Mereti Taipana- Howe was a typical New Zealander, enjoyed tramping around the hills and walkways of the Northland coast, loved the beach and was a stay-at-home mum, while her husband worked. She kept fit by going to the gym and she studied extramurally, gaining qualifications before setting up her own counselling consultancy
Then late in 2011, Mereti was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease known as Ocular Myasthenia Gravis (MG) which affects 10 in every 100,000 people, so about 460 people have some form of MG in this country.
Taming the MG Dragon is vivid explanation of how the condition has ruled the author’s life with a number of admissions to hospital, including a thymectomy and six weeks of radiation treatment, which finished on April 1st 2016. But by April 4th she was very unwell and readmitted to Palmerston North Hospital where she battled the ‘MG Dragon’ to finally make a good recovery to be discharged on 9th September 2016.
A number of black and white photographs support the author’s journey with MG and in the epilogue she has shared ten things she has learnt from the experience and she also includes tips for living the best life possible.
In the foreword of the book Sir Mason Durie said ‘Taming the MG Dragon is testament to the power of recovery and to the strength of tenacity. Much of that strength came from Mereti herself and from the exemplary health care, but whanau and friends were also to become critical links in the world beyond the hospital.’
I was able to relate to Mereti’s story as my husband spent four weeks in ICU three years ago with life threatening pneumonia and infection, being on machines very similar to those described in the book, but with expert care and family support he slowly recovered, just as the author has. Taipana-Howe is to be congratulated for bravely recording her experiences and she believes this book would be useful not only for those with MG, but as a resource for whanau, Medical Professionals as well as counsellors and teachers.
Mereti Taipana-Howe has worked in the Disability sector as a NASC (Needs Assessor Service Coordinator) and in tertiary institutions as an adult tutor. She established her own counselling consultancy in 2008 and is currently based in Manawatu.
She writes with great honesty and clarity and at times her frustration shows through as she fights the MG Dragon. Her sense of humour keeps the author focussed as she relates her journey with the warmth and love of friends and family around her. It is a short, concise book but I found it a stimulating read and feel it will add value to anyone wanting an uplifting story of courage and hope.
Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh
Taming the M G Dragon, Journey Through a Myasthenic Crisis
by Mereti Taipana-Howe
Published by Rangitawa Publishing