SAVING MILLY: Love, Politics and Parkinson's Disease
The author, formerly a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and currently a columnist for Fox News, has written a deeply personal and bracingly honest account of how he and his wife, Milly, have coped with her diagnosis of Parkinson's disease. The Kondrackes met and were wed in the mid-1960s after Morton overcame his desire to marry up (Milly was a probation officer from a poor Mexican-American background). They appear to have had a stormy though loving marriage, raising two daughters. An extremely strong and powerful woman, Milly fought hard to obtain a good education for dyslexic daughter Andrea and forced her husband into treatment for alcoholism. Milly's passionate enjoyment of life made it very difficult for her, at the age of 47, to accept a doctor's opinion in 1988 that the tremors she was experiencing were the beginnings of Parkinson's disease. The Kondrackes finally came to terms with Milly's condition and began searching for a treatment. Milly underwent several operations and has had various drug therapies, but her condition continues to worsen. She is now dependent on others for physical care and can barely communicate. Kondracke provides a harrowing overview of how organizations for other diseases such as AIDS or breast cancer compete with Parkinson's advocates for badly needed research dollars. He describes his involvement with Michael J. Fox (diagnosed with Parkinson's) and Fox's political lobbying for funds. Drawing on his spiritual faith, Kondracke does his best for Milly, who is deeply depressed about her illness. He agonizes about when she will have to be fed through a tube and may no longer want to live. Photos. (June 12)
Forecast: To promote his book to an audience beyond his primary D.C.-based constituency and to increase readers' awareness of Parkinson's disease, Kondracke is appearing on C-Span's Book Notes with Brian Lamb and the Today Show during the second week in June, which will help sales.