Thursday, June 18, 2009

Book Review: Take your Oxygen First (Leeza Gibbons)

I love it when a package arrives in the mail for me – especially when it’s unexpected.

Last week, I received a surprise package that contained the one thing I love better than a surprise: a book. It was Leeza Gibbons’ new book, Take your Oxygen First. I received a copy so that I could read and review it for you.

I’m just starting to read the book, but already I love it. The forward, written by Larry King, contains this line that sums up, for me, exactly what caring for a loved one is all about:

“For those who are just starting out on the journey of caring for a loved one and for those already caught up in its tremendous burdens, seeing that light at the end of the tunnel can seem all but impossible. [This book] shows caregivers that the act of giving care can actually be a life sustaining and empowering experience for them, for their families and for their loved ones as well.”

I have to admit I wasn’t really sure what the title was about until Leeza explains at the beginning of Chapter 1, after a 30 page introduction to her family’s story. She reminds us that, at the start of an airline flight, during the instructions on what to do in case of an emergency we’re told to “put your oxygen on first, before the child you’re traveling with.” For Gibbons, this idea applies to caregiving, too:

“If you think about it for a moment, you realize that if you ignore your own need for oxygen, there is a good chance you may be unable to help your loved one, and if that happens, you may put both yourself and your loved one in danger of serious injury or worse…if you don’t take care of yourself first, you’ll be unable to care for your loved ones in their time of need.”

I’m looking forward to reading more in this book. I’ll share with you some of the highlights that I find. But for today, this is the message for family caregivers in a nutshell:

It’s a tough journey, but rewarding for those who travel the caregiving path.

Your first task – everyday – is to take care of yourself so you can continue to take care of your loved one.

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