Fiction - Drama
316 Pages
Reviewed on 03/14/2023
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

Lance Fogan has written an insightful medical drama novel called Dings, revolving around a mother named Sandra Golden whose son, Conner, has a grand mal seizure at the onset of the book. Conner has no diagnosis of anything that would trigger a seizure and Sandra and Sam, Conner's dad, are relieved when they are told that Conner's scans and tests have come back with nothing to indicate abnormalities that could lead to the seizure. The relief is short-lived as answers are in short supply. Fogan backtracks the story to lay the foundation for readers of all that Conner and Sandra have been through before the grand mal. Sam is a war veteran and Sandra is pulled in two directions, between Sam's post-traumatic stress disorder that has dangerously weakened the marriage and Conner falling behind in school.

An ally can come in different forms and it is a wonderful moment in Lance Fogan's novel Dings when one materializes in the form of neurologist Dr. O'Rourke. Dings is a book on the extreme difficulties in obtaining a legitimate diagnosis and even though Conner is the little boy with undiagnosed epilepsy, this is Sandra's story. Medical stories are among my favorites but I am frequently put off by authors throwing medical professionals under the bus. The reality is more complex than doctors and psychologists fobbing off a patient and because Dings is written by a neurologist, the trope of one mother against an unbelieving world is mercifully avoided. Sandra is a force who feels organically human, and is every inch the mother, advocate and carer. An unforgettable novel.

Trevor Otieno

The intriguing medical mystery of Dings, by Dr. Lance Fogan, is one that many parents have experienced. As the mystery’s solution becomes more obvious, Dr. Fogan eloquently explains the process of neurological diagnosis. Conner, an 8-year-old, is struggling in school, and his father, who is in the military, is deployed in Iraq. His teachers, and even the school psychologist, erroneously believe that the youngster’s worry about his father is what is affecting his academic performance. Conner’s parents take him to the hospital after he has a convulsion and a high temperature one night, and the doctor orders a spinal tap and a CT head scan. Epilepsy is finally determined to be the cause of Conner’s blackouts by a neurologist’s evaluation. His parents, particularly his mother, Sandra, are in shock. For first-hand insight on the unfolding of events, grab a copy of Dings by Lance Fogan.

Dings by Lance Fogan shows an interesting range of hospital experience, presents a clear example of, unquestionably, optimal practice, and gets you inside the doctor-patient relationship, which is characterized by compassion and gentleness. Although Lance Fogan does not hold back when presenting several pieces of clinical information, Dings is far from being a somber or dismal read; it is well-written, has wonderful descriptions, and offers a sympathetic understanding of both Conner and his parents’ emotional challenges. I thoroughly appreciated and valued the things this book had to give. I was intrigued by Dings from the outset. What’s more, I discovered several epilepsy facts I didn’t know. I urge all readers to read Dings, but especially teachers, parents, and doctors. Thanks to Lance Fogan for providing such an insightful book.

Vincent Dublado

Dings by Lance Fogan is a powerful and heart-rending medical mystery that brims with painful realities. Sandra Golden narrates her life as the story opens with her eight-year-old son, Conner, with a body temperature hitting 103.6 degrees. Conner suffers from a mysterious convulsion. He then begins to undergo a series of tests and other routine lab work, which includes a head CT scan to see anything in his brain that may have triggered the seizure. Then came the lumbar puncture, which Sandra is totally against after hearing stories about the after-effects of its procedure. Her husband, Sam, comes home after duty in Iraq. It pains them to learn that Conner is possibly suffering from epilepsy. As if this isn’t enough to rattle Sandra’s world, Sam’s PTSD triggers him to develop a mounting addiction to the bottle.

It is not often that you come across a compelling medical mystery drama that powerfully explains the anatomy of a disease without drowning you in medical jargon. Instead, Lance Fogan uses his clinical and life experiences as a neurologist to explore how an illness disrupts the rhythms of human relationships. This is what makes Dings a highly relatable story, considering that many people, not only Americans, suffer from epilepsy. The story has good pacing, wasting no time in getting to the core of the storyline while using some flashbacks to establish characters. If you have someone in your life who suffers from epilepsy or at least know someone who does, this story is going to be largely affecting. Dings doesn’t stop at entertainment as it serves as an educational read for everyone to better understand epilepsy. Highly recommended.

Asher Syed

Dings by Lance Fogan is a medical literary fiction novel that follows the plight of a mother, Sandra Golden, as she tries to find out what has caused such a drastic change in her young son Conner's life. The book begins with Conner having a recognizable seizure while in the midst of a high-grade fever. There is fear, confusion, and a lot of theories about what has happened and what might be behind Conner's undiagnosed malady. As the novel progresses we get to know Sandra and Conner, and the struggles Sandra faces as, essentially, a single parent with her husband, Conner's father Sam, having been deployed, returning from Iraq with crippling PTSD. Connor is struggling at school and everyone seems to be fine just chalking it up to anxiety about his father. It isn't until a persistent neurologist named Dr. O’Rourke takes charge that the Goldens are able to finally find the answers they seek so Conner can have the best possible chance at the life he deserves.

Dings is a really compelling story where author Lance Fogan helps navigate a reader through a battery of is-it-or-isn't-it scenarios that make us feel like we are sitting right next to Sandra as she tries to filter through a minefield of information, most of it incorrect. I know someone who as a child was also continually accused of “spacing out” by his teachers and when Fogan shows a legion of professionals trying to push Conner, a round peg, through a square hole, it was hard not to imagine how many undiagnosed cases exists beyond the construct of this true to life fiction. I felt deeply for Sandra who was battling on so many fronts, but also for Sam who is in his own private hell and a nightmare born of something not of his making. Sandra has both a son and a husband in dire need of treatment, but her resilience is a testament to the strength of a woman, a mother, and a partner. Dings is a beautifully written novel that is full of surprises and, at its heart, is a story of determination and love. Very highly recommended.

Manik Chaturmutha

Dings by Lance Fogan is a well-written novel set in California in the early 2000s. Sandra Golden is a lovely woman trying to cope with her husband’s one-year deployment to Iraq and her son’s recent change in behavior. Sandra’s eight-year-old son Conner has started acting strangely and is falling behind with his schoolwork. Thinking that it might have to do with his father’s one-year deployment, the school proposes a psychological test to determine the cause of Conner’s slipping performance. But the test results do not show any problem, and everything slowly returns to normal. But one night, months later, when Conner has a sudden convulsion, the family’s life is turned upside down. There is now a chance that he has epilepsy. Devastated and frustrated, Sandra knows that nothing will ever be the same again, and it is up to her to pick up the pieces and prevent her son’s condition from worsening.

The book centers on the illness of epilepsy and the challenges it brings into people’s lives. This beautifully written story goes into the details of the disease with utmost accuracy. The protagonist narrates the book in the first person, which gives the characters a new dimension and helps readers empathize with their emotions. The remarkable character development of the protagonist and her family is also one of the most commendable aspects of the book, along with a beautiful plot and almost flawless storytelling. Millions of people around the globe have epilepsy, and this book acts as a beacon for them, telling them that they’re not alone. Although hard to notice, the symptoms described in the book will assist in making a diagnosis. This book showcases the pain and suffering of a parent and their downward mental spiral once the child is diagnosed with a disease that has no cure. I recommend Dings by Lance Fogan to people looking for information on epilepsy and its implications for patients and their families.