Wednesday, April 20, 2016

A Slice of brie book club

 
This month, Brie chose the book Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova. I've read a couple of her other books (Still Alice, Left Neglected and Love Anthony) and enjoyed them all, so I knew I would probably like this book.  

First, here is the description of the book from Goodreads:

Joe O’Brien is a forty-four-year-old police officer from the Irish Catholic neighborhood of Charlestown, Massachusetts. A devoted husband, proud father of four children in their twenties, and respected officer, Joe begins experiencing bouts of disorganized thinking, uncharacteristic temper outbursts, and strange, involuntary movements. He initially attributes these episodes to the stress of his job, but as these symptoms worsen, he agrees to see a neurologist and is handed a diagnosis that will change his and his family’s lives forever: Huntington’s Disease.

Huntington’s is a lethal neurodegenerative disease with no treatment and no cure. Each of Joe’s four children has a 50 percent chance of inheriting their father’s disease, and a simple blood test can reveal their genetic fate. While watching her potential future in her father’s escalating symptoms, twenty-one-year-old daughter Katie struggles with the questions this test imposes on her young adult life. Does she want to know? What if she’s gene positive? Can she live with the constant anxiety of not knowing?

As Joe’s symptoms worsen and he’s eventually stripped of his badge and more, Joe struggles to maintain hope and a sense of purpose, while Katie and her siblings must find the courage to either live a life “at risk” or learn their fate.

This book deals with a very heavy and tough topic, and had me stopping to think about what I would do if I were in their shoes many times. I've had this discussion with friends before- would you want to find out if you were going to get a fatal or life threatening disease? I'm still not 100% sure that I would want to know. The thing that would make me change my mind is if I hadn't had kids yet especially with a disease like Huntington's. It's one thing knowing that my life was going to be cut short, but to possibly pass that onto my innocent children is so tough. 

The more that I think about whether or not I would want to find out, the more I am so undecided. On one hand it would be nice to know so that I could live my life to the fullest before the symptoms started. On the other hand, I feel like I would take it super hard and would struggle with knowing that my life was going to be cut short. 

This book hit close to home for me because both my dad's mom and Mr.D's mom had dementia/Alzheimer's  and ended up passing away from it. I don't think that I've ever talked about it, but my dad has been showing symptoms of dementia for a couple of years now. He has his good days and bad days, but I know it's only going to get worse over time for him. It makes it even tougher knowing that I am not around all of the time and he hasn't been able to get to know Amelia that much. It's also hard knowing that my visits home will eventually be to a care home to see him and that when I walk into the room he may not know me. Do I want to know if I know will suffer from dementia and Alzheimer's? At this point in my life, I don't think that I do. 
  
Looking forward to your next book pick Brie!

3 comments :

  1. I'm sorry it hit home for you, I remember you telling me that. It's really sad. They are such awful diseases. I can't imagine seeing a family member suffer from them. I too found the book heavy and hard to read at times. SO many decisions. I think I would worry my life away if I didn't find out!

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  2. Oh Leigh, I had no idea about your grandfather's and your own dad. I'm so sorry to hear that I can't imagine how sad and scary that is for you. That's my worst fear for my own parent's too. I like to think I'd find out if I was carrying the gene...although I don't think anyone truly knows how they will respond until they are put in the situation, but I think I'd drive myself crazy with not knowing.

    Thanks so much for being part of book club and linking up! See you next month! ;)

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  3. Still Alice was such a tough read for me since Phil's dad was had Alzheimer's. He was actually moved into a memory care center when I was reading the book. Phil and I have talked about it and he said he would not want to find out. Especially since with Alzheimer's it's my understanding that it's not a definite diagnosis if you have the gene, whereas with Huntington's, if you have the gene, you will get it. We read this for book club in January, and one of our book club members is a genetic counselor so we had really interesting discussions about it. She talked about how if you have Huntington's, you can test embryos to determine if they have the gene and then implant the ones that don't have the gene. But that's an ethically sensitive practice as some don't agree with things like that. But it was interesting to talk about what your options are.

    Lastly, I'm sorry to hear that your dad is showing signs of Alzheimer's. It is such a heart breaking disease. :(

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