On July 5, 1998, physics Professor Alan Cromer suffered a heart attack on a plane, and survived after almost an hour of resuscitation efforts, but sustained brain injury from lack of oxygen.  In this chronicle of caregiving, his wife, a psychiatric nurse by training, gives a very personal, detailed account of the radical adaptations his disability required of both of them.  Her story includes reflection on his and her own emotional adjustments to loss of parity in communication and awareness, practical adjustments to physical limitations, and social adjustments to family, friends and professional colleagues.

Arduously, over time, Alan regained some ability to read and speak--indeed, he spoke to groups with Janet about their life together during the peak of his rehabilitation.  But the road to even partial recovery was bumpy, and the writer fully acknowledges the pain, grief, irritation, and deep frustrations that intersected moments of authentic pleasure, discovery, and mutual kindness.  Professor Cromer died September 3, 2005.


Acutely aware of the need for a “village” when coping with chronic illness in a loved one, the writer intends for the book to be useful to other caregivers; she includes a list of resources in the back, and much honest encouragement in the course of her story.  She tells her and Alan’s story with sometimes startling honesty (including addressing the matter of restoring some measure of physical intimacy between them), sometimes with humor, sometimes with wistful recognition of the limits of patience and energy that she got to, and most often with deep affection for a man she had to get to know again, and find new ways to love after considerable impairment of the facets of personality she had valued when they married.

The story is clearly and simply told, without sentimentality or judgment of anyone else’s way of adapting to such loss.  For anyone who has witnessed at close range a profound change in personality and physical and mental competence in a loved one, this book might be a real source of encouragement and refreshing ideas.



Place Published

Bloomington, IN



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