Like Mickey, my wife has early onset Alzheimers; diagnosed five years ago at age 53. She is in the advanced stages but not yet in physical decline. I chose Every Single Good Day to compare notes on Mickey's progress and to learn a little bit about what may lie ahead.
I was struck that there were as many differences as similarities in symptoms these two women experienced. The general story of early loss of ability eventually affecting one's ability to work seem to be the common thread. In the end, Alzheimer's is a very personal journey.
Our stories are the same when it comes to dealing with the medical establishment. Regular physicians have little experience with Alzheimers - and their understanding is based on standard models. Too often a credible diagnosis comes only after a year or more. As Max Nichols documents - you must become an advocate and a bit of an expert yourself in order to get the best care.
Mr. Nichols account of the attention required to ensure good care in assisted living facilities was enlightening. We have not entered this phase yet, but may soon. It appears that these services provide some physical relief but require almost as much energy to watch the care givers. Even when you are paying for care - it appears that you must do many things yourself if you want them to get done. The difficulty they had getting someone to feed Mickey still amazes me.
Every single good day is a personal story reconstituted from notes and letters saved by Max Nichols. At times it is written in a slightly awkward style. It includes some details important only to his immediate family and it makes Oklahoma sound like the center of Alzheimer's research. For all this Max Nichols should be forgiven for he has shared the very personal jorney that he, Mickey, and their adult children had to take. In the process they supported Mickey and each-other with love. I'm convinced that Mickey's last years were much better for it.
I'm not a regular mystery reader, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read some complaints about too much other stuff going on - but hey that's real life - and it added depth to the puzzle. There were also a few comments about there being too much sex. Well, if you listened to those parts over and over and over perhaps there would be - otherwise the rest of us saw only the passion of the main characters.
This my first Dana Stabenow book, but it won't be my last. Good writing - and good narration by Marguerite Gavin.
I'm ambivalent about this book. The author did a pretty good job of capturing 'key' points about what folks experience with Early Onset Alzheimers - so if you prefer a narrative over dry descriptions of what faces Alzheimer sufferers and their families - this book is for you. Yet the book misses the true challenges that face the rest of us. I titled my review "Made for TV Movie" because that's what it appears to be. Well written but superficial.
My complaint is that the author apparently had a 'check list' of points she wanted to cover, so one-by-one she checked them off. Most problems popped up long enough for the author to tell us about them - and then she moved on. The problem rarely occurred in a significant way again. For someone who supposedly suffered from significant language problems, Alice always managed to be fully articulate when necessary. Yeah, right.
Despite Alice's dark plans at one point (another check mark), she didn't really seem to mind having Alzheimer's. Sure it got in the way - but she was not upset for long about anything. There was no fear, no distrust, no chronic anxiety ... it was just a frustrating experience that could be handled and planned for.
I speak from some experience, since my own wife, Barbara has early onset Alzheimer's, although not the fast-acting genetic variety. Comparing Alice to Barbara: Barbara is three years older than Alice. She had symptoms that go back at least six years before diagnosis. Her first mention to her physician about the problems were passed over the first time she made them. It was only a year later that they took us seriously when I accompanied her to a visit, and nearly a year after that before she was diagnosed; ironically the same week as Alice.
Alice has such a perfect life. Professionally successful. Great doctors. Lightening fast diagnosis. Apparently no financial issues. No crazy legal issues. Grown children. (Barbara's were in high school). Everything was manageable except for that pesky disease and her ambitious husband. Good grief, she even got to see and know her first grandchild.
Like Alice, Barbara is loved and cared for. Unlike Alice, Barbara stays in her original home. Her husband is her full-time caregiver, while still working full time.
So nice try, Lisa. I hope you get your TV movie deal.
Fantasy as written by C student in high school english. Read in monotone. Suffered for an hour and gave up.
Lauren Kessler decided to work in an Alzheimer's ward to make up for how poorly she did when her own mother had Alzheimer's. In finding redemption, she also discovers the humanity and life found in Alzheimer's patients. As the spouse/caregiver of a woman with early-onset Alzheimers I can appreciate the author's journey to understanding and appreciation of those trapped in the moment. I hope readers come to understand that this disease may be challenging but it doesn't have to be frightening. Dealing with Alzheimer,s begins an act of acceptance.
Hats off to Lauren and to the other caregivers who's selfless work for minimum wage make the last years of Alzheimer's patients comfortable and occasionally fun.
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