Into the often scolding world of medical self-help books comes a refreshing gem that strips away the preaching and gives readers what they need most: a pass for the confusion and less-than-noble reactions they may feel as they venture into the minefield of family caregiving.
New Zealand author Dorothy Goudie strikes just the right tone of humility, confession and a dash of self-deprecation in her slim book Strokes: A Conversation With A Caregiver. Although the counsel ostensibly targets those dealing with a stroke victim, the warmth and common sense message about not losing yourself when your life and expectations suddenly go south is transferrable to any situation.
Goudie’s husband suffers a stroke while on vacation and she immediately leaps into the role of caregiver not really understanding how having someone totally dependent on you is both relentless and at times infuriating. She worries she is not up for the task and fears her own life will vanish. Her husband lashes out at her, and she must learn how not to let the anger and hurt find a home. She explores the fascinating – and all-too-true—concept of focusing too acutely on the problem rather than how to move past it. “Problems give us security,” she writes. “They are like old friends.” But they also stand in the way of creating and ultimately accepting a new reality.
Calling this a “conversation” is correct. Her writing style is breezy and accessible—no small feat considering the subject. While she sometimes wanders into the New Age weeds of emitting positive vibrations and attracting good energy, she has an uncanny ability to return to the practical just in time, such as learning to handle the criticism of a stroke sufferer’s back seat driving. In fact, readers will wish for more such anecdotes. Her advice in the abstract works wonderfully, but it might have been even more powerful had she included more detailed scenes from a newly changed marriage.
Also available as an ebook.