Sunday, August 14, 2011

Book review: Professor Cromer learns to read

Professor Cromer Learns to Read, by Janet Cromer.

I was asked to review this book by a publicist. I often get requests for advertising, and have rejected them all. I thought this a good opportunity to read and review something that could help another caregiver/author. It turns out I was right. This book is a wonderful read. I would heartily recommend it, even though the US healthcare system differs from our Canadian universal care, the lessons in this book are numerous and varied.

This book is well-written, by a professional: Janet Cromer, psychiatric nurse (RN), wife and caregiver.
She writes of her husband's heart attack and cardiac arrest, and the hour of resuscitation to bring him back to life. Her caregiving journey is a difficult one. Once Alan's health issues are complicated by Parkinson's Disease, one realizes that he couldn't have had a better caregiver.

The resulting brain injury meant that Janet lost her husband, partner, lover, friend, in a moment.  Her honesty and professional experiences document a bitter sweet battle with her husband's failing body. Unlike my memoir, I was a teacher trying to be caregiver, Janet Cromer is a healthcare professional who knew how to advocate for her husband. She had many US contacts, knew about treatment plans and how to ensure that her husband had the best treatment, physiotherapy, medications and physical and human resources. For those looking for more information, this is an excellent resource.

Janet Cromer's Resume [PDF]
Respect for the Reader
Janet chronicles her journey, and uses the correct terminology, with appropriate definitions. She articulately explains, for those unfamiliar with her world, the technical terms and causes. She weaves in many aspects of care, not only brain injury-related therapies, but includes, for example, the 3-Rs reorient, reassure, redirect, to comfort and connect with someone with dementia. (Alzheimers Disease | Tips for CommunicationThere is a difference between patients with brain injury, and those with dementia, but some lessons can be learned. For a patient with dementia may not always be able to be reoriented, nor should they. In many cases validation of their reality may be preferable to reorientation, for the client and caregiver.

The A's of Brain-related Issues
Janet writes of her husband, Alan's A-list diagnoses: anoxia, amnesia, global anomia, apraxia, and aphasia. She writes of his paraphasic utterances, always naming, explaining and defining vocabulary. I think I would have liked a glossary, as in my book, for the caregiver is always dealing with new issues. The resources in the back of the book are helpful to American readers, however, and I would recommend them. Her on-line resources are fabulous.

Baring her Soul
The author points out differences between his mental, emotional and physical disabilities, and his recovery from brain damage after his heart attack and cardiac arrest, as compared to decline from the physical complications of Alan's subsequent Parkinson's Disease. She doesn't sugar coat her journey. She bares her soul as she documents her losses and her battles with her husband's anger; herself, grieving the loss of her husband as a lover and an equal; and her insurance company. What is illuminating for me, as a former caregiver, is her honesty in dealing with these issues, how difficult it is for her, as a healthcare professional, in managing her energy, anger and frustrations. It is comforting to know that caregivers are not alone, others share this journey. We are not expected to be superhuman and must look after ourselves, as well.

Target Audience
This book, as is mine, is a research-based memoir, is a must-read for those working with brain injured as a caregiver, paid or family member. It helps the professional understand what patients and families must endure, making them better at their jobs. Janet Cromer has a new life as an advocate, and speaker.

 From the website, the target audience includes:

She documents the tragic tale of her husband's brain damage, and subsequent death, through a journey that involves physiotherapy and recovery options, as well as medical interventions.

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