INTENSIVE CARE by Mary-Lou Weisman


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When their second son Peter was two-and-a-half, the Weismans discovered that he had muscular dystrophy, which would lead to progressive debilitation and eventual death. This quirky recounting of the next dozen years or so--emphasizing the family response rather than the child's suffering or heroism--manages to demonstrate that life somehow goes on. At one point the Weismans leave their comfortable Connecticut surrounds to search for ""something better"" at California's Esalen Institute (a dismal failure); at another, they seek out a quack psychic healer in England. But in general they settle--with an almost audible sigh--for making Peter feel as comfortable and ""normal"" as possible, via expensive pools, schools for the handicapped, and (after a while) motorized wheelchairs. As he grows into preadolescence, lifting him becomes more and more difficult; but his mother copes with his considerable physical needs (even getting up several times a night to turn him in bed) right up to the end--and she does it with a kind of wry matter-of-factness. Some readers may be put off by the ironic tone and the forced cheerfulness in Peter's presence. ""We bought this house because there were so many tricycles parked in the driveways. That's how many kids there were who weren't going to play with Peter."" The family jokes and nicknames (Peter is ""Fudgetickle Entworth LaRue"") would be exasperating in another kind of book. But mothers in similar straits may appreciate Weisman's combination of fierce devotion to her dying child and need to establish her own identity through a writing career. A survivor's stance, jauntily taken.

Pub Date: Oct. 4th, 1982
Publisher: Random House