By: Nancie Wiseman Attwater
Published by: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: April 18, 2022
Reviewed By: Barbara Bamberger Scott
Review Date: May 2, 2022
Thrown into a role as a caregiver for her ailing husband, former nurse Nancie Wiseman Attwater has much sage advice to offer, entwined in her personal saga of worry, hope, and grief in her newest book, A Caregiver's Love Story and Reference Guide.
When Nancie met her future husband Bill, an experienced attorney, she was combining a nursing career with her favorite hobby-turned-profession, quilting and needlework. The two soon became a couple and marriage followed. Travel was a significant feature of their life together, and they settled on Whidbey Island, Washington, when Bill’s retirement loomed. However, medical problems began to disrupt their peaceful existence, as both had physical ailments; but Bill’s deteriorating health gradually became the dominant theme, requiring extensive, often emergency care and constant vigilance. Knowing how to deal with complicated medical equipment on the home front was difficult, though perhaps easier for Nancie with her nursing experience. Bill’s problems included atrial fibrillation, encroaching dementia, lameness from a long-ago ankle injury, and much more. It was clear that these ailments would require Nancie to be his constant caregiver.
As things progressed, a move to a more convenient location seemed in order so the two found a home in Sacramento. Hospital visits, ranging from a few hours to days, and a plethora of medications that often changed, were balanced by a home routine that involved looking after their dog and “meeting” each day for a talk, reviving old memories. One of their last public events together was a fiftieth reunion of Bill’s graduating university class; though he was reluctant to attend, it turned out to be an enjoyable occasion, offering recognition of his law career accomplishments.
Slowly now, day by day and hour by hour, Nancie watches and waits on Bill, while quietly feeling a sense of impending grief. Her book offers practical references and personal advice based on her careful study of the caregiver role, with its tendency to evoke “burnout,” along with sound suggestions for techniques ranging from deep breathing to hiring and managing professional caregivers. A practiced writer who has written extensively and taught diligently in her field of needlework, she can be assured that her counsel will be welcomed by those anticipating the caregiver role with a spouse or other loved one, or someone already enmeshed in that difficult but vital and indeed beneficial role.
Quill says: Attwater’s melding of memoir and manual can inspire and comfort those faced with similar challenges and has doubtless provided to her some comfort as she organized this needed information for others.