my favourite things – parkinson’s novels

1. The imaginative, hilarious, and moving memoir of a 43-year old woman coping with both Parkinson’s disease and breast cancer. With irreverent and at times mordant humour, Most of Me chronicles Levy’s early, mysterious symptoms of Parkinson’s (a dragging left foot, a frozen left hand, and a crash into “downward dead dog” position on the yoga mat), and her life dealing with her diverse disease portfolio. Both heartbreaking and hilarious, Most of Me offers a unique glimpse into a creative mind and the restorative power of humour and fantasy (adapted from CBC books). You can check out my previous review HERE! and her wonderful blog HERE!

2. Combining his trademark ironic sensibility and keen sense of the absurd, he recounts his life — from his childhood in a small town in western Canada to his meteoric rise in film and television which made him a worldwide celebrity. Most importantly however, he writes of the last 10 years, during which — with the unswerving support of his wife, family, and friends — he has dealt with his illness. He talks about what Parkinson’s has given him: the chance to appreciate a wonderful life and career, and the opportunity to help search for a cure and spread public awareness of the disease (adapted from goodread.com). Please check out the Michael J Fox Foundation to see how you can get involved!

3. Kondrake writes a deeply personal and bracingly honest account of how he and his wife, Milly, have coped with her diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. Milly’s passionate enjoyment of life made it very difficult for her, at the age of 47, to accept a doctor’s opinion in 1988 that the tremors she was experiencing were the beginnings of Parkinson’s disease. The Kondrackes finally came to terms with Milly’s condition and began searching for a treatment. Milly underwent several operations and has had various drug therapies, but her condition continues to worsen. She is now dependent on others for physical care and can barely communicate. Kondracke provides a harrowing overview of how organizations for other diseases such as AIDS or breast cancer compete with Parkinson’s advocates for badly needed research dollars (adapted from publishers weekly). You can check out my previous review HERE!

4. Inspired by her father’s (boxer Muhammad Ali) interaction with her children, Rasheda Ali wrote this book to address most commonly asked questions from children who may not understand why their loved ones with Parkinson’s disease behave in certain ways. Written for adults to read to children, the book encourages dialogue through the use of colorful illustrations, situations depicting symptoms, and interactive questions. Medical facts are provided at the end of each page to help readers answer children’s questions with greater ease (adapted from amazon).

*BONUS READ*

keeping my nose in the books!

Awakenings, by Oliver Sacks

The remarkable story of a group of patients who contracted encephalitis lethargica after World War I. The patients were frozen for decades in a trance-like state. The catatonic behavior of the encephalitis patients is similar to that of Parkinson’s patients, so Dr. Sacks (or Sayer in the book, played by Robin Williams in the movie version) investigates the latest advances in Parkinson’s treatments. In 1969, Dr. Sacks/Sayer gave them the then-new drug L-DOPA, which had an astonishing, explosive, “awakening” effect. However, patients who are treated with the drug develop a tolerance for it, and soon his patients return to their former state. Dr. Sacks recounts the moving case histories of his patients, their lives, and the extraordinary transformations which went with their reintroduction to a changed world. I love Robert De Niro’s character Leonard Lowe in the movie version (see the trailer below)!

HAPPY READING! much love

**note: click on number to be taken to where you can purchase these great reads!

review: most of me

so, lately life has been full! i’ve been…

…in ontario presenting at the Canadian Association of Gerontology and celebrating november birthdays in october

…flooded out of our apartment and trying to make a cozy home in a nearby hotel-suite

BUT, most importantly i’ve been reading an AMAZING book…

bio/background: robyn michele levy is a Vancouver CBC broadcast journalist and mom who at the age of 43 was diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson’s (following her dad’s diagnosis!)… not only that…six months later, she found out she had breast cancer.

This memoir is written in very accessible language and makes you feel like she’s telling you her story over a glass of wine… it’s an emotional read, but her dark humour keeps you hooked. For example, she writes a mock press announcement, “for immediate release”: “Robyn Michele Levy has diversified her disease portfolio with the unexpected acquisition of breast cancer. This follows hot on the heels of her recent partnership acquisition of Parkinson’s’ “R” Us, formerly a sole proprietorship owned by her father.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who has someone in their life dealing with either Parkinson’s disease or breast cancer… her perspective is brutally honest and she offers refreshing insight. Coming from someone who spends lots of time with persons with PD, you almost feel like you get an insiders perspective and can almost grasp some of their internal struggles. I’m donating my copy to the kelowna PD support group’s library tonight so I can share her story with those who may benefit from her perspective.

Levy’s memoir has been voted onto the Top 40 list of this year’s CBC Canada Reads! You can cast your vote and help her make it onto the Top 10 List…
http://www.cbc.ca/books/canadareads/2012/canada-reads-true-stories-vote-for-the-top-10.html

so, cozy up in your home with this great book! much love.