Sunday, 7 February 2016

Deep In the Brain by Helmut Dubiel.

A book about Parkinson's Disease which features only the cause and effects of this dreadful condition, talking as it must about the progressive neurodegenerative disorder that develops over many years, leading to impairments of movement and deficits in mental functioning, would, you might think, prove to be a dry tome. The other danger is that the author could so easily fall into a slump of despair making his relating to the disease that has beset him full of self-pity.

Helmut Dubiel recounts the details in as factual and unsentimental way as possible. He never allows his fears or phobias to enter the story he tells but relates the facts of how the disease has affected his life in as straightforward and systematic manner as possible. This gives the impression of a man removed from himself. A man telling events in a logical and scientific way without the luxury of sentiment.

This methodical approach would still leave this memoir-heavy going were it not for the magnificence of the text. His writing is refined, graceful, stylish and distinguished. It is this, his way with words, that lifts the book beyond the realms of just another account of someone's illness.

The fact is that science doesn't know what or why brings on PD. It is often thought to be a disease of the elderly. There is a good reason for this thought process namely the manner in which PD acts. It displays  a stiffening of muscles, a slowness, and rigidity of movement along with a slight tremor. There is no precision with the disease's onset. It is often mistakenly dismissed  as back pain or even depression for many years. What we do know is that the tissue that creates dopamine - an organic chemical which acts as a neurotransmitter that sends signals to other nerve cells - dies at a faster rate than that of the aging process.

Helmut Dubiel was born 30th June !946 and died on 3rd November 2015. Just a few months ago. His death, oddly, was not a result of his Parkinson's but that of an unspecified accident. He was 69.

if you enjoy a book that not only gives you writing skills that draw you on to read more and the more you read the more you want to read. Not is it merely a story of a man suffering from a horrible disease. By showing us his disease he also shows us the randomness of life, of living. The callous disregard some people show; the brutality with which some people react to seeing another human behaving out of the norm.; butt mostly it shows us, no matter how strong, how tough we think we are, how fragile our existence is.

The book was first published in 2009. Well worth a read.
Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

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