New Release: Disease by Hans M Hirschi

Title: Disease
Author: Hans M Hirschi
Language: English
Published: 26th October, 2017
Length: 59,000 words (224 pages) approx.
ISBN: Paperback: 978-1-78645-161-3
eBook: 978-1-78645-162-0
ASIN: B074G3XH93
Category: Fiction
Genre: LGBT, Romance and Relationships, Contemporary Fiction

When journalist Hunter MacIntyre is diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's, he realizes that his life is about to change, not to mention that he's been handed a certain death sentence.

Alzheimer's is a disease affecting the patient's loved ones as much, if not more, than the patient themselves. In Hunter's case, that's his partner Ethan and their five-year-old daughter Amy. How will they react to, and deal with, Hunter's changing behavior, his memory lapses, and the consequences for their everyday lives?

Disease is a story of Alzheimer's, seen through the eyes of one affected family.

Editor's Review:
This is my editor's review of Disease - a novel by Hans M Hirschi, released today: 26th October, 2017. I'm stating that now, in case what follows doesn't read as a review. Indeed, it is a personal account - my qualifications, if you will - for recommending this novel to everyone, including those involved in the care and support of people with terminal prognoses and their families. What we say and do are often not what we think and feel behind the facade of survival. Note: this novel may cut too close to the bone for patients and families themselves, although perhaps there is some solace to be had from shared experience.

Disease is a truly brilliant novel, and an important one.

I doubt I'm the only person who frets from time to time (more often as I get older) about receiving a terminal prognosis. There are so many potential candidates, and some have already come dangerously close to my life and the lives of those I hold dear. I've lost friends and family; I've waited for the all-clear.

Even without those personal experiences, it's safe to say campaigns to raise awareness of cancer, dementia, heart disease, the danger of strokes etc. have been effective in giving these conditions a higher profile. Sometimes they feed our fear by shoving our mortality in our faces, but mostly they offer hope, in the form of advice on reducing risk, or telling us about the clever people engaged in the search for cures, or of those gifted with the emotional strength to do so who offer compassionate, dignified end-of-life care.

Crucial as all of that is, unless you've been close to it, it's distant and impersonal.

There was a conversation at some point last year, after Nige received his cancer diagnosis. It's vague, only half committed to memory. I don't recall the when or the how, but I do remember him snapping at me, "I'm the one who's got cancer." Whatever I'd said was about my struggle to cope, which was the truth. Who do you turn to for support when the one person who supports you, always and unconditionally, is incapable of doing so? Sure, there are support networks - formal and informal - but that is not who you want, and the petulant child inside stamps its feet and shrieks at the injustice.

I recall seeing an image (no idea where - I read a lot) of concentric circles, with the patient at the centre, immediate family in the next circle, extended family and friends in the next, and so on, with each circle representing greater emotional distance from the patient. The rule is, wherever you fall in the circle, you can only seek the support from those further out than you are.

Needless to say, I didn't mention my own woes to Nige again until after the surgeon gave him the all-clear. Never mind that it was the second time he'd put me through the wringer (his recollection of the first - a dissecting aortic aneurysm - is scant, to say the least). I realise this reads as if I'm blaming him...because I am. Or I do sometimes. I know, on a rational level, it's beyond his control, but rationality comes a poor second to the fear, grief and pain of losing - or believing you are going to lose - someone you love.

It's about the loss of trust as much as anything; you trusted them to love you and not hurt you, to be there at your side, offering strength and support, and the time when you both need it the most, neither of you is capable of offering it. There's a whole lot of acting goes on, and it's Oscar-worthy, but you know each other far too well to fall for it.
He was so upset. He tried to cover it up for me, tried hard not to let me feel just how devastated he is by this latest development. Because it is, in a way, a step toward the end of our relationship, the end of our marriage, our family, a step toward death.
~ Hans M Hirschi: Disease
It is for books like Disease that I do what I do: for the stories that must be told; the voices that need to be heard. True, Disease is a work of fiction, but it is realist fiction grounded in lived experience - a beautiful story with a hopeful ending and an insight for professionals engaged in palliative care and those in the outermost circles.

I'll leave you with Hans' own words:
Hunter’s journey is based on my own experiences with loved ones and reading books about Alzheimer’s. I always felt there was something missing from those tales: the voice of the affected. While fiction, I hope to have given those who are affected by the disease the most, a voice.

About the Author:
Photo: John O’Leary
Hans M Hirschi has been writing stories since childhood. As an adult, the demands of corporate life put an end to his fiction for more than twenty years. A global executive in training, he has traveled the world and published several non-fiction titles as well as four well-received novels. The birth of his son provided him with the opportunity to rekindle his love of creative writing, where he expresses his deep passion for a better world through love and tolerance. Hans lives with his husband and son on a small island off the west coast of Sweden.