Chronicle Books, publisher of my caregiver survival guide, You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You, just gave me the heads up that the book has been selected for their special, month-long “Eye Candy” ebook sale! What does that mean? Special savings, that’s what! For the entire month of February, caregivers and the people who care about them, will be able to go to any ebook retailer and purchase the ebook edition at a substantial savings. I’m talking about a book that’s been priced as high as $14.99 selling for $2.99 and less in February – no small deal, right?
I came up with the idea for You’d Better Not Die after spending 20 years as the caregiver to my husband Michael, who has Crohn’s disease and who sent us both on a journey that involved multiple hospitalizations and surgeries and home health nurses and many, many doctors. I wanted to write about my experience with a humorous spin – not as a Debbie Downer, in other words, but as someone who could stare the dark days in the face and still find silver linings in them. I also sought out caregivers with stories about caring for a parent with Alzheimer’s, a husband with M.S., a daughter with anorexia, a son with autism and much more. And finally I went to the experts – lots of them: therapists (how do we cope when we’re so stressed we can’t see straight?), a dietician (what the heck do we eat that’s healthy when we’re stuck with hospital cafeterias?), fitness coaches (how are we supposed to exercise when we’re sitting in a hospital room all day?), a bestselling cookbook author (who has time to cook a nutritious meal with flavor?), meditation teachers (how do we quiet the mind when it’s racing to check off all the items on our “To Do” list?), nurses (how should we deal with the cranky ones who won’t answer our questions?), and much more.
Since the book was published, my perspective as a caregiver has broadened. I did write about my mother’s increasing dementia in You’d Better Not Die, but I have a whole new appreciation for what caring for an elderly parent is all about. Mom recently turned 98 (her older sister just turned 100, so longevity runs on that side of the family) and while still very sharp at times, she’s more and more dependent on her full-time caregiver to fill in the blanks. She’s especially disoriented in the late afternoons and evenings when the infamous “sundowners” set in, and her confusion is a source of great frustration to her. Over the past few years I’ve been her long-distance caregiver since I’ve lived in California and she’s in New York, but I’m moving back east this spring and one of the main reasons is to be there for and with her in whatever ways she needs me – from interacting with her doctors to help with paying her bills to spending time with her and trying to brighten her days. She lives at home – at one point she wanted to move to an assisted living community and then changed her mind – and is isolated to a certain degree, and I hope my presence will mitigate that.
Meanwhile, I’m very heartened by the wonderful reader responses to You’d Better Not Die, along with the critics’ reviews. I write romantic comedies for the most part, so a caregiver book was new territory for me. But take a look at some of the words of praise on Goodreads. Wow.
“Our sweet daughter gave me this book for Christmas – and I took my time reading and thinking about every chapter. ‘A family caregiver is caring for somebody who has something that can’t be fixed-i.e., it doesn’t have a cure at this point in time. That requires a totally different medical approach.’ (page 284) This definition of a caregiver includes most of my family and friends…who don’t really see themselves as caregivers, but who, like me, struggle with all of the issues associated with this role as we care for a parent, spouse, child, or friend. This book is filled with simple, useful, needed advice based on the experiences of Jane, and her friends, family, and health care professionals that are helping her make sense of this complicated issue. Their insights and comments have helped me change how I see my own role as a caregiver and how I see and serve others filling this critical role.”
“I’ve been reading Jane Heller’s You’d Better Not Die or I’ll Kill You, and it’s exceptional. Two hours later (with lots of laughs and tears), I finished it from cover to cover. Honestly, after doing home health with a 87 year old , with her declining health and increasing dementia, I believe this book will be a godsend to so many. It’s unique in its scope – anecdotal, voices from a cadre of health care professionals as well as peeps like us, and very personal. I’ve experienced all of it – working nurses, asking questions, keeping records, doing follow-ups, arranging ambulances and rehab and homecare and wading through the Medicare stuff….and the author has put ALL OF IT down to help and to use….and ultimately, to speak of love and how it is tested….well, nicely done.”
“I cried at many points in this book because I recognized so much of my own experiences in the stories in this book. Lots of good advice, even though as a caregiver, you’re probably just too exhausted, frustrated, busy to take it. Excellent book that should offer solace to those of us who often feel alone in their challenges.”
I love hearing from readers and talking to other caregivers, so feel free to send me an email and let me know how you’re doing on your caregiving journey. If you haven’t read the book or you have a friend or family member for whom you’d like to buy it, February is the month. For the bookseller links to the Eye Candy Special Savings Promo, go to my home page on this site.