An engaging memoir from a man who has lived 26 years with cerebral palsy.
Maloney was born dead after a complicated delivery. He started breathing 26 minutes later, just as doctors were about to give up their resuscitation efforts. After 18 months, he was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and given 16 years to live. His memoir describes his first 26 years of life through a series of historical vignettes, anecdotes, tributes to friends and family and diatribes against a series of apparently incompetent health-care professionals in and around his home of Peterborough, England. He writes frankly about his condition and how it has affected virtually every aspect of his life: his early school years, his friendships and encounters with bullies and other ignorant people, his sex life. He emerges as a likable, funny, angry, happy, mature, successful young man who just happens to have mild cerebral palsy. And a seizure disorder resulting from a bout of whooping cough. And renal vasculitis resulting from sheer bad luck. Maloney never descends into self-pity, preferring instead to highlight the “benefits” of his brand of cerebral palsy (his shaky fingers enhance the pleasure of his lady friends, and police sympathy for his “disability” has saved him from at least one speeding ticket). He saves his anger for those who stereotype people with cerebral palsy as drooling, spastic wheelchair-riders who lack intrinsic value. He relates his almost accidental lawsuit against the National Health Service that eventually brought him a 1 million pound settlement that enables him to live on his own. Maloney remains resilient, strong and hopeful. “I found my life policy when I died at birth,” he writes, “and every day I try to live my life in accordance with words that I wrote and had tattooed on me so I don’t forget them: Forever my spirit breathes from within/Never will it leave or give in.” Readers will know he’s going to keep on striving.
The book tells the story of a young man’s life in a way that will make readers almost forget his cerebral palsy—but they’ll want to remember.