No Nonsense Guide to Caring for the Seriously Ill

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Research is something I love and do well at. I inherited that love for learning from my mom and have passed it on to all my daughters. Now it comes back as a blessing to me even more, when they discover something useful to share with me, just as my mom and I have done for years. One of those things a daughter shared was an excellent book for families dealing with a loved one who is seriously ill.

“The Complete Bedside Companion” by Rodger McFarlane and Philip Bashe is not light reading. After my daughter told me about it, I immediately ordered a copy from Amazon. It arrived today and my first thought was, “Oooh, I can’t wait to sit down and read it.” But as I thumbed through it, I realized it really isn’t that kind of book. Or maybe I should say, it’s that kind of book and so much more! Basically, it is an encyclopedia for people who are going through difficult times with serious medical illnesses, or who may even be on hospice. I wish I’d had it when my dad was so ill, and again to help a friend who recently lost his wife! To give you a hint of what it contains, here are the primary titles from the table of contents:

Part 1: Caring for the Sick

  • The Hospital & The Medical Team: Who’s Who and What’s What
  • Dealing with the Doctors
  • The Everyday Angel’s Cram Course in Essential Nursing Skills
  • Matters of the Heart
  • Mustering the Troops
  • The Caregiver as Consumer Activist
  • Care for the Caregivers
  • Paying the Bills
  • Preparing for the Worst
  • Journey’s End
  • Aftermath

Part 2: The Everyday’s Angel’s Cram Course in Adult Medicine

  • Caring for Someone with Cancer
  • Caring for Someone with Cardiovascular Disease
  • Caring for Someone with Cerebrovascular Stroke or Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Caring for Someone with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (Emphysema and Chronic Bronchitis)
  • Caring for Someone with Diabetes
  • Caring for Someone with AIDS/HIV
  • Caring for Someone with Liver Disease
  • Caring for Someone with Kidney Disease
  • Caring for Someone with a Progressive Neurological Disease

For more specific details of what it contains, you can go to Amazon and look at the Table of Contents. Under each of the above topics, you will find five – ten subtitles! The Complete Bedside Companion: A No-Nonsense Guide to Caring for the Seriously Ill

The book is well written, well documented, and often uses personal stories intermixed with the dryer medical factual information. It’s much more interesting than a Merck Manual, though I love that book as well. It goes into the broad strokes of major diseases and the nitty gritty details of a wide variety of things such as how to clean patients after they’ve gone to the bathroom in the bed, or helping to toilet a loved one who suffers from memory loss, confusion, or intellectual impairment.  It has hints and tips given by caregivers going through the actual experience, giving advice on how to coordinate help from other family members, or suggesting that you change the voicemail message daily with a health update so you don’t have to say the same thing over and over.

The book is copyrighted 1999 and I would imagine some medical practices may have changed. As with any resource, it’s still vital to ask plenty of questions and go with what your doctor recommends. But this gives plenty of information that will probably never go out of date.

I am going to be adding this to my list of MUST-RECOMMEND books for anyone going through major health crises, and I highly recommend it to all who are or think they will be caregivers including those of us in the Sandwich Generation.

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