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Life in the Balance: A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia
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Life in the Balance: A Physician's Memoir of Life, Love, and Loss with Parkinson's Disease and Dementia

3.56  ·  Rating Details ·  152 Ratings  ·  36 Reviews
At the age of 49, Dr. Thomas Graboys had reached the pinnacle of his career and was leading a charmed life. A nationally renowned Boston cardiologist popular for his attention to the hearts and souls of his patients, Graboys was part of “The Cardiology Dream Team” summoned to treat Boston Celtics star Reggie Lewis after he collapsed on the court in 1993.  He had a beautifu ...more
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published April 1st 2008 by Union Square Press
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Sheryl
Jun 30, 2008 Sheryl rated it it was amazing
Two starts for the writing.
One more star for the courage and strength it took to write it
Two more stars for the poem at the very end, written by Tom Graboy's wife just before she died of cancer.

A moving account of a physician's decline into Parkinson's and Lewy Body Dementia. It was poignant to me because my father had Lewy Body and eventually died as a result of an overdose of an anti-psychotic drig, Olanzapine, that is sometimes used to calm down the demented elderly. Dr Graboys seemed to have
...more
Allison
Aug 14, 2008 Allison rated it did not like it
This. book. sucked. I couldn't even finished it. It was extremely dry and boring.
Tiffany Larson
Feb 07, 2011 Tiffany Larson rated it liked it
My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease about 3 years ago and its symptoms are progressing rapidly. The preface and first few chapters of this book gave me profound insight into the experience of a Parkinson's patient. I learned about specific symptoms I didn't know were part of the disease and I gained much insight into the mental distress the patient feels as the dimentia and disabilities progress. Since Parkinson's takes away the patient's ability to verbalize, family members are often ...more
Lisa
Nov 01, 2012 Lisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
I loved this honest story of what it's like to deal with dementia, told from the perspective of the person who is struggling with increasingly higher levels of dementia. For anyone who has a family member suffering from dementia, this book is eye-opening. Thanks so much to the author for sharing his story. He truly makes the struggles come alive, and helps explore family member reactions too.

The only thing that would make this story better is to spend less time talking about the author's persona
...more
K2 -----
Jun 12, 2010 K2 ----- rated it really liked it
After seeing a friend with Parkinson's a few weeks ago I sought out this book to gain more insight into the disease. Dr. Thomas Graboys was a highly trained cardiologist whose wife had just died from cancer when began showing signs of PD. His candid book is a memoir about his disease, his family, his inner dialog as he was in denial about his disease, and his angst about going forward. It gave me many insights in the disease and made me go back to hear his interview on WBUR's show On Point http: ...more
Doug Ebeling
Interesting reading for anyone with a close family member suffering from this horrible disease. It got bogged down a bit in the middle with some rather personal career stuff and I wish it had been more tightly edited. The beginning description of the author's slow discovery and acceptance of his illness, and the concluding sections where his family members describe their own feelings of loss and coping were the most helpful and most moving.
Maija
May 13, 2008 Maija rated it really liked it
Cried through the whole thing. No happy ending, but an incredibly honest and painful account of the author's experience as a Parkinson's/dementia patient. I met the author almost 15 years ago...it's hard to imagine this is the same person. What a testament this story is to the strength inside this man, and potentially inside all of us.
Jari
Jul 26, 2008 Jari rated it really liked it
I loved this book, but then I work with those suffering from Dementia daily. I feel for them and their families it is so important to understand their lives. The author did not sugarcoat anything and was very brutally honest about his own denial and its impact on those around him personally and professionally.
Vicki
Jun 16, 2012 Vicki rated it really liked it
Very interesting book, especially for those of us who have people in our lives going through something similar. Inspirational in how to handle a chronic, progressive illness.
Judy
Feb 23, 2016 Judy rated it it was amazing
Another important book.

I learned from this one and Richard Taylor's Alzheimer's from the Inside Out that people with dementia (like people without it) are often unable to see clearly the extent of their problems, while those around can tell. I see it as a protective self-deception. I can certainly see it in my family member who has dementia.

Sadly, the hope in this book from the medications Dr. Graboys took, I found, eventually did not live up to the potential that at first they seemed to indicat
...more
Martina
Aug 26, 2014 Martina rated it it was amazing
This is one of the books I would most likely by-pass on my visit to the bookstores. Since none of my family members neither my friends suffer to this terrible disease I did not feel compelled to educate myself on this subject. However, I am forever in he debt to my lovely niece, Barborka, for presenting it to me as a Christmas gift.
My first thought was; do not put this book on your pile of "to read in the future", because you may never find a suitable time to read it. So I picked it up right aw
...more
Alan
Oct 10, 2009 Alan rated it really liked it
Dr. Thomas Graboys was a distinguished heart doctor who seemed to have it all. He had lost his first wife to cancer but was newly married to a wonderful, smart, sexy woman and he was at the top of his profession. Then he was struck by an aggressive form of Parkinson's Disease called Lewy body disease that not only attacked his body but also his mind.

I have a personal interest in this book. Someone I love deeply has been fighting Parkinson's for years, though thankfully not the same kind that st
...more
Laren
Sep 24, 2008 Laren rated it liked it
Shelves: memoirs, medical
Dr. Graboys was a happily married, renowned cardiologist who also won a Nobel Prize. Then his wife died of cancer, and he was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease AND Lewy Body Dementia shortly after remarrying, forcing his retirement from medicine.

This is a different sort of memoir in that it isn't really a linear biography of what happened when or why. Rather, the author chooses to take different aspects of his diseases and examine his personal experiences for the reader in each chapter. So in
...more
Gramma Lo
Apr 02, 2008 Gramma Lo rated it liked it
Recommends it for: individuals and families dealing with chronic, progressive illness
Recommended to Gramma Lo by: online support group
Shelves: memoirs, medicine
For individuals and families suffering from serious, chronic, progressive disease, this book offers empathy, some useful tips and information, and a bit of hope.

The author, a renowned Boston cardiologist once led a seemingly charmed life. But he has had to retire from medical practice because he has Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, a progressive, degenerative disease similar, in some respects, to Alzheimer's. With the help of a writing partner who put his often incoherent thoughts in
...more
Sara
Oct 31, 2011 Sara rated it liked it
The author, a renowned Boston cardiologist once led a seemingly charmed life. But he has had to retire from medical practice because he has Parkinson's disease and Lewy body dementia, a progressive, degenerative disease similar, in some respects, to Alzheimer's. With the help of a writing partner who put his often incoherent thoughts in readable order, Graboys recounts his experiences as the disease has taken hold of his mind, his body, and his life. The courage and determination this project mu ...more
Margaret
Dec 30, 2013 Margaret rated it it was ok
The account of how it feels to have a severe, debilitating, progressive disease, written while it is happening is insightful and enlightening. It is not an easy read because of the diagnosis of Parkinson's with dementia, but describes the symptoms and resulting problems in a very personal (as well as clinical) way. I am finding it we'll worth reading to help in understanding the emotional turmoil of chronic devastating disease, as well as the realities of ADL. But the book needed better editing ...more
Ella
Jun 15, 2015 Ella rated it liked it
As a reader who doesn't have any idea what Parkinson's and Dementia is, this book is kind-a helpful in showing us what kind of life do people with this have.
I didn't read the entire book because it seemed like all i can read was his "list of can't to do", "how miserable he is" and so on..... I can sense big egos in almost every page.
I was about to rate 1 or 2 but when I did try to check the last part of the book, it seemed good. At least I've read something motivational phrases coming from him
...more
Trisha Owens
Oct 05, 2015 Trisha Owens rated it really liked it
This was a difficult read for me, simply because I hadn't before read any such account of Parkinson's disease and the accompanying Lewy Body Disease, and appreciate that this Cardiac Physician reveals it here in this memoir. I pray that there is a cure for this debilitating disease in the near future so that no one has to suffer from it ever again. For those who are just curious, or those with someone they know that is suffering from Parkinson's this is a raw, yet beautiful account of a "life in ...more
Fawaz Ali
Aug 08, 2009 Fawaz Ali rated it liked it
Shelves: silver-list
Tom Graboys was one of Boston's renowned cardiologists. Few years ago he was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The book is a memoir of a doctor's struggle with a disease that has taken slowly his intellectual and cognitive abilities. What makes this book interesting is the fact that Dr Graboys, unlike ordinary patients, knows what is happening and what is going to happen to him.

Worth reading and will leave you wonder about the meaning of this life. It also stands as a reminder that you should
...more
Emily
Mar 28, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
Shelves: career-enhancing
This is an interesting book to learn the insight to Parkinsons, with lewy body dementia. Typical of someone with dementia, the book does get somewhat repetitive though I imagine it must have been somewhat therapeutic for him to write this book. That being said, it is helpful to a caregiver in that it might help them understand Parkinsons from the patients perspective. I found the chapter on what to do at the End Of Life to be helpful...too many people wait too long to have this discussion with f ...more
Emily
Apr 09, 2010 Emily rated it really liked it
Shelves: x2010-text
This book hit pretty close to home, seeing as my father, too, was a successful doctor whose wife died of cancer and whose career was cut short by Parkinson's Disease. Dr. Graboys came across as very honest, and because I don't feel like I know a lot about my dad's thoughts and feelings regarding his illness, that was refreshing. I'm giving him a copy, and I'll be very curious to see how he responds to it.
Diane Gurman
Nov 22, 2016 Diane Gurman rated it really liked it
I highly recommend this to anyone who has a close friend or family member with either Parkinson's Disease or any form of dementia (the author had both). Very moving and informative--and a much needed change from all the stories written from the point of view of the caregiver. Finally, the person stricken with the illness gets to have his say! (Although at the end he lets each family member present his or her perspective too.)
James Klagge
Nov 15, 2010 James Klagge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My father has had Parkinson's for several years and perhaps some aspects of dementia. The book puts into words many things my father does not express. I am glad I read it. My father read it at my suggestion (he hardly reads anything!) and said it presented some of his issues accurately and well. Fortunately he does not have Lewy Body disease.
Ruth
Aug 26, 2008 Ruth rated it did not like it
I'm a famous physician. Oh dear, I have Parkinson's and dementia. My patients all love me. Oh darn, I have Parkinson's and dementia. I am very handsome. Oh damn, I have Parkinson's and dementia. Everyone looks up to me. Oh shit, I have Parkinson's and dementia. I am a wonderful, wonderful, unusual person. How can this happen to me?
Erica
Oct 25, 2008 Erica rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs
For how tough the subject is, this is not that hard to read. The author has been dealt a terrible hand, Parkinsons along with a mounting related dementia. He describes it lucidly (with the help of a co-author/writer) and poignantly. The medical details are fascinating, as well as the doctor's journey through the medical maze.
Nick Klagge
Nov 16, 2010 Nick Klagge rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Like my dad, I read this because my grandpa has Parkinson's but has never been much of a talker so I've never heard about it from him. This was a quick and unsentimental read. I definitely know more about Parkinson's now than I used to, so hopefully that will help me be a better grandson.
Angela
Sep 07, 2008 Angela rated it really liked it
With a diagnosis of Parkinson's and dementia a cardiologist fights back the diseases to find meaning in his life when he can't work anymore. Exercise, socializing and family support keep him going. I liked him because he brings up cases from his past and family scenarios and reflects on them.
Laura
Apr 12, 2008 Laura rated it it was amazing
Memoir written by a top cardiologist who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and a form of dementia. He describes how the disease has affected his career, his marriage, his family and his daily life. What I learned from this book? Don't take anything for granted!
Beth
Oct 16, 2008 Beth rated it liked it
The author's ego got in the way of the account of the reality of living with Parkinsons. I wasn't sure whose voice was telling the story.
Linda
Jun 12, 2009 Linda rated it it was ok
It was a little interesting, but I would have liked more details and less about how upset he was to be sick. Sorry.
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