Book Review: The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy


Dr Emily Ackerman was disabled by a chronic illness in her twenties. In her new book  titled The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy, Emily offers help, encouragement and strategies for those living with a life-long illness. Below is a review of the book.

‘I used to be a doctor. Now I’m a patient.’ When Dr Emily Ackerman was stricken in her twenties by severe myalgic encephalopathy that confined her to bed or a wheelchair, her ordinary family life and career were derailed for many years. Now a grandparent, her reflection on suffering, faith and living abundantly, The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy, is strikingly honest and often funny.

Drawing on parallels with the Old Testament trials and triumphs of Joseph, Dr Ackerman considers the practical, emotional and spiritual aspects of her illness. She shares her experience of disempowerment, frustration, family, and coping with the outside world. Like Joseph, she discovers there can be fulfilment through major setback and loss.  Joy, anger, achievement, failure and above all, faith and her ongoing relationship with God, are layered in this book: the absence of self-pity and the presence of hope are striking, despite her living ‘nose to nose with weakness’.

Dr Ackerman believes in healing but in her case, the physical healing that came to others, including her husband, did not come her way for over 20 years. Her experience came close to destroying her faith: ‘Did I really want to follow this God, who sees all and yet does nothing?’ But over the years she found that, although often unfathomable, God’s purposes are deeper and better: ‘God’s glory is present in my messy, breakable life. That seems ridiculous, like carrying the Crown Jewels around in a flimsy plastic bag.’

Her bright writing style, plus pithy cartoons, keep this profound book upbeat. The book is designed to be dipped into by people too ill to concentrate for long. Each chapter includes stimulating questions for the reader and quotes from sources as varied as Dr Martin Luther King and Winnie the Pooh. Some of the book’s best features are the practical tips Dr Ackerman has learned, often the hard way, on ‘reclaiming your life now you’re ill, finding new ways to live well and serve effectively’.

Most of us come hard up against longterm illness at some point, in ourselves or others. Few would not find something wise, useful or inspiring in The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama. There is hope, concludes Dr Ackerman:  ‘I hurt, cry, mope, grump and fret against my limits. A life with persistent illness is a major challenge but it’s not a dead end, as I feared all those years ago.’

The Amazing Technicolour Pyjama Therapy by Emily Ackerman, with foreword by Pablo Martinez, is available from CLC bookshops and is published on 22 August. Until 20 August it will be available at the special pre-order price of £8.99 (£1 off rrp), with free postage, from Muddy Pearl Books