Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Seems like my blog-life is revolving around books recently. Actually, life is quite busy with holidays, family visiting (featuring the #1 grandson Eli who brought along his parents), and a little extra caregiving. I'll try to get something else ready for next week, something brighter perhaps, but meanwhile...

Most of you know why I am interested in reading and learning about Parkinson's Disease. I now have a modest library of books on that subject too. For what it's worth, here is the best book of the last several years related to the personal impact of PD.

Life in the Balance by Thomas Graboys, M.D. (with Peter Zheutlin). In this candid account, a physician tells about his personal struggle to date with Parkinson's Disease. A renowned medical leader and cardiac pioneer based in Boston, a member of a team which shared a Nobel Peace Prize in 1985, winner of a zillion awards for almost everything important or interesting about the heart, Dr. Graboys found it necessary to first truncate and then finally shut down his remarkable medical practice because of the encroaching symptoms of PD. Although there are many typical characteristics of Parkinson's, a condition primarily caused by a chemical deficiency of dopamine in the brain, each person who had PD also has a personal and unique combination of the symptoms, and those in varying degrees of intensity or duration. Dr. Graboys' mix included not only movement disorders but a closely related disease called Lewy-Body Dementia which causes disruption of cognition and episodes of hallucinations among other features.

Poignantly told, the book offers considerable insight into how one man daily learns to cope with the rebellion of both body and mind, neither one being under reliable control at any given hour. It is a story of despair, yet it it documents the triumph of an indomitable spirit which will not yield against the unrelenting illness and its effects. It is courage lived daily. It is boldness in the face of disability. It is the victory of character over a mindless medical evil.

I've debated for a week whether to mention this book at all. It was good for me to read, but I rather think some others would find it extremely depressing. This is not a feel-good book about sunshine and songbirds. It was, however, for me, a view of how in trying circumstances, an individual can determine - by the power of the will - to find and enjoy the smallest successes as though they were equal to climbing the world's highest peaks. At this point, for me, this book was good therapy.

Thank you, Dr. Graboys. Please accept my prayers and best wishes as you continue to overcome the beast.


At 8:27 AM, Blogger Tom said...

I am deeply appreciative of the kind words and sentiments. I am clinically stable and continue an aggressive exercise program including a weekly Parkinson's dance group class. The addition of Florinef has been extremely helpful in maintaining my blood pressure. Hypotension had been one of my most frustrating and depressive symptoms. Keep the faith. -Tom Graboys


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