My niece, Erica, recently told me about a book she had read. It seems with all I have going on in my life, I’ve been living “under a rock”, so to say. She suggested that when I was strong enough, I read the book Me Before You by Jojo Moyes.
The book is quite popular and landed #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. It was even made into a major motion picture. She peaked my curiosity and I started doing a little research on the book topic. It didn’t take long for me to realize that there were some emotional parallels that couldn’t be denied.
The novel that asks, What do you do when making the person you love happy also means breaking your own heart? The novel that states, I realized I was afraid of living without him. Do you know how hard it is to say nothing? When every atom of you strains to do the opposite? This novel will, no doubt, hit every emotional chord within my body. I know how the story ends, all too well. I know. I’ve been there. I’ve lived it.
If you read it and loved it, I can only guess that it caused you to stop, think, and shed several tears as you imagined saying goodbye to someone you love. Putting their individual needs ahead of your own.
Saying goodbye to Brittany was the most difficult thing I’ll ever do in my life. It was the most selfless act of love, I’ve ever provided. To put her needs and wishes…and maternal gut instincts aside…to support her, took time. But, it was the right thing to do for Brittany. It was her life, her terminal illness, her pain, her fear, her fight, and her death. It was her choice to make. That’s not to say that every terminally ill patient wants to follow the same path as Brittany. It’s to say it should be a choice…for those that do want the option.
Last week, I posted information about recommending Wild and Precious Life as a reading selection for book clubs. If your club hasn’t read Me Before You, perhaps it would be a good companion selection. Or, if your club already read and shared it, Wild and Precious Life would be a great piece to read this year for comparison.
I’ve been contacted by several of you that have introduced Wild and Precious Life to your local book clubs. First of all, thank you for starting the conversation. By doing so, you keep Brittany’s spirit alive while broadening minds and opening up discussions. In addition, those of you that contacted me, asked that I continue to share discussion points for each section. I will happily do so, to assist in the ease of utilizing the book in your local book clubs.
I was excited to learn that many of you enjoy having a format with ideas for topic discussions. This provides me a better understanding of ways I can continue sharing Brittany’s life in a very intimate and personal manner. When we break down our walls and share intimate and honest discussions about death and the needs of others, we can learn so much.
Book Club Talking Points:
Part One – Catastrophe
- Foreboding 3 – Click Foreboding to see last weeks discussion topics.
- Bad News 15
Bad News Discussion Topics:
My experience with Brittany taught me many things. One of the most important things I learned is that, as patients and caregivers, we must advocate for ourselves. Doctors, while well educated, are only human. They are overloaded with patients, stressed, and, at times, they lose sight of us as individuals. Have you ever been an advocate for yourself or someone you love? What did you have to do? Did it make a difference? How well were your questions received?
1.)In this section, there were many times, I had to “go with my gut”. What the staff was saying and what I “knew” did not mesh. I had to learn to speak up. I feared being seen as disrespectful, but knew that my daughter’s life was in their hands. So, I found the courage to find my voice and advocate for my girl. I did my best to stay respectful, but I learned, during this time in the hospital, that asking questions was an important part of the caregivers role.
pg. 16 “She couldn’t do the MRI,” the guy pushing the gurney said to us. “She was claustrophobic. We’ll need to mildly sedate her and try again.”
“She’s never been anxious or claustrophobic. She’s had MRIs before.” I didn’t want Brittany being drugged anymore; not after finding her unresponsive.
pg. 26 “The push should be very slow. Pushing Dilaudid too fast can be dangerous.”
“Is it in her record that she was unconscious yesterday after this drug was pushed too fast?” I asked.
The nurse established eye contact long enough to confirm he’d heard the question. “From now on, ask what they’re giving her. With Dilaudid, point to the note on the board and remind them to administer it slowly.”
2.) I’m not sure what I envisioned for the way that doctors inform patients of a terminal illness. But, I am sure that what happened is NOT what I expected. Do you have any examples of a loved one or yourself being informed of life altering information in a less than supportive and compassionate way? How do think information, such as this, should be shared? What did you envision?
pg. 20 He was almost out the door when I heard Brittany’s voice. “Hey, are you my doctor? … Have you seen my scans?”
The man hesitated, and then stepped back in the room.
“Can you tell me what’s going on?” “I’ve been here more than 48 hours and no one’s talked to me. “
The doctor shifted his weight. He opened the file in his hand and flipped through some pages, buying time. Those few seconds did not bode well.
“You have a large infiltrating nonenhancing lesion present in the left temporal lobe. It is also crossing into the left hemisphere and pushing on the right ventricle.”
He looked up from the file for a moment, and then back down. He moved toward the door.
Thank you for taking the time to read this, share this, and consider Wild and Precious Life as your book club selection. Please feel free to share discussion points with me. I am open to new ideas and suggestions and welcome your feedback.