Doug Spahn's story of positivity and resilience demonstrates to the world that when life doesn't turn out the way you hoped it would, it can still be wonderful. Doug, a change management executive and single father to four children (one of whom is intellectually disabled), having been left by his wife moved his family from Sydney to Melbourne to start a new life. It was here he began a relationship with Sharron Lee Albone. Love blossomed and the vibrant and healthy corporate executive became a willing and loving stepmother to Doug's children.
One day in 2001, 37 year old Sharron and Doug (age 38) were at a Neil Finn concert, carefree and in love, and the next day Sharron was in an inexplicable mental state. Doug rushed her to hospital, where Sharron was initially placed in the Psychiatric Ward only to be moved two days later into the Intensive Care unit with an undiagnosed brain disease. Over four long heartbreaking and gruelling months Doug searched the globe for answers while Sharron remained oblivious to the world, unable to speak or communicate in any way.
Ever hopeful a cure would be found for Sharron's undiagnosed condition Doug kept a diary detailing the events of each day so Sharron could read it when she eventually woke up. Initially the diary contained the mundane details of medical tests however it quickly became an outlet for Doug to express his love for Sharron as well as recording the daily ongoings of his life and that of his children.
Eyes of Silence is part love story, part memoir and is ultimately uplifting in that it gives the reader hope. Doug is possessed with steely determination, incredible resilience and a huge capacity for love. Sharron's illness was eventually diagnosed as encephalitis lethargica, a disease for which there is no cure, and it ultimately claimed her life in 2001. Doug's heartbreak led to new love in the form of Joanna his now wife and greatest support. Joanna stood by Doug as he sought to seek full vindication of Sharron's diagnosis, a quest that took him around the world where he met with renowned author and neurologist Oliver Sacks MD in New York. This meeting prompted him to research further into brain and mind diseases. Doug says, 'Throughout my life I have been affected by conditions of the brain and mind. My parents both died of stroke, my grandmother had a brain aneurysm, my first wife suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, my eldest child has Rett Syndrome and I lost my fiance to a brain disorder. My goal is to improve treatment plans for sufferers and bring hope to their carers and families. Ultimately, it's about transforming lives."
Three in every hundred young adults will experience at least one psychotic episode, making it more common than diabetes in this age group. The Australia's Health 2000 report notes that disorders of the mind (the field of psychiatry) contributed to 13.3% of the total burden of disease in Australia, making it the third largest, beaten only by cardiovascular and cancer. Doug's goal is to raise awareness and funds for brain and mind disorders to the same level of community consciousness as cancer and heart disease.
Doug Spahn, Corporate Change Management Consultant and founder of EquipLife was born to East German immigrants and influenced by mad Scotsmen during his youth. A devoted father, husband, writer, speaker and believer in the power of destiny Doug's ultimate goal is to be an ambassador for brain medicine globally, promoting awareness and raising funds to help people affected by disorders of the brain and mind. Moving through setbacks and adversity with a good dose of humour is one of his key strengths. Getting on with the amazing journey of life is what inspires him most.
Eyes of Silence
Author: Doug Spahn
ISBN: Doug Spahn