Stories about people who do extraordinary things and overcome something most of us would just concede to are some of my favorites. In 26: A Behind-The-Scenes Tour of Life with Cerebral Palsy we meet Stuart Maloney. The number 26 is not a random number, it is his current age, but more than that, it is the number of minutes it took him to begin breathing after his birth.
That’s right. Maloney, after a complicated delivery, was born dead. Just as doctors were about to give up on resusitation efforts, he started breathing. 26 minutes had passed from his delivery to that first birth.
At 18-months he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy and given 16 years as his maximum life longevity.
Now in 26, Maloney shares his 26 years of life with incredible tributes to his friends and family, anecdotes and speaks in brutal honest about incompeted health-care professionals in Peterborough, England, where he lives.
This is an engaging memoir about his life with Cerebral Palsy and how it has affected his journey. He shares school years, making friends, encounters with bullies and even his intimate life. His book is raw and made me think of Maloney as I do most of the people in my life: likable, angry at times, good natured, mature and successful. In fact, these are probably the characteristics I would speak of him about if we knew one another in real life with Cerebral Palsy as a footnote.
The odds seem against him as he develops a seizure disorder from whooping cough and renal vasculitis, but Maloney sees only the benefits and depicts them in such a manner you have to smile. For example, he shares his shaking fingers enhance the pleasure of his lady friends.
While many would be angry, Maloney reserves this for those who stereotype people.
I enjoyed this book and truly found inspiration throughout the book and love this: “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.”
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