I think this is one of the more thought provoking books I've read for a while as it covers several controversial subjects and Chris gives his very personal insight into each of those subjects.
- Chris Graham
But before get on to those, what's this book about. Simply it's about a personal and a physical journey. The physical journey part is actually fairly simple, ex-squaddie takes on mammoth physical challenge, cycling across Canada, down West coast America, across Southern America and then up east Coast back to Canada. That bit is relatively easy. There are a host of anecdotes from the trip, mostly as one would expect from a ex-squaddie, very humorous.
'I'm 39 and have Alzheimer's disease' - BBC News
It is however the personal journey where this book really hits the spot. Now in my day job, I deal with dementia patients every day but the vast majority of them are elderly, they've lived their life. Chris however has been diagnosed with a rare form of very early onset dementia which has hit him before he is even 40. His father died of it and his elder brother is severely disabled by it in a care home.
His courage in facing his diagnosis is apparent as is the support he receives from his partner Vicky.
Now to the controversial elements of the book. To me he raises at least three very valid issues.
Firstly, the difference in how the MOD treat those who have a developmental condition that only becomes apparent during their service as opposed to those who are injured whilst serving. During his time at Headley Court being assessed, he could see servicemen being redeployed whilst he felt fit and well, he had been earmarked for promotion but instead received a medical discharge without that promotion and just before his 22, both of which had a significant impact on his pension. And yet in the year subsequent to his discharge he embarked on his successful cycling trip.
Next, the issue of when exactly children can or should be tested for inherited conditions. At the time of his diagnosis he already had 2 children and Vicky was then expecting his third child. The chances of inheriting his condition is a straight 50/50. His sisters are lucky not to have it but the issue Chris raises is around when to test children, especially unborn ones.
Lastly, Chris raises the topic of euthanasia, this would not be so simple in his case as he would be incapacitated and thus would need assistance if the act was to be performed. His view point are well worth reading.
During his cycle ride, he received several well deserved awards for his fundraising efforts.
Alzheimer's at 39: Chris' story | Alzheimer's Research UK
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, there may well be folk on here who knew him during his service. I can only wish him well and urge folk to buy this book.
I'll give it a very rare 5 Mr. Mushroomheads for its humour, its honesty and its ability to make you think about many things (even if it's just how lucky you are)