This is a story about the human heart. It is, therefore, complicated. It describes a life, and is wrapped in the often mundane details that form the fabric of every human experience. There is no rainbow at the end of the story. Nor is there that easy thing readers love, that voice of enlightenment and redemption, that author’s description of how great odds were faced, and then overcome, with important lessons learned along the way.
Andrew Marshall takes the reader on an epic journey through a life marred by the rare neuro- muscular condition, Friedreich’s Ataxia. This sharp-eyed autobiography is wise, insightful, and filled with profound truths. He eloquently expresses the dilemma of those who find themselves on the periphery of society and whose courage, as a consequence, can sometimes falter.
The story starts at the Randburg Waterfront. I’m drifting crazy within the world cup crowd, lost in my wheelchair. Powerless, and broken down. I’m new to this. I think I always will be. Then we jump to that time my face ended in the dirt, which of course involves needing to pee, and, why not, we jump to other bathroom discussions.
These are the realities.
What does it feel like to lose your body to a muscle disease? For a long time, even after I had been diagnosed, I had no idea. Because I’m new to this. We all are. This is not familiar for anyone.
Which, I guess, is why I started writing this manuscript all those years ago, and why I finished typing a lot of it on my cell phone. I needed to get the mess inside my head into some kind of story I could understand, and, therefore, that I could share with people.
Dissecting Wobbles is me talking to myself, and to you, at the same time. It’s me remembering other times, when I ran and jumped and landed on my face. It goes from my early childhood through the diagnosis and my weird and rebellious teens, and then into adulthood and a real decline. The story follows a similar course to most young lives, only for me, at the centre of school, growing up and girls was the disease, which morphed from a limp to a crutch to a wheelchair to right here and now.
The basic story is chronological, and is punctuated by blog posts I made when I started to write about my life. These explore the weird and often powerful realisations I have come to through my relationship with Friederich’s Ataxia. They offer a counter point to the linear story, which goes from my largely innocent and happy childhood – despite being dyslexic and ended up in the spazz class – via quite a few adventures and mis adventures, to an increasingly internal life. The life inside my head.
Of course, I can’t help but talk about the things I’ve done. The good things, especially. I have swum with dolphins and sky dived and white-water rafted and much besides. And some dodgy things. I’ve taken ecstasy and smoked weed and drank too much and stopped all that at (I hope), about the right time.
Also, as I get older and weaker I spend time talking about what I haven’t done. I never became a motivational speaker. I never studied. I’ve only had a bit of work in my life. Actually, this book is one of the few things I have done that I’m solidly proud of.
And we end in the now. Me in all the positions and situations I feared and dreaded for so many years. We end with you and me communicating. With what being alive is all about.
“A lesson in life. Better than the very best motivational speaker’s efforts I have come across.”
This is a spectacular book!”
“This sharp-eyed autobiography is wise, insightful, and filled with profound truths.”
“One of the strongest 'life is what you make it' messages I have come across in a long time.”
“A book every single person on earth should not just read, but consume. Study. Value. And share.”
“Andrew Marshall is the Muhammad Ali of disability writers.”