A posthumous reconstruction offers a valiant young patient’s guide to dealing with hospital stays.
Jeremy Libon, the central figure and inspiration for this short debut book compiled by his family, was born with a congenital heart defect that led his doctors to warn that his odds of living even to the age of 2 were only 50-50. It turned out he lived until April 2010, dying at the age of 18, and in that time he demonstrated both an unquenchable spirit of optimism and a savvy, pragmatic knowledge of the hospital world through countless stays under doctors’ care. The segment of the book actually authored by Jeremy is blunt about the drawbacks of hospital stays, detailing annoyances like being woken up round the clock for vitals testing, IV changing, and the frequent taking of blood. He even addresses the dismal experience of being admitted to the hospital in the first place. His short segment also provides upbeat advice about reclaiming your life once you return from a hospital stay: showering the clinical smells off your skin and hair, and taking it easy (“There is nothing wrong with taking a nap during the day, no matter how old you are”). His section of the book is followed by remembrances of him by his brother, his father, and, in the most moving and practical-minded account, his mother. She continues the advice-giving theme of Jeremy’s section, talking to readers about tricks to stave off waiting-room boredom, and ways to navigate hospital regulations about visitors and family members sleeping in the building. Parents of severely ill children should find her advice valuable on subjects ranging from the power of distraction to the benefit of discussions with nurses (“They can help you figure out the day-to-day, nitty-gritty, quality-of-life issues that many doctors don’t concern themselves with”). The cumulative effect of all these different family voices makes Jeremy's death all the more crushing—and his courage all the more uplifting.
A detailed and ultimately touching memoir in the form of a hospital manual.