Thursday, June 1, 2017

It's Alzheimer's & Brain Awareness Month. Why Did I Write a Book About Alzheimer's?

From my early days as a nurse I’ve had a soft spot for dementia patients. Most people are unfamiliar with the day to day pain and loss this disease brings. Blue Hydrangeas, an Alzheimer’s love story is my attempt to tell the heartbreaking story of dementia, and to honor the more than 5.4 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s and the people who love and care for them.

One day at work as a nurse case manager in a rehabilitation unit, I met an elderly couple who inspired my characters Jack and Sara. She had Alzheimer’s, and he was physically frail. The amazing thing about them was that they’d driven from Florida to New York by themselves without any incident. Unfortunately, once home she fell and broke her pelvis and landed in the hospital. That’s where I came in, to assist with the discharge plan. She was supposed to go to a local nursing home for continued rehab and her son planned to drive her and her husband there on discharge day. I completed their plans and said goodbye, but couldn’t stop thinking about them, wondering what would happen if they somehow left the hospital without their son and did not go to the rehab. Where would they go? What would they do? My wild imagination took off, and the seeds for the novel took root.

The response from readers is both satisfying and humbling. When I published I had no idea if the book would find an audience, but within weeks I’d received several 5-star reviews from caregivers who thanked me for writing “their” story. A later reviewer called it “healing,” and another said it was “grief release.” A favorite comment is “Read it twice just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.” I could not have hoped for a better response.

As a nurse, I’m proud to help others dealing with this disease. As an author, I’m grateful this important topic found me, and that I had the determination and fortitude to bring this book to completion.

Knowing that I have not only touched lives but validated the experiences of these unsung heroes is one of the greatest accomplishments of my life.

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