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Life in the Balance: A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia Paperback – September 1, 2009
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At the top of his professional game at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and on the Harvard Medical School faculty but at a personal nadir after the death of his wife, cardiologist Graboys began presenting physical and mental signs he at first wrote off as after-effects of prolonged stress and exhaustion. Despite his best efforts to control the situation, first through denial, then by reducing his private-practice patient load, the symptoms doggedly progressed. In the meantime, he remarried. But when he passed out on the wedding day, he knew his problems were more serious than he wanted to admit. Before long, he was diagnosed with the double whammy of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, an associated degenerative disease. In this stirring and chilling memoir, he takes an unblinking look at himself as his mind and body suffer unrelenting hits from those progressive illnesses. An unforgettable doctor-as-patient account, including reflections by Graboys’ daughters, sons-in-law, and members of the families blended by his marriage. --Donna Chavez --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Beautifully written, searingly honest . . . lets us see the impact of serious illness on a man who is both doctor and patient.”Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People
"[A] stirring and chilling memoir...an unforgettable doctor-as-patient account."--Booklist
"Doctors get seriously ill just like ordinary people, and some of them never recover from the shock. If of a literary bent, they are often moved to reflect for posterity on this disruption of the natural order, detailing their former hubris and the enlightening misery of health care experienced from the other side of the bed. Against this generally lackluster collection of memoirs, Dr. Thomas Graboys's stands out as a small wonder. Unsentimental and unpretentious, it manages to hit all its marks effortlessly, creating a version of the old fable as touching, educational and inspiring as if it had never been told before."- Abigail Zuger, The New York Times
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I did like the parts where the family dynamics were mentioned, especially from his children and stepchildren, and the intricacies of the disease. I was hoping more were written by the author about the dementia facet of his illness. I also liked the psychological aspects of his mourning his first wife, and the intertwining of that event to his current losses as far as his physical health.
However, I do feel that there are better books written on the topic, and while I finished it, I can't say it really held my interest.
Dr. Graboys' particular case of Parkinson's, as he explains, involves actual dementia, and although the book was written with the aid of a co-author, nevertheless the signs of mental difficulty are evident in the short-windedness and occasional repetitiveness of the writing. Several dozen pages are devoted not to Graboys' own writing but to passages contributed by his siblings, his children and their in-laws, passages the author did not screen in advance of their inclusion. What would be defects in another book here are in themselves touching, clear evidence of the author's ongoing struggle to maintain some sense of self-worth and productivity. He does not spare himself, dissecting in painful detail the ravages his progressive disease, and his occasional denial of its seriousness, has inflicted on his second marriage. (He did not reveal to his spouse at the time of his wedding that he was already suffering from Parkinson's, and it is perhaps significant that his wife does not contribute any writing of her own.) By the end of this volume the reader is shattered, drained, but also moved and uplifted by Dr. Graboys' resilience and optimism in the face of the darkest odds.