, her own personal goal had been defined: She wanted to be with her children, a 3-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son, and she walked out of Spaulding in less than six weeks — without a cane.
The following months, Ford decided to study her medical records in order to write her recently published book, To Get Back Home, A Mysterious Disease: A Fight for Life.
"I wrote this book for my kids," said Ford, 54, noting that the book acts as a thank-you note to the hospital staff and people who stood by her during her experience with ADEM. "I wrote it so that someday (my children) would understand how hard I worked to get back to them and how awful it was to be in the hospital away from them."
Ford said that she met with many of the medical personnel who had worked on her case to better understand the notes made in her 4-inch-thick medical record. One of the medical observations was particularly poignant to Ford, who noted that it summed up her motivation for her recovery.
"At one point, after I had come out of the coma, an occupational therapist wrote in the medical notes that I was mouthing words as though I wanted to speak," Ford said. "And I kept repeating, 'I'm missing my kids.'"
Her recovery had a lot to do with her strong mindset, said her mother, Roberta Chapin.
"Wendy was determined to get to the point where she could get up to walk out of the hospital," said Chapin, who left Bay City to stay with Ford's family in Boston for about a month during her illness. "And she did."
Today, Ford notes that her neurologist has suggested that the ADEM was possibly the first episode of multiple sclerosis, which Ford was diagnosed with during the fall of 2000. While Ford's MS has affected her short-term memory as well as her ability to stand for long periods of time, she said that she has found serenity in her life since she originally encountered ADEM.
"I can't play tennis anymore, but I'm glad it was a big part of my life at one point," Ford said. "I do other things now: I row almost every summer day that I possibly can, and I take care of my family. I never thought I took life for granted before, but I certainly don't now."
— To Get Back Home, A Mysterious Disease: A Fight for Life may be purchased at Herman Hiss & Co., 905 Washington Ave. in Bay City, or online at www.togetbackhome.com.
North Shore Survivor Story
By Marc Cendron, M.D.,
The Newburyport Liberator
Vol. II, No. 15
It must be that survivors, whether of natural disasters, abuse, or life-threatening diseases, are able to forge some sort of a mental crawl space between two very powerful emotional extremes: indefatigable optimism and ultimate despair. They have to do this, not because they want to appear heroic, but because they have no other choice. Most survivors, because of the burden they carry, never have the tools to turn the unexpected disaster into creative form, and some, though they may have found an outlet, will suffocate as their space collapses. Anyone who has read the Italian writer and concentration camp survivor, Primo Levi, will relate.
Wendy Ford, a resident of the North Shore, in her personal account To Get Back Home - A Mysterious Disease: A Fight for Life, embraces the "optimism option" after being stricken and nearly dying from a rare neurologic disease. New to the literary world, Ms. Ford, as a former speech-writer for a major financial services firm in Boston, shows that she has the ability to explore complexity, research it and make it accessible to all. In her book, she reports, almost matter-of-factly, her journey (downward spiral and recovery would be more accurate), from her status as a healthy, thriving, vigorous mother and spouse, transformed into a lifeless body lying in one of the country's top medical institutions (Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston), as though a slab of wood. The tale follows her through her survival and recovery. Ms. Ford bolsters her narrative with excerpts taken either from her own medical records or from interviews with caregivers and friends. These "reality checks" serve to focus the reader on the severity of her illness and the struggles that the medical team and family encounter as her condition inexorably deteriorates.
This is not, on the surface, a "fun" journey, and it debunks the notion so many of us have (mostly from television shows), that there's a ready answer for every ailment. Even the best doctors, in the best hospitals, can be stumped.
For most of the initial weeks of her hospitalization, for example, no answers are forthcoming, no diagnosis can be ascertained and no treatment -- other than supportive measures, including being placed on an assisted breathing machine -- can be offered. Thus she describes the sinister limbo in which all involved find themselves -- husband, children, family, friends and, most acutely, her care providers. As the abyss nears, the narrative tension is driven by the yearning of her loved ones and by her husband's untiring efforts to help the dedicated medical team provide her the best care. Underlying all of this is uncertainty, a notion so difficult to accept in our era of instantaneous answers and readily available panaceas. But, in the end, a diagnostic clue is revealed, treatment is initiated, and the patient engages in her determined and steady path to recovery.
Ms. Ford effectively records how even the highest echelons of medical expertise can be stymied and yet, through perseverance, strength of character, the support of family and a strong network of friends, she awakes from her coma and begins her personal campaign not only to recover her health and well-being, but most importantly, to return home to caress the heads of her two young children.
To Get Back Home is Wendy Ford's very personal chronicle, which she offers as a tribute to the medical establishment itself. While seeking out the best medical care and getting it -- cost clearly never a concern -- implicit are two attitudes: one is trust in the medical system, an attitude sorely lacking in the general public these days; and second, self-reliance and the ability to go beyond what medicine or surgery can offer. The reality of human spirit -- some people call it faith -- can never be denied. One needn't believe in religion to accept the fact that in some people, the strength it generates can and does make a difference. This is vividly demonstrated by Ms. Ford's efforts to go beyond the prescribed hours of physical therapy in the hospital, an added dimension that helps her take charge of her recovery and return to health.
At times, Ms. Ford's terse description of her ordeal is almost depressing, though her perception of life and the values she holds to be true help dispel the negatives that engulfed her. This book is not designed to be "self-help" or inspirational, though in the end it can't help but be both. Expressions of faith and confidence in things mightier than ourselves are core values crucial to the author, mechanisms, if you will, for coping. This is her crawl space.
If this metaphor sounds harsh, let us emphasize that reading such a precious book is, in its own way, a "natural high." Most of us, fortunately, will never have to experience this kind of primal struggle to survive, (made even more poignant by the two powerful epilogues that conclude the book). But she, with her story, will inspire the reader to take a few moments to reflect on the meaning (and transience) of life.
Yes, we are engulfed in our daily routines, the grind of making a living, raising families, and the myriad of detail it takes to stay even with what's happening all around us. The World Trade Center destroyed in a single afternoon? Crash landing on the Hudson River? Haiti? Lying in a renowned hospital where no one knows what do do with you?
Life is frail, our sense of health ephemeral, and tragedy always just around the corner. To Get Back Home is a survival tale: how, despite daunting odds, a human being can and will bear up to darkness and pain to find a secure, yet even more tenuous mental space, bolted in by creativity (in this case, writing), perseverance, and a deep appreciation for life's little moments when the light shines at its strongest. It's a side of life we might not have had strength to face, ourselves, but which all must admit is there. Ms. Ford had the strength to face it, earning admiration from all of us.
For more information: www.togetbackhome.com
* * * * *
Book Chronicles woman's struggle with rare disease
By Gillian Swart
On a seemingly normal day in May of 1998, Wendy Ford began a journey that would take her down a road to death's door and back again. In tribute to her family, friends--and to the doctors at two Boston hospitals who enabled her to recapture her former life--she has written and published a book that tells the story of weeks of being on the brink and her journey back.
"I owe a debt of gratitude to my hospitals, my friends and family," Ford said at her home overlooking the harbor. "The book is like a big 'thank you' note."
To Get Back Home is the story of Ford's fight to do just that--get back home to her husband and two young children. She was just 42 years old when she was struck down with acute disseminating encephalomyelitis, a rare neurological disorder.
On Saturday, May 16, 1998, Ford, a corporate writer, woke up feeling ill and exhausted. The day before, she had felt fine--she and her husband enjoyed lunch in Boston and dinner in their garden. By the following Monday, she was in the local hospital. The next day, she was in the intensive care unit at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston. "I was dying," she wrote at the end of the first chapter.
Within days, she went into a coma, and when she awoke, she was quadriplegic. Today, she moves around, with some degree of difficulty, but she is here.
And writing the book has proven to be somewhat therapeutic. While writing about an interaction with her dying father in 1990, Ford came to the realization that her being a tennis player, a sport her father taught her, may have contributed to her survival. "The mindset of tennis...always coming back and being ready...that perseverance is tennis."
She has no memory of anything that happened to her from May 16 to June 8, 1998. Shortly after her recovery, she spoke with doctors, friends, her husband and mother--everyone who was there with her--and recorded what they saw, what they heard, what they felt, and what they did.
"It was probably good to interview people shortly thereafter, because I'll never be able to remember that time," she said. "The medical staff, doctors, nurses and therapists, discussed with me pivotal points in my illness and recovery. I was really touched by that support for the book."
Ford went from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, both Harvard Medical School teaching hospitals, and then back to her family at their home on the water. She began her book in the fall of 1998.
She said the book is not just about her, but "so many other people," who stepped out of themselves and gave her support. Even a man on the bus she took to work in Boston leaned over after she returned and told her that everyone had been praying for her. She didn't know his name; he had just been a familiar face on the bus.
She wrote the book for her children, who were 3 and 8 years old in 1998. Her son, the elder child, once picked it up, but stopped reading because he thought it was pretty sad. Her daughter has no memory of the events of 1998.
The book is pretty heartbreaking, for more than the obvious reasons. But Wendy Ford, despite her trial by fire and what came afterwards, remains mostly fairly upbeat.
"This (New England) is paradise," she said. "This is not a war zone, and my kids will never be hungry. I can't really complain--I can be sad sometimes, but I can't complain."
To learn more, visit www.togetbackhome.com