Saturday Song: Unchained Melody

I often sang this song to my late husband Bill. After his strokes, whenever I hit the high note close to the end, he was always moved to tears. I hope my rendition of this song, as I sang it to Bill many times, moves you, too.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Thursday Book Feature: Reblog–Deliverance from Jericho

I read and reviewed this book several years ago. Recently, the author told me it’s now on Bookshare, an online service that makes books available in accessible formats for those like me with disabilities that prevent or make reading difficult. Since I haven’t had time to read anything new lately, I decided to post a link to this old review. Bruce is one of many children who had negative experiences at government-run schools for the blind in the U.S. and Canada before 1970. I hope you’ll find his story inspirational and thought-provoking.

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Deliverance from Jericho
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We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Reblog–Why Do David Baldacci and I Write?

It just so happens that one of my book discussion groups will be talking about one of David Baldacci’s books next month. Naturally, I was curious about why this author wrote. In this post, Kathy Waller provides quotes from this and other authors on why they write and presents one of the first things she wrote when she was a kid. Enjoy!

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Why Do David Baldacci and I Write?

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We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Technology and Marriage

Technology is like a spouse. You can’t live with it. You can’t live without it. It can be wonderful, then temperamental. It can purr like a cat and do what you ask. Then it can be stubborn as a mule, refusing to do anything. It’s a great thing to have, but it can be a pain in the anatomy.

The only difference between technology and a spouse is that if you throw a computer out the window, no one gets hurt, unless of course you’re tossing it from your tenth story apartment window to a crowded street below. If you were to throw your spouse out that same window, you would no doubt be arrested for murder, and your story would make headlines across the country, so I don’t advise doing that, either.

I was never tempted to throw my late husband out the window. The only time I ever felt compelled to throw technology out the window was when I had my iPad years ago.

I never could get the hang of gestures, and even with the Bluetooth keyboard, it was clunky. With my visual impairment, I could have used some hands-on training, but that wasn’t available here in Wyoming, at least not at a price I could afford. Instead, I flicked it, clicked it, and then bopped it into oblivion. Actually, that’s not true. I just quit using it after several months, but my first way of putting it does sound more dramatic, doesn’t it?

The good thing about technology is that it won’t tell you to lose weight or threaten to take the bedroom door off its hinges if you close it one more time like my late husband did. Please don’t get me wrong. Bill was not an abusive man. He had his ideas, and I had mine, and we didn’t always agree, like any married couple. That said, technology won’t be upset if you two don’t always feel the same way.

Also, when you want to establish a permanent relationship with a computer or other device, you don’t have to send out invitations and pick out a dress, cake, flowers, etc. Replacing a computer or other device is less costly and painful than divorcing an old spouse and marrying a new one. If something happens to your computer, just call in a repairman. There are no late-night flights to bigger and better hospitals, no waiting and wondering if your computer will ever be the same, at least most of the time.

After Bill’s stroke, we had six happy years together, even though he couldn’t do much for himself and depended on me for everything. You can read about our adventurous married life in My Ideal Partner. Now that Bill is gone, though, I think I’ll stick to relationships with my computer, Braille tablet, cell phone, and book reader. They’re not as much of a pain in the anatomy as marriage can be.

How do you feel about this? Do you think living with a piece of technology can be just as difficult as living with a spouse? I’d love to know your thoughts, that is, if your technology doesn’t decide to be temperamental when you want to share them.

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We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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Saturday Song: John Lennon: Imagine

Thanks to Bruce Atchison for inspiring me to post this. The song Bruce posted is about living in a world without pain. “Imagine” is about living in a world without war, hatred, greed, or hunger. Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a world of love, joy, peace, and plenty? Enjoy, and have a great Saturday.

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We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

Thursday Book Feature: Brain on Fire

<strong>Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness</strong>
by Susannah Cahalan
Copyright 2012.

And I thought the dream I had a few weeks ago in which I woke up in a hospital, not sure how I got there, was bazaar. This takes the cake, and it wasn’t a dream. In the spring of 2009, Susannah Cahalan woke up and found herself strapped to a hospital bed, not remembering how she got there. When she panicked, a figure in purple with a foreign accent told her to calm down. Thus begins her memoir about her experience with a rare autoimmune disorder in which the body attacks the brain.

The author explains how she first experienced symptoms while she was working as a journalist for the New York Post. It started as an obsession with bed bugs in her apartment. She then experienced numbness and other flu-like symptoms and gradually became forgetful, paranoid, and dilusional. Her gynecologist referred her to a neurologist who said these symptoms were caused by stress and too much drinking. Then, she had her first seizure, and things went downhill from there. Her parents were finally able to get her admitted to New York University Hospital’s epilepsy unit.

Since she doesn’t remember much of what happened after that, most of her information was gleamed from interviews with family and friends, her father’s journal, and footage from EKG video. She describes the battery of tests she endured and how she was visited by neurologists, psychologists, and other professionals who were stumped by her condition. She reverted from being paranoid with dilusions to a catatonic state where she could barely speak, let alone care for herself. Her doctors were about to send her to the psychiatric unit when a new neurologist joined the team. After performing a brain biopsy, running more tests, and conferring with other doctors across the country, he finally diagnosed her with anti-NMDA receptor autoimmune incephalitis. This neurologist pointed out to her parents that her brain was on fire, hence the title.

After being given medication to combat this disorder, she was discharged. She then describes the long, arduous process of recovery. Although she was able to move and care for herself by this time, her speech and thought processes were slow. She talks about how her parents, boyfriend, and other relatives and friends supported her during her stay in the hospital and recovery. After six months, she returned to her newspaper job, and she describes how she completed her first major assignment, an article about anti NMDA inhibitor autoimmune incephalitis and her experience with it. She provides more information about this disorder.

This book was an Audible daily deal, and I’m glad I picked it up. The narrator does an excellent job portraying the author’s first-person account of her story. I love this book’s beginning and ending in which the author describes waking up in the hospital’s epilepsy unit, then returning years later after her recovery for a visit and her encounter with a nurse who cared for her during that time.

I would like to have known more about Susannah Cahalan after she returned to work and successfully published her first major article. She mentions moving in with her boyfriend, but did she eventually marry him and start a family, perhaps balancing that with her career?

According to the author, this rare disorder strikes women of child-bearing age and is often mistaken for psychosis. At the time this book was written, a percentage of women afflicted with anti-NMDA inhibitor encephalitis ended up in psychiatric hospitals where they eventually died. So if you’re a young woman, I encourage you to read this book, and if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned, consult a neurologist before you see a psychiatrist.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

A Valentine Poem and Song

I know it’s a day early, but here’s a poem I wrote for my late husband to commemorate Valentine’s Day. You can click below to hear me read it and sing a related song. I hope that tomorrow, you do something special with the one you love.

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TO MY DEPARTED VALENTINE

Dearest of hearts, most gentle of souls,
you are my only one,
always remembered, never forgotten.

With you, I soared to unimaginable heights.
Now you’re gone—I still fly
for you’ve given me my own wings.

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Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.

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