Just over six years ago, former Big Valley resident William Boulton started to lose feeling in his body. His family was baffled until he was finally diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). When he partially recovered, he decided to write a book about his experiences. That book is “I Miss Me,” a memoir that has its good points.
This book is likely to be of comfort to anyone suffering from MS, or to anyone with relatives suffering from MS. It details exactly what an MS patient goes through during treatment, and what they’re thinking and likely to want from their relatives. It’s an occasionally fascinating look into how MS patients are treated and what it’s like to slowly lose control of everything that you took for granted: walking, seeing, driving, eating, etc.
But the book leaves nothing out and sometimes the action is slowed down too much.
Boulton’s book would have had more impact if he trusted the audience to be able to understand what he says and read between the lines without explaining every nuance of every word.
That said, Boulton has a likeable and relatable voice. He’s a normal guy with a normal, loving family, which also brings out the horror of what he’s going through. MS can happen to anyone, even if you think you’re the most normal person in the world.
The fact that his family is so willing to be there for him every step of the way just makes his degradation seem worse, knowing how it must be affecting them as well.
He doesn’t wrap up the book in a neat little package – after all, MS doesn’t just magically fix itself. But he ends it with hope for his future, and we as the audience now know exactly what goes on in the mind of someone with such a debilitating disease.
Q & A with author
Where did you grow up? Where do you live now?
I grew up on a family farm just west of Big Valley on the west side of the Red Deer River. We currently have 200 head of cattle and also 1,500 acres of grain farming. I rent a place up in Edmonton but I rarely spend time up there right now due to promoting the book around my hometowns. I very much bounce back and forth between here and there, still spending much of my time back at my parents’ place helping out however I can.
Why did you decide to write this book?
I decided to write this book when I was at my lowest in the hospital back in 2007. I’m bit of a spiritual person and I asked the powers above if they promised to get me better when I couldn’t walk, talk, see (seeing double which would make me very nauseated), feel (parts of my body which were freezing cold), hear (due to a high pitched squeal in my ear that would be at the forefront of everything I could hear), taste (salt was all I could taste, 24 hours a day), then I promised to write a book that I could share with everyone in providing inspiration, determination and ambition to challenge whatever issues that would come their way. As I always like to say, never let a challenge defeat you!
With that being said, as soon as I made the promise, it seemed that my health and recovery was well on its way; I made a recovery faster than most other patients. I cannot explain why, but many factors could have had an effect: great medical personnel, wonderful family support, stubbornness in never wanting anything less than who I remembered myself to be, spirits above.
What was it like writing it?
It was very exciting writing the story. I spent 18 non-consecutive months over a four-year period writing. I spent the first three months out at my parents’ farm writing the story and more or less putting the timeline and notes with each day together. I put the book down for a while due to needing to work and was finally able to save enough money to write. I immediately spent a whole year in a rented basement in Red Deer, where I wrote for approximately 20 hours a day, with a few hours off on Sundays. Having a big portion of it done and once again needing to make a living, the book went on the back burner while I worked. Finally, the last three months were spent at my parents’ place putting the final touches on the end of the book. Still at that time, I had a rented place with my girlfriend (at the time) back in Red Deer. It was not part of writing the story, but I spent approximately three months working with the editor and proofreaders in making sure the story flowed nicely.
What was the process of publishing it?
I started writing the story and when I had approximately half of it complete, I made a few phone calls to publishers to see what we could do. Unfortunately, everything that we had in mind to make it work ended up not working between us. I decided at that point that I would self-publish and promote it through a division of our company, Explosive Productions Ltd. Our division is “I Want My Explosive.”
What has the reaction to it been like?
The reaction so far is amazing and overwhelming. People have spoken to me and Facebook messaged me, stating that they couldn’t put the book down. The book has been nicknamed “the late night read” because everyone who starts it falls asleep with it in their laps. People have messaged me stating they have finished it in a few hours to two days. For me, the biggest reward and the biggest accomplishment of this book is that the message is getting out. The story is being told and it is doing exactly what I promised to the spirits above that I would work hard to do. It was a simple agreement between them and me. I am very happy at this stage to be able to reach such a great local audience and hear how they enjoyed it, along with how they look at their own lives now.
Did you get a lot of support from friends and family?
I had a huge amount of support from my family and medical staff.
My parents never gave up on me and they always accepted me with where I was at with my symptoms. My parents said at times, “If he can’t walk again, we will get this house redone to make it work for him. We will do whatever it takes to make everything work for him.” My oldest brother Keith, older sister Randi and younger sister Shelly all helped out. Keith helped out a lot during harvest that year so my father could spend more time helping me. Randi visited me in the hospital but was very busy at that time working on her music career. My younger sister Shelly would come to the hospital and visit, doing whatever she could at the moment.
My aunts and uncles did so much as well. They came to the hospital to check on me, frequently making sure everything was all right and see what they could do to help me get better at that moment. My cousin Amber had a big part in helping me get better. She would visit, read a few magazines to me, rub my back, and take me out in a wheelchair around the hospital and to nearby houses. Overall, everyone gave 110% in doing what they could at that moment to help me get better.
The medical staff were wonderful. They, too, played a big role in checking in on me to see what more could be done to help me get better. The amount they did is unfortunately indescribable.
What was the reaction (if any) like from your ex-girlfriend to the section of the acknowledgements about her? (p. viii: “To my ex-girlfriend, Molly, thank you for the eight years we spent together, and for teaching me valuable lessons about life. Please know that you made me feel complete. I promised to be honest, dedicated, and loyal, and to provide everything I could for you. Sadly enough, you could not say the same in return.”)
I have not spoken to my ex-girlfriend about the book. We were together during the whole time I wrote it. I devoted much of my time writing the story, as well as doing my best to care for her when I could. I have not spoken to my ex-girlfriend in two years and plan to keep it that way, but I do wish her all the best.
What is your health like now?
My health is, thankfully, great. Because 2012 had many terrible things happen including my parents’ house burning down at the end of September, I knew I was going to have another relapse. I knew because my stress was through the roof and my sleep was, unfortunately, minimal. I can’t speak for other multiple sclerosis victims out there, but from my own personal experience, lack of sleep and stress are two very strong relationship indicators for a relapse. The first part of this year running from the middle of February to May, I lost feeling from my waist down. Thankfully, I was able to immediately see my MS doctor, Dr. Heinrichs, who put me on heavy doses of prednisone pills. My feeling did not come back all at once this time though; it came back slowly and with patches throughout my lower half.