Just Released: The Bitter Journey of Alzheimer's: A Wife's Loving Tribute

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Lloyd and Wanda Wilson had a wonderful life. They fell in love in the early 1950s and were married on Nov. 6, 1954. They had two lovely daughters – Sharon and Annette – and lived a rich, contented life in Ontario's gorgeous cottage country and later in a small town in southwestern Ontario. Lloyd had a great job with Bell Canada and was able to retire in 1989 at 57 years of age after nearly 38 years of service with the telephone company. Lloyd and Wanda had a loving family, a huge circle of friends, a cottage that they enjoyed year-round, and a community that loved and appreciated them for their willingness to lend a hand to those in need.

And then, the world changed. Lloyd began to forget the small details of their life together; at times, he became mildly disoriented, sometimes confused. Neither he nor Wanda really knew it at the time, but the disease of Alzheimer's was beginning to make an insidious inroad into their lives. Lloyd lived with Alzheimer's for nine years in total – his final year spent in a full-care nursing home – and finally succumbed to the disease on Feb. 21, 2010.

Nancy Poole is a nurse and author, a good friend of Wanda Wilson's. With Wanda's kind assistance, Poole has just published a deeply personal account into the mysteries of Alzheimer's called The Bitter Journey of Alzheimer's: One Wife's Daily Log. At the heart of the book, more than 370 pages, is Wanda's emotional, diary-styled account of her husband's final year of life in the nursing home. The book is intended to shine light on the disease and its effects and it does so in remarkable detail as a loving wife re-lives her husband's final days, weeks and months.

There is much insight here: the author observes that an Alzheimer's sufferer cannot re-enter "normal" life any longer – family and caregivers need to find a way to reach patients on their own terms if there is to be hope of retaining shared love and communication; Wanda recounts how the spouse of an Alzheimer's patient actually must suffer through two deaths – the loss of a loved one to the disease and then, in time, the loss of life itself. And Wanda recalls, too, the emotionally draining, surreal existence she led, hoping against hope that she was simply living through a terrible dream and that she would one day wake up to find the man she loved back at her side, just as life used to be.

The Bitter Journey of Alzheimer's is a publication that very clearly will benefit families living – and trying to cope – with the nightmare of Alzheimer's. The book is written with love and sensitivity, and the sense of loss, sorrow and melancholy expressed within its pages will be familiar to readers who are themselves trying to offer supportive, end-of-life care for their loved ones. Interestingly, although The Bitter Journey of Alzheimer's deals specifically with that singular disease, and the specific history of Lloyd and Wanda Wilson's struggle, the book will also be very helpful to those whose friends and family members may be suffering from other forms of progressive neuro-degenerative disease or disorder.

The Bitter Journey of Alzheimer's is compelling, heartfelt and inspirational. Author Poole has done a marvellous job – and provided a genuine public service – in taking Wanda Wilson's touching personal journal and weaving her words and thoughts into a cohesive, valuable tapestry. The Bitter Journey of Alzheimer's takes the reader on Wanda's emotional journey – and sheds light on a widespread medical condition that is as puzzling as it is deadly.

The Bitter Journey of Alzheimer's: One Wife's Daily Log
by Nancy Poole
ISBN: 9780981396316

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