Janene Carey’s “A Hospital Bed at Home” is a collection of six personal accounts of caregiving from diagnoses to death. Together, these stories blend into an insightful, heart-felt narrative and provide a window into the lives of every-day Australians who found themselves the carers of their dying loved ones.
Janene has included her own story in this collection. Her experience as her mother’s carer impelled her to investigate other people’s journeys and to write this book:
“Caring for someone who is terminally ill is not a subject that is easily broached in Australian society, and so, like most people, I was unprepared for the overwhelming physical, emotional and psychological challenges it entails.”
I first met Janene Carey in 2013 on the sidelines of a soccer field in Armidale, rural NSW, watching our daughters chase a ball around the field.
I was in shock, not only because I had become a “soccer mum”, but because it was freezing. My winter clothing had been hastily purchased from second-hand shops in shivering desperation. Only a short time before, I’d been living on a boat in the Caribbean. I felt like a very cold fish out of water.
Now I can say that Janene is one of the first friends that I made as we settled into our new life. I am so very pleased that her work is now available, because it is a meaningful achievement and one that has the potential to benefit a great many people.
It is also personally relevant, as the decision to leave our boat, our cruising community and lifestyle to settle in Australia had a lot to do with my elderly mother.
This collection opens a dialogue that is so needed in our society and it is journalism at its best: transparently written accounts of real people. It makes for sad, often funny, and completely compelling reading – an experience that is at once emotionally draining and uplifting.
So, I put my hand up. This post is not a review but a recommendation. To read a book that conveys stoic courage, honest admissions, grief and humour without a single platitude or overt message, is a tribute not only to the people who shared this most personal of experiences, but to Janene’s skill as a writer.
We all face passing away. We can hide from that, or take into consideration both ourselves as the care giver and receiver. It is not an easy subject to recount or read, but each story is underpinned with love. It is what it is, and that is what makes this modest, beautifully written book so important. It deserves to be widely read, recommended, passed along.
“A Hospital Bed at Home” can be purchased online at sites including Amazon, Book Depository, and Fishpond (to avoid returning actual hospital beds at home, search on the full title, or the title plus Janene’s name) or from the very excellent local independent bookshop, Reader’s Companion (telephone +61 (0)2 6771 2544) in Armidale.