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Lessons Learned from Previous Publishing

Posted Sep 17 2010 6:23am

I’ve learned my lessons from my previous publishing efforts.

So, when my new book, “You Never Miss the Dopamine… (until the brain runs dry)” is released later today (or Monday, not sure yet), there’s one thing I want to make absolutely clear.  I don’t want you to learn a damn thing from it.

See, I think that’s part of the problem I ran into with “Deep Brain Diary” and “No Doorway Wide Enough.“  I was trying to be light, airy, humorous, sarcastic and satirical, but there was a MESSAGE in there.  There was a subtle attempt to TEACH folks… to raise AWARENESS about Parkinson’s disease.

We won’t have any of THAT in this new book.

And then, there’s the typical image of the “patient self story” where they either portray themselves as a “victim of circumstances” but, “my, how brave I am to persevere through all this sadness,” or on the other end they turn out to be religious tomes about how “holding on to the loving hand of Jesus, I know that He will cure me of this affliction,” and then there’s the snake oil books where they claim “I had Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s and the heartbreak of psoriasis but I was CURED by chewing on the root of the tanna leaf tree three times each day for 10 years!”

We won’t have any of THAT in this book! (We didn’t in the other books, either!)

Oh, and this new book?  Much shorter than “No Doorway” with its ponderous 470-pages, or even the book it was built on top of, “Deep Brain Diary” with its 249-pages.  No sir!  “Dopamine” runs about 156-pages and has pictures!

I’ve learned my lesson about trying to teach.  Besides, everyone KNOWS there’s only one guy in America with Parkinson’s disease, and that’s !  And he’s still presentable enough to drag himself in front of a TV camera.  So let HIM teach America about the 50,000 new diagnoses each year and the fact that 1.5 million Americans currently suffer from this progressive neurological disorder.  He’s a FAMOUS guy!  And he makes the viewers feel good about themselves when they say, “Awwww!  Lookit at how BRAVE he is to go on TV when he’s twitching and writhing around in his seat.  Famous guy like that could just hide away in his mansion and not have to WORRY about teaching anyone else or raising awareness or raising money to find a cure.  Hey!  Isn’t it time for ‘Big Brother’?”

MJF is the perfect spokesperson for PD.  But there’s only so much of him to go around.  And he clearly doesn’t have the stamina he had when he went public with his diagnosis in the late 1990s.

The doctor sat and listened as I described the events of the past several days. Then he shook his head. “I don’t think it’s Parkinson’s,” he said. “You’re too young for that.”

“You would think so,” I said. “But look at Michael J. Fox…”

“Who’s he?” the doctor asked.

“Alex P. Keaton on ‘’. ‘’…”

“Oh yeah,” he said, the light of recognition finally burning. “That guy. But that has to be a rare case. Did seeing that on the news make you think you had PD too?”

“I thought I was having a stroke,” I told him. “The neurologist at the hospital said he thought I had PD.”

“Nah, you’re too young,” he said. But he agreed – at my insistence – to refer me to a neurologist.

No Doorway Wide Enough p.19

And you don’t see OTHER folks with PD on TV because… well… nobody wants to SEE them.  Even though the disease is beginning to affect folks in their late 30s and 40s, most folks still have this picture in their mind of an old man, sitting in a wheelchair, his chin on his chest, his shirt wet with drool, a look on his face of total disinterest and lack of emotion, the only movement his right arm and leg which just won’t stop shaking.  A normal person’s reaction?  “Why would I want to spend money on HIM?  He’s gonna die soon ANYWAY!  And he’s OLD!  And DROOLING!  Eeeeew!  Hey!  Isn’t it time for ?”

I said that’s the image most folks have, not that it’s an accurate image.

So there will be no teaching in my new book.  Just funny stories about how I react to my disease, and how my disease reacts to me.  For example.

When Gail and I went to Best Buy last night to get the second of the two computer modems we ended up having to buy (we had to return the first one), she parked the car in a handi-crippable space, I hung up the placard, opened the car door, and started walking away.  In the wrong direction.  Towards the back of the car.  Then I heard a voice.

“Bill?  Where are you going?”

I turned around.  It was Gail.  She was on the sidewalk.  The sidewalk that leads to the Best Buy front door.

Fact of the matter is, I had NO IDEA where I was heading!  I was just walking.  Seemed like the thing to do.

I smiled sheepishly and hobbled over to where she was.

She shook her head.  “IT BEGINS!” she said, laughing.

“It began a long time ago,” I replied, also laughing.

“Yeah, but it’s beginning BAD now,” she replied.

You Never Miss the Dopamine… (until the brain runs dry) p.19

And this.

You know me.  I am NOTHING if not a person who believes in bridging gaps, reaching out, trying to find common ground and bringing people together.  That’s why I was so THRILLED when checking my blog stats earlier today to see that I have a BLOG READER in WASILLA, ALASKA!

I could do a thorough search of and all that, see how often this person dropped in, or if it was just a one-time thing and that person shrieked in horror and quickly changed screens… but I choose to take a positive tack here.

So this message is directed to my Wasilla Reader.

Please.  Contact me. Use the “Contact Me” link at the top of the page.  You don’t have to ID yourself if you think it will compromise you.  Just give me some inkling of what you do and whether or not you are connected in any way with the Palins or the Johnstons or any of the other stuff that has emanated from your little community.

YOU COULD BE MY SPECIAL WASILLA CORRESPONDENT!

You Never Miss the Dopamine… (until the brain runs dry) pp.45-46

And even this.

And it’s as ENTERTAINING as HELL!

When I open my mouth, I never know WHAT the hell kinda babble is gonna roll out.  Or whether or not I’m gonna get stuck on a syllable.  Or freeze up and not be able to say anything.  Fun, Fun, Fun!  Especially for someone who was a professional broadcaster for 30+ years.

It’s the “keeping people guessing” about what you’re thinking.  Your face stays the same a blank, almost grumpy Parkinson’s mask.  You could be thinking about Christmas and ice cream and soft, fuzzy puppies and carnivals, but your face looks like you don’t have a thought in your formerly pretty little head.  Neat!

But the really, most wonderful, most magnificently NEAT thing about having Parkinson’s disease…

…is the support I get from my family, friends and co-workers.  From my mom to my wife, to my brother, to one of my sisters.  Everyone is on the lookout for my well-being.  Even a goodly number of my Facebook friends.  I have cheerleaders!  My neurologist is fantastic.  I don’t feel like just a customer to him.  My wife would throw herself beneath me to give me something soft to land on if I started to fall.  My Mom writes letters to urge me to keep my spirits up.  My sister Becki finds ways to tease and goad me into a good mood.  My little brother Joe… same thing.

And I like the way it’s freed up my creativity to write, to dream, to think.

You Never Miss the Dopamine… (until the brain runs dry) p.82

And then, there’s the whole “raising money to fight Parkinson’s” thing I was trying to do.  I mean, if you don’t CARE about Parkinson’s disease (other than to get sad when you see MJF or the Champ), why in the world would you BUY a BOOK just because the author has agreed to donate 100 percent of his share of the proceeds to the National Parkinson Foundation and the Charles DBS Research Fund at Vanderbilt University Medical Center?  I guess to some, it sounds like I’m trying to guilt folks into buying a book cuz some of the money might go to help someone.  So none of THAT for THIS book.

(I’m still gonna donate the money, I’m just not going to advertise that fact.)

So, when You Never Miss the Dopamine… (until the brain runs dry) becomes commercially available… either later today or Monday… not sure which… you can buy it for all the RIGHT reasons!

NOT because I’m trying to force you to LEARN something.

NOT because I’m trying to GUILT you into becoming aware about a disease that afflicts 50,000 new Americans every year, and they’re getting younger and younger.

NOT because I believe that Parkinson’s disease NEEDS and DESERVES the same kind of full-tilt, balls-to-the-wall education and awareness-raising efforts that have done so much good for other diseases like breast cancer, heart disease, diabetes and muscular dystrophy…

NOT because sale of the book will benefit two very worthwhile PD charities…

I want you to buy it because it’s a good, funny (and short) book about how a regular guy deals with adversity.

Any benefit that arises from that?  We’ll just call it incidental.

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