Kika & Me: How One Extraordinary Guide Dog Changed My World by Amit Patel
Shortlisted for The 2020 Barbellion Prize
Amit Patel is working as a trauma doctor when a rare condition causes him to lose his sight within thirty-six hours. Totally dependent on others and terrified of stepping outside with a white cane after he’s assaulted, he hits rock bottom. He refuses to leave home on his own for three months. With the support of his wife Seema he slowly adapts to his new situation, but how could life ever be the way it was? Then his guide dog Kika comes along . . .
But Kika’s stubbornness almost puts her guide dog training in jeopardy – could her quirky personality be a perfect match for someone? Meanwhile Amit has reservations – can he trust a dog with his safety? Paired together in 2015, they start on a journey, learning to trust each other before taking to the streets of London and beyond. The partnership not only gives Amit a renewed lease of life but a new best friend. Then, after a video of an irate commuter rudely asking Amit to step aside on an escalator goes viral, he sets out with Kika by his side to spread a message of positivity and inclusivity, showing that nothing will hold them back.
From the challenges of travelling when blind to becoming a parent for the first time, Kika & Me is the moving, heart-warming and inspirational story of Amit’s sight-loss journey and how one guide dog changed his world.
I read Dr Amit Patel’s incredible story of courage over two sittings and Kika & Me (Pan Macmillan) is a very personal account of how Amit lost his sight despite everything that could have been done. It is an inspiring account and one that has so much love throughout Amit’s story.
It is not easy to tell a very personal story, but Amit does so with courage and tells the story of how this busy A&E doctor suddenly realised that he had a serious problem with his eyesight and visits to hospitals soon turned into surgery which also then included re-mortgaging the family home to pay for an American eye surgeon to come over to the UK to perform surgery that would save Amit’s eyesight. Amit was suffering from a condition called keratoconus which is a disorder of the eye that results in a thinning of the cornea. This was an extremely worrying time for the whole family.
All seemed to be going well for Amit and he was back at work and then one morning the realisation that the surgery had failed, and Amit was going to lose his eyesight. This was devastating for everyone, and this a year of getting married to Seema but Amit was not going to be down for long and soon there was a life to look forward to. With a loving family around him and the support of friends and organisations Amit was soon getting the help he needed. Amit shares with the reader his personal account of what it was like, there is no hiding anything. Amit was going to tell it as it was.
Six months after being on the waiting list there was guide dog to help Amit, Kika of course is the real star of the book and I loved how Amit called Kika ‘The fairy dog mother’ never leaving Amit’s side. There are so many stories that are shared of Kika and their travels. Theirs is an incredibly special bond.
There are of course some stories that Amit shares that left me fuming one story where Amit is travelling on a tube and is confronted by a man who after a confrontation knocks Amit to the floor of the train even though the train was busy with passengers and no-one came to help. I for one have never looked the other way and gone to help, but this was not the only occasion that Amit had to endure the worst of some people.
Despite this, Kika & Me is just a moving personal story that Amit Patel shares with the reader. Amit and Seema now have two children and Amit now helps others who have lost their sight by volunteering with the RNIB and Guide Dogs for the Blind. Amit’s story is uplifting and inspiring. I learned so much from Amit’s sight loss journey. Highly recommended.
You can follow Dr Amit Patel and Kika on Twitter: @BlindDad_UK and @Kika_GuideDog
For more information on The Barbellion Prize please visit: Barbellion Prize
I am extremely grateful to Cat Mitchell, Pan Macmillan and the Barbellion Prize review copy of Kika & Me by Amit Patel.
Kika & Me by Amit Patel was published by Pan Macmillan and is available in hardback. The paperback will be published on 4th March 2021 and is available to pre-order through Waterstones, Amazon and through your local independent bookshop or through Bookshop.org that supports your local independent bookshop. UK Bookshop.org
THE BARBELLION PRIZE
The Barbellion Prize was founded and dedicated further the voices of ill and disabled writers. This is a prize awarded each year to an author whose work has best represented the experience of chronic illness or disability.
The award recognises work submitted for fiction, memoir, biography, poetry or critical non-fiction and can be from around the world in English or translation and can be published work from a publisher or self-published.
Further information about the prize can be found via their website: The Barbellion Prize
You can follow progress of the Barbellion Prize via Twitter: @BarbellionPrize and Instagram: @barbellionprize
The prize is named after the English diarist W.N.P. Barbellion who wrote about living with multiple sclerosis until his death in 1919.
The shortlist for the 2020 Barbellion Prize was announced:
Golem Girl: A Memoir by Riva Lehrer (Published by Virago)
The Fragments of my Father: A memoir of madness, love and being a carer by Sam Mills (published by Fourth Estate)
Sanatorium by Abi Palmer (Published by Penned in the Margins)
Kika & Me by Amit Patel (Published by Pan Macmillan)