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Book Review: Dealing and Healing with Parkinson's Disease and Other Health Conditions

Monday March 13, 2017

Dealing and Healing with Parkinson's Disease and Other Health Conditions: A Workbook for Body, Mind and Spirit by Angela and Karl Robb

Long noted and well-respected voices in the Parkinson’s community, Karl and Angela Robb have applied their many years of knowledge and insight into creating a companion workbook for Karl’s successful A Soft Voice in a Noisy World. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s at age 23, Karl’s entire adult life has been lived as an experiment in how to live a fulfilling life in spite of, or actually, because of, his relationship with Parkinson’s.

Rather than pretending his disease wasn’t the most important defining factor in how he could deal with challenges of daily living, Karl looked PD in the eye and said “I Win!" John Donne asserted: “Death be not proud, though some have called thee mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so.” With his book and this workbook Karl and Angela have made great strides in removing the mighty and dreadful from Parkinson’s.

Karl And NanLeft to right: Steve Wright, Karl Robb, Nan Little, Doug Little and Angela Robb

Although it is tempting to say “with the support of his wife, Angela” the real truth is that these two are joined at the hip, completely in sync with each other and completely dedicated to the health and well being of people with Parkinson’s and other health issues. That’s their self-appointed job, one they approach with experience and clarity.

Without getting tangled in ancillary issues, Angela and Karl clearly define their goals in writing this workbook:

  • By expanding the mind and renewing the spirit to add to the action resource toolkit for newly diagnosed patients and support group leaders,
  • To give common sense tools in the form of exercises for addressing typical issues faced by people with Parkinson’s, and other health issues,
  • To provide discussion questions geared to encouraging patients to open up candidly in a safe environment. 

This workbook covers three obvious aspects of disease, neurodegenerative or other: physical, mental and spiritual. In page after page, worksheet after worksheet, they emphasize the importance of exercise as a means of slowing the progress of disease and maximizing patient mental health. In their lives, Karl and Angela experience how the power of the mind helps the body confront physical challenges. Patients are encouraged to seek alternative treatments for their diseases with special emphasis placed on Reiki, a form of touch therapy. Both Angela and Karl are Reiki masters who practice Reiki and teach others Reiki techniques that bring together mind/body/spirit in mindful approaches to living with disease. Woven throughout each chapter, exercise, holistic wellness and alternative therapies provide the warp, weft and pattern of their approach to living creatively with, rather than doing battle with, Parkinson’s.

When I first looked at Dealing and Healing, I thought of fourth grade school workbooks: big pages, huge lettering, lots of space for filling in the blanks. The information kept folding over on itself, i.e., introduced in one chapter, repeated in a little different context, perhaps with slightly different wording in another, again and yet again. The 59 chapters in 135 pages of text (plus appendices) each have from 1 to 4 pages. Nearly all pages have ample room for writing, even for people who are losing their ability to hold a pen or pencil. Photocopying worksheets for support group and individual use is encouraged, enabling all members of a support group to have their own worksheet for privacy or sharing. 

I wish they had taken a step further.

Chapters 5 and 57 are typical examples in which doors are opened and the patient is left at the entrance.

 Chapter 5: Is Your Current Doctor Satisfactory? 

Good questions encourage the patient to examine if the doctor is good, but then what?  Legions of people have access to only one doctor.   It would be helpful to offer strategies for how to approach a less than satisfactory doctor.

Chapter 57: What Does a “Cure” Mean?

Use the questions below to discuss what a “cure” means to you.

Hope is powerful and with action, you get results.

What does a cure mean to you?

                        Stopping your illness.

                        Reversing the effects of your illness.

Until a cure is found, what can you do for yourself?

The book asks hard questions, but falls short of grappling with answers.

Karl and Angela took a risk by making their workbook so elementary looking.  They are rightfully counting on their reputations and experience to carry people beyond skepticism to recognize the value of the workbook in their own lives and in the lives of people with whom they work. 

Dealing and Healing is best suited for the newly diagnosed and/or for people floundering with their diagnosis.  Questions are posed without in depth explorations of possible answers.  One is left grasping for more.  Those who have been living with the disease for years have most likely come to grips with the questions posed and have found answers that work for them.  Despite its limitations, Dealing and Healing will be a good place to start for many people living with debilitating diseases.

Purchase a copy online.

Or make your own photocopies with NWPF's copy by calling 877.980.7500

Nan Little, Ph.D.
Guest Writer

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