Paralysis: Beating the Odds by Addison D’marko - Reviewed by Paul Strickland

Paralysis: Beating the Odds by Addison D’marko - Reviewed by Paul Strickland

 

Paralysis, written by Addison D’marko. He is a member of the Prince George Public Library Writers’ Lab as is Paul Strickland. The 154 page paperback book was independently published and is available on Amazon for $12.99 plus shipping. You may also visit his blog and request a signed copy, the cost of which is $20. Go to: https://addisonblake.co/2018/04/19/re-book-launch

 

During the launch of his first book at the Prince George Public Library, April 18 2018, Addison D'marko, 20, described his three-year medical journey back to a nearly normal walking gait and good health. The journey started after a mistake during an operation to deal with repeated epileptic seizures triggered a stroke that left his whole left side paralyzed.

 

He was 16 at the time, and according to the cover blurb on the back, he was a she. When I checked with D’marko, he said, “it was my mood to use “she” at the time the book was printed but was back to using “he” again.”

 

Right after the operation, doctors offered apologies, and predicted D’marko wouldn't walk again, but he was not resentful: "At least they ended the seizures." He had experienced as many as 23 seizures a day before opting for the surgery.

 

He went to work right away with physiotherapists and occupational therapists to regain control sufficient to at least walk across a hospital room, and then further improve steadily from that stage.  He worked hard to defy the prognosis that he would never walk again. "I had a choice," he said. "I could either be a cabbage for the rest of my life, or take charge and recover."

 

An audience member asked what paralysis remains. "Everything works now," D'marko said. "I do some physical training on my own. Sometimes I check in with a physiotherapist."

 

Each chapter of the book details a month of recovery. The narrative is speedy and direct, detailing the specific steps D’marko takes in physio and in managing school up to graduation and then working (as a disabled person) at jobs in hairdressing and the fast food industry. The voice is that of a teenager: D’marko “chills with friends” and can be “stressed to the nines” etcetera.

 

D’marko’s character is directed, but not quite one-dimensional. His main characteristics are independence and determination. He listens to professional advice, but takes absolute control of his own recovery, monitoring his feelings and progress and adjusting his physio accordingly. Setbacks — falls, resulting in a couple of major concussions, and the excessive and sometimes awkward, sometimes insulting, attentions of schoolmates, teachers, roommates, friends and family — are recounted and dealt with, the focus being not on the setbacks but on how they are dealt with.

 

For example, when the Botox procedure fails to reduce spasticity D’marko takes the specialist’s advice to try marijuana edibles, despite his general prejudice against the drug. It works: better sleep, more coordination especially with writing and typing. Upping the dosage from a cookie or two a day doesn’t result in any gains and causes migraines, so the dosage goes back to low.

 

While directed, D’marko is comically aware that he is directed. This dimension of his character is subtle, but reveals a healthy ability to take a serious problem with some humour: “Maybe I could tire myself out and become a little less cheerful.” This particular experiment fails, and D’marko remains, as he puts it, “obnoxiously enthusiastic.”

 

Other examples of humour: after his second fall, he starts to “wonder if getting concussions was my new talent.” He likes to personify the parts of his body that he is working at rejuvenating. One finger, that is particularly unpredictable, learns to act “civilly.” Finally it discovers that it “likes to type.”

 

Twenty people attended the event in the library's Keith Gordon Room.


Author Bio:

Paul, in his 28 years as a full-time journalist and 6.5 years as a free lance journalist, Paul has worked for newspapers in Nevada, Medicine Hat and Prince George. Besides being an investigative reporter, he is a poet, a short story writer and an essayist. He presently resides in Prince George and haunts all the literary scenes that appear in town.