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 beautiful wife, two wonderful daughters, positions on both the faculty of Harvard Medical School and the staff of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and a thriving private practice.
Today, Grayboys is battling a particularly aggressive form of Parkinson’s disease and progressive dementia, and can no longer see patients or give rounds. He is stooped, and shuffles when he walks, the gait of a man much older than his 63 years. Despite the physical, mental and emotional toll he battles daily, Graboys continues his life-long mission of caring for the world one human being at a time by telling his story so that others may find comfort, inspiration, or validation in their own struggles.
This is an unflinching memoir of a devastating illness as only a consummate physician could write it. One can’t help but imagine what Dr. Graboys, the healer, would say to Tom Graboys, the patient a face-to-face scene imagined in this inspiring book. In his joint roles, Thomas Graboys finds a way to convey hope, optimism and an appreciation of what it means to be truly alive.
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Thomas Graboys, M.D. is a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, President Emeritus of the Lown Cardiovascular Research Foundation in Brookline, Massachusetts, and Senior Physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In 1985, Dr. Graboys was part of the team of doctors who won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work with the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War. Parkinson’s disease and dementia forced his premature retirement from active clinical practice in 2006.
Peter Zheutlin is a freelance journalist whose work has appeared in the Boston Globe, the Christian Science Monitor, The New York Times, AARP Magazine, and dozens of other newspapers and magazines in the United States and abroad.
At the top of his professional game at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and on the Harvard Medical School faculty but at a personal nadir after the death of his wife, cardiologist Graboys began presenting physical and mental signs he at first wrote off as after-effects of prolonged stress and exhaustion. Despite his best efforts to control the situation, first through denial, then by reducing his private-practice patient load, the symptoms doggedly progressed. In the meantime, he remarried. But when he passed out on the wedding day, he knew his problems were more serious than he wanted to admit. Before long, he was diagnosed with the double whammy of Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia, an associated degenerative disease. In this stirring and chilling memoir, he takes an unblinking look at himself as his mind and body suffer unrelenting hits from those progressive illnesses. An unforgettable doctor-as-patient account, including reflections by Graboys’ daughters, sons-in-law, and members of the families blended by his marriage. --Donna Chavez
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