This book is a front seat on the roller coaster of caregiving for a loved one stricken with cancer. Dale L. Baker shares her most intimate moments in alive, readable prose. The metaphor of caregiving as a carousel ride is both precise and true. When one is placed in this unenviable and, yet, in a real way, inevitable position, it does feel like a ride to nowhere. The book can be read in one siting and when one completes it, if one has followed Baker's directions, the reader will have a manual of do's and don'ts. She repeats the most important points in a list, with reminders that make it clear what the sentient points are.
While everyone's experience will be as unique as your loved one, many of her experiences I too, sadly, shared. For example, in the final stages of hospice, the caregiver/loved one is treated like the furniture. This is a terribly difficult thing to deal with and to know it is common, while it doesn't allay the pain, at least makes one feel a common bond and the realization this is not personal.
Baker's realization that those things that were important to her, were not in the slightest interesting to her dying husband, is one of the more startling points in her story. It's hard to know what to do with someone whose time has been set, beyond daily maintenance. I loved the intimacy she shared with him as he wasted away toward the inevitable.
One of the hardest things to do is to recognize that in order to continue to be an effective caregiver, one has to take a rest. Baker presents an outline of when respite is needed, the steps to get it, and appropriate types of respite care. This is an invaluable point in this book. Her final wish to the reader is both hopeful and complimentary. She acknowledges caregiving as an admirable, thankless task, that has to be done and it is so much better, when a loved one does it.
Paul Janes-Brown is a feature writer for Maui Weekly, Lahaina News, OnMaui Magazine, Maui Arts and Culture, weekly columnist "Let's Talk More" on KAOI radio and weekly broadcaster of "Curtain Call" for MauiTVNews. com.