Personal Review of “Life in the Balance” by Thomas Graboys, M.D. with Peter Zheutlin

Life in the Balance

A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia

Today I thought I would write a little bit about the book “Life in the Balance” written by Thomas Graboys, M.D. with Peter Zheutlin.

I must remind myself that I am not an expert professional book reviewer. The following is strictly my personal opinion seen through the eyes of another physician. I am fully aware that many will disagree with me.

The thought that leaped at me as I read the book was the tone rather than the content of his writing. It is a book of his memoirs which permits him to express himself in anyway he chooses. Dr. Graboys and Peter Zheutlin are direct and honest.

They nicely describe part of his background of being in a boarding school, part of his college days and his love of sports. The description of the Boston medical community is superb! There is a pervasive belief among physicians that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions). The sense of self-importance seems to reign high as well as the need to be recognized as superior and successful. They tend to avoid their weaknesses and work hard for prolonged periods of time under colossal fears of failure, anxieties, expectancies and stress. I have attended many medical conferences in Boston. The majority of the speakers and lecturers appear to require excessive admiration. It appears that they give off a false sense of modesty. These characteristics are also seen in other medical communities around the country as well as in many physicians working in the private sectors, perhaps to a lesser degree. When discussing these leading experts, many physicians attending the meetings would refer to them as “snobs” and as being pretentious.

As a psychiatrist, I highly suspect that this is a defense mechanism to skirt their feelings of flaws, shortcomings and imperfections. I ask myself, “Are they ever satisfied with themselves?” Part of me feels sorry for them for having to maintain the status quo. Their internal naggings must be considerably excruciating.

Beginning with the forward, there seems to be a bright portrayal of Dr. Graboys being the “perfect” physician. A godlike physician on a pedestal. Having an “Ozzie and Harriet” like family. However, to his credit, Dr. Graboys openly discusses his insecurities and his strong sense of pride, e.g., not easily being able to tell others in public that he has Parkinson’s disease which results in embarrassment as he fumbles with his hands or stumbles as he walks. Many people see these as weaknesses but I sense Dr. Graboys is attempting to turn them into his friends and strengths as he grapples with the devastating symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body dementia.

He has an illusive style of teaching. Although he aptly describes Parkinson’s disease there seems to be a paucity of details of his probable Lewy Body symptoms.

He has a phenomenal support system and credit must be given to his wife and his family. He also has a strong support system with friends and professional colleagues. He clearly refuses to surrender to the painful effects of his disease. He is honest with his feelings. I like his self sensitivity as well as his profound sensitivity for others. He has not given up and perseveres daily to maintain a sense of balance and of well being.

Why does he continue to drive? Why does he put himself and others at risk? Even if he is driving only short distances. Why does he continue to go to his office? Perhaps it is to help preserve his sense of self and sense of importance. Something we all need. Even though he may not be prudent in driving a car given the severity of his symptomatology, I applaud him for exploring many other avenues of daily living. Spinning seems to soothe him intensely. Forcing himself to continue to socialize and going to parties is an asset even though difficult to do.

His ponderings and reflections on marriage, friendships, love and children enlighten me on how important they are. Something which many of us take for granted. The ongoing ruminating description, however, tended to bore me. I had to put the book down too many times. Not because of the content of the book but because of the lack of movement and provocation for me. Dr. Graboys suggests that he is able to live one day at a time. However, I did not feel uplifted with hope by the time I finished reading the book.

Overall, the book is a persuasive and heartrending depiction of a physician who disallows his illness to pilfer his joy and dignity.

 

Please feel free to post a comment.

 

David

Adorable Photographs of Our Baby: Meaningful, Mind Stimulating Activities and More for the Memory Challenged, Their Loved Ones, and Involved Professionals

The author, Susan Berg, is donating a portion of the proceeds of the sale of this book to the Alzheimer’s Association.

In light of recent research, activities should take on a whole new dimension in long-term care. Activities can no longer be thought of as leisure time fillers, but rather, as opportunities to provide mental stimulation. If done thoughtfully, activities can help those with Alzheimer’s disease hold on to their remaining cognitive skills longer and enhance mood. In a word, activities should be “therapeutic”. Susan Berg’s book is a treasure-trove of therapeutic activities that can bring joy and purpose to those with a cognitive impairment.

Paul Raia, Ph.D, Director of Patient Care and Family Support
Alzheimer’s Association, Massachusetts Chapter

 

Susan Berg’s book is a must have for the Activities Professional and anyone who is caring for an individual with dementia. The baby pictures are delightful. The discussion questions will stimulate many memories, and the additional activity ideas will aid in holding the attention of dementia persons. This is a great tool for someone who has never assisted an individual with dementia, and it is also beneficial to the seasoned Activities Professional.

Brenda Bogart, A.D. Activities on a Shoestring
http://www.angelfire.com/in/shoestring, Crawfordsville, Indiana

 

Therapeutic activities are what we should all strive for when doing activities. I was very impressed with the involvement you created with the dementia population in this book. I am going to incorporate these ideas with the population I serve. God bless you for your caring and concern for others with such a tremendous need. I plan to share this information with caregivers.

Lisa Patton CSS Technician, Adult Life Programs
Hickory, North Carolina

 

Brenda I have had the pleasure of using Susan Berg’s book with residents having various stages of Alzheimer’s disease in both large and small group settings. This book is full of great ideas for discussion and reminiscing groups. I recommend this book to Activity professionals, caregivers and family members, alike.

Patrick, Dementia Unit Activity Coordinator
Beverly, Massachusetts

 

The book was very insightful. I especially enjoyed the pictures that the staff and family can use. They will help me communicate with the memory challenged and provide a personal touch while I am doing it. The ideas were also very helpful because they can involve people with all stages of dementia and can easily be adapted for verbal and nonverbal individuals. I give the book two thumbs up.

Vernessa LuShaun Burgess, CNA
Delray Beach, Florida

 

Susan Berg’s book is filled with heart-warming pictures of endearingly adorable babies that will leave any person feeling pleased and enchanted. The pictures reflect on many daily routines accompanied by discussion ideas that may help guide you through a therapeutic conversation with a person(s) affected by dementia. The book can be used as a tool in providing mentally stimulating one-to-one and/or group discussions.

Andrea Wolfram, Recreation Facilitator
Winnepeg, Manitoba

Behind the Mask

 

Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask

I received another complimentary book on dementia yesterday. This one is from Helene Moore called

 “Behind the Mask.” Her blog can also be found at her blog. I told her that I’m becoming a book reviewer on dementia. Smile, smile. I’m finishing up Graboys’ book and am ready to start Louise Morse’s book, “Could it be Dementia.”

Helene also has an Adopt A Caregiver program as well. She says:

The most important things in my life are my family and friends; my passion for writing, reading and knitting; and my self respect.

My book, Behind the Mask, shows the complete range of emotions a new caregiver goes through each day.

Alzheimer’s disease is not contagious, yet the caregivers are usually left alone without the support of friends and neighbors, even family. This disease can last for many years, leaving the caregiver worn out and alone.

Adopt A Caregiver is my unique way of giving back. All you have to do is check your neighborhood, your social clubs, church, synagogue, your doctor’s office, the Alzheimer’s Caregiver’s message boards, and the Mayo Clinic message boards.

Just send an email or phone the person who needs a friend, listen and come back often to let him/her know you care and are thinking of them. Just being there to listen is a huge help.

Adopt a Caregiver. Give something back: Contribute to the well being of people who are so busy caring for others.

 

Thanks to Helene and Louise for all their hard work and continued dedication!

David

 

Do You Want to Be a Guest Blogger?

 Would You Like to Be a Guest Blogger?

 

I would like to add some guest posts to my blog. Even though this is a personal diary, I also believe in teaching and educating others as you have already noticed. It is important to get fresh new voices and ideas. People love really useful information. I like the idea of having something posted on a daily basis, but I don’t want too much stress in order to do it.

It should be something original you have written and are holding the copyright for. The post must something you wrote uniquely for my blog. It will only be published on this blog and not on any other sites (that includes your blog). You will still hold the copyright for your post. Please avoid affiliate links in the blog. But consider adding a short biography of yourself at the end of your article. If you already have a blog or webpage, feel free to add links to one or two of your best posts at the end of your guest post.

It would be helpful to keep the post relevant to the topics of dementia and/or its prevention, brain training, knitting or crafts as it pertains to stimulating the brain, the elderly and elderly care.

I recommend that the post be somewhere between 250-1500 words. Of course, exceptions can be made.

I’ll add images when appropriate. But if you have already found a great image online that is ok to use copyright-wise then feel free to include that link in your email to me. 

I will reserve the right to edit your post in a way that I see fit before publishing. Or reject submissions that I feel aren’t appropriate for this website.

You can send your submissions or any questions you might have to knittingdoc@zoominternet.net.

Many thanks…

 

David

My to Do List on Reading Books — Alzheimer’s Disease, Lewy Body Dementia and Other Dementias

 

Today I am reading and reviewing books on Alzheimer’s disease, Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) and all other types of dementia.

"Life in the Balance"I’m currently reading “Life in the Balance” by Thomas Graboys, MD. Although it is not a thick book, I am having difficulty reading it. Not because I can’t concentrate on it. Maybe because of the emotions it is invoking in me. My feelings range between anger, pity, empathy, sorrow, sadness and respect. None of these really stand out. But they are there nonetheless. It is one of those books that I can only digest a few pages at a time and then I need to put it down. I will figure those feelings out though. I certainly has taken courage for Dr. Graboys to speak out so graphically and profoundly. Keep it up, Dr. Graboys!

Could it be Dementia?

Could it be Dementia?

What a pleasant surprise! I received a complimentary copy of the book “Could it be Dementia“? authored by Louise Morse and Roger Hitchings. I’ve only perused it briefly but it promises to be a practical yet powerful book which offers hope for those affected by dementia. The reviews look spectacular! This book insists that losing your mind doesn’t mean losing your soul. “Perhaps the greatest encouragement, for residents and carers alike, is seeing the Holy Spirit at work in His people,” say Louise and Roger. “In a worship meeting, someone who normally does not speak will unexpectedly pray the most cogent, appropriate prayer. In countless other ways the Holy Spirit is seen to be present with God’s precious ‘aged pilgrims’.” This book offers information and reassurance gleaned from the extensive experience of Pilgrim Homes, a foundation going back to 1807 that has helped and cared for thousands of elderly people.

Another sighting is from Helene Moore who wrote “Behind the Mask.” It is just another of many books which I’ve come across online which seem invaluable for readers. Now it’s a matter of finding the time to read them all!

Behind the Mask

Behind the Mask

 

              Warmly,

              David

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