World Audience, Inc., 2010
My Rating: A
Opening line: This morning approximately 50 million people, mostly women, woke up to a job they never wanted and have no training for – caring for a loved one who is dying.
This small and intimate book is the perfect companion for someone in the job of caregiver. It consists of fifty lessons for someone thrust into this role. In each lesson the author describes an incident from her own experience in dealing with her mother’s final six months. And then she shares the lesson that she learned from that experience.
These lessons are not healthcare related. They are lessons in how to cope, how to survive and how to handle those people who want to help, but actually drag the loved one down. The lessons are also about making that time the best possible for the loved one. Let me share some of the lesson’s titles:
- Enough with the banana bread
- Did you hear about boo boo’s mother-in-law’s next-door neighbor’s cousin?
- Denial is a bad-ass energy vampire
- There will be angry words
- Dying to help: assign people what they’re good at
- Five things that really piss off caregivers
- Scared shitless and finding grace
- More thankfulness, less hope
- Grab the furlough
- Dew vs. fog, sadness vs grief
The writing is not melodramatic or hard to handle. Ms. Kelly actually has an appealing sense of humor. One of the lessons is to tell lots of sick jokes. I like that. It’s worked for me in other stressful situations.
I wanted to read this book because of my mother. Mom will be 90 next week. She has done remarkably well, living on her own, since my dad died twenty years ago. For the first time in her life she owned the title to Virginia Woolf’s novel: A Room of Her Own. In my mom’s case she had a house of her own.
My fear had been that she would follow my dad to the grave. They had been together over fifty years. Instead, my mom just blossomed. Never a gardener, she began to grow roses and her yard became a show place. She expanded her other hobbies, volunteered more, and even traveled on her own.
But now, in the past couple of years, things have changed. After a couple of mild strokes and two bad falls, she’s not as mobile as she was. But the real problem is her vascular dementia. Physically, she’s still fairly healthy, although she’s much thinner. (With dementia, she swears she just ate although it was really four hours ago.)
Mentally and emotionally we are losing her. A life-long knitter, she can no longer move the needles to make a decent stitch and not because her hands can’t work. She spends many hours napping and this in a woman who prided herself on only needing six hours of sleep a night. The three main pleasures she has left are reading, watching baseball games, and her family and friends which, so far, she still recognizes.
We’ve not been given a physical diagnosis of so many months but we have with the vascular dementia. It won’t be too much longer and she will not know her family. It is so strange to think that our mother, as herself, is terminal. It’s not right to be physically alive but terminal in every other way.
We’ve all been researching the problem and have gathered lots of books and websites that help. I’ll share those in some future post. In the meantime, I recommend Be the Noodle for anyone facing caregiving issues.
Another review of the book you may want to check out: Tutu’s 2 Cents
Thanks to Lois Kelly for sending me this book. Be the Noodle: Fifty Ways to Be a Compassionate, Courageous, Crazy-Good Caregiver is available on Amazon. (I am an Amazon Associate.)