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Thursday, November 19, 2009

GUEST SHOT: "Iron Heart" book review

Guest Shot
By Roselyn Sacco

Iron Heart: The True Story of How I Came Back From the Dead by Brian Boyle is a triumphant story of one young man’s struggle to come back from the brink of death.  After he had a horrific car crash, Brian shocked and amazed the medical community and his family by his stunning recovery. By all accounts he should be dead, all of his organs were shifted inside his body, including his heart, bones broken, and he was in a coma for months.

Somehow, he had the strength inside himself not only to survive, but to be able to rehabilitate himself to the point that he could compete in a world class event, the Ironman. The amazing fact that he could come back and swim, bike, and run the Ironman triathlon is almost beyond comprehension. Anyone who reads this first-person account will be inspired by his strength and courage.

As I was reading Iron Heart, I was considering if I'd want to have my husband “pull the plug” automatically if I ever end up on a ventilator. Brian Boyle’s harrowing account of his time in a coma from a severe car accident chilled me to the bone. During his coma Brian was clearly in and out of consciousness, he could see and hear but not communicate.

It brings to mind the Terri Schiavo case, where she was suspended in a coma from 1990 until her death in 2005. She was not on a ventilator, but instead on a feeding tube that provided nutrition and hydration. I wonder if she was suspended in a limbo, wanting to communicate, having thoughts and emotions, just like Brian had. No one will ever know.

Her husband fought in the courts for the option to end her life, stating that Terri would never want to live incapacitated, and that she said she would never want to live on life support. After a long, contested trial between her husband and the rest of her family, the courts ruled that her feeding tube could be removed. Terri starved to death after FOURTEEN days. I wonder if there ever could have been some sort of breakthrough for her, some kind of ability to blink commands or SOMETHING. It is a frightening thought.

My heart stirred when I read this book. In fact, I am reading it aloud to my 8-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son. They can’t get enough of it. When we pick it up to read, my daughter’s comments are “Oh, it’s so sad” and my son says, “I know he comes through in the end!” I feel that this book is universal in its appeal, and is definitely worth checking out.

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