After the Stroke: Coping With America's Third Leading Cause of Death Shirk E. Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1 991; 1 14 pages, paperback.
Each year more than 150,000 Americans die and many thousands more are disabled as a result of strokes and other related illnesses. Without warning, a stroke can significantly alter the lives of both the victim and his/her family. Strokes can affect victims in various ways. Some strokes are mild and leave little residual effects, while others are extremely debilitating, leaving the person wholly or partially incapacitated. A few of the critical questions asked by the often frightened, confused, frustrated, and usually unprepared stroke victim and family include "What happened?" "What do we do?" "What can we expect?" "Where and how do we get help?" and "How do I make these very important decisions?"
This fascinating book addresses these questions and is a compelling and insightful account of one woman's 17-year struggle to confront the many challenges, frustrations, and obstacles inherent in caring for a spouse who was a victim of multiple strokes. This couple were successful scholars/academics when the husband experienced his first "mild" stroke. This book provides a frank, detailed account of the challenges that tested one caregiver's endurance, patience, and courage in providing care for a spouse whose helplessness increased with each successive stroke.
The 8-chapter book is a chronology of events that begin with the initial stroke, continues until the spouse's death, and concludes with the author's postexperience re-assessments. The author describes the emotional impact of confronting the difficult rehabilitative and recovery processes, the seemingly compounding and restrictive options for care, the progressively debilitating effects of successive, and increasingly incapacitating incidents, the financial burdens of longterm care, the eventual necessity of nursing home placement, and the resulting social withdrawal and isolation.
In this reviewer's opinion, this book is well organized, insightful, and comprehensively presents the obstacles and frustrations confronted by this articulate, thoughtful, and loving spouse. Its content is meaningful because it is presented in a manner appropriate for either the family who experiences the challenges of caring for a stroke victim or the health care professional involved in structuring and guiding the care and services available for stroke victims and families.
The book's content would be especially meaningful for those seeking greater understanding and awareness of the social and interpersonal issues that affect the stroke victim and the caregiver. Its perspectives and timeliness can be a valuable resource for nursing students, practitioners, and educators. It is a positive addition to nursing literature.