Feb 042013

Five Years To Live by Frank Zaccari

It is the phone call every person lives in fear of receiving. There has been an accident and your loved one is paralyzed. A spinal cord injury is the single most devastating and life altering event. Based on a true story, Michael and Donna were young, successful, in love and planning their life together. That life was radically changed by a tragic car accident. Now a wheelchair user as a quadriplegic, with limited movement, constant infections and multiple surgeries, doctors projected Michael’s best case life expectancy to be five years. See how this young couple battles through his injury and spends his five years making a lasting impact on hundreds of people. It will make you realize what can be accomplished when a person does not let circumstances dictate their life.

This book is very inspirational. The author went into great detail about the major issues someone in this condition faces. Michael was definitely a fighter, and just was not willing to give up. I can’t even imagine as a mother what it would be like to get that phone call. One of the things that impressed me the most was the support system Michael had in his family. Not just his parents, but his siblings, cousins, aunts & uncles. They were awesome!

This was an interesting book for me to read. My husband broke his neck (C4, 5 & 6) in a diving accident at the age of 14.  The year was 1972 and technology was no where near what it is today. The drs. didn’t think Henry would make it, and if he did he’d be a “vegetable” (their words, not ours).  He was in the hospital/rehab for over 3 years before he was able to go home. Last September 16th, he celebrated his 40th year since the accident. To me, that is definitely a miracle! Michael reminds me a lot of Henry, they are both fighters.

Luckily Michael lived in an area where there were a lot of agencies etc. to help with his needs. Sadly, Henry and I live in a rural area and the help is almost non existent. I’m sure it’s the same in most rural areas across the country. That needs to change!

There were many things I could relate to in this book. I felt a connection to Michael’s mother. I’ve been Henry’s sole caregiver for 25 years. It’s very stressful, but very rewarding also. In one part of the book the author states that most of the time when a disabled person asks a stranger a question, like a salesperson in a store, the salesperson will answer to the person with them, and not even look at the disabled person who asked the question. We experienced that many many times over the years, but Henry is such a people person that it rarely happens anymore. Another thing I’ve noticed over the years is how people stare. Sadly, more and more people are ending up in wheelchairs, and it isn’t so uncommon to see someone in one, so it’s mainly children who still do, and they’re just naturally inquisitive. People in wheelchairs would much rather you ask them what happened instead of just staring and wondering.

I know that the things the author writes about in the book is true. It’s one of the scariest things anyone can go through. Another thing that was touched on in the book is that most of the people in this situation have suicidal thoughts at one time or another. And really, how could they not? To them, their life as they knew it is over. They have to re-learn everything that we all take for granted. I’m amazed to see my husband struggling to do something with so much more patience than I would have, even though I’m an able bodied person.

I’ve told my husband for years he should write a book about his life as a quadripegic. Frank Zaccari beat him to it. And he did an awesome job!!

This book is a great read, and it would make a priceless gift for anyone who is going through something similar, as well as their family and friends.


About The Author:

Frank Zaccari is a native of western New York. He received his bachelor’s in finance from California State University at Sacramento after serving as a military medic in the United States Air Force. He spent more than two decades in the technology industry, holding various positions from account representative to CEO. He also spent time specializing in turn-around management of companies under $100 million. Zaccari left the industry to provide primary care of his children, purchasing a small business that was more accommodating to his family. He presently owns an insurance agency in Sacramento, where he currently resides. “Five Years to Live” is not his only book for sale. He has also written, “When the Wife Cheats,” “From the Ashes: The Rise of the University of Washington Volleyball Program,” and “Inside the Spaghetti Bowl.”


  12 Responses to “Book Review: Five Years To Live by Frank Zaccari”

  1. Superb review. Having the honor to know you and Henry, I have the utmost respect for both of you. Both of you are amazing. I have this book in my TBR pile and after reading your review, I can’t wait to read it. Thank you for sharing your review and life.

  2. Thanks! This book made me laugh & cry. I have the utmost respect for all caregivers!

  3. Thank you for allowing me to interact with you and your readers. As someone who has lived this experience, your feedback is most welcome. I have spoken to parents of spinal cord injured children. They have told me the book helped them understand and appreciate “daily victories” their loved ones accomplish.

    I am so sorry to learn about your husband’s injury, but like my brother, he didn’t let his disability or circumstances dictate his life.


  4. Hi Vicki,

    Isn’t it both sad and yet another of those signs of the times, that we can talk to folks on a regular basis and have no idea of their lives, aspirations and troubles, beyond what they commit to the page?

    My father was sole carer for my mother for over 40 years, before she passed away last year, of complications from Multiple Sclerosis, so I know exactly what trials the two of you must have faced over the years. Sadly,help for many disabled people is not any better here in the UK, despite the NHS (National Health Service), of which we used to be so proud. Attitudes among communities and the wider population have changed considerably over the years, mostly for the better, as medical knowledge of some of these conditions and social attitudes have advanced, but there is still such a long way to go.

    Having said all that, I am still not a huge fan of memoirs, as I think that family issues and troubles, should really remain a private matter, between those family members and friends we choose to tell, not something to be broadcast to the world. However it sounds as though this book has been helpful to yourself and Henry, so for that I am glad.

    Take Care both of you, now I feel even worse that I didn’t try to make the effort to meet with you, when we were over in December!! but if there is a next time … definitely!


  5. Sorry to hear about your mom, Yvonne. And it’s true, we rarely know the whole story of our blogging buddies personal lives.

    I too wish we we’d met when you visited Florida. I should have thought of it sooner, but sadly you’d already left for you vacation when I did and I didn’t have any way of contacting you. What makes it even sadder is that we were both at the same theme park on the same day. Hopefully you’ll make the trip again sometime soon.

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