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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Life in the Balance: A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia by Thomas Graboys, 2008, * * * *

At the top of his professional game at 49, as a renowned Boston cardiologist on both the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the staff of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Dr. Thomas Graboys began having unusual physical and mental symptoms. As he was at a personal nadir, following the death of his wife, he at first ignored the signs.  However, 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. When he passed out on his 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. This is an unflinching memoir of a devastating illness as only a consummate physician could write it including reflections by Graboys’ daughters, sons-in-law, and other members of the families blended by his marriage. In his joint roles as physician and patient, Dr. Graboys finds a way to convey hope, optimism and an appreciation of what it means to be truly alive. A remarkable book.

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