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Originally, I had opted to dedicate it to my children and to my grandfather, who died in 1989 of complications related to multi-infarct dementia. I thought that If by chance I ever sold a copy of the book, I would prefer to see a decent percentage of the proceeds given to dementia research . But after my wife's experience, she deserved special recognition as well - I developed a new level of respect for her as a result how she handled everything. The level of support Kim received from her friends and family was truly amazing. Of course there were some miserable days and nights, some filled with overt fear and tears, and others cloaked in silent panic. Overall, though, her approach was stalwart; the children witnessed no histrionic episodes. The children responded in kind, by remaining upbeat and supportive. I will not forget the morning of her final surgical procedure: after we dropped her off at the hospital in the early morning the children and I got bagels, walked to central park where they burned holes into their jeans sliding down rock faces. When the central park zoo opened we saw every animal at least twice (except the penguins - once was enough!), sampled candies at Dylan's, and then had pizza at Patsy's, before returning to the hospital. We drove home very slowly; still, I just wish I could have made the ride home a little less bumpy.
And so, here is where we stand now: the book is done and fifty percent of the proceeds of the sale of each book will be donated equally to research programs dedicated to the study of dementia and memory dysfunction, and to the study of breast cancer.
The recipient research entity for dementia and memory dysfunction is the Toronto Dementia Research Alliance. The TDRA represents an important effort, not just because research objectives are to identify various mechanisms underlying dementia and related conditions, but because it represents a collective effort in collaboration on a grand scale. It is an academic coalition of the five memory/dementia facilities associated with the University of Toronto and the Faculty of Medicine. For those of us who live long enough, we will be thankful for their work. To learn more about the TDRA and to donate more, please visit www.tdra.ca.
The recipient research entity for breast cancer is the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF). Breast cancer like so many cancers can be disabling, devastating, and even deadly. The BCRF has as its main missions prevention and finding a cure. It has developed alliances with a variety of renowned institutions and clinical researchers; research funds support translational and clinical research. To learn more about the BCRF and to donate, please visit http://www.bcrfcure.org/
To those of you who purchase a copy (or perhaps more than one), I thank you and the research programs your funds are supporting also thank you. And, of course, I hope that the youngsters you give the book to will enjoy it and will continue their efforts to explore the world around them and eventually beyond.
To everyone: Happy Adventures, Fond memories, and a Long, Healthy Life.
The book is now available. To purchase a copy of this book, click the Buy Now button below. For multiple copies, questions, special requests, or anything else, please contact us. To have the book signed or inscribed, please provide details.
I began writing this book, well over a decade ago, on Formantera, one of the Balearic Islands in the western Mediterranean Sea off of the east coast of Spain. As I began pondering what makes free-form travel so interesting, I decided to try and create a story that would be appealing to youngsters. All of my back-packing adventures, like so many other travelers, had common themes: the quest for novel experiences; selecting a foreign location and feeling alien, curious, and uncertain upon arrival; working to understand the culture and fit in; survival, discovery, problem solving, raw happiness; the liberating feeling of being an itinerant traveler - moving on and starting all over again. I wrote the text in English and in Spanish (for practice) and amalgamated several of my own experiences. I decided to weave into the story the linguistic nuances that my grandfather used when he would joke with my brother and me when we were youngsters - in essence we would ask him a question and he would answer in a manner that made absolutely no sense at all and then start laughing in a jolly fashion. His good nature and terminology stuck and I cherish my memory of him.
The story subsequently lay dormant for years in one of my travel diaries.
At a neurology meeting in Chicago many years later, I was involved in a clinical practice media shoot. The front of the media office had several children's books on display and I was very impressed by the illustrations. I contacted the illustrator (Tony Santiago) and sent him the text I had written. By that point my wife and I had two children and I explained that I wanted likenesses of my children and grandfather to be individually represented in the characters. Once Tony got started I knew this was going to be a really well illustrated book. Some breaks were needed as the book was not a top priority item for either of us. Nearly three years later all of the illustrations were completed. Tony did a great job!
The book was very long - far longer than any typical children's book and I was encouraged to truncate the book, divide it into two or even four parts, if I ever wanted to sell a copy. But I refused. This book was a personal project and it will remain that - I didn't write it to sell any copies at all.
Once I finally settled on a publisher, things were looking very favorably: the book was scheduled to be published in the first half of 2011 just as my children were hitting stride with independent reading. But then the perfect storm hit. The publishing company I chose started to experience "operational delays" and then stopped returning my messages altogether. Shortly thereafter, near the end of 2011, I received a letter stating that the company had gone into foreclosure. And then my wife was diagnosed with bilateral breast cancer. Everything was put on hold to get that taken care of.
My wife is doing very well now; but the process was quite an ordeal. Anyone who has been through this or a similar experience understands. I see and treat patients every day with epilepsy and related neurologic conditions and disabilities - in many cases illnesses appear like an unexpected storm and can turn people's lives upside down and inside out like a tornado. My wife's diagnosis added a surreal component to my daily life.
By the end of 2012, Kim had been diagnosed, treated, and had achieved full physical recovery. I recovered the book's contents and found a new printer, Friesen's Press, who was a tremendous help putting the final touches on the book (special thanks to Ralph Hamm for orchestrating it all). This book was no cheap affair - a true passion. Since I wasn't planning on selling it publicly, any possible return on the investment was not a consideration. I just needed to see the finished product.