Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Irishmen Don't Cry- A Medical and Emotional Journey with ALS by Richard P. Flynn

Richard P. Flynn shares his experience with the insidious terminal disease ALS,  known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," in his newly published memoir, Irishmen Don't Cry- A Medical and Emotional Journey with ALS. Before the "Ice Bucket Challenge", which became wide spread through social media and television- not many people knew about progressive terminal disease which in the course of a few years transforms healthy individuals to become immobile and dependent on respirators. If you know what ALS is whether as a healthcare professional or someone personally touched by the disease, then you will know that ALS is perhaps the worst diagnosis one can receive. "My whole body is becoming gaunt and deformed. My arms... just skin and bones...toes curling under....My voice has very little left. " (excerpt page 100) It is a disease which affects the body but not the mind, so that the victim is painfully aware of all the awaits, from progressive loss of muscle control of the hands, feet, legs and body, and eventually swallowing and breathing. And in Flynn's own words- "It has been quite a journey to get to this god- awful point". Flynn's timely book is one of the countless voices of ALS, that needs to be heard.

This honest book depicts the raw, and un-unedited emotion of a man stricken with ALS, facing the terminal prognosis of a horrible, unrelenting disease which has no cure nor treatment. His book reads like a personal journal, written chronologically and with each entry dated. This book may not be a literary masterpiece but it is inspirational.  His writing is not stylish, but realistic and simple- which makes this account all the more poignant and real.  The reader gets a glimpse into a real man with a wife, and interests and how he faces his progressive disease.  Ironically, in the face of ALS, he maintains a positive attitude of strength and courage despite facing debilitation and death. In otherwords, with tenacity, he maintains that "Irishmen Don't Cry", as he exhorts the reader to never give up. He also proclaims proudly, "I will continue with the same endless faith and hope I started with. I have met adversity and challenged it". (page 101) In fact, Flynn later goes on to say that "To die slowly is a gift. It allows one to reexamine everything overtime, including the good and the bad'" (page 106).

At the end of the book- his account of ALS ends on page 110, seven years into his ALS diagnosis, Richard Flynn is alive- mind still intact as he maintains his awareness that every day brings him closer to his death. The memoir ends, but he is still alive.  That leaves me as the reader wanting to know more about his journey.  I would urge Flynn to maintain a blog in the style and format of his book, but continue the entries for readers to follow. This book would be a good account for a nursing student to read, or for anyone who has a loved one facing an ALS prognosis.  As a blogger I received a copy of this book published by Outskirts press, for the purpose of writing this review.

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