Monday, January 31, 2011

What should I ask Donna Thomson?

Some of you read my blog What is a life well lived?

It's about Donna Thomson's new book (above) where she recounts life raising her son Nicholas, now 22, who has severe cerebral palsy.

Thomson introduces us to the Capability Approach, a model developed by economist Amartya Sen. This approach defines a good life as one in which a person has the greatest freedom to choose what they do within a given set of circumstances, especially those involving adversity.

In this model, Nicholas' life playing a computer game, taking an online course or enjoying the company of his attendants from the comfort of his bed -- where he experiences the least pain -- is, indeed, freedom.

" is part of our job as people who love someone who is very dependent to redefine happiness and achievement," Thomson writes.

I'm excited to be interviewing Thomson -- who lives in London with husband James Wright, Nicholas and daughter Natalie. Wright is the High Commissioner for Canada in the UK.

What should I ask Donna Thomson?

You can read more about her and The Four Walls of My Freedom in this Globe and Mail interview: Disability writer Donna Thomson's clear-eyed look at the value of a life.

We'll publish the interview in the June print issue of BLOOM magazine.

So, please, post your questions! Thanks! Louise


I think I need to look at this book! But I know what my question is. It's always the same question,
and comes with a US, rather than Canadian, perspective. How to financially support high quality services?

I just finished her book!

She didn't talk about herself much in it. I'm curious as to how she keeps afloat - does she have a group of women who are friends? Do they have overlap with the disability world? I'd like to hear her take on peer support for caregivers of kids with disabilities....

I just ordered this book. My son spends the majority of his time in his bed and it is truly where he is happiest. Most people can't understand this. I'm looking forward to reading this book -- written by someone who does understand. I can't think of any questions because I haven't read the book yet, but congratulations on getting the interview!

Awesome questions A and Sue! I will add to the list.

Ann, I'm very glad to see you here! I think you're going to find Donna's book thoughtful and enlightening. I hope we get to hear more about your son!


I swear to you that I will read this book before your interview with Donna Thomson, allowing me to better assist you. Nevertheless, here are five questions I would ask:

1)Given the the benefits of medical intervention for most of those who are diagnosed with cerebral palsy, why is adequate medical care, such as surgery and therapy, virtually inexistent for people with disabilities after 21 years of age?

2) In her opinion as a mother and caregiver, did insufficient and untimely medical care contribute or quicken her son's deterioration?

3) How did this affect her?

4)Keeping in mind the current economic recession and global restructuring, can governments overhaul social assistance programs to provide better care or services for people with disabilities and their families?

5) Internationally renowed psychiatrist Viktor E. Frankl argues that, "if one's life has meaning or purpose, man can endure immeasurable suffering. Would she agree or disagree with this analysis?

Matt Kamaratakis

p.s. Did I mention that I'm wickedly smart? :)