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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Maloney's debut chronicles her son, Sammy, and the illness that, almost overnight, transformed him from a sunny, bright boy (described by one teacher as "the purest math mind the school had ever seen") into an antisocial stranger "so dominated by obsessions, compulsions, and rules that daily life becomes impossible." Sammy's descent into mental illness was diagnosed as severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Tourette's and a number of other ailments, all promising a lifetime of disability; it wasn't until a family acquaintance, whose son exhibited the same symptoms for 10 years, urged Maloney to have Sammy tested for Strep that they learned his condition was treatable. Describing herself as "part courtroom lawyer and part detective," attorney Maloney perseveres with ferocity and sharp storytelling instincts, making this medical mystery-meant to inform families dealing with mental illness-a tear-wrenching crowd-pleaser. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

From Publishers Weekly (Starred) 
Maloney's debut chronicles her son, Sammy, and the illness that, almost overnight, transformed him from a sunny, bright boy (described by one teacher as "the purest math mind the school had ever seen") into an antisocial stranger "so dominated by obsessions, compulsions, and rules that daily life becomes impossible." Sammy's descent into mental illness was diagnosed as severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Tourette's and a number of other ailments, all promising a lifetime of disability; it wasn't until a family acquaintance, whose son exhibited the same symptoms for 10 years, urged Maloney to have Sammy tested for Strep that they learned his condition was treatable. Describing herself as "part courtroom lawyer and part detective," attorney Maloney perseveres with ferocity and sharp storytelling instincts, making this medical mystery—meant to inform families dealing with mental illness—a tear-wrenching crowd-pleaser. 
 
From Booklist
 
At 12, Maloney's son Sammy won math awards but exhibited bizarre symptoms. The newly divorced mother's concerns grew as Sammy started hopping and spinning instead of walking and repeatedly resorted to uncontrollable headbanging. His disintegration, diagnosed without any thought about causation as sudden onset obsessive-compulsive disorder, included verbal tics, hours-long crying jags, and sporadic refusals to eat. Linking infection to "mental" illness, as strep antibodies are linked to the neurological Tourette's syndrome, has been rejected by many doctors since the rise of psychoanalysis, but Maloney insisted Sammy be tested for strep titers when he became unable to attend school and to walk. He was diagnosed with pediatric neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections, caused by strep antibodes attacking the basal ganglia controlling behavior. Antibiotics ended two torturous years for the family, and Sammy's regains came as rapidly as the symptoms had overtaken him. This stirring account of a mother's determination and a boy's astonishing bravery makes you want to stand up and cheer. –Whitney Scott
 
++++++
 
"SAVING SAMMY is a remarkable journey of a mother's perseverance to save her son. Her discoveries may well hold the key to curing the lives of millions of others."
 
Daniel A. Geller, M.D. - Director Pediatric Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Program, Massachusetts General Hospital; Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School
 
 
 
"Of all the children I've treated, Sammy is the one at both ends of the spectrum. I'd never seen one so sick or one who came so far. I think the difference was his mother. Her willingness to be aggressive and fight for her son may help in healing others."
 
Catherine D. Nicolaides, M.D. - Developmental Pediatrics - Marlton, New Jersey
 
 
“As a physician, SAVING SAMMY reminds me that we, as a profession, are prone to hubris.  My heart aches for Beth and her family every time I think of the dozens of doctors who scoffed and dismissed the incredibly valuable information she provided them.  Consideration should be given for making this book mandatory reading at all U.S. medical schools.  As a parent, I am inspired because we all will have our battles and issues.  Few will be of this magnitude, but whether my child has problems at school, the Y, summer camp or whatever, this story reminds me that there is no effort too great to expend on the beautiful creatures that are our children.”
 
Kevin Price, M.D.
General Surgeon, Southern Maine Medical Center
Biddeford, Maine
 
 
“With SAVING SAMMY, Beth Maloney is the first to document the harrowing journey as a mother of a son with strep-triggered OCD— known as PANDAS.  This compelling story is written in such a clear and engaging manner that the reader is hard pressed to put it down.  Ms. Maloney’s poignant description of both the ravages of the illness itself and the hurdles to find treatment not only sheds light on the dark corners of this disorder, but captures the universal anguish of any parent watching their child slip away and at the same time being determined to hold on with all their might. In this gripping memoir, we see living proof of the much contested connection between strep and OCD.  We also experience the agony of a parent who knows that solutions are out there, but can only be accessed by overcoming the obstacles and biases within the medical community. By sharing her family's ordeal and ultimate triumph, Ms. Maloney urges us all to make a pivotal shift in how we look at mental illness and its cure. The quality of life for thousands, if not millions, of families depends on our doing so. 
 
Tamar Chansky, Ph.D. - Author: Freeing Your Child from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Freeing Your Child from Anxiety and Freeing Your Child from Negative Thinking
Director, Children's Center for OCD and Anxiety, Plymouth Meeting PA
 
 
“There isn't a parent who would not want to have this information.  The implications of this riveting story reach far beyond children who are afflicted with obsessive-compulsive disorder."
 
Christopher P. Leddy - Assistant Attorney General, State of Maine
 
 
“I might not have believed Sammy’s stunning transformation if I had not seen it for myself.  I watched a gifted young mathematician robbed of his life, lose all control and hope, and then regain his former self.  Beth Maloney’s relentless battle and ultimate success in reclaiming her son captures the heart of anyone who has ever loved a child.  Her victory sheds new light on ways of treating mental illness and inspires us all to greater good.”
 
Fern Brown, M.S.Ed, CAS
Gifted and Talented Coordinator - Co-Director, Maine Odyssey of the Mind




From the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 030746184X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307461841
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #485,071 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Laura on August 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What could be more compelling than the story of a mom who simply will not accept that her son's suddden onset OCD/Tourette's Syndrome is irreversible? At the age of twelve years old, Sammy began developing symptoms of OCD that grew in intensity over a fairly short period of time until they seemed to control all phases of his life. Sammy's mother, and his two brothers, were forced to watch helplessly as he went from being a normal young boy, who liked school, loved playing Dungeons and Dragons and was an acknowledged math wizard, to one who was positively paralyzed by his need to engage in ritualistic and repetitive behaviors that controlled his every movement; who could not touch a door handle or a telephone or virtually anything else; who could not attend to basic matters of hygiene or change his clothes, and who could not eat to the point of becoming emaciated and dehydrated. As Sammy's mom put her entire life on hold to attend to Sammy's condition, and even as Sammy bravely tried to continue going to school and to his math events (it could take him hours to get from the house to the car, and then from the car to his ultimate destination), eventually, Sammy became virtually housebound, and his mother with him. Sammy's mom was told that he had OCD (later he was diagnosed with Tourette's Syndrome as well), a difficult and probably irreversible mental illness which might get worse or might get better and was given various medications to help deal with its effects.

Sammy continued to deteriorate, and mom's research into her son's condition seemed to confirm that there was little that could be done for him. She continued to take him to doctors and continued to follow their advice concerrning medications, all the while watching her son develop new and more complex compulsions.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By T. L. Jones on October 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I expect this book to draw critics regarding the diagnosis of PANDAS. It's also very easy to criticize the mom if you have never lived through the horror of watching a healthy, intelligent, engaging (I don't dare use the word "normal") child of yours have his or her mind stolen virtually overnight. I walked in this woman's shoes last year. The author does a commendable job of recounting the accumulation of the illness, because there really are no words to adequately convey the experience. It's like being on a water slide into hell. I cried through much of the book.

I was fortunate. My 6 year old daughter DID fit the "accepted profile" of a PANDAS patient. We had sharp and open minded doctors who caught it quickly. I had never heard of PANDAS before her diagnosis, so I wasn't "looking for it". Of course, there were multiple tests to rule out other issues such as seizure disorders. After just a few days on amoxicillin she was dramatically improved, and after a couple of months more on antibiotics, she was "back". I was lucky not to watch my child deteriorate for more than a year, as was the author's experience. We also did not spend tens of thousands of dollars on psychiatric visits and medications. Again, because we had a sharp pediatrician and an up-to-date pediatric psychiatrist.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Polk TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Not a book that would be of interest to everyone, but it is a very well written, accurate account of what it is like to watch your child fall prey to OCD. It's also an excellent portrait of what it's like to be a mother of a child with OCD. I've lived it... and I found myself nodding, crying and saying "Yes!" over and over again while reading this book.

Desperate to save your child, with or without the help of others, you will do anything to figure out how to help them and save your family from crumbling around you. That quest is an exhausting, daunting, uncertain one that may lead you to fall into a pit of desperation when exhaustion and frustration overcome you. This book reminds you time and time again (if you are a parent of a child with OCD) that you are not alone in your feelings. I liked that about the book and it made me think I'd like the author if I met her because the thoughts and feelings she shares in the book are 'real'.

The author: A strong woman- a good mother - an advocate for her child - an attorney with a bright mind. The author gives hope to parents of children with OCD and through her own struggle illuminates the need for two things. First, the need to question doctors if what they are doing isn't working and second, the importance of being an advocate for looking outside the box when it comes to an answer.

If you are the parent or a guardian of a child with OCD... read this book. While what saved Sammy might not 'save' your child, it's certainly a good story and excellent information to keep in mind when looking to manage OCD.

My own experience with OCD:

My daughter showed signs of OCD following a traumatic incident when she was 5, whereby she went into anaphylactic shock.
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