Set in Calgary, Canada, the US, and in Central Europe, Dead Man Dreaming is literary fiction about one man’s fight against hereditary genetic diseases—from losing his girlfriend to finding love again—and how he overcomes his fear and frustrations and comes to terms with his own Huntington's disease.
David, a senior resident physician, suddenly finds his coveted heart surgeon’s job in jeopardy as he could be a victim of Huntington’s chorea. After much deliberation, as he takes the pre-symptomatic test, his life turns upside down. He tests HD positive. And the result takes a toll on his love life too as his girlfriend leaves him for he decides not to have kids in that condition.
Although he secures the job at the hospital, he declines the offer. Emotionally charged, David dedicates his life to finding a solution to prevent all hereditary genetic diseases. He believes if medical science could prevent fatal diseases like cholera, malaria, and tuberculosis, it must have a solution to genetic diseases as well. Months go by, but David finds nothing new to help his research. The confirmation of HD also disrupts his private life, and he hallucinates at night. He becomes frustrated and accepts a job in the R&D division of the same hospital.
One day, he accidentally meets his old classmate, Jessie. She is recovering from a bad marriage and her son is suffering from a genetic disease called hemophilia. Although he had never liked her before and they had nothing in common, he couldn’t help admiring her after hearing what she had gone through in life. Jessie points out that the solution to David’s research is already half-way there. A simple carrier screening test can easily identify parents with genetic disorders. The affected ones can then look for viable alternatives like sperm or egg donation, surrogacy, gene editing, or adoptions. But the research shows only one in six OBs and gynecologists are offering carrier screening tests in the preconception period. So, all they need is to fill the void with an awareness campaign.
David likes the idea, and together, they start a website to get others’ feedback on introducing a parental fitness test before having a child. If other jobs can ask for a fitness test, why the toughest job in the world can’t have one? They get an overwhelming response from all over the world, people rallying for a Carrier Screening Test, but not without condemnations. The number of signatories reaches millions.
Meanwhile, their common miseries and hardships in life also bring them closer. David falls in love with Jessie. However, his impending sickness prevents him from expressing his love and he suffers silently. But his interactions with million other victims open his eyes. He realizes while he may not have any control over how long he lives, but he can always choose how he lives the remaining days. And he decides to propose to Jessie.
Dead Man Dreaming is a story of a desperate and dying young man spiraling downward with anger and frustrations and how he bounces back with new love as he comes to terms with his life-threatening disease.