Having battled chronic heart disease for 20 years, Australian Gerry Delwig decided to share his story with the reading public. His aim: “to create awareness, help you maintain your health, and bring attention to organ transplant and the need for donors.”
The result, Active Mind: Failing Heart: My Life and Health Debate, is part medical history, part bully pulpit. Delwig intersperses his account of life with dilated cardiomyopathy, a weakened, enlarged heart, with a series of rants. An equal opportunity offender, he rails against women (“A woman’s tongue and mouth should be classified as weapons of mass destruction”), the media (“trusted with delivering facts, (the media) play with the truth without remorse or accountability”), and America (“bullied its way through the twentieth century.”)
Under such sub-headings as “Assumptions: History’s Achilles Heal”[sic]; “Obesity is a Bad Investment,” and “Osama Bin Laden Is Dead: Is He?” Delwig takes aim at targets as varied as the United Nations, the fitness industry, fluoride in drinking water, Australia’s public schools, and Reader’s Digest.
Between tirades against political correctness, the abolishment of corporal punishment, and the Australia New Zealand Food Authority, Delwig refers to himself variously as “a minor player on the Universal Theatre of Life,” “Mr. Average,” and “a people person,” and blames his illness on heredity, stress and bad habits.
Lifestyle changes enabled Delwig to stave off a heart transplant after eight months on a waiting list, a not inconsiderable achievement of which he is justifiably proud. His advice to others is sound enough—follow a healthy diet, exercise regularly, quit smoking and “listen to your body.” It’s unfortunate that reading such suggestions requires numerous side trips through a great deal of highly opinionated, potentially offensive and poorly organized material, making for a challenging, unsatisfying read.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.