Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Book Review: 'Parkinson’s? You Must be Joking!' by Alona Golan Sadan

Parkinson’s? You Must be Joking! by Alona Golan Sadan
‘On rose-colored glasses and coping with an optimistic view’

Israeli author Alona Golan Sadan has been a journalist and a tour guide, and with her favored interest in culture and art her articles dealt primarily with interviews with artists, theater people, painters, and musicians. She has been an editor of an Israeli newspaper and has managed a cable television production department. Alona has Parkinson’s and her great sense of reality and humor has urged her to write and speak on Parkinson’s to those afflicted and to their families. That is the core of this book.

The flavor of Alona’s approach to he affliction is evident in her opening remarks – ‘Even if I manage to make this story a little bit amusing, anyone who’s been diagnosed with this nasty disease can confirm – it wasn’t amusing at first. It also wasn’t very funny later on, and I have no idea what the end will look like. But, hey! Wait a minute. Do completely healthy people have any idea either? So I’m allowing myself to let loose a bit, because it never hurts to make fun of myself or what’s happening around me. On the contrary, when I laugh it doesn’t hurt. After years of suffering from this and that, I finally reached a specialist who gave it a name. Parkinson’s Disease. Somehow, I managed to keep my cool, head held high, straight back. I nodded my head, like the intelligent woman that I believe I am, as if calmly accepting (bizarre, now that I think of it) the verdict. I strode out of the doctor’s office with a smile. Even if it was a half-smile, and a little crooked, it was there… It might have been more of a slight lip twitch than a smile… and if I remember correctly I even managed to say thank you, like my mother taught me. It took exactly five steps, from the doctor’s office to the restroom, for my bold bravery and mild-mannered façade to disappear. I lost it, and burst into tears. I cried for about three days (no, no longer in the restroom), the most horrible images of what I’ve seen and heard of this disease running through my head. My spouse, Amatzia, was there for me, quiet and supportive, and I knew that in his mind’s eye he was seeing the same visuals that I was; he too was imagining our (not so bright) future. It wasn’t easy for him, either. And then the penny dropped. It hit home. I have Parkinson’s. It won’t go away. I have to learn to cope with the disease, live with it and what it brings into my life, as best as possible. Not let it defeat me.’

And so we’re off on the spectrum of Parkinson’s Disease, both as Alona lives and copes with it, with humor, and with excellent resources from the experts about the science and the treatment options and the future for Parkinson’s patients. This book is more than just an entertaining/education tome: it is a paean to strength of character and living a fine life in the face of an ogre of a disease. Peppered with excellent illustrations, this book is by one terrifically fine writer. Food for the soul and the funny bone. Brava!

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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