Early in 1988, Leif Ögård was told by his neurologist that he had Parkinson’s disease. Worse still, the prognosis wrongly predicted that his mobility was going to deteriorate so quickly that he would be confined to a wheelchair within five years.
Unsurprisingly, “this dreadful mistake by the doctor nearly finished me off,” writes Leif. However, once he began to struggle out of the dismal slough he had fallen into after receiving the diagnosis, he began to see that most of the disease’s obstacles – and possibilities – lay between his “two ears”.
Using illustrations, he communicates complex information about Parkinson’s to those around him about how it is to live with the chronic neurological condition for nearly 20 years.
I have Parkinson’s, but Parkinson’s does not have me! reveals how in the beginning he concealed from everyone – except for his wife and doctor – that he had Parkinson’s.
He writes how he believed he was protecting his family, not realising that they eventually took his secrecy as a kind of betrayal as they had not been given the chance to help, support and encourage.
He chronicles his remarkable story of how he overcame the fears and hardship to live
a meaningful and productive life, utilising his experience and perseverance over the years to handle his life’s difficulties.
Professor Olle Lindvall, Department of Clinical Neuroscience, University of Lund, Sweden, states in the foreword: “What makes me enthusiastic about Leif Ögård’s book is that, from both his personal experience as a patient and his professional knowledge, it gives guidance in ‘overcoming’ the disease.”
I read the book but I didn’t read it well enough, so I read it again and again. This ‘little’ book is actually huge!
Leif Ogard starts our journey with him by taking us back some 20 years to his day of diagnosis. He was given confirmation that he had Parkinson’s disease, along with the prognosis that he would deteriorate rapidly and should expect to be “confined to a wheelchair” within five years.
At the time Leif was in his mid-forties, he had a successful life with his wife and teenage daughters. He also had what he refers to as “a powerful dose of trust in authority” and that included “the medicine man in the white coat”.
He explains how it was therefore natural to expect the prescribed wheelchair, and how his brain – unconsciously primed with the mental image supplied by his specialist – unquestioningly steered in the direction of the ‘goal-picture’; and into despair and deterioration just as his specialist had told him to.
Fortunately for Leif (and his readers!) he read a scientific report by researchers of Parkinson’s patients that challenged this thinking. It presented proven evidence that a person’s attitude and mind-set could positively influence their medical and life situations.
From this turning point, Leif recounts his journey in a new direction away from conventional thinking. It becomes a journey of recovery and struggle against the ever-present ‘Mr Parkinson’; a journey of self-discovery and personal development; a journey of success.
Leif gives us a frank and open look in to his life with Parkinson’s; the good, the bad and the worst. Most importantly he discuses his amazing turn-around, how he achieved it and how you can use these same skills to change your outlook as well.
With enthusiastic conviction borne of his own experience of victory-over-struggle, he encourages and teaches the reader to take a closer look at the power of the mind; how to think wellness; how to regain (or start taking) control and responsibility for one’s health and one’s life. Perhaps I could best say it like this: how to get off autopilot. How to grab back the steering wheel and the gear stick of your own car, draw a map of where you want to go, and drive in the direction of your goal.
This ‘little’ book is full of inspirations, advice, and the personal experiences of the author from mistakes to mastery. Every chapter is concluded with a summary entitled ‘Advice for a better life’, giving a guidance-style check-list to help the personal development trainee (i.e. you the reader), put in to practice the life-altering concepts and reinforce the learning in that chapter.
We are also given ‘Basic Information’ on Parkinson’s, an interesting factual section with some positive surprises that left me thinking ’Wow! I never thought of it that way before!’. Medications are discussed, their effects, side effects, and dietary effects. And as I’ve come to expect from this ‘little’ book, no subject is alluded to then left unexplained – so there’s a detailed example of Leif’s average day: food, medications, activities etc.
Whether you’re new to the concept of the power of the mind, and the power of thought, or you’re familiar with its endless possibilities – this ‘little’ book could challenge your current thinking, and might even change your life.
Reviewed by Fran Allcock a Parkinson’s NZ member in March 2009
This book is cramed with self-analysis and any numebr of theories as the author makes his journey from crisis to personal development. No one can deny that the author takes an energetic and positive approach to dealing with Parkinson´s and I´m sure that many Parkinsons´s disease sufferers will take heart when they read his positive message. Indeed, sometimes he really hits the spot, such as when he says that there is nothing wrong with him, he´s just short of dopamine.
As I moved on throught the pages, I found myself wishing that I could hear more of the human story behind the ”preach and teach”.
I felt that I needed to hear more about his shared journey that we are all going through so that I could identify myself more with the author as this may have enabled me to better appreciate some of the ideas he talks about later on.
Until recently, I had taken the ostrich approach and avoided books about parkinsons´s. This is probably due to a combination of cowardice and self-preservation.
I have found that since I read this book, I have started to actually seek out other books about parkinson´s to read. Writing this review encouraged me to abandon the ostrich approach to my illness so thank you PDS and thank you Leif!
Andi Robertson, PDS Member