29 Jun 2018

The Wellington nurse turning her MS into 'good yarns'

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:27 pm on 29 June 2018
Author Shona Daubé

Author Shona Daubé Photo: via Pink Cottage Publishing

After Wellington nurse Shona Daubé was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis five years ago, she started sending group emails to her friends and family, spinning her experience into a bit of a yarn.

"I like a good yarn. Every time something happened I would spin it into a bit of a yarn."

These honest, darkly humorous emails have become Daubé's second book Does My Bum Look Big with This Stick?

Daubé says when she was first diagnosed with MS she didn't see anything funny about it.

As someone who'd been nursing a while, she suspects her view of the disease may have been even darker than other people's.

"I'd brace myself each time I went to the specialist, in case he told me.

"Eventually when [the diagnosis] came, I wasn't surprised, but at the same time it wasn't what I wanted to hear."

In Daubé's early days as a nurse, there was no treatment for MS and she saw people becoming disabled and then hospitalised quite quickly.

"I had that image in my mind, but I thought 'No, I cant stick with that. I've got to – for my family's sake, at least – keep a balanced view on this.' That's when I started writing all these emails."

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As a nurse, talking about intimate stuff like involuntary bodily emissions doesn't make her vulnerable, Daubé says.

"The wonders of the body, they haven't been hidden from me for a long time."

Discussing things like sudden vomiting, wetting yourself in public and "unscheduled faecal discharge" seems healthy, she says.

"Because I can laugh it off later I don't feel it affects my self-esteem to the same degree."

Daubé's first book A Funny Thing Happened on the way to the Neurologist was largely about learning to live with the disease, she says.

Her second book is more about perseverance – partly as an example to her three "fantastic" adult sons.

"Heaven forbid one of them comes up with a chronic illness in their life or any kind of challenge. I wanted them to be able to look at what i was doing and go 'Okay, this is not what I wanted but its not the end of the world. Let's just get on with it'.

Does My Bum Look Big with This Stick? is only available through Daubés website Pink Cottage Publishing.

She's hoping to raise enough money from sales to fund the printing of additional copies which field workers could give to others with chronic illness.

Shona Daubé is launching the book at the following two events:

3pm Sunday 1 July: Southern Cross Hotel, Wellington (39 Abel Smith Street, Te Aro).
5pm Tuesday 3 July: Toi Wairarapa – Heart of Arts, Carterton (47 High Street North).

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